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updated 8/24/2012 4:35:13 PM ET 2012-08-24T20:35:13

We know sunbathing, tanning beds and even spray tanning are beauty no-nos, but does that mean we're doomed to be pale and pasty forever? Not yet. There's still one safe way to get that golden glow, and it's already in your makeup bag: bronzer.

When applying bronzer, use a big, fluffy brush and tap off any excess product before swiping it on your face. Concentrate most of the color at your temples and along the cheekbones. And without double dipping, lightly brush across your nose and chin. "Don't forget to apply and blend bronzer down your neck. And if your hair is up in a ponytail, you should also put a little around your ears," says celebrity makeup artist Nick Barose.

Now that you've got the know-how, all you need to do is find the best bronzer for you. Just make sure to avoid the ones readers say will leave you looking streaky and fake.

Physicians Formula

The worst no. 5: Physicians Formula Healthy Wear SPF 50 Pressed Bronzer
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 6.9
Why: While the combo of bronzer with SPF 50 was appealing, reviewers say the results were less than satisfying. "The color is orangey" and "not bronzy enough." One reader says, "It makes me look like an Oompa Loompa." While another woman says, "It makes me look weird, sparkly, and orange tinted. Worst of all, after I use this bronzer, it makes me break out everywhere!"

The worst no. 4:Chanel Soleil Tan De Chanel
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 6.6
Why: While women admit this item as OK results, they say it's not worth the hefty price tag. One reader says, "This bronzer is just meh. It's bulky and pricey." Others say, "Save your money. There are cheaper and better bronzers out there." Even with the allure of the name brand, one reader says, "Good thing this was a gift. I would never pay $50 for it on my own. I have $10 bronzers that work better than this."

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The worst no. 3:E.L.F. All Over Color Stick
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 6.3

Why: The color is "too silvery" and "not at all like the color on the stick." One woman says when she uses this product, "I look like I've got some serious frosty sheen on, which is not attractive." Another agrees, saying, "I don't want to walk around with silver cheeks." Reviews agree, when it comes to this product — which is only one dollar — you get what you pay for.

CoverGirl

The worst no. 2: CoverGirl Cheekers Bronzer
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 6.1
Why: This bronzer leaves your skin looking "very brown," "weirdly orange," and "too glittery." No matter your application technique, "the color comes out unnatural and streaky." Many also dislike the brush saying, "It scratches my face." While another says, "This belongs in a little kid's dress up kit. It's too pigmented and slides off your skin after three minutes!"

The worst no. 1: Maybelline New York Mineral Powder Bronzer
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 4.9
Why: Reviewers have only one positive thing to say about this bronzer: "The little brush is great." And the cons? "This stuff makes my skin look really brassy." Others say it's "too metallic-y," "too shimmery," and "unnatural-looking."  

The best no. 16: Tarte Mineral Powder Bronzer
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 8.5
Why: One reader is "ecstatic with the results" of this bronzer due to its natural, yet noticeable finish. Another who was "tired of all the glitter bronzers made for 17-year-olds" says, "this gives a pretty summer glow." Many love that it "enhances your skin tone and appears so natural." One now-converted bronzer skeptic states, "This powder gives you the most natural bronze you can imagine." 

Clinique

The best no. 15: Clinique True Bronze Pressed Powder Bronzer
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 8.5
Why: Reviewers "love this stuff" because "it makes you tan all year." One woman agrees it's "better than tanning and so much better for your skin." The "consistency is silky" and "it doesn't break out my skin." Others gush that "it looks natural," "lasts forever," and "controls oil." One reader says, "Even though I get tan in the summer, this bronzer gives me that extra boost."

The best no. 14: bareMinerals Warmth All-Over Face Color
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 8.5

Why: Many testers "love this product," saying, "you don't need a lot of product to get that sun-kissed glow." Others agree it makes their complexion "look healthy," "natural," and "radiant." Another reader says, "I even like to dust it on my arms for a body glow." One woman says, "It looks natural, stays on my face all day, and doesn't clog my pores. You really can have it all with bareMinerals!"

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The best no. 13: Benefit Hoola Bronzing Powder
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 8.5
Why: Benefit's Hoola is a "tan in a box." Its matte formula allows for "flawless contouring that looks natural on my skin." One reader says, "It's the perfect shade and does not make you look like a cast member of 'Jersey Shore' or a glittery disco ball." Reviewers also love that "this little miracle in a box" can transform them into "the bronze goddess of my dreams" and make them look like they "just got back from Hawaii." One reviewer even wears this to the gym for a "fresh, no makeup look with zero fuss."

E.L.F.

The best no. 12: E.L.F. Bronzer
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 8.8
Why: This drugstore favorite has become many readers' favorite. It "gives you a great glow" without "getting dark, dirty patches on your face." Readers agree this is "definitely a bargain" because "it's almost like a 4-in-1 product with a highlighter and a blush!" Readers also love its "sleek packaging," which makes "it look more high-end than it is." And one woman says, "I would definitely recommend this to a friend."

