The best bronzers for fair skin

  • Bronzer is great for bringing life to fair skin, but there's a fine line between getting a sun-kissed glow and a botched spray tan.
  • Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer is one of the most natural-looking, versatile bronzers we've tried. There's even a Lite version for ultra-fair complexions, though we're partial to the original shade.

Like many fair-skinned individuals, if I step outside for even five minutes sans sunscreen, I can practically feel myself getting burned.

That's why bronzer is my go-to makeup hack for livening up my decidedly un-tan complexion. Lydia Deetz from "Beetlejuice" might be my style icon, but not quite my beauty one.

Nailing the right bronzer shade for fair skin can be tricky. You have to pay attention to color depth, pigmentation, and undertone. If a bronzer is fairly sheer, you can go a bit deeper with the color, but not too much - the number one thing you'd want to avoid is dusting your cheeks with powder that makes your face look like a tanning bed disaster.

Knowing your undertones is important for bronzer shopping too, no matter your skin tone. You're basically looking for a shade that's similar to your complexion - you know, if you were actually capable of getting a tan.

Here are the best bronzers for fair skin you can buy:

Keep scrolling to check out our top picks.

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The best overall

The best overall
Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer is a totally matte and blendable bronzer that gives even the fairest of skin tones a natural sun-kissed look.

Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer appears time and time again on "best bronzer" lists, and for very good reasons.

It's 100% matte, blendable, pigmented, and super versatile. I'm quite fair so I use a light hand, but haven't had any issues with veering into spray tan territory. For those who are extremely fair, the brand has launched Hoola Lite, which is lighter in both the shade and pigmentation departments.

While not as cool-toned as contouring powders, Hoola does work well for creating shadow and depth under your cheekbones, as well as imparting a wash of color across your cheekbones, jawline, and forehead.

"Benefit's Hoola is milled so super fine that you can swish it all over the face without the fear of muddy-looking patches," writes Byrdie. Editors at TotalBeauty, Vogue UK, Marie Claire, StyleCaster, and Best Products are also fans.

The bronzer has an average 4.5 rating at Sephora based on 2,800+ reviews.

Pros: Matte finish, multiple shades for various skin tones, buildable, good for contouring

Cons: Small amount of product in pan, included brush is low quality

The best without shimmer

The best without shimmer
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer in Nude Bronze Light creates the perfect luminous glow for fair complexions without a trace of visible shimmer.

My all-time favorite bronzer for fair skin is Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer in the shade Nude Bronze Light. The luminous finish is half-way between matte and shimmer-y. There are no discernible glitter particles, but the powder somehow creates a soft, subtle glow on my skin.

The Ambient Lighting Bronzer is actually comprised of the brand's' signature Ambient Lighting Powders mixed with bronze pigments to create the ideal natural sun-kissed glow. Nude Bronze Light is my go-to during the winter because the shade is very fair and the subtle luminosity brings life to my dry, dull skin that hasn't seen the sun in three months (or, in my case, about 25 years).

Hourglass makes my favorite powder face products; they're so finely milled and blendable that they look like a natural part of your face.

"This is the only bronzer I've ever used that gives a warm glow. It's very natural looking even on the fairest of skin," writes one Sephora shopper. Get the Gloss calls it, "Ideal if you're after a more lifted, glowing effect to the face."

Ambient Lighting Bronzer has also been featured by Glamour UK, Vogue UK, Best Products, Elle and has a 4.5 rating at Sephora with more than 700 reviews. It's also a favorite of fair-skinned beauty vlogger Arna Alayne.

Pros: Subtle and natural glow without visible shimmer, cruelty free, huge pan

Cons: Expensive (though you get a lot of product), doesn't include a brush

The best with shimmer

The best with shimmer
Becca Sunlit Bronzer in Bali Sands is a soft golden-beige shade with delicate shimmer particles for a lit-from-within glow.

For a more overt glimmer, try Becca Sunlit Bronzer in Bali Sands.

If any beauty brand company knows how to do shimmer, it's Becca. The brand's newest range of bronzers utilize the same formula as the famous Shimmering Skin Perfectors, but with more subtle glow.

The powder is so soft and creamy that it blends like a total dream and melts into my skin for a natural look despite the fine shimmer particles. I have the shade Bali Sands, which is described as "soft golden-beige" geared toward the fairest complexions, and Capri Coast, which is ideal for light-to-medium skin tones.

"This makes me look like I have been kissed by the sun in such a natural way. Just a beautiful, subtle tan. It's very smooth, blends easily, and is not orange in the least," writes one Sephora shopper, who describes the shimmer as, "very, very fine."

The product has 4.7 stars based on almost 300 Sephora reviews. It's also our top pick for best bronzer overall, and has been featured on PopSugar and Glamour UK.

Pros: Subtle shimmer, two shades suited for fair to light skin tones, no parabens or sulfates

Cons: Expensive

The best drugstore bronzer

The best drugstore bronzer
Wet 'n Wild Coloricon Bronzer in Ticket to Brazil is a light bronzer for the fairest of complexions.

Wet 'n Wild has one of the best drugstore formulas for bronzer.

The Coloricon Bronzer in Ticket to Brazil is a customer favorite for fair complexions, so if you struggle to find an affordable bronzer that works for your skin tone, this one just might do the trick — though it might also require some trial and error.

A few reviewers note that they use this or the shade Reserve Your Cabana as an all-over finishing powder as the formula is really sheer, so it actually might be too light for some. One Ulta shopper writes, "If you are looking for something with high impact, this isn't it. However, I love it because it's not muddy or patchy, which I have issues with because if my pale, dry, cool undertoned skin."

I personally find it pigmented enough for my complexion, but it's certainly subtle, and a little bit sparkly. At less than $5 though, it's cheap enough to try out without feeling too bad if it doesn't work.

"Not only is this pressed powder oil-free, AKA it won't break you out, it also protects your skin with SPF 15, while imparting a subtle shimmery glow onto your skin," raves Cosmopolitan Beauty Director Carly Cardellino.

Pros: Affordable, huge pan, good for extremely fair skin

Cons: Might be too light to show up on skin for some people

The best peach tone

The best peach tone
Urban Decay Beached Bronzer in Sun-Kissed gives you the perfect day-at-the-beach look — no UV rays required.

I'm normally pretty okay with having the same coloring as a porcelain doll, but sometimes in the summer I feel too pasty.

That's when I reach for Urban Decay Beached Bronzer in the shade Sun-Kissed.

This color is so aptly named. It's a subtle peach-toned bronzer that truly makes it look like you've spent all day in the sun. Depending on your skin and undertones, you may even be able to use this one as a blush and bronzer combo due to the peach-pink tones that prevent it from ever going orange.

I find that I can apply this liberally because it's pigmented yet subtle and blendable.

"I have this bronzer in the shade 'sun kissed.' Definitely my favorite bronzer! I am fair (red hair kinda fair) and I love how this bronzer gives my skin a sun-kissed, healthy glow WITHOUT shimmer," writes one Sephora shopper.

The product averages 4.4 out of 5 stars on Sephora based on nearly 200 reviews. It's a 2016 Allure Best of Beauty winner, and has earned high praise from Best Products, Temptalia, and Byrdie.

"The micromilled powder is soft and smooth, and Urban Decay's pigments make for long-lasting color that never looks flat or dull," writes Allure.

Pros: Cool tone, buildable, finely-milled, large pan

Cons: Pink undertone might not work for everyone

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