The Best Bronzers On The Market Right Now

Few things have the power to instantly transform your look like a great bronzer. But what classifies a formula as the best bronzer is complicated. There’s the obvious: at its core, a bronzer’s purpose is to add depth and warmth to your skin, says Danessa Myricks, makeup artist and CEO of Danessa Myricks Beauty. But a fantastic one can do so much more—like give the illusion of cheek filler or make it look as if you’re fresh off a trip to Ibiza when you haven’t left your couch since the pandemic began.

Here’s where it gets complicated: despite their ability to wake up your skin, so many formulas tend to skew too orange, too ashy, too glittery, or just overall fake-looking. Once you know exactly what to look for, though, the ability to fake a glow and J.Lo-level cheekbones becomes far more simple. That’s where makeup artists and magazine beauty editors come in. Brush up on your bronzer basics below, and then scroll on for the best bronzers according to them.

How to pick your perfect shade

With bronzer, the goal is for it to look as natural as possible. “When selecting a bronzer, think about what naturally happens when you’re in the sun,” says Myricks. “Let your body give you clues. Identify the deeper tones that surface on your chest, shoulders, and arms, and use that as a gauge.” 

A safe place to start is a color two shades deeper than your natural skin tone, then go darker if you want a contrast that’s more intense. Makeup artist Kasey Spickard says fair skin tones will look best with a bronzer that has neutral undertones—i.e., shades that don’t lean too warm or cool. Terra-cotta hues with a slightly reddish undertone beautifully complement tan and olive skin. Meanwhile, bronzers that lean golden work best on deep skin, while formulas with a brick-red base play up deep skin with red and brown undertones.

And if you don’t quite know what undertones you have? Stick with something neutral, says Spickard, which no matter your skin tone will still give you a natural flush.

How to choose the right formula for your skin type

Like all other types of makeup, take your skin type into consideration when choosing a formula. Powders are the least intimidating and easiest to use, especially if you’re a beginner. They work on all skin types but are best for oily skin. “If you have dry or combo skin, make sure you are doing proper physical or chemical exfoliation regularly,” says Spickard. “That way your bronzer and blush won’t catch on dry skin and create a patchy application.”

Myricks personally prefers cream bronzers since they look most natural, are versatile and buildable, and last longest on your skin. If you have dry skin or just love a fresh, dewy look, she recommends tapping her Dew Wet Balm in Hot Water over any shade of bronzer. “It’s super easy to apply and can be worn on bare skin or over powders on any skin tone,” she says. 

How to apply bronzer 

“As is my philosophy with all makeup, start with less and build from there,” says Spickard. “Tap a large fluffy brush once or twice into the pan to load the brush with product, then make a fish face.” From there you’ll want sweep bronzer in a 3 shape over the perimeter of your face—starting at your temples, down the side of your hair, over the tops of your cheekbones, and along your jawline. Then, using whatever product you have left on your brush, you’ll want to blend along the sides of your nose, the tip of your chin, and your neck.

If you feel like you’ve applied too much, take a clean fluffy brush or your fingers and buff out any areas where it’s too heavy. Myricks adds not to forget to buff it into the top of your ears and your hairline for the most natural finish. 

Now that you’ve got all that down, here are the best bronzers makeup artists swear by.

Best Overall: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer 

This matte, silky powder received nothing but glowing praise from GLAMOUR  Beauty Awards judges—a mix of editors, influencers, and makeup artists. In other words: a tough crowd to please. “After months of being stuck indoors, I’m officially as pale as I ever get,” says contributor Erin Parker. “Thankfully, I’ve had this flawless matte bronzer at the ready—it’s seriously undetectable and blends in so naturally. The true matte powder is honestly perfect for faking a tan (and accentuating your bone structure) quickly and effectively. This is the kind of bronzer you’ll always get plenty of use out of, no matter where we’re at in the makeup trend cycle.”

Buy at Sephora $55

Best Cream Bronzer: Danessa Myricks Power Bronzer 

A matte cream bronzer is a perfect solution for powder lovers who want the ease of use and the matte finish of powder but with the flawless, undetectable finish a cream provides,” says Myricks. She recommends her Power Bronzer, which applies like a cream but dries down matte: “This can also be a great solution for women with more combination or oily skin, as cream-based products last longer throughout the day and help hold back shine.”

