Bronzer is an essential part of your base makeup routine since it adds warmth and definition to the face, resulting in a natural glow to trick people into thinking you just returned from vacation — that is, sans the sun damage.
While there are several different types of bronzers available on the market — think: creams, liquids, and powders — bronzer sticks are especially great considering how convenient and user-friendly they are. Unlike contour sticks, which are cool-toned, bronzer sticks are warmer-toned, and some even have a hint of shimmer for extra glowiness.
Additionally, according to New York City-based makeup artist Tobi Henney, the best bronzer sticks have creamy formulas, allowing for effortless blending. Similarly, makeup artist Judi Gabbay, who is also based in New York City, recommends looking for a bronzer stick with a “hydrating formula” so “that doesn’t tug at [the] skin when applying.” With this in mind, she tells Allure that “the key to a great bronzer stick is bendability and a good, expansive shade range.” And, speaking of shades, Henney recommends selecting one “around 2-3 shades darker than your skin tone.”
Once you’ve found your perfect shade, Gabbay recommends applying the product “straight from the tub” and buffing out with a damp beauty sponge or angled contour brush. She also warns against applying the product “too low under cheekbones.” Otherwise, this can visually drag down the face instead of creating a lifted look.
Below, we’ve rounded up the best bronzer sticks to suit all skin tones, including a handful of editor and makeup artist-approved picks.
Henney loves how effortlessly the Milk Makeup Matte Cream Bronzer Stick glides onto the skin thanks to its ultra-creamy texture. She continues, telling Allure, “The tones are beautiful and give the most gorgeous bronzing effect.” Take your pick of five shades — including Spaced, a very deep bronze (pictured) — each with a natural, skin-like finish. Ingredient highlights include fatty acid-rich castor and sunflower seed oils, along with skin-softening mango seed butter.
According to Gabbay, the Allure editor-approved Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt Shaping Stick is “a great option for first-timers” due to its buildable formula, which softly sculpts while adding warmth. As a bonus, the dual-ended stick conveniently comes with a brush for easy blending — sans any streaks, patchiness, or harsh lines. Select from one of six matte shades ranging from Light to Dark Deep.
For a gorgeous no-makeup makeup look, Gabbay reaches for the Nudestix Nudies Matte Cream Bronzer, which comes in eight distinct hues. The makeup artist is quick to note the product’s creamy formula, which she describes as “super easy to blend” Gabbay also likes to apply the product “directly onto the forehead, under cheeks and jawline as well as under bottom lip and on eyelid” before blending it with an angled blush.