When I think back to my approach to bronzer in my 20s it makes me shudder; it was less ‘sun kissed’ and more ‘You’ve been Tango’d’ and there was nothing natural about it. Roll forward to the ripe old age of 43 and whilst it still plays an important part in my daily make up routine, you’ll be relieved to hear that less is definitely more these days. I now favour lighter, cooler tones, which is key as a redhead as anything that has too warm a base can read as if you’ve been over zealous with the old fake tan at best or as if you’ve been slapped around the chops with a mud pie at worst.
And tone is definitely the key here as you’ll see with my picks below; I now know what suits me, am very happy with my bronzer wardrobe and hopefully have something to recommend at both ends of the price spectrum.
So, my favourite bronzers as a redhead from the drugstore up to the more luxe end of town are:
Revlon Sculpt & Highlight Contour Kit – $24.95
So, starting off on the more budget side of things, here’s a great little kit. If you don’t already own it/haven’t heard of it – it’s a collab with mega YouTuber Chloe Morello so got a lot of air time when it launched – go down to your local Priceline and grab it as it’s ace. There are two options Light/Medium and Medium/Dark but obviously as a ginger, the light/medium is for me and I really like it. I don’t use the banana powder or highlighter in the kit to be honest (I have other setting powders and highlighters in my collection that I prefer) but I really enjoy the bronzer and contour shades in this kit and use them regularly. The contour is a nice cool toned shade and whilst the bronzer sits on the right side of warmth, if I’m feeling particularly pale I sometimes mix the two together to dial down the colour a notch. On a lazy day, I often use the shades as eyeshadows as well which gives a nice and natural but pulled together look. It’s cheap, effective, buttery and applies well on unpowdered skin – which is a real plus for me as I rarely powder and hate that dragging, patchy look that you can get when you apply powder bronzer to a dewy skin – and is nice and compact for travel. I’ve made a good old dent in my first and have a back-up ready to go (that’s the one that I photographed – you don’t need to see the grubby one that I’m currently ploughing my way through) and I thoroughly recommend it, particularly if budget is a consideration.
Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer – $44.00
Moving up a notch on the price scale, here’s an old favourite and one that I’ve hit pan on and probably need to replace. It’s matte, a lovely cool bronze – so looks flattering on the fairest of skins – and I think a really good price point for the quality of the product. I have to say that I really rate Too Faced’s bronzer collection. As a brand, they’re not particularly my aesthetic – it’s a bit too girlie and cutesy from a packaging perspective for me – but they do cracking primers, eyeshadows and complexion products and they have something for everybody in the bronzer category. I appear to be the minority in that I can’t stand the chocolate/peach/peanut butter etc. scents that they drench their collections in – I’m very much a fragrance-free kind of girl with cosmetics – but I will always recommend them for bronzers as they can offer everything from light matte to full on, deep, shimmery glow.
Benefit Hoola Lite Matte Powder Bronzer- $51.00
Again, Benefit have never been a ‘go to’ brand of mine – I really don’t like the packaging – but there are some cult products in their range and the Hoola bronzer range is no exception. I do find the original Hoola to be a bit too warm for my colouring and preference so was never a user until its little brother Hoola Lite was born and I’m quite the fan. It’s again beautifully matte (spot the theme here – I’m not a fan of shimmery bronzers) and cool toned and not overly pigmented so that you can build it gradually for a more sculpted effect if you feel the need. It’s a little fragranced so it will never be the first bronzer that I reach for, but I’m very glad that I have it in my collection. It again doubles up as a lovely every day eyeshadow and I love products that have versatility and can be used in more than one way.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer – Luminous Bronze Light – $72
We’re hitting luxe territory now and I have to say that this is my current fave. Despite it being part of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting range – therefore not matte like the rest of my picks – it gives the subtlest of sheens (as per the rest of this glorious range) and brings a warmth and glow to your skin in the most beautiful way. I particularly like this when I have a little bit of a colour – note that I didn’t use the word tan as I just don’t get there – and my freckles are more prominent as it’s slightly warmer and gives a wonderfully radiant glow to the skin.
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder – $86
And finally, the most beautiful of all from a packaging and quality perspective. I love love love the Les Beiges range and its minimal packaging; it’s so chic and whilst it’s not technically a bronzer – it’s a powder – it’s definitely one to consider if you’re looking to treat yourself as it’s finely milled and gives a glossy, healthy look to the skin that’s very pretty. My recommendation would be to go up a couple of shades if using this product as a bronzer e.g. I’m annoyingly in between shades and probably a 1.5 as a setting powder (so typically get a 2 and make it work) and would look at a 3 or 4 as a bronzer. As always, it’s best – particularly when you’ll be parting with this much cash – to go to a Chanel counter and have a play with the shades to see which one will suit you best.
I hope that you found this a useful read; as a redhead, I know that this can be a hard product to pull off but can genuinely recommend these compacts of loveliness and know that you’ll get a lovely sun-kissed glow with any of the above in your make up bag.
Have I missed any – are there others that should be on my ever-growing ‘products to try and buy’ list??