I have definitely developed a bit of an obsession with bronzer buying ever since brands started coming out with more than two shades and this post is a proof of that. I figured it would be a good point of reference for anyone who might be looking for a bronzer/contour especially if you have a fair complexion like mine. For reference, I use shade 100 in the Fenty Hydrating Foundation and 0.1 in the Smashbox Studio Skin Foundation. I have yellow undertones so I like pinkier bronzers because yellow tones make me look sallow. For the purpose of this post, I decided to include any product in my collection that I use as a bronzer or contour and grouped them in three main categories so if it’s more of fair playing field.
Kevyn Aucoin Celestial Bronzing Veil in Tropical Nights (discontinued) – this is my first bronzer purchase and still the most unusual shade and finish in my collection. It has a strong pink and slightly purple undertone but the base colour is very well balanced so it definitely doesn’t go on blush like. It’s a metallic finish but one that looks glowy as opposed to shimmery on the skin. It’s definitely not one for the faint hearted and not one if you like warmth but I still love it to bits.
Kevyn Aucoin Neo Bronzer in Sunrise Light – I can only get over Tropical Nights being discontinued because Kevyn Aucoin then introduced this bronzer into their range and this is its less dramatic sister. Sunrise Light features a gradient from shimmer to matte but the overall finish is a soft satin. It’s more pink but if you’re quite yellow toned and a lot of neutral tones tend to look muddy on you, this is a beautiful shade. The formula is also a lot easier to work with than the Celestial Bronzing Veil and this is definitely an all around winner for me.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer in Diffused Bronze Light – I’d say finish wise the Ambient Lighting Bronzers fall somewhere between the previous two and tone wise this is slightly less pink toned that Sunrise Light but definitely still on that side of the spectrum. I don’t know how either of these would read on pink toned skin but I definitely find both shades to be extremely flattering on my colouring. Quick note, I don’t really like the marble effect on the Hourglass bronzers and blushers because I find it makes the colour go on patchy on the skin but ever since mine shattered and I repressed into less of a dramatic colour gradient, I’ve definitely found this a lot easier to apply.
Becca Sunlit Bronzer in Bronzed Bondi – for me this is one of the best bronzer formulas out there, it’s not overly soft so you can’t go overboard with it and while it appears to have shimmer in the pan, it translates as a subtle glow on the face. The shades is what I don’t like about this range. Both the lighter shades pulled extremely yellow on skin to the point where the sales assistant admitted I looked jaundiced in Capri Coast. Bronzed Bondi is the least yellow/orange in the range and thanks to its soft focus formula I can definitely make it work but it’s not generally what I look for in the bronzer meaning I would never tan this colour.
Bare Minerals Invisible Bronze in Fair to Light (discontinued) – this one was non shimmery version of the Hourglass formula but it has a lovely satin finish. It’s the lightest and the warmest out of all the bronzers here which is a great representations of what the lightest bronzer shades tend to be for most brands. I can make it work if I apply it in sheer layers but otherwise it can look a bit too warm on me.
Nars Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer in Falaises – speaking of shade ranges, this is one is in fact the darkest shade in the Sun Wash Diffusing range but because it’s a very lightweight gelee formula, it actually works a treat to create a very realistic slightly sunburnt look on fair skin. It’s also interesting in a sense that it leans red but has coolness in it (I feel like this really came out when I compared this to Marc Jacobs Tantalize here). I think this can be layered effectively to show up on medium skin but it’s definitely quite sheer to begin with which happens to work to my advantage.
Tom Ford Bronzing Powder in Terra – I’ve sworn by this bronzer for the past five years and even though Tom Ford have come out with different versions, it’s still a staple in their collection. I believe the current version is slightly softer pressed than the one I own but that’s the only difference. For the longest time I used this as contour and for me, this is one that can do the double duty thanks for its tone and finish. It’s a lovely mid tone brown shade with pink undertones and it’s beyond flattering on my skin. The formula is also extremely easy to work with and it never looks overdone.
Fenty Sun Stalk’r Bronzer in Inda Sun – I didn’t expect much from this seeing as this range is hailed instant warmth but Inda Sun is described as a neutral tan. Bit like the Becca bronzer, I feel like if this had a different formula it could be awful but because it’s so buildable, you can easily control how much you apply. Now, I hesitate to call it a neutral because neutral bronzers don’t tend to look good on me and this one does so if I stare at it long enough I can find slight peachiness in it but on the skin, it’s a ‘more neutral but not too neutral’ version of Terra as they are very close in finish.
Estee Lauder x VB Bronzer in Java Sun (LE) – this one is an old limited item that I sort of bought for the packaging because it’s extremely pretty. Again similar to two the previous two and shade wise a darker and a hint warmer version of Terra.
Marc Jacobs Omega Bronzer in Tantastic – this is an example of a neutral bronzer that doesn’t look good on my skin. Tone wise I see why it works for so many people but on me it definitely pulls too warm and makes me look very sallow. I’m not a big fan of the formula, I find this finicky to apply and can only make it work if I use an airy brush and diffuse the slightest amount of colour on the skin. The finish on the skin is also not nearly smooth as what you get with Tom Ford and Fenty.
Burberry Light Glow Blush in Earthy – this colour doesn’t have enough pink in it to work as a blusher for me but I love it for contouring and very foolproof one at that. What it has of the pink undertones actually mostly disappears on the skin and this is very effective in creating a shadow. Out of the contours I’m talking about here, this one is the hardest pressed so it’s impossible to overapply.
YSL Couture Duo in Rosy Contouring (discontinued) – compared to Earthy this shade definitely has more grey tones in it and is also darker so would have worked on more skin tones. For me, this is one that offers a bit more drama but while it is a bit softer, it’s equally as easy to apply just the right amount of product.
Nars Contour Blush in Olympia – I’m not so in love with this formula as the previous two as it’s definitely on the powdery side so can only be used with a softer brush. Olympia is more pigmented than Earthy but light enough to create a soft contour rather than an extremely chiselled look. Depending on your undertones, this could be a sculpting blush or bronzer but I tend to just use this as a straight up contour.
Nars Contour Blush in Paloma – this one is the darkest and hardest to work with out of all the shades mentioned here, however, I absolutely love the shade. It’s much darker and cooler than Olympia. Personally I prefer to use this as blusher but I think it would a great contour for medium skin tones.
KKW Creme Contour in Fair I/Light I – you get two shades within this contour stick, Fair I being a lighter more neutral and Light I being a hint darker and more cool toned. Think Olympia and Paloma in one contour stick but in this case, the darker side is definitely light enough. This is the only cream contour I own because I find it hard to find something that doesn’t lean yellow or grey in cream products and if I was cream product user, I would repurchase this over and over again especially now that you can buy the contour stick with the highlight.
I thought I’d finish this off with a bit of a cost breakdown because clearly sending most days on Excel spreadsheets is not enough. The weight measurement below is gram and the currency is GBP.
Right, this was a lot to run through. I hope you find this post helpful if you were looking for comparison swatches for any of these bronzers. This wasn’t a ranking bronzer post but I’m thinking of doing an updated post in the future, though, it’s probably pretty obvious which bronzers I like more. Let me know if you have any questions.