Cream bronzer is beloved among pro makeup artists because it blends seamlessly into skin, almost melting to become one with the complexion. But besides its ultra-simple application and the natural, skin-like dewy finish it creates, it’s also incredibly versatile: It can of course be used to, well, bronze, but, when applied strategically, it can also contour and sculpt the face, bring overall warmth to the chest, neck and shoulders or even serve as a neutral-toned eye shadow to build beautiful, subtle depth. What I’m really getting at here is that cream bronzer is truly the unsung hero of the makeup bag, and it’s time the product gets its due.
With that in mind, here’re some of my (and cult) favourite cream bronzers and contour sticks, with something for every skin tone, finish preference and price point. From sheer shimmers that illuminate skin, ultra-blendable mattes that create a natural effect and ingeniously designed sticks that can be swept beneath cheekbones or along the hairline with ease and precision. Look through the selection below to see them all.
SAIE Sun Melt Natural Cream Bronzer
Lys Beauty No Limits Cream Bronzer and Contour Stick
ELF Putty Bronzer
Tarte Sea Breezy Cream Bronzer
Physicians Formula Organic Wear Sculpting Bronzer
Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Bronzer
Tower28 Bronzino Illuminating Cream Bronzer
Rare Beauty Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick
Danessa Myricks Power Bronzer Cream Bronzer
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream
Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Sun-Kissed Glow Cream Bronzer
Whether you’re going full glam for an occasion, or an important meeting over Zoom, it’s important to make sure that beat doesn’t budge — especially after sitting under the glow of the computer screen for hours on end. Luckily, the easiest way to ensure your flawlessly applied foundation, blinding highlighter, and sharp-winged liner doesn’t melt off, is by incorporating a setting spray — aka hairspray for your face — into your routine.
According to Los Angeles-based cosmetic chemist Victoria Vohland, setting spray is made up of three components: water, alcohol, and a film former that create a barrier to prevent makeup from slipping. It’s the same chemical formula used in hair gel, just made safer and gentle enough to use on the face.
To use, simply give your whole face a mist, or in cues. New York City-based makeup artist Tommy applies setting spray in a zig-zag motion on his clients, starting on the forehead and moving down to the chin. “I spritz it on the skin in distance to help rehydrate the face after applying makeup,” he says.
Another tip, courtesy of makeup artist Kate Lee, who works with celebrities such as Charlize Theron, Anne Hathaway, and Emma Roberts, dampens a BeautyBlender sponge with the liquid before pressing it on the skin to smooth out dry patches or creased makeup.
With these tips in mind, here are the best setting sprays on the market right now:
Patrick Ta Major Glow Dewy Milk Mist
Patrick Ta’s Major Glow Dewy Milk Mist is made with rosehip seed oil to moisturize, black tea to even out skin’s tone and texture, and witch hazel extract to calm and refresh. All this to say: This facial mist does way more than give you a glowy finish. Plus, the glass packaging is so luxe, you’ll feel rich when spritzing.
Morphe’s Continuous Setting Mist has a nozzle that sprays wide so it hits every inch of your face with just one hit. Just spray it eight inches from your face (eyes closed!) and you’ll immediately thank it for the long-lasting effects it has on your makeup.
Coola’s Makeup Setting Sunscreen Spray has SPF 30 in the formula to protect from harsh rays as it holds makeup in place. It’s also made with hydrating hyaluronic acid, and a blend of juniper, date palm, and peony extracts to maintain moisture as it shields.
Benefit The Porefessional Super Setter Pore-Minimizing Setting Spray
According to cosmetic chemist Ginger King, dimethicone, which you can find in Benefit’s The Porefessional Super Setter Pore-Minimizing Setting Spray, “gives a blurring effect to the skin.” The microfine mist minimizes the appearance of pores, all while maximizing the wear time of makeup.
Tarte’s Maracuja Miracle Mist Setting Spray is made of a cocktail of maracuja oil (rich in vitamin C to brighten and rose and cucumber water to soothe. Spray this over your finished makeup to lock in your look and reveal an overall luminous glow.
Urban Decay All Nighter Long Lasting Makeup Setting Spray
Another 2020 Best of Beauty winner, the Urban Decay All Nighter Long Lasting Makeup Setting Spray is a longtime favorite of magazine editors and makeup artists alike. The microfine mist lets you dance the night away (on Zoom, of course) without worrying about your foundation melting off or your shadow creasing. You’ll seriously be set for 16 hours straight.
When commerce writer Angela Trakoshis first tried Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray, she didn’t have high hopes because setting sprays never really work for her. Luckily, it proved to be the exception. “My makeup lasted all day — even under a mask — and that, my friends, is impressive,” she says.
