As the summer months draw nearer, it can only mean one thing in the beauty world; back to the bronzed, beach looks that make you look like you’ve just stepped off the plane from two weeks in Spain.
One way to achieve this look is by investing in a good bronzing palette; a one-stop shop for all your bronzing, blushing, sculpting and illuminating needs. Palettes are always handy for on-the-go touch-ups, and this summer we don’t plan on spending our newfound freedom indoors.
Bronzing palettes are also great if you like to get more bang for your buck; not only do they contain more shades for your money, but they are also great multi-purpose products that can equally be used as eyeshadows for a chic, monotone look.
Naturally, it is important to consider shade match when it comes to face products to prevent looking orange or muddy.
Our tester has light skin with a yellow/olive undertone that, with some gentle coaxing, reading in the sun and generous application of gradual tan, can reach a pretty summery glow. However, due to acne-prone skin, our reviewer likes to avoid putting any fake tan on the face, hence the liberal use and love of bronzing palettes.
One of the key concerns when picking a good palette, be it eyeshadow, lip or face, is that you can use all the shades available. This is especially important with bronzing palettes; as our seasonal tan deepens, we want to be able to make our way from the lighter tones to the darker shades and back again once autumn comes.
We’ve compiled a list of the best bronzing palettes that will help you get that sought-after, healthy glow, without the sun damage. We’ve