Bronzers for Dark Skin

Bronzers for Dark Skin

“Bronzers for dark skin?”

“But we’re already brown/bronze?”

“Why would I need bronzer?”

Many moons ago I, too, did not get the whole bronzer thing (well, I understood bronzer—just didn’t see it as for my skin tone), but back then not very many brands were making bronzers deep enough to make a difference on darker skin tones. But also many moons after that, I got my hands on some that did come deep enough and have been a bronzer fan since. I thought now would be an amazing time to do another bronzers for dark skin post because with it being winter and all, many of us can use a little extra glow.

Why use bronzers for dark skin?

bronzers for dark skin

Bronzer can do so many things for the skin. Depending on the one you use, it can add warmth, dimension, or a sun-kissed glow. For darker skin tones, when the right colored bronzer is swept around the perimeter of the face, it can make the face and skin come ALIVE.

As women of color, many of us are lighter in the center of our faces and darker around the perimeter. I’ve talked about this in my Why I Contour Every Time I Do My Makeup and Why ONE Foundation Won’t Cut it for Women of Color posts. So when you have this natural coloring, when you put your foundation on it can make you look very one-dimensional. There are many ways to add dimension to the face after you’ve applied foundation, but adding bronzer around the perimeter of your face and under the hollows of the cheeks is one way. I like to take a big fluffy brush, sweep it across my bronzer and then dust it in a “3” figure going from my temples to the hollows of the cheeks to the jawline. This can also add a little warmth to the skin (depending on the bronzer used) and can give you a glow like you spent the weekend in the Caribbean.

Another awesome use of bronzers for dark skin: sweep it on the cheeks and then apply a bright-colored blush on top of it. Talk about a sun-kissed, beautiful glow.

Bronzers don’t all have to be deeper than your skintone. Some of the lighter-colored ones that have gorgeous golden or bronze shimmer can work amazingly as highlighter. See a strobing demo on dark skin here.

Difference between bronzer and contouring?

Contour vs Bronzer

In general, the difference is in the undertones: contours are typically on the cooler side while bronzers are warm.

*Some* bronzers depending on the color and depending on the skin tone they’re used on can double as contour. But here’s the big difference: contouring is used with a matte color about two shades deeper than your skintone and is used to sculpt the face with shadows while bronzers can be matte or shimmery and are used to warm the skin or give it a sunkissed glow.

For those with lighter skin tones, sometimes bronzers can run on the orange-y or reddish side and those colors won’t give you the natural shadowing or shading that a contour powder should.

Bronzers for dark skin

bronzers for dark skin 2

While there are of course so many bronzer products out there for dark skin, here’s some from my library along with swatches.

What I Use:
To add warmth to the perimeter of my skin (see which foundation shades I wear here), I LOVE Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder in #8 Ebony but it’s sadly been discontinued. They added a shade #9 which is deeper, but not red enough on me for my liking (that’s not to say it won’t work on you—I just prefer the look of #8 on me). Guerlain still sells a #8 Ebony in the Terracotta 4 Seasons Tailor-Made Bronzing Powder, but it comes in a mosaic with other bronzer and blush colors. Cover FX Pressed Mineral Foundation in P125 (see my review and more swatches here) is a pretty good substitute for Guerlain #8 although it isn’t as red.

Another bronzer I LOVE for adding warmth to the perimeter of my skin is also a cult favorite among many makeup artists: Covergirl Queen Collection Bronzer in Ebony Bronze. It’s not as deep or as red as Guerlain #8 but is still a fantastic bronzer for an array of brown skin tones.

One of my favorite bronzers for adding a glow which can also double as a highlighter is NYX Cosmetics Tango with Bronzing Powder in Bronze Ensemble.