Buy at Sephora $26

Best Bronzing Powder: Benefit Cosmetics Hoola 

You really can’t beat a classic. Hoola is well loved for it’s insanely easy-to-blend texture, totally matte finish, and the fact that it’s cool enough to realistically contour with and also warm enough to make you look vacation-ready. After years of offering a single shade, the brand now has options for a range of skin tones.

Buy at Sephora $30

Best Bronzer and Contour Duo: Victoria Beckham Beauty Matte Bronzing Brick 

While sure, you can use bronzer to shape your face, it’s technically recommended that contouring should be done with a cool-toned powder since you’re emphasizing shadows. This duo from Cheekbone Queen Victoria Beckham includes a cool-tones powder for definition, and a warmer shade to add a sun-kissed effect to your skin. Both powders are insanely fine and seamless, and the packaging is beautiful and luxe.  

Buy on their website $58

Best Bronzer for Dry Skin: Saie Sun Melt Natural Cream Bronzer

This yummy bronzer has a balmy texture, making it perfect for skin types on the drier side. The formula even has skincare ingredients like colloidal oatmeal and grapeseed oil to soothe and moisturize skin. Even if you don’t need the extra moisture, you’ll appreciate the dewy but not shiny finish and easy-to-blend texture.  

Buy at Sephora $28

Best Blurring Bronzer: GloWish by Huda Beauty Soft Radiance Bronzing Powder

This silky bronzer has a mix of shimmering and matte powders, so your left with an airbrushed, luminous finish that blurs pores and imperfections. One swipe gives you a natural look, but it can be built up for more warmth if that’s your style. 

Buy on their website $31

Best Drugstore Bronzer: Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer Murumuru Butter Bronzer

Butter Bronzer has a cult following for a reason. Despite being a powder, it has an almost buttery cream feel, so it never skips or looks patchy, and it has a nice satin finish. It’s very buildable, so you can make it work if you like a natural or more glam look. Plus, it smells like a tropical vacation. 

Buy at ULTA $16

Best Liquid Bronzer: BareMinerals Bare Pro Glow Bronzer 

Liquid bronzers don’t get a ton of love in favor of powder formulas, but they’re the secret to a truly seamless faux glow. “I love the classic BareMinerals bronzers, but my current favorite is the liquid version,” says Spickard. “It’s not too warm or orangey, and I love doing a liquid bronzer on a no-makeup day. I just buff it right onto clean skin. I also like to layer this under powder bronzer to make it last all day.”

Buy at ULTA $30

Best Clean Bronzer: Tower 28 Beauty Bronzino Illuminating Bronzer 

This bronzer is a little intimidating in the pan, but gently buffed onto your skin, it’s truly stunning. It has almost a balmlike texture that leaves a glossy glow and a hint of shimmer. Although it’s incredibly dewy, it’s not sticky or greasy, and it makes you look alive in 2.5 seconds. Since it’s so glowy, it means you can skip highlighter as well. 

Buy at Sephora $20

Best Shimmer Bronzer: Hourglass Cosmetics Ambient Lighting Bronzer 

This powder is very neutral, so it never reads orange—making it a great natural bronzer for fair skin. However, the real selling point that makes it worth its $52 price tag is its luminous finish. The bronzer is formulated using what the brand calls photoluminescent technology, which essentially means it reflects light to blur your skin and add a lit-from-within glow. While some powders can look flat, because this one is so finely milled and has light-reflecting particles, it actually makes skin look dewier—but definitely not sparkly. 

Buy at Sephora $52

Best Buildable Bronzer: Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer 

A stick bronzer makes application a breeze, and Milk really hit it out of the park with this chubby twist-up. Thanks to the bigger size, you can quickly add warmth to your cheeks, nose, and forehead, or use a brush or sponge for more detailed shading. It blends in in seconds but stays put all day. Plus, it’s the perfect neutral tone. 

Buy at Sephora $30

Best Shade Range: Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’r Bronzer 

“My personal favorite bronzer is the Fenty Beauty Sun Stalkr Bronzer in Private Island,” says Spickard. “It goes on so smoothly, never patchy.” It’s also a favorite among GLAMOUR staffers for the inclusive shade range—there are eight that span from very fair to deep—and realistic undertones. No matter what shade you are, you’ll never look orange or ashy. 

