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Maintain your tan: Best and worst bronzers

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
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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.


The worst no. 5: Physicians Formula Healthy Wear SPF 50 Pressed Bronzer 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 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 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.


The worst no. 2: CoverGirl Cheekers Bronzer 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 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 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." 


The best no. 15: Clinique True Bronze Pressed Powder Bronzer 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 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 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."


The best no. 12: E.L.F. Bronzer 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 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 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."


The best no. 9: Laura Geller Bronze & Brighten 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 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 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 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."


The best no. 5: CARGO Bronzer 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 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 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."


The no. 2: NARS Bronzing Powder 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 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

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