The way Hourglass Veil Soft Focus Setting Spray is part makeup lock, part skin moisturizer, all with lots of staying power. The Allure Best of Beauty 2020 Award winner creates an invisible shield over skin to give it a forgiving finish if you have any blemishes while keeping your makeup in place for the day.
Milani Make It Last Setting Spray Prime + Correct + Set
The Milani Make It Last Setting Spray Prime + Correct + Set doubles as both as a primer and a finisher, which makes it that more of a favorite to former assistant beauty editor Kat Suico. “I love that I’ve found a drugstore option that works well for me,” she says. “This spray comes out in a fine mist that covers my face in about two to three pumps. I’m convinced it grips and helps makeup last all day.”
L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Shake and Glow Dew Mist
I love a good multi-tasking product, which is why the L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Shake and Glow Dew Mist earned a 2020 Best of Beauty Award. Use it as a skin freshener when you need a pick-me-up. The coconut water and vitamin C will prime and give dull skin a boost. And then spritz again after applying makeup to set it.
If you’d spend $5 to have your makeup last all day — look no further. E.L.F.’s Makeup Mist & Set Spray was one of the staples in editorial assistant Gabi Thorne’s makeup bag when the drugstore aisle was the primary source of her collection. “It keeps my foundation lasting all day long for a very low price and leaves a nice mist of product on the face without feeling like you’ve been attacked by the spritzer,” says Thorne.
Tower 28 Beauty SOS Save.Our.Skin Daily Rescue Facial Spray
The Tower 28 Beauty SOS Save.Our.Skin Daily Rescue Facial Spray is a very gentle formula made with saltwater and hypochlorous acid, which calms irritated skin and soothes inflammation. Los Angeles-based makeup artist Robin Black like to spritz it on a clean face before applying skin care and makeup. “It’s also great midday as a quick makeup refresh and at night before bed,” she says.
The Nyx Dewy Finish Makeup Setting Spray is great if you’re looking for more of a dewy finish, rather than matte. The drugstore find leaves skin looking luminous but never oily. They do have a matte version of this setting spray though, if you need.
Marc Jacobs (Re)Cover Perfecting Coconut Setting Mist
The Marc Jacobs (Re)Cover Perfecting Coconut Setting Mist is described as a ‘micro-mist,’ this milky spray is so fine you’ll need to bring the bottle just four inches from your face to feel the full effect. Once you do let the mist hit, it’s ah-mazing. Post-spritz, your skin will look slightly dewier and happier.
“This lightweight mist is always in my kit,” says makeup artist Elisa Flowers. According to Flowers, the MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ helps prep the skin for makeup, refreshes it during the day when products tend to separate on the skin, and makes for a great mixer if you add it to powder products.
If glass skin is what you’re after, then Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Dewy Set Setting Spray was made for you. The 2019 Best of Beauty winner gives skin a gorgeous radiance with zero shimmer or sparkle to be found — and it locks makeup in place for hours. Just call it liquid gold.
Purchasing an eyeliner can feel like a gamble. You walk into your nearest Sephora, money in hand, on a mission to find a formula that doesn’t pull, tug, skip or drag. After perusing the shelves, you’ll settle on one in hopes that it won’t smudge before lunch.
The truth is, you never really know if you’ll get a return on your investment until you take it home and try it for yourself. By then, it could be too late. To make the entire experience feel less risky, experts who know a thing or two about eyeliners weigh in. Ahead, shop the 10 best eyeliners, from pencils to liquids, according to professional makeup artists. They’ll make you feel like you won the jackpot every time.
BEST GEL LINER – AMC Eyeliner Gel
“When I’m creating a bold eye, Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel is my go-to eyeliner, as it’s available in a variety of rich high-pigmented shades,” says makeup artist Millie Morales (also a Garnier celebrity hairstylist). “The creamy formula glides on with ease, but most importantly, it boasts long-lasting wear.”
BEST SMUDGE-PROOF LIQUID – Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
“When it comes to precision, I like to use a marker-like tip, as it gives me the freedom and flexibility to create an elegant wing or a thick dramatic look,” says Morales. “Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner dries fast, won’t smudge and only comes off when you take it off!”
If you’re looking to try a colored eyeliner, look no further than Urban Decay’s 24/7 Eye Pencils. Makeup artist Steve Kassajikian says, “these shades are bright, pigmented, creamy, easy to blend, and glide on like a gel.” As if that’s not enough to get you on board, Kassajikian adds, “they set in 60 seconds and don’t budge throughout the day. Plus, they’re specifically made for wet surfaces like the waterline.”