Buy on their website $32

Best Bronzer Duo: Jouer Sunswept Bronzer

Sometimes it takes a little mixing and matching to get the perfect shade for you, which is why Spickard loves these duos. He likes to blend the shades together to create a sun-kissed glow that is very natural. The powders are finely milled, so it’s hard to go overboard. The formula is also vegan and cruelty-free. 

Buy at Sephora $32

Best Bronzer for Fair Skin: Maybelline City Bronzer 

If you’re fair and like to use a bronzer to add depth, shade Light 001 is the answer to your prayers. There’s not even a hint of orange; it just gives your skin a nice glow and definition. The powder is really buildable, which is ideal for pale skin, and it has a velvet matte finish thanks to the inclusion of whipped cocoa butter. 

Buy at LookFantastic $12

Best Bronzer for Light Skin: Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer in Milk Chocolate 

This bronzer looks beautiful both in the pan and on your skin, and because it’s made with real cocoa powder, it smells incredible as well. This buildable bronzer doesn’t pull orange, and the Milk Chocolate shade is particularly great for light skin. The deeper shades are just as good, and all three can be used to add warmth and definition. 

Buy at Macy’s $32

Best Bronzer for Medium Skin: Chanel Soleil Tan De Chanel

This bronzer is on the expensive side, but the hamburger-sized jar will last you a lifetime. While it’s a cream product, it dries down to a powder that doesn’t budge. The beautiful texture buffs right into your skin, and it can be used both to add warmth and sculpt your face. It also looks incredible on your vanity or top shelf. 

Buy at Nordstrom $50

Best Bronzer for Deep Skin: Mented Cosmetics Bronzer 

It’s still frustratingly uncommon to find bronzers that work for dark skin, but Mented is here to change the game. Created by women of color, for women of color, these bronzers are richly pigmented, buildable, and insanely smooth. They’re also enriched with vitamins A and E for skin-care benefits; plus, they’re vegan and cruelty-free. 

Buy on their website $22

Best Bronzer for Red and Brown Undertones: Makeup Revolution Splendor Matte Bronzer 

Chances are you’ve seen these bronzers praised all over Twitter for being one of the few options that cater to women of color across all skin tones and undertones. The reviews back up the tweets, with users being pleasantly surprised by how richly pigmented and easy to work with they are. And the price can’t be beat. 

Buy at ULTA $12

GLAMOUR article

The Best Makeup Setting Sprays of All Time

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. 

Buy $38

Morphe Continuous Setting Mist

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.

Buy $16

Coola Makeup Setting Sunscreen Spray SPF 30

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.  

Buy $36

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. 

Buy $32

Tarte Maracuja Miracle Mist Setting Spray

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. 

Buy $23

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.

Buy $33

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray

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.

Buy $35

Hourglass Veil Soft Focus Setting Spray

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.

Buy $48

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.”

Buy $9

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.

Buy $15

E.L.F. Makeup Mist & Set

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.

Buy $5

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.

Buy $28

Nyx Dewy Finish Makeup Setting Spray

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.

Buy $9

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. 

Buy $39

MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ 

“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.

Buy $29

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dewy Set Setting Spray

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.

Buy $26

ALLURE article

The 14 Best Makeup Setting Sprays Of All Time

Although we’re in the midst of a pandemic, that doesn’t mean we can’t do a full face beat every now and then. Whether it’s for a virtual happy hour with friends 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 mid-Zoom, 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 with the magic 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 to ensure your makeup lasts all day (with a mask or just on its own), according to Allure editors and makeup artists.

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 Allure 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.

$31 (Shop Now)

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray

When assistant beauty editor 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.

$35 (Shop Now)

Hourglass Veil Soft Focus Setting Spray

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.

$48 (Shop Now)

INN Beauty Power Up Dual-Phase Face Mist

It was the very specific scent of INN Beauty’s Power Up Dual-Phase Face Mist that made staff writer Nicola Dall’Asen fall in love with the setting spray. According to her, it smells just like a Muji store, which is extremely soothing to her organizational Virgo side. Scent aside, it’s also a damn good finisher, she says. “I’ve gone through the whole bottle so quickly because as it turns out, it’s really good at melting all my makeup together and keeping in place for the day,” says Dall’Asen.

