One wouldn't necessarily think finding a great bronzer would be all that difficult. But, when it comes to finding a formula that doesn't leave you overly dry, overly shimmery, overly ashy, or—the horror—overly, orange, the task gets frustrating fast. Oh, and don't think for a second that simply spending more money on a bronzer will automatically assure your safety from any of the above symptoms. Some of the most well-known bronzers have left us looking like disco balls or pint-sized extras in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Not, precisely, the vibe we're going for.) In fact, some of the best formulas we've tried during our beauty editor careers cost less than your average latte in Los Angeles, and if the hoards of stellar reviews amount to anything, beauty shoppers everywhere seem to agree.
Since we've swiped plenty of dupes, duds, and downright scary formulas over the years, we have a pretty good bearing on what to shop and what to, um, not when it comes to finding the best drugstore bronzers. Below, we're sharing 12 of our favorites that also happen to have amazingly robust reviews. Looking to fake the look of a Hawaiian vacation for $11 or less? Keep scrolling! Your ultimate drugstore bronzer awaits.
Whether you look on Amazon or Walmart, this fan-favorite drugstore bronzer from Milani rakes in stellar review after stellar review. The formula is vegan, cruelty-free, comes in four flattering shades, and offers a silky matte finish that's the next best thing to an actual tan.
We're not sure if it gets better than a $6 bronzer, and E.l.f.'s popular formula doesn't disappoint in results. (Seriously, we would never guess it wasn't about 10 times the price!) It's one of the most blendable drugstore bronzers we've tried, and it's even enriched with vitamin E to treat your skin to some much-needed winter T.L.C.
This sleek compact from NYX is one of the highest-rated bronzers on the market while also being one of the most affordable. It has a near-perfect rating on Walmart's website with a whopping 200+ reviews. The finish is matte, so if you're not into shimmer, this one's a great option.
That said, if you're the kind of makeup lover who does appreciate a little hint of shimmer (I'm with you, especially around the holidays!), this best-of-the-best bronzer is one of our personal favorites. It's waterproof, promises 10-hours of budge-proof wear and offers a pretty sheen that's not over-the-top or tacky.
Beauty editors, YouTubers, and even makeup artists go wild for this beloved, buttery bronzer from natural drugstore makeup brand Physician's Formula. Even though it's a powder, it has this unique and amazing creamy formula that feels like satin and blends like a dream into your cheekbones and forehead. The secret? A signature infusion of Murumuru Butter, Cupuacu Butter, and Tucuma Butter along with ultra-fine pearl and soft-focus pigments for a bright and radiant finish.
I'm a self-professed makeup snob, and I'm more than happy to admit that I keep a number of Wet n Wild's Color Icon bronzers on had at all times in my bathroom drawer. They do have some shimmer and they do offer a heftier boost of color, but I've found this drugstore option to be my one and only go-to before a big night out or before an event when I know there will be lots of photos and I don't want my complexion to look flat or washed out.
Surprise! Essence is one of my favorite drugstore makeup brands, point-blank and I'm actually obsessed with its blushes. That said, this matte bronzer has some seriously amazing ratings on Ulta's website, so you can imagine that this $5 compact will be the next on my hit list.
I realize this super-luminous drugstore bronzer from L'Oreal looks a bit intense in terms of its shimmer ration, but trust when I say it gifts your cheekbones and decolletage with the prettiest, summer-touched kiss of color. It is on the sparkly side, but definitely not outrageously so. I love layering it over a body lotion or oil for a super-glowy vibe.
Not a powder person? Fear not, this cult-loved bronzer stick from Burt's Bees is a game changer and perfect for executing the perfect dose of bronze or contour in a mess-free jiffy. Choose from a handful of shades that immediately brighten up your face with a stunning glow just as the product's name alludes.