I threatened it and now here it is – my 2013 list of favourite bronzers. I’m a sucker for a good bronzer but I was surprised to see that not one of my bronzers from 2012 made this year’s list. It’s not that I don’t use them anymore – I do – it’s just that so many new bronzers are around to tempt me. The 10 bronzers on this year’s list includes two brands from 2012, an old bronzer, one from Sweden and some new discoveries.

So let’s get into it.

  • Benefit Hoola Bronzer. This is a cult classic and I bought it at Sephora in Rome last year. I have to use a very gentle hand when applying because, on my pale skin, it can look a tad orange if I’m not careful. The bronzer comes in a cute, sturdy cardboard box with built-in mirror. It’s a matte bronzer (which I prefer) so there’s no sparkle or shimmer. Very buildable and stays put all day. Normally, I throw out the little brushes that come with blushes and bronzers. But I kept the Hoola brush because it’s great for contouring the sides of the nose. I would seriously consider buying this again.
  • Nars Zen. This is actually a blush rather than a bronzer. I’ve avoided spending a ton of money on the famous Nars Laguna bronzer (NZ$72.00 in department store). But Zen is pretty well perfect for me. It’s a matte, medium brown silky powder with peach undertones. I bought it awhile back and sort of forgot about it. It is quite pigmented so a delicate hand is needed on pale skins otherwise it could look muddy. Applied lightly, you get a lovely warm glow. I will definitely be repurchasing when I hit pan.
  • Revlon PhotoReady Bronzed and Chic 100. Really love this – four matte shades in one bronzer created by Revlon Global Artistic Director Gucci Westman. It was released as part of the Summer 2012 Escapism collection and I’m pretty sure it was limited edition. The design on the bronzer is a piece of coral. There is no sparkle or shimmer and the bronzer is divided into four different shades that work well together. I’ve even used this as an eyeshadow palette. The usual light hand for pale skins is needed because it’s very pigmented. The four shades range from light to dark, allowing you to use the bronzer year round. Possibly this bronzer might work best on medium skin tones and I tend to stay in the lightest quadrants or swirl a large fluffy brush lightly over all four. I would definitely consider repurchasing as I’ve enjoyed using this product. I believe it’s now part of Revlon’s permanent collection.
  • Physicians Formula Happy Booster Glow & Mood Boosting bronzer Light bronzer. Physicians Formula tend to have long names for some of their products. This brand made my 2012 list but not this particular bronzer. I LOVE the little hearts and the ultra-smooth powder. Apparently, the natural plant extracts are supposed to boost your mood. Very buildable and once you take off the top layer (which has a sheen to it) it’s a matte bronzer. Thankfully, the hearts run deep into the product so don’t disappear after a few swirls of the brush. It’s a sheer bronzer that works for pale skin. Not sure I’d repurchase as I do prefer a bronzer with more oomph. This is possibly too sheer.
  • Yves Rocher Bronzeur nacré 04 Terre de Soleil. Yves Rocher used to be in Sydney at the entrance to Centrepoint and I loved their chocolate body wash. It’s a French brand that’s been going for around 50 years and prides itself on botanical skincare. Whilst working in Rome last year, I used to frequent the Yves Rocher shop at Termini Station. It was a tiny shop but chock full of great makeup and skincare. The Tribal Attitude collection was in-store mid-2012 and I spotted the Terre de Soleil bronzer but I can’t seem to find reference to it now. The bronzer mentioned for the Tribal Attitude collection is a shimmering bronzer called Terracotta; so I’m not sure if Terre de Soleil was released especially for the Italian market. Anyway, I really love this bronzer. Travel-friendly and it has a pearlescence that imparts a soft golden glow. Very buildable and it has no orange undertones. I’m sorry I didn’t buy a back-up.
  • Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Light/Medium Matte Bronzer. This is the lighter version of the popular Chocolate Soleil bronzer. Infused with antioxidant-rich cocoa powder, it smells like a yummy bar of chocolate. It’s 100% cruelty free and is perfect for fair-faced ladies. The powder has a silky fine texture and a light dusting gives a subtle glow. For anyone scared of bronzers, this is a beauty and I’ll definitely be repurchasing.
  • MAC Refined Golden bronzing powder. This bronzer is part of the Temperature Rising collection and it’s a lightly frosted medium brown. The spicy gold frost is quite noticeable in the pan but not so much on the skin. It imparts a sheer, natural colour when applied with a light hand and the golden undertones minimize the possibility of it looking muddy or dirty on the skin. Perfect for contouring and it also looks wonderful with NARS’ Gina on top. I’m not sure if this bronzer is part of MAC’s permanent collection.
  • Maria Åkerberg bronzer in Sun Kissed. This is a Swedish brand and I picked it up in Stockholm last year. A lovely soft pecan colour, it’s a matte bronzer that I’ve come to love. And this is a real problem because I’m unlikely to return to Sweden anytime soon. Can’t see how to order it online either. It’s probably the best powder bronzer I’ve used.
  • Chanel Soleil Tan De Chanel bronzing makeup base. Also known as Bronze Universal because it only comes in the one shade. It’s taken me awhile to like this bronzer. I bought this in Sweden and it’s a lightweight gel cream formula with a cult-like following. The product comes in a big tub that is hardly travel-friendly. But you do get a ton of product for the exorbitant price (around NZ$70.00). One light dip of your brush into the solid cream is all you need and it melts into the skin. Anything more than a light touch and you end up looking like an oompa loompa because it’s an orange-based bronzer. In the pot, it looks mousse-like and I think this is why it took me some time to get the hang of the consistency. I started off using WAY too much product, oops. What I don’t like is the tiny hairs and dust that get stuck in the cream. Although the tub comes with a plastic lid, I find it best to keep this lid on during use – so once I swirl my brush lightly in the cream, it’s back on with the lid fast. I apply the product with the Real Techniques Expert Face brush. This bronzer doesn’t have staying power – after a few hours, it seems to have disappeared.
  • LUSH Charisma Skin Tint. Not marketed as a bronzer but I consider this to be HG bronzer status. I bought this in late 2012 after I purchased the Chanel bronzer. And frankly, I think it’s better (as much as I like the Chanel bronzer) and a fraction of the cost at NZ$24.90. You can mix Charisma with moisturiser to get a tinted moisturiser look or apply straight from the little pot, which is what I do. No fuss here. You don’t need to apply with a brush – this lightweight dream cream is applied best with fingers and a small amount goes a long way. It glides on smoothly and seems to melt into the skin, giving a soft natural glow that lasts all day. I’m wondering if I can pull Charisma off as an eyeshadow. The tiny pot travels extremely well and I’ll be repurchasing again and again. LOVE.

Top row L-R – Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil; Maria Akerberg Sunkissed bronzer; Chanel Soleil Tan De Chanel; and Lush Charisma. Middle row L-R: Nars Zen; Revlon PhotoReady Bronzed & Chic; Physicians Formula Happy Hearts Glow & Mood Boosting Light Bronzer; Bottom row L-R: Benefit Hoola; Yves Rocher 04 Terra de Soleil; MAC Refined Golden.