$22 (Shop Now)

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 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.”

$9 (Shop Now)

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.

$15 (Shop Now)

E.L.F. Makeup Mist & Set

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.

$5 (Shop Now)

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.

$28 (Shop Now)

NYX Dewy Finish Makeup Setting Spray

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. 

$9 (Shop Now)

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. 

$39 (Shop Now)

Pixi by Petra Makeup Fixing Mist

Makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes loves the Pixi by Petra Makeup Fixing Mist because it does exactly what it says it does: fixes makeup. Use this mist throughout the day when you feel like your base may be moving, it’ll freshen it up with just one or two spritzes.

$15 (Shop Now)

Supergoop Defense Refresh Setting Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 50

“I’ve never really been a fan of setting sprays, but I recently discovered the Supergoop Defense Refresh Setting Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 50,” says makeup artist Molly R. Stern. This setting spray is great for someone who wants a matte finish or works outside. You can ‘reapply’ your sunscreen midday, which is a necessity, without messing up your makeup.  

$30 (Shop Now)

MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ 

“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.

$29 (Shop Now)

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dewy Set Setting Spray

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.

$26 (Shop Now)

ALLURE article

The Best Natural and Organic Makeup Brands That Makeup Artists Actually Use

As many of us become more conscious of what we’re putting in our bodies and what we’re putting our bodies through, we’re also becoming more aware of what we’re putting on our bodies. While the performance of natural makeup used to pale in comparison to products from our favorite makeup counters, there are many natural makeup brands creating products that are richly pigmented, apply beautifully, and wear as well as their more synthetic competitors. You may already be using some of them and don’t even know they’re all-natural.

But before I get into industry favourites, let’s get one thing straight: “Natural” doesn’t automatically mean a product is better or safer for you, as the FDA has nebulous criteria on just what constitutes a natural product (“natural” isn’t regulated for cosmetics, so it can be used purely as a marketing term). “There is no real definition of ‘natural’ in the U.S. beauty industry,” says cosmetic chemist Ginger King. “As long as the bulk of your material is natural, you can say ‘natural-based.’ There is no regulation. The true naturals have seals like COSMOS Natural or Ecocert — European organizations that allow up to 5 percent synthetics.”

The FDA does not have a definition for the term “organic,” either, as it is not defined by either the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act or the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, which they use as guidelines. “‘Organic’ usually means USDA-certified food grades. There are limited numbers of products you can make to be classified as organic green,” King says.

“‘Clean beauty’ is a much better term for the consumer as the products are non-toxic and still effective,” says King. “‘Non-toxic’ means free from undesirable ingredients listed by the Environmental Working Group. This is better than claiming ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ as they are products that perform without compromising safety. People want natural because they assume natural ingredients are safe, which is not necessarily the case. They also may not be as effective as synthetic materials.”

This brings me to another point: An ingredient might be natural or organic, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no chance you’ll have an adverse or allergic reaction to it, so it’s important to be aware of what you’re using and how your body responds.

Thanks to growing consumer concern and education, we’re definitely seeing an uptick in the use of the phrase “clean beauty.” Last year, for example, Sephora announced the launch of Clean at Sephora, the company’s new category that clearly establishes which of their products are formulated without controversial ingredients. Those that meet Sephora’s ingredients guidelines are deemed “clean” and receive the retailer’s Clean at Sephora seal.

Ingredients aside, one of the benefits of using natural products is that many, if not all, ingredients are ethically sourced and cruelty-free. As consumers, it’s never been more important to prioritize what we want in our makeup, and our money talks. These days there’s a clean option to switch out every product in your makeup routine, so it’s never been easier to avoid controversial ingredients.

But I also wanted to help you sort out your options. The following products have received high marks from professional makeup artists — who have seen and used it all — so you can start cleaning up your cosmetics bag.

ILIA Beauty

Ilia Beauty is focused on creating clean, pure products with organic bio-active botanicals that nourish skin as they wear. From lipstick to eye shadow and multiple base products, Ilia’s products give you a luxurious feel, look, and wear, while being some of the cleanest makeup you can use.

