There’s nothing quite like finding your perfect match when it comes to makeup. Whether it’s a heavy-duty concealer that covers, dark under-eyes and hyperpigmentation, a nude lip that perfectly compliments your skin tone, or in our case, bronzers that adds just enough depth and warmth to mimic a sun-kissed glow. Especially pertinent at this time of the year, when everything and everyone is at their most golden looking selves.
For many black women, however, seeking out complexion products to match their skin tones has long been an expensive game of trial and error. This is largely due to the fact that historically, many of the more accessible beauty brands on the market seemingly haven’t been developing, manufacturing or stocking shades of brown – past tan.
Given the uptick in brands drastically revising their approach to complexion beauty products since the game-changing launch of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line back in 2017, it’s interesting to note that while foundations and concealers in varying shades are becoming more accessible, a lot of brands are still lagging in their development of powder and cream products for deep-dark skin tones – and bronzers in particular appear to have fallen completely by the wayside. But there are a few long-lasting options for darker complexions that serve up a natural glow. Keep reading.
What’s the difference between contour and bronzer | Why the lack of choice when it comes to bronzers for dark skin? | How to apply bronzer on dark skin | The best bronzers for dark skin, reviewed.
What’s the difference between contour and bronzer?
With so many contour makeup products on the market, it might seem redundant to bemoan the lack of bronzing powders, but contrary to popular belief the bronzers and contouring or sculpting products aren’t interchangeable.
Veteran makeup artists Denise Rabnor explains, “traditionally a bronzer is not the same as a contour product, bronzers are designed to give the skin a healthy, radiant glow as if you’ve been on vacation somewhere hot and sunny, whatever skin tone you are, that’s what you want your bronzer to do.” So, while a contour boldly sculpts, a bronzer gives a warm glow, lending the dimensions of your face a more natural definition.
Why are there so little options of bronzers for dark skin?
One of the most common explanations brands give for limited shade ranges is that the process of development is more complex the deeper the shade is. According to Farah Naz, the biochemist and founder of EX1 Cosmetics, this isn’t necessarily true, saying, “bronzers aren’t technically complex but there is a lack of understanding when it comes to the blend of pigments needed in bronzers for deeper skin tones, [so] colours can start to look muddy.”
Unlike cream complexion products which tend to be more temperamental, bronzers in powder form “are just a blend of powders and pigments.” She notes that the culture in cosmetic labs can have an effect on the exclusion of darker shades, explaining that, “most of the world’s biggest brands come from labs in Europe who honestly just don’t know enough about dark skin. It’s a cultural obstacle.”.
How to apply bronzer on dark skin?
Picking out a bronzer isn’t as painstaking as finding a foundation shade, but Denise Rabnor suggests that you keep undertones in mind, saying, “it’s important to consider your skin’s undertones, so if you have dark skin with cool undertones, you’ll want to avoid orangey bronzers. If you don’t like shimmer then opt for a matte effect and try the formula out before you buy to make sure it’s not too shimmery, or too matte and orange in tone.”
After you’ve found the perfect bronzer, the makeup artist has one rule for achieving perfect application, using a fluffy brush to diffuse the pigment, “apply it to key areas of your face that get colour when you wear your sunglasses – cheekbones, bridge of the nose, temples, chin.”
If nothing currently on the market goes deep enough to complement your complexion, according to Denise you can still emulate the look of a bronzer by “using a pressed powder or contour product in a couple of shades darker than your skin tone.” To give the contour product the warming effect of a bronzer, “top it off with a bronze highlighter to provide the glow.”
Despite statistics showing that black women spend on average 80% more on cosmetics than any other consumer group, it’s disappointing that the beauty industry’s offering of complexion products is still exclusionary enough to warrant a DIY approach to something as simple as a bronzer. Makeup is a limitless form of self-expression, and it’s unacceptable that we’re still waiting for complexion products to reflect the beautiful scope of human complexions.
Here are the best bronzers perfect for dark skin to shop now:
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