Celebrity makeup artist Claudia Betancur, a L’Oréal Paris brand ambassador, is a fan of the brand’s new Flash Cat Eye Liquid Eyeliner because it “has the perfect tip to create a precise wing, and glides on super smooth. The cap has a wing stencil attached to help create the perfect cat eye,” she says.
“This micro-fine gel pencil has next level staying power,” says makeup artist and artistic director of Glamsquad, Kelli J. Bartlett. “I originally tested the Hourglass 1.5 MM Mechanical Gel Eyeliner on my hand, and it lasted through a workout and a shower, so you know it means business. I love to use it on the inner rim of the upper lash line to create a lush look as it holds up to watery eyes.”
BEST LONG-LASTING PENCIL – BADgal BANG! 24 Hour Eyeliner Pencil
Celebrity makeup artist Lisa Potter-Dixon says this liner “is a hard worker. It works wonders on the waterline and stays put due to its waterproof formula.” She adds, “it also works beautifully as a lash liner, plus the blending tool on the end means you can even use it to create a simple smokey eye.”
Makeup artist and co-founder of Shespoke Makeup, Rebecca Perkins, says it doesn’t get better than Pat McGrath Labs’ liquid liner. She says, “the pen tip is so fine, you can do super subtle details. Mother does not mess around, and her products always do what they say.”
BEST TRUE BLACK – Infallible 16HR Never-Fail Eyeliner
Finding a true black formula can be difficult. Luckily, Perkins assures that her pick is “tried and true.” She says, “L’Oréal’s carbon black shade comes in a gel pot (perfect for when I am doing someone else’s makeup) or the mechanical pencil (for when I’m doing my own makeup).” Finally, she adds, “it’s not fancy, but it works every time.”
Dell Ashley, YSL Beauté Director of Makeup Artistry, knows a thing or two about luxury beauty, but there’s one drugstore favorite he keeps in his kit. He says the NYX Matte Liquid Liner is “a great budget-friendly eyeliner because it offers rich color and has a nice, long wear.” And at $8 a pop, you can keep your makeup bag stocked with it too.
BEST VERSATILE FORMULA – TattooStudio Sharpenable Gel Pencil in Brown
Vincent Oquendo, the artist behind Hollywood’s most beautiful faces (Lily Collins, Gabrielle Union, Nina Dobrev), recommends you pick up this other drugstore option. “I use it to create my shape before I perfect it with a black liner and for subtle definition in the waterline when I’m creating a sultry look,” he says. “The combination of black and brown liners create a more natural makeup look when smudged at the lash line.”
If I told you there was a skincare equivalent of bundling yourself up in a cashmere tracksuit, would you believe me? Buckle up naysayers – you skincare non-believers of the world – for there actually is a product that cossets and comforts the skin just like the softest ensemble. Its name? Weleda Skin Food.
A beauty editor and makeup artist favourite (most have it in their kit), Weleda Skin Food is an under-the-radar cult moisturising cream that promises “rich, intensive skincare” for the face and body. Its certified natural formula contains wild pansy, sunflower seed oil, chamomile, calendula and rosemary extract, to deeply nourish, hydrate and soften rough or compromised skin. Put simply, it’s a winter saviour.
“I love it as it penetrates deeply, offering instant hydration and nourishment,” agrees make-up artist Celia Burton, who knows her way around a juicy skin situation. “It was one of the first products I discovered as a make-up artist and it’s stood the test of time, sitting in the same place in my kit 12 years later. It enriches and brightens the skin, smells divine, and its ingredients list is small and uncomplicated. It’s an all rounder.”
She also attests to its multifaceted nature: she uses it as a base under make-up, as a rich, nourishing mask on flights, a salve on dry patches and as a night cream in the winter months. “I use it religiously all year round under make-up, and apply it to my cheeks and around my temples and eyes to impart glow before I apply my foundation.” Trust me when I tell you this little trick (learned from make-up artist Katie Jane Hughes, another big Skin Food fan) adds a whole lot of oomph to a bog-standard foundation. The compliments will come thick and fast.
As a thick, rather unctuous cream (housed in a distinctive and very easy-to-use green tube), oily skin types might prefer the Light formula, which contains many of the same skin-loving ingredients but feels that little bit more comfortable if heavy creams aren’t your thing. Given it’s winter and our skin barriers are always in jeopardy – thanks to the combination of cold weather and central heating – it’s a fantastic cream to add to basket, and given that it’s a mere £7.95 for a 30ml tube (£12.95 for 75ml), it’s an affordable one, too.