Puckey is a huge fan of the brand, spotlighting many of its products. “I love how smooth the Fade Into You Powder feels and how it really disappears on the skin. The Illuminators come in three shades that work for a variety of skin tones. I like that it comes in a stick form for easy application.”

“I love the Beauty Essential Shadow Palette in Prima, which has four great, neutral, everyday shades, including my favourite beige shade, and the Satin Cream Lip Crayons have a semi-matte finish and are all super easy to apply,” he adds, calling out the deep, burgundy shade 99 Balloons as a favorite.

(Shop Now)

100% Pure Beauty

100% Pure Beauty has a full collection of skin care, makeup, hair, and body products, all made with natural ingredients. The brand is serious about the way it sources its ingredients, too, using a strict methodology to determine and confirm that its products contain no synthetic ingredients. In the past, I’ve been a big fan of its Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream, and I love that its foundations are available in a wide range of shades.

Makeup artist Benjamin Puckey is a big fan of the brand’s lipsticks, telling Allure “100% Pure Cocoa Butter Matte Lipsticks come in such beautiful, bold, matte shades that you forget you’re working with a natural brand.”

He calls out the shade Sonora Red as one that “really packs a punch.”

(Shop Now)

Kosas

Each Kosas product is made with active botanicals and balanced with safe synthetics, giving you luxury formulas, beautiful pigments that flatter a multitude of skin tones, and they all look as good as they feel. The beautiful face duos are available in both cream and powder formulas, each including a blush and an illuminator that complement each other and boost your face’s luminosity and glow.

The lipsticks are also not to be missed. Puckey tells Allure, “Kosas has a line of all-natural lipsticks in super chic black packaging. Rosewater (a dusky rose) and Thrillest (bright poppy red) are my favorites.”

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Bite Beauty

Did you know that Bite Beauty is natural and organic? I always forget. These luxe lipsticks are made with 12 different oils, as well as while pearl, silk, red wine, and organic butters; the result is a lipstick that’s incredibly creamy and hydrating, long-wearing and even has benefits from antioxidants for a product that’s actually good for your lips.

“No one does the range of bold color options in the right creamy/waxy base the way Bite does,” makeup artist Katey Denno explains. “They also make a lot of corresponding lip liners, which, until they filled it, had been a big hole in the marketplace.”

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Tower 28 Beauty

Newer to the natural scene, Tower 28 Beauty is becoming a fast favorite among makeup artists, beauty editors, and influencers alike. The whimsical packaging, quality ingredients, and vegan and cruelty-free promise are just a few of many reasons to love this L.A.-based brand, which prides itself on making products suitable for ultra-sensitive skin types. In fact, it’s tagline is #ItsOkayToBeSensitive, which is pretty clever if you ask me.

“Their products are so good for sensitive skin!” says makeup artist Robin Black, who battles rosacea. “I love their SOS Face Spray, cream blushes, and highlighters, and their cheek and lip products are getting lots of buzz for good reason. They’re so pretty on and so easy to use.”

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Lilah B. 

One of the innovators of the now popular and chic swivel compact, Lilah B. is all about creating simple, multipurpose beauty products with clean formulas. Without gluten, sulfates, or parabens, and packed with aloe and botanicals, these products take to skin beautifully, feel luxurious and nourishing, and look amazing on your face and on your vanity.

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Juice Beauty

Juice Beauty takes special care to ensure that its ingredients are certified organic so that no toxins, pesticides, synthetics, or fertilizers make it into its products. Starting with a base of organic botanical juice (hence the name), without any petroleum fillers or added water, each product is packed with antioxidants and concentrated skin-care benefits.

Denno is especially a fan of the Juice Boost Illuminator + Bronzer Duo. “Finely micronized shimmer particles add the perfect amount of highlight, no matter what your skin tone. [It] can be used directly on all areas you highlight: cheeks, Cupid’s bow, bridge of the nose, inner-eye corner, lid, clavicle, shoulders, or can be mixed into foundation to give an overall more glowy look,” she suggests.

“This stuff is unlike any other green beauty highlight product in that it dries completely (and quickly).”