The best no. 11: MAC Bronzing Powder
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 8.8

Why: Readers describe this product as "phenomenal," "awesome," and "flattering on anyone." One reader loves that it "adds the appropriate amount of warmth without making you look like an Oompa Loompa." Others say this item "camouflages any imperfections" and "makes your skin look flawless." This bronzer complements both tan and pale skin for "natural looking results." Conclusion? "It's worth every penny."

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The best no. 10: Rimmel London Natural Bronzer
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 8.8
Why: One readers said this bronzer is proof "you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good product." Reviewers rave "This bronzer creates a great, natural-looking glow without emptying your wallet." Another agrees saying, the "pretty, bronze glow looks so natural, you can probably get away with saying it's real!" Readers also love to use this as a contouring powder because it's "matte," "buildable," and "blends easily."

Laura Geller

The best no. 9: Laura Geller Bronze & Brighten
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 8.9
Why: One woman would give this product a rating of "100 stars" if she could. Readers say this "awesome" product leaves a "flawless finish" that "lasts all day." It gives a "healthy, radiant glow" with "perfect color." After using this bronzer, one reader says, "Everyone thinks I've been on a tropical vacation." Another woman loves it so much she gushed, "Worn alone, it's YFBB — Your Face But Better."

The best no. 8: N.Y.C. New York Color Smooth Skin Bronzing Face Powder
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 9.0
Why: Many readers were skeptical about this $3 bronzer until they tried it. Now this product is "pushing all my department store bronzers to the back of my makeup drawer." Others agree saying, "I have a high-end bronzer that cost $30 but I honestly like this one better." Not only does it "have a price tag to die for," but it also "gives the right amount of glow without looking fake." One woman says with this bronzer, "you've got nothing to lose."

The best no. 7: Too Faced Snow Bunny Bronzer
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 9.1
Why: Women rave that this bronzer is "perfect for fair skin." While most bronzers look "orangey" and "dirty" on pale skin, this one "gives us pasty gals just the right amount of warmth and hint of pink shimmer that looks natural and not overdone." Others like that you can "mix the colors in the bronzer to best suit your complexion." The powder is "very silky in texture," "blends evenly," and "wears very well." One gal cannot get enough of this bronzer saying, "I get compliments on. how pretty my skin is every time I wear this out."

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The best no. 6: Smashbox Fusion Soft Lights
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 9.2
Why: "This little container is amazing!" One reader says this amazing multi-tasking product is "the only product I use every day." The bronzer "blends well," "looks natural," and "goes on smoothly." Reviewers love the versatility of the product, saying you can either combine all the colors or "use each color individually as a complementary eyeshadow." One woman says she "can wear this product all year round because it has so many shades."

Cargo

The best no. 5: CARGO Bronzer
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 9.2
Why: "Finally a bronzer that won't make you look Snookie orange or like you've played in red clay!" says one reader. Another reader adds: "This lovely powder turns me from Casper to a Glamazon." Reviewers also love "the large industrial tin that keeps the powder from breaking into a million little pieces in your purse." Many adore "that it isn't loaded with obnoxious glitter and shimmer," but has just enough for "a golden sun-kissed look."

The best no. 4: Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Soft Shimmer Bronzer
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 9.5
Why: Women love the lasting power on this bronzer, saying it "looks incredible all day." One reviewer says this is the reason why she "looks naturally sun-kissed even in the thick of winter," while another fan says, "I wear this on my face, neck, and chest. It doesn't rub off and it has a great color." Another fan says, "This bronzer works miracles on my super pale skin, by giving it a realistic lovely sheen."

The best no. 3: Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 9.5
Why: With six different shades, this matte bronzer is "simply marvelous," says reviewers. The "blendable and smooth" product makes one reader look "like I just got back from the Bahamas" and another look like "I've spent hours in the sun without the sun damage." Another woman says it "dresses up my face and makes me look classy." Readers say "it's great for fair skin" and "works on us gals of deeper hue."

Nars

The no. 2: NARS Bronzing Powder
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 9.5
Why: Bronzer fanatics love this powder. Readers rave that this product gives you "a soft tan" and "a sun-kissed look." One reader says, "This gives me a vacation glow with a simple swipe." While another loves that "It never screams 'I'm wearing bronzer' and it always saves me from looking like a vampire in the winter." Many women call this "the perfect bronzer" because it is "universally flattering." Although it is pricey, readers say, "It's completely worth it."

The best no. 1: Laura Mercier Bronzing Gel
TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 9.6
Why: Readers can't live without this bronzing gel because it "gives a very natural color." They say it "blends like a dream," "smells great," and "lasts through sweat." Makeup artists call this "a staple in my kit," and mix this into their foundation or moisturizer for "buildable color and coverage." Many love this product because it gives them a "beachy glow" and a "natural bronze" without feeling "cakey or heavy."

*at time of publication

Want more product reviews? Click here to see the 13 best highlighters

Video: Enhance your beauty with award-winning blush, concealer

Photos: One makeup artist’s daily makeover project

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  1. The Daily Face

    By Rina Raphael

    Putting on one’s daily makeup is hard enough. Now imagine coming up with a new look every day.

