Certain makeup products are notoriously arduous to shop for. Tasks like tracking down the perfect foundation or identifying the most-flattering shade of nude lipstick immediately come to mind, but when push comes to shove, sleuthing out the best bronzer for our complexion has to reign supreme—especially for anyone with darker skin. Because yes, even folks with the deepest skin tones want to (and should be able to) wear bronzer.
Even though the beauty industry is slowly but surely improving in the inclusivity department, there is still a lot of work to be done. Too many bronzers are geared towards skin colors and undertones far more suited to those with lighter skin, despite the no-brainer fact that a dose of sun-kissed warmth, subtle contour, and glow is coveted by anyone and everyone, not just people with lighter complexions. In fact, I've talked to so many Black women in my industry who say they've given up on bronzer altogether due to the lack of representation.
So while we demand that every bronzer-carrying brand ensures their range is inclusive AF, we can't ignore the brands and bronzers that have gotten it right. Since makeup artists might just be the most well-versed experts when it comes to products, shades, and ranges, we've asked three top celebrity makeup artists (who frequently work with stunning Black women like Tracee Ellis Ross, Alicia Keys, Lupita Nyong’o, Yara Shahidi, Kerry Washington, and so many more) which bronzers they personally love, and always rely on to enhance deep skin's richness and glow. Keep scrolling! Nine of the absolute best bronzers for dark skin await just below along with our experts' best shopping and application tips.
Celebrity Clients: Regina King, Angela Bassett, Bresha Webb, Fergie, Hilary Duff, Missy Elliot, Adrienne Bailon
"The shades Toasted Cinnamon and Rich Umber are great for deep skin tones—they're formulated in the same way as our coveted shades Bamboo and Neutral Matte, yet the rich, warm cinnamon pigments and burnt umber look gorgeous on the deepest of skin tones and add some spice to your complexion! They are so silky, and it’s loose, so you can control the application."
Pro Tip: Don't go too dark. When shopping from bronzer, Crimson says that while you want to select a warm shade, it shouldn't be too dark for your complexion. The goal is to achieve a natural-looking glow, and he suggests using shades that have a touch of red and are about two shades deeper than your foundation. "Going too deep can translate as contour more than a beautiful shade of a bronzer," warns Crimson.
"Danessa Myricks knows skin and texture. These powders are fluffy, airy, and have the right balance of red and brown to create and enhance the glow you need! I especially recommend shades 4.5 and 5 for darker skin tones."
"For those who love a pressed bronzer, Maréna Beauté has a beautiful range to suit many skin tones, and just like AJ Crimson Beauty, this brand goes the distance by offering one of the deepest pressed powders on the market."
Pro Tip: The best bronzer might not be labeled as "bronzer." Just because a powder might not be intended or marketed as a bronzer (think blush, setting, or loose finishing powders) doesn't mean you can't use it as one. Crimson's advice? Ignore the label, and embrace the shade.
Tasha Reiko Brown, Celebrity Makeup Artist
Celebrity Clients: Yara Shahidi, Letitia Wright, Logan Browning, Alicia Keys, Lupita Nyong’o, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Michael B. Jordan
"This bronzer from Chanel in the shade Deep is the perfect creamy color for an undetectable sun flush. I love how smooth and velvety the texture is."
Pro Tip: Avoid bronzers that look like a disco ball. As Reiko Brown explains to us, the best bronzers for dark skin will mimic the warmth of the sun. To look natural and believable, they shouldn’t have too much shimmer or sparkle.
"This bronzer from Fenty Beauty by Rihanna is perfect for mid to deep skin tones thanks to the nice, golden-caramel glow."
Pro Tip: Use the right brush. Reiko Brown tells us she prefers to apply bronzer with a large, loosely bristled fluffy brush, which will create a naturally diffused (streak-free!) finish.
"I love how pigmented this bronzer is, so little goes a long way. It applies super-evenly without ‘slipping’ on moisturized skin. Plus, it has just the right amount of red for very deep skin tones."
Pro Tip: Create a 3-D Finish. To really make the complexion pop, Reiko Browns says to apply your bronzer to your cheeks, the top of your forehead, and your chin. Then, to take your results to the next level, make sure you apply a pop of bright blush on the apples of your cheeks. (Click here 12 blushes that look especially amazing on rich skin tones.)
Joanna Simkin, Celebrity Makeup Artist
Celebrity Clients: Issa Rae, Marsai Martin, Storm Reid, Leona Lewis, Amber Rose, Megalyn Echikunwoke, and Kerry Washington
"Prime Beauty makes three different shades of bronzers that are all meant for medium to deep skin tones. They're a few of my hands-down favorites for brown skin. They're highly pigmented, super-buildable, and offer a flattering matte finish."
Pro Tip: Beware of bronzers that are too light, too cool, or labeled "golden." According to Simkin, both of the former will usually read ashy on dark skin, therefore having the opposite effect you're trying to get from a bronzer. And as far as the latter, Simkin explains that many bronzers marketed as "golden" should really be translated as "golden for lighter skin tones." Instead, she recommends looking for shades that have orange, copper, or amber undertones.
"I love Nars's Bronzer Powder in both Laguna and Casino. They're great for medium-deep skin tones."
Pro Tip: Choose formulas with reflective mica. Simkin agrees with Reiko Brown's tip that shimmery and sparkly bronzers should definitely be avoided. That said, Simkin says she does like and recommends bronzers that aren't necessarily shimmery, per se but have a little bit of mica to create a naturally reflective finish for dark skin tones. "These types of bronzers will help reflect light while lifting and enhancing the warm tones of your skin," she tells us.
"I love the Sunlit Bronzers from Becca Cosmetics for deep skin tones. Both Impanema Sun and Maui Nights are both amazing, warm shades."