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Lawless

The Lawless tagline is “Clean AF,” and the brand means it. Its liquid lipsticks are formulated without carcinogenic, toxic, hormone- or endocrine-disrupting ingredients. If people ingest up to five pounds of cosmetic chemicals every year, Lawless is trying to make sure that its products — that you put directly on your mouth and skin — are as safe as possible.

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RMS Beauty

Stemming from the founder’s own need for clean-beauty products free of toxic chemicals and metals, RMS Beauty is a line of ultra-luxurious, pared-down multitaskers that have become favorites in the industry. It’s a bit like a grown-up Glossier, with rich formulas, bright colors, and twinkling shimmers that make a welcome addition to any beauty routine, no matter how simple or complex it may be.

The line’s hero product is the Living Luminizer, a highlighter in a pot, that you tap onto the high points of your face, as you do, for a glow that is equal parts natural and ethereal. It pairs well with any product you put it on top of (or under) and wears like it’s a part of you.

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Milk Makeup

Since it’s inception in 2014, Milk Makeup has become a major power player in the vegan and cruelty-free beauty category. With innovative products that are as pretty and fun to use as they are effective, it’s easy to see why so many people adore the brand. Speaking of which, makeup artist Quinn Murphy, who works with stars like Kristen Bell, Julianne Moore, and Karlie Kloss — among myriad others — tells Allure it’s one of his top-favorite natural beauty brands. If you’ve yet to try anything from Milk, the Hydro Grip PrimerKush Mascara, and Glow Oils (pictured above) are all great products to start with.

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Beautycounter

With a tagline like #BetterBeauty, Beautycounter strives to use only the safest ingredients possible and none of the nasties. It even has what it calls “The Never List,” which includes harsh chemicals, dangerous preservatives like formaldehyde, and synthetic flavors and fragrances. The brand offers makeup, skin-care, and bath and body products, as well as an array of kits for men, babies, and traveling. Schlip is especially partial to its eye makeup products — specifically, the Velvet Eyeshadow Palette, which is a best-seller and excellent for creating a wide range of natural, everyday looks.

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Rituel De Fille

Founded by three sisters in Los Angeles, Rituel De Fille is known for its witchy aesthetic and magic-inspired formulas. “They have amazing products with minimal ingredients and really interesting colors,” says Black, who’s a huge fan of the brand. “Standouts are the Eye Soots, but the lip and skin products are also great… they hold up well on camera, too, so perfect for Zooming!”

If you love cream-based products, you can’t go wrong with any of its Inner Glow Créme Pigments or Enchanted Lip Sheers, both of which come in a variety of mesmerizing shades that suit most skin tones.

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ALLURE article

This Clean Brand Wants People With Sensitive Skin to Have Fun With Makeup Too

You’ve probably seen Tower 28’s sunny, beach-inspired products on your Instagram feed. Welcome to Artist Spotlight #24 series on my blog.

After dealing with embarrassing flare-ups throughout her career, while working for some of the biggest brands in the beauty industry, Liu wanted to create makeup products that people with sensitive, compromised skin would feel good about using.

In under two years, Tower 28 has become known for its clean formulas, beach-inspired shades, colorful packaging, and accessible price points.

However, while Tower 28’s cult-favorite SOS Daily Rescue Spray has the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance, the brand’s products aren’t just for people with eczema or other chronic skin conditions.

“My hope is the products aren’t just for people who suffer from eczema or have problem skin like mine,” Liu tells InStyle. “It’s been fascinating because if you were to look at the people who tag us on Instagram, there’s everything from beauty guru full makeup looks to people who are more into skincare. It makes me so happy because I wanted this brand to be for everyone.”

Find out how Liu broke into the beauty industry, her thoughts on the future of the clean beauty movement, and so much more.

How did you wind up working in the beauty industry? 

My first job out of college was consulting. I didn’t feel an attachment to the work I was doing because once I was done a project somewhere I would leave. I went through what I call my quarter life crisis, and went to business school with the intention of changing careers. I don’t consider myself to be a super glam person or a beauty junkie, but the way people engage with beauty products and the psychology of beauty products has always fascinated me. Putting on makeup can be a confidence boost, and as someone who’s aging and has had compromised skin, I understand that experience. So, I went to USC for business school and did my first internship at L’Oréal with Maybelline. Then I worked at brands like Smashbox and Kate Somerville. All the while, I always knew I wanted to do my own thing but I’m quite a risk-adverse person. The idea of walking away from a job with a decent salary and raising money to start a brand was really scary. In the end, I ended up raising money from friends and family and that’s how I started Tower 28.

