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Best bronzer for fair skin 2023: Sun-kissed skin in a single sweep

Add a bit of natural-looking warmth with our pick of the best bronzers for fair skin

Those blessed with fair skin know that it’s wise to err on the side of caution with bronzer; finding the best bronzer for fair skin can stop you from looking too orange. After all, failing to embrace your pale complexion could be seen as a beauty crime, given that so many seek to replicate what’s known as that beautiful ‘English rose’ look. Nevertheless, when the winter months arrive and a natural summer complexion is just a distant memory, we’d all love to warm up our colouring to achieve a healthy glow.

How do you approach bronzing when you have fair skin? Picking the wrong colour could see you sporting an overly “orange” look, or could even leave your face looking grubby. Arriving in liquids, creams and powders, you need a formula that’s blendable, so you’re left looking sun-kissed, rather than streaky. So, if you’re looking for a bronzer to enhance your complexion, rather than change it, then you’ve come to the right place. Read on for our pick of the best bronzers for fair skin; but first we offer advice on how you should go about choosing the best bronzer for you.

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Best bronzers for fair skin: At a glance

How to choose the best bronzer formula for fair skin

A powder bronzer in the right shade, applied with a bronzer brush, is great for achieving subtle warming; but will be equally easy to build to your desired look. Cream bronzers are generally a little more pigmented on first application, regardless of whether it’s applied with your fingers or a synthetic-haired brush. Bronzers are also available in mousse form, which are lighter than cream formulations, while bronzing tints, serums and drops are liquid formulas that go on quite sheer, but can be built up to your desired intensity.

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How do I know which shade will suit me best?

Since the purpose of a bronzer is to warm your skin, the general rule of thumb is to choose a hue that’s one shade darker than your natural skin tone. Try to determine whether your skin has cool undertones or warm undertones, so you can choose a shade ‘family’ that will flatter your skin the most.

The best way to do this is to have a look at the veins on your wrist. If they’re obviously blue then your skin has cool undertones, which suits peach, beige and taupe shades. If they’re green then you have warm undertones, in which case you should choose golden brown shades. Some may find that they’re a bit of both, which means you have neutral undertones and will suit natural brown shades – steer clear of pinks or yellows. Avoid terracotta shades and bronzers with red undertones, too – these suit those with olive and dark skin tones better than those with fair/pale complexions.

How do I apply bronzer?

It’s best to apply bronzer to the areas where the sun hits your face – your cheeks, the centre of your forehead, down the bridge of your nose and your chin. For some additional contouring, make a figure of three with your bronzer on the right side of your face; start at your temple, then come down in a curve across your cheekbone, and then back across your cheekbone and down and across your jawline. Repeat on the other side in a backwards “3” shape.

How much should I spend?

If you’ll be using a bronzer every day then you shouldn’t really be spending any more than £25, especially if frequent use is likely to see you run out of product quickly. Although, if you’ve been struggling to find a product to suit your skin tone, but have recently discovered a formula costing more than this amount that’s just the business, then it may well be worth spending the extra!

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The best bronzers for fair skin you can buy in 2023

1. Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer in Inda Sun: The best powder bronzer for fair skin

Price when reviewed: £29 | Check price at BootsBest bronzer for fair skin - Fenty

You won’t have to ever worry about over-applying this sort of bronzer. The super-sheer formula is perfect for very pale skin, so even if you choose to build the colour on to skin in two or three layers, you won’t be left looking orange – or like you didn’t have a mirror handy when you applied your makeup that morning. Use a big bristle makeup brush to swish it onto your face, safe in the knowledge that once you’re done, you’ll have achieved a flattering warm shade to your skin rather than a muddy, streaky finish.

Check price at Boots

2. Chanel Les Beiges Bronzing Cream in Soleil Tan Bronze: The best cream bronzer

Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at John LewisBest bronzer for fair skin - Chanel

If you’ve noted the price of this bronzer then you might think we’re slightly crazy to recommend it. A bronzer costing more than £40? Really? But hear us out. This is the crème de la crème – if you’ll pardon the pun – of cream bronzers. For a start, you get 30g of it, which certainly trumps the bog-standard 8-10g compacts made by other brands. As such, it will last for months, not weeks. And the shade (the lightest is Soleil Tan Bronze) is the perfect colour for those with pale complexions, looking super-natural while adding a sun-kissed warmth. The fact that it’s a cream also helps to add a gorgeous glow to the skin, too. Apply it with a synthetic-hair bronzer brush or a kabuki brush and we’re sure you’ll be glad of your investment on seeing the results in the mirror.

Check price at John Lewis

3. Maybelline New York City Bronze Bronzer in Medium Warm: The best matte bronzer for fair skin

Price when reviewed: £9 | Check price at BootsBest bronzer for fair skin - Maybelline

If you’re someone who has steered clear of bronzer so far as a result of the shimmer (or sometimes, sparkle) that most bronzing powders deliver – because, lets face it, sparkly makeup can get everywhere – then a matte bronzer should be top of your list. Even though matte can sometimes mean muddy, Maybelline’s lightweight formula is a winner. Great for achieving a subtle glow, this bronzer does so without introducing any hint of orange – and its summery scent, with a slight hint of coconut, delivers summer vibes as soon as you open the lid. The mattifying formula is great for those with oily skin, too.

Check price at Boots

4. Rimmel Radiance Shimmer Brick Bronzer: The best shimmery bronzer

Price when reviewed: £7 | Check price at SephoraBest bronzer for fair skin - Rimmel

For those who don’t mind some subtle shimmer, this radiant bronzer is the way to go. Not only is it budget-friendly, it leaves the slightest of sheen on fair cheeks – visible when the light hits. Made up of a mix of bronze shades, you’ll be able to get a more natural finish. Plus, the formula is easy to build, too – start off with a single sweep across the face, then add layers until you achieve your desired bronzed look. You could even use the lighter shades in the palette as a highlighter.

Check price at Sephora

5. Perricone MD No Makeup Bronzer Broad Spectrum SPF 15: The best liquid bronzer

Price when reviewed: £26 | Check price at John LewisBest bronzer for fair skin - Perricone

The great thing about Perricone MD’s bronzer is that it comes with a pipette applicator, meaning you can add drops of this liquid bronzer to your morning serum or moisturiser. This nicely dilutes the colour, adding just a light wash of warmth to fair skin if you don’t want to wear any base. You could even add a few drops to your base – but be mindful of how much you put in; you don’t want to change the colour of your foundation altogether. Remember, the whole point of a bronzer is to achieve a natural glow. Alternatively, simply blend into your cheeks, down your nose and/or on your forehead with fingers over base, in place of when you’d usually apply a powder bronzer. It’s super-sheer, too, allowing you plenty of room for experimentation!

Check price at John Lewis

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