Guerlain Bronzers

bronzers for dark skin guerlain terracotta bronzers

guerlain terracotta bronzing powders swatches on dark skin

Covergirl Queen Collection Bronzers

bronzers for dark skin cover girl queen collection

covergirl queen collection bronzer ebony bronze brown bronze light bronze

Black Radiance Artisan Color Baked Bronzer

bronzers for dark skin black radiance bronzers

black radiance artisan color baked bronzer swatches dark skin

Guerlain #8 vs Cover FX P125

cover fx p125 guerlain 8 ebony bronzer swatches on dark skin

NARS Gienah & Illamasqua Beg/Bronzerella

bronzers for dark skin nars gienah illamasqua beg bronzerella

illamasqua beg bronzerella nars gienah bronzer swatches on dark skin

NYX Bronze Ensemble

bronzers for dark skin nyx bronze ensemble bronzer

nyx bronzer bronze ensemble swatches on dark skin


I made some very short videos that demonstrate how to apply bronzer. These don’t have volume so you can watch without being found out…lol. I did separate videos for the different sides to show the use of two different bronzers and to give you another angle. In hindsight when I was filming these I should have been more cognizant of doing before and afters with the same angles.

Products used
Bronzer: Covergirl Queen Collection Ebony Bronze
EcoTools Full Powder Brush

Products used
Bronzer: Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder #8
EcoTools Full Powder Brush


Products used
Bronzer: Covergirl Queen Collection Ebony Bronze
Blush: Kevyn Aucoin Cream Blush in Liquifuschia
MAC #129 Brush

Products used
Bronzer: Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder #8
Blush: Kevyn Aucoin Cream Blush in Liquifuschia
MAC #129 Brush

Like this bronzers for dark skin post? Pin it!

Bronzers for Dark Skin: A Complete Guide with Swatches and Demos

Do you use bronzer? Which one is your fave?

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More posts and videos you’ll love:

Makeup 101 Video Series
How to Get Your Foundation to Do THE MOST
Foundation 101
Foundation not Working? You Might Need the Moisturizer Switch-Up
Youtube Gurus with Dark Skin
The Order to Apply Skincare Products
Oily Skin Donts
Makeup Storage Ideas That Aren’t Makeup Storage-y
Non-Ashy Sunscreens
How to Stay Beat in the Heat
How to Shop Drugstore Makeup When You Have Dark Skin
Stop Expecting Your Makeup Skills to Come Overnight

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About Danielle

A former finance girl, Danielle is a New York City based freelance writer and fashion and beauty expert. She's a Hofstra University and Fashion Institute of Technology grad with an obsession with fashion and beauty which she loves to tell you all about every weekday on her award-winning blog. Think of her as your style and beauty entourage all wrapped up into one bubbly brown package. Danielle's work and expertise can be found in print and across the web in Cosmopolitan for Latinas,, and more! She's also appeared as an on-air style expert on CBS New York's "The Couch" and WPIX11's Savvy Shopper segment.
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16 Responses to Bronzers for Dark Skin

  1. I love this!!! It’s so hard to contour my face without it being overbearing.

  2. Monet says:

    Thank you for this post! I found it to be very informative as I have a hard time finding bronzers for my dark skin and I am not always sure of the difference between a contour and a bronzer.

  3. craah says:

    what are your thoughts on beg/bronzerella? Hovering over the add to cart button on that and supernatural gleam XD

  4. Alero says:

    Brilliant/useful post! Thanks and greetings from the UK. My guerlain 08 has about 2 weeks worth of product left and I was getting desperate. What brush do you bronze with btw?

    • Danielle says:

      Thanks for reading!! Ughhh—I really wish Guerlain would bring back #8 :/

      I mentioned the brushes I use in the post and showed them in the video demos—depends on the look you’re going for—you can use a big fluffy brush to warm the perimeter and a blush brush for the cheeks. If you want a more controlled and concentrated application, use a smaller, more dense brush. For a light dusting, use a big fluffy brush.

  5. Tiffany B. says:

    Hi Danielle!! Have you ever tried the Bobbi Brown bronzers? I love the shade Deep, it’s warms up my skin wonderfully!

  6. Chrissy says:

    What a lovely post! Could you tell me how you depotted your Guerlain bronzers?

  7. Whitney says:

    Omg I am so glad I found this blog???????????????? being a woman of color too, I find your posts very helpful when deciding if I wanna order certain products and stuff! So thank youuuu x

  8. Whitney says:

    Omg I am sooo glad I found your blog???????????????? being a woman of colour too, your reviews on products has certainly helped me when deciding if I wanna order certain makeup products. So thank youuu xx

  9. Ashley Walters says:

    GIRL! Thank you for this , 8 is my jam & now everytime I use it I cringe …I will try these others you recommended!

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