What is the inspiration behind Tower 28? 

I’ve had compromised, inconsistent, eczema-prone skin since I was in college. You see it addressed in skincare, but not really in makeup. I really wanted to wear makeup when I had flare-ups, but my biggest fear was making it worse by using products. I also felt self-conscious at work when I was presenting products to people and my hands had eczema on it. I’m sure part of it was in my own head because no one ever said anything to me, but it made me want to create something that could help people with compromised skin who felt guilty or bad about wearing products.

My parents immigrating to America from Taiwan is the second thing that’s inspired the brand. I was born in the U.S., grew up in California, and felt very American, but I still felt a little bit on the outside because I didn’t fit into what was considered the typical standards of beauty. That’s part of the reason why the brand has a beach theme to it. I’ve lived in Southern California near the beach for so long and you don’t just see blue eyes and blonde hair. Tower 28 is a real place on the edge of Santa Monica and Venice, and you could not find a more diverse group of people there. I wanted to tell a different story about the beach, and bring clean beauty to a larger group of people.

California just passed the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act. As a clean beauty brand founder, how do you think this bill will affect the industry? 

In general, as a wide statement, most businesses will not change unless there’s a real threat to their business. However, I’m happy that it’s happened and I hope it’s the tip of the iceberg. I think the consumer and the demand for clean products what will ultimately change the industry. I don’t think people think this new legislation is strict enough, especially if they’re already using clean products.

What Tower 28 product are you most proud of? 

The product I’m most proud of and personally reliant on, is our SOS Spray. We recently announced that we’re launching a jumbo size on Instagram and all of the comments were from people saying how excited they are. I’ve had this skin problem so long and started the brand not knowing I’d make something that really helps me, and then so many other people. It’s exactly all of the things I wanted to get out of creating a brand. Outside of that, I also think it’s cool that we don’t just have one hero product. We only have a few SKUs, but they’re all pretty productive.

You created Tower 28’s Clean Beauty Summer School Program to support Black-owned beauty brands. Why was this initiative important to you? 

I hope to provide access to mentorship and education at a time where so many Black founders are suddenly being seen and there’s an influx of demand. Since I’ve worked in the beauty industry for 17 years, I’m able to help people connect the dots, find mentors, and hopefully leverage this moment. A huge part of the success I’ve had in my career is due to my network and community in the industry, which in itself is a privilege.

Product Highlights:

Bronzino Illuminating Cream Bronzer

For a natural, streak-free glow, a cream bronzer is your best bet. Tower 28’s buildable formula blends like a dream, thanks to skin-conditioning ingredients like mango butter and calming green tea extract. It comes in two shades” West Coast is a medium bronze with neutral undertones, while Best Coast is a deep bronze with red undertones.

Buy on their website $20

ShineOn Lip Jelly

What do you get when you combine everything you love about your favorite lip balm and gloss? Tower 28’s ShineOn Lip Jelly. The six translucent shades (including this red) offer high shine and hydrate lips — without any stickiness.

Buy on their website $14

SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray

This isn’t your average refreshing facial mist, the cult-favorite spray is formulated with hypochlorous acid, an ingredient that helps reduce bacteria and inflammation, which in turn, can soothe compromised skin and prevent acne.

Buy on their website $28

BeachPlease Luminous Tinted Balm

There’s no right or wrong way to use this tinted balm. Dab it on your eyelids, lips, and cheeks for a luminous, sheer wash of color. The three available shades are inspired by the warm tones of a Santa Monica sunset.

Buy on their website $20

ShineOn Milky Lip Jelly

Available in four shades inspired by alternative milks, the milky edition of ShineOn Lip Jelly is a level up from the original. It’s infused with apricot kernel and raspberry seed oils to nourish and protect lips from free radicals and environmental aggressors.

Buy on their website $14

INSTYLE article