    But that’s just what Annamarie Tendler, 26, did on her popular blog. The creative makeup artist, who noticed a lack of simple and approachable beauty blogs, challenged herself to post a few new makeup tutorials a week in March 2011."

    “I wanted to make something that didn't inundate the viewer with information, but rather offered up a simple concept in a simple way,” Tendler told TODAY.com. “As in, here is a look, this is how you do it, this is what you use.”

    The tutorials range from practical (“how to curl your eyelashes) to wild (a Lichtenstein-inspired look for Halloween), and the work can often be exhausting. “I need to be generating so much material and I'm only one person, who also works on other shoots and projects,” said Tendler. “I find that every couple of months I need to take a two week break."

    Surprisingly, Tendler isn’t even a makeup junkie. Her personal regimen is “extremely simple,” consisting of not much more than Josie Maran Argan Oil moisturizer. But after posting dozens of makeup applications, she does have one beauty she recommends to all women: “Wear mascara.”

    Click through some of Annamarie’s favorite looks: (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Apr. 13, 2011

    "I was inspired to do today’s look when looking at Brassai photos of the 20s," Tendler wrote. "Everyone looks so cool and glamorous."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325
    Eyeliner: MAC Blacktrack gel liner

    Eye shadow: NARS in Galapagos, Make Up For Ever in Aqua Cream 15, MAC in Satin Taupe

    Eyebrows: The Body Shop black eye pencil

    Eyelashes: False lashes by Mattesse on top (#1565) and bottom (#49)

    Cheeks: MAC in Harmony

    Lips: NARS Shanghai Express

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. July 14, 2011

    "The best way to wear bright lipstick is with almost no other makeup. I used no liner for this look, only a wash of bamboo-colored shadow (a light brown) over my lids (diffused above the crease) and a ton of mascara."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325

    Eyeshadow: MAC in Bamboo

    Eyebrows: MAC in Fling

    Eyelashes: Lancome Hypnose Drama

    Cheeks: MAC in Harmony

    Lips: NARS in Schiap

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Aug. 12, 2011

    "Red seems like a weird choice for eyeliner, since most people don’t want to look like sleep-deprived junkies, but it works as a bold liquid liner. Also, by coupling it with bold brows, you will achieve a defined look, instead of it looking like you might have allergies."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325

    Eyeliner: Blacktrack, Make Up For Ever Aqua Eye liner in shade 10 (red)

    Eyebrows: The Body Shop eye pencil in black

    Eyelashes: Lancome Hypnose Drama

    Cheeks: MAC in Harmony, MAC Highlighter in Pearl

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Aug. 23, 2011

    "This is definitely something I’ll have to experiment with at a dark, nighttime party."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325

    Eyeliner: NARS liquid liner pencil

    Eyeshadow: MAC in Copperplate, NARS pencil in HollywoodLand

    Eyebrows: Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes in shade 21 (teal)

    Eyelashes: Lancome Hypnose Drama

    Cheeks: NARS in Penny Lane

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Oct. 18, 2011

    "I will warn anyone who tries this [Roy Lichtenstein-inspired look] out that pulling this one off if a lot like cleaning your bedroom: it looks worse before it looks good."

    Face: Ben Nye Creme Color in White

    Dots: Ben Nye Creme Color in Red

    Tears: Ben Nye Creme Color in Blue, Cosmic Blue, and White

    Eyeliner: MAC Blacktrack

    Eyelashes: Lancome Hypnose Drama

    Lips: NARS Lipstick in Heat Wave

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Nov. 21, 2011

    "This is a great party look because it’s dark, goes with anything, and you feel festive without being over the top. Yeah, you don’t need to wear green eyeshadow and red lipstick to get the point across that you love Christmas."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325

    Eyeliner: MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack

    Eye shadow: Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in Strut, Make Up For Ever Flash Color in Silver

    Eyebrows: MAC Eye Brow Pencil in Fling

    Eyelashes: Dior Blackout

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Nov. 28, 2011

    "I probably wouldn’t wear my makeup like this out on the street, but it’s definitely a look that can be modified for everyday wear."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325

    Eyeliner: MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack, Make Up For Ever Aqua Liner in Shade 10 (red)

    Eye shadow: NARS Duo in Scorching Sun, MAC Goldenrod, MAC Goldmine

    Eyebrows: MAC Eye Brow Pencil in Fling

    Eyelashes: Dior Blackout

    Lips: NARS Lipstick in Heatwave

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Dec. 19, 2011

    "This is more of a dark look. I started by lining the eyes with Blacktrack, including both the upper and lower inner rims and winging the liner."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325

    Eyeliner: MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack, Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes Pencil in shade 10L (gold)

    Eye shadow: Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream in Shade 15, MAC Shadow in Satin Taupe, NARS Duo in Cordura, MAC Highlighter in Pearl

    Eyebrows: MAC Eye Brow Pencil in Fling

    Eyelashes: Lancome Hypnose Drama

    Cheeks: MAC Blush in Harmony

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
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