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I think we can all agree that a makeup routine isn't complete without a golden, flattering bronze; it just pulls the whole look together. Especially if you’re travelling somewhere sunny this season, perking up your complexion with a sweep of bronzer helps to capture that coveted holiday glow.
I love a liquid highlighter to add a pop of radiance, and a rosy blush to inject some life into my cheeks, but to help create that natural, sun-kissed sheen, you’re going to need a great cream bronzer on your side.
Luckily, gone are the years of orange cheeks and muddy finishes. Yep, the best cream bronzers will deliver a skin-like finish and elevate your complexion with a natural-looking bronze – rather than a terracotta tan. What’s more, the best players deliver on the uber-dewy shine, but will leave out the sheen of shimmer that keeps the finish from looking believable.
Thanks to their hydrating and buttery formulas, they won’t creep into rough areas, but will leave a result that looks like your complexion has been naturally touched by the sun. And if you're a newbie, the best cream bronzers are easy to blend and melt into your skin without a streak in sight.
Cream vs powder bronzer: what is the difference?
While I do love a soft powder bronzer (I often reach for the Westman Atelier Butter Powder Bronzer), I find creams just hit differently compared to their matte counterparts – and turns out Bobbi Brown make-up artist, Amalie Russell, seems to agree with me.
The difference between a cream and powder is not just in the formula, but in the finish also. 'Cream bronzer has a whipped and satiny feel that glides onto the skin which makes it appear dewy, glow-y and hydrated, while powder bronzers tend to be denser in formula and give the skin a matte, shine-free finish'. If you have a drier skin type, cream bronzers are a great option as they won’t turn cakey during the day (especially great if you want to avoid touch-ups).
A top tip from Amalie: she recommends dusting a sheer coat of powder bronzer on top of a cream bronzer for a longer-lasting effect.
How should you apply cream bronzer?
Where you apply your cream bronzer really depends on the kind of look you’re going for. Are you heading out for a dog walk in the park, or a dinner with friends? For a glam night-time look, Amalie suggests using a ‘blend upwards and outwards’ technique on the areas you want to contour, such as the chin, cheekbones and temples.
Alternatively, a cream bronzer can be used to achieve a diffused sun-kissed look with lighter application. 'Cream bronzers should look like you have spent the day out on the beach or outdoors,' says Amalie. She suggests placing your formula on the high points of your face where the sun would catch, like your forehead, cheeks, nose bridge, brow bone and chin.
Despite what you may believe, cream bronzers are actually very easy to apply (no, you don’t need some fancy brush to blend yours out). According to Amalie, using your fingers or a flat foundation brush will do the job. 'The best tools to blend cream products are synthetic-based because they don’t absorb oils or powders from the product, meaning they diffuse cream products beautifully.'
And, if you’re looking for a super-natural result, try Amalie’s clever hack: mix a pea-size amount of cream bronzer into your moisturiser for a soft-focus, bronzed from within kinda glow.
Now, onto the main event. From a luxurious cult classic to my Holy Grail I always bring when travelling, here are the 12 best cream bronzers that I’ve tried (and surely you’ll want to delve into too).
The best cream bronzers to try now
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