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Image / Style / Beauty

The best cream bronzers for easy sun-kissed skin

Sheer, seamless, buildable and foolproof - swap your powder for cream bronzers for a sunkissed glow that's at one with your skin.


Holly O'Neill
16th Jun 2022
The best cream bronzers for easy sun-kissed skin

Glow has never been easier to cheat, and once you make the swap from powder products to cream products, it becomes pretty much foolproof, especially when it comes to cream bronzers.

We’ve fully adjusted to sheer and dewy cream blushers, but cream bronzers are still an up and coming make-up category, being led by some heavy-hitters proficient in the art of glow; namely Charlotte Tilbury, Tom Ford, Chanel, Fenty Beauty and Sculpted by Aimee Connolly.

So why should you swap your beloved powder bronzer for a creamy one? Well, when you consider it, powder and glow is hard to perfect. If you’re oily it’s great, but if you’re dry-skinned, it’s going to cling everywhere you don’t want it to and make you look and feel even drier.

Cream bronzers, on the other hand, look seamless, soft and sheer on the skin. It leaves your skin looking like skin, eliminates any possibility of orange stripes and looks like a real skin flush -no chiselled-out cheekbones required. The lightest touch is the easiest way to do it; go minimal on foundation and for the dewiest look, rely on cream bronzer. It glides on, is easily buildable and sinks in to look at one with the skin. The best tools to use in your fingers, which will warm the cream up to help it melt right onto the skin.

It’s a foolproof hack for a sheer, fresh, sunlight glow. It’s like walking around with a ring light permanently pointed at your face, or like always being lit up by golden hour sunshine.

Are you sold? Then meet the the cream bronzer leaders to add a healthy glow to a flat complexion for a super-natural, bronzed base.

The most well-known of the bunch, which has been around for years, is the perfectly Instagrammable, deliciously swirled cream bronzer from Chanel. If you’ve yet to try this icon, the best way that I can describe it to you is that it’s like sunlight on the skin. It’s a lightweight, soft, gel-cream texture that melts into and becomes one with the skin for a natural bronze effect that is so good, you can actually justifying ruining the perfect swirl of the untouched bronzer. It’s just launched this summer in a new shade, Soleil Tan Medium Bronze, for darker complexions.

Often regarded as the grown-up go-to for subtle contouring, Charlotte Tilbury’s genius light and creamy Hollywood Contour Wand has long been a cult hero to create a natural bronze, sun-kissed glow on the cheeks and temples. Charlotte Tilbury has just upped her game in expert bronzing with her first cream bronzer, Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Sun-Kissed Glow Bronzer, €52, in four shades infused with hyaluronic acid to become at one with the skin for an ultra-natural tan.

Although it’s pricy, Tom Ford’s Shade and Illuminate is in the kit of every great make-up artist for a reason. It’s sheer at first, then easy to build upon without going too overboard for an always-natural soft focus glow.

Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out is, like all Fenty products, incredible. It’s buttery soft, sinks into the skin, doesn’t accentuate texture or pores, adds warmth and depth to your complexion, is sweat-proof and waterproof and comes in seven suits-all shades.

Last year, Glossier finally launched their most requested product to date; Solar Paint, a weightless, luminous bronzer crème for instant summer skin, in a whipped gel formula designed to give a natural sunkissed summer glow in four glistening shades. Dubbed “the most realistic bronzer possible,” it was tested to be true to life and each shade has light-reflecting colour pearls and pigments for warmth and dimension, “to realistically capture how the sun warms each range of skin tones.”

Westman Atelier Face Trace Contour Stick, €52 is similarly realistic, leaving a subtle, undetectable tinted polish that looks exactly like skin that’s been kissed by the sun.

Refy Beauty’s Cream Bronzer is a excellent as every other product in the capsule range, delivering a buildable tan that blends seamlessly into the skin to create definition and a hyper-real luminous finish.

Irish make-up artist Aimee Connolly’s Cream Luxe Bronze is a steal at €18 and her Cream Luxe range is the dewiest, softest, dreamiest version of bronzer, blusher and highlighter you’ll find. The bronzer in particular gives the most realistic, naturally bronzed tan of any one product I’ve ever tried, with just the lightest touch – especially on the bridge of the nose. The result of all three is entirely real skin – no streaky stripes, no cakeyness, just soft, relaxed, flushed summer skin. They feel completely weightless and glide on seamlessly, whether you prefer to use fingers or the Perfecting Duo Brush, which makes blending a doddle.

Photography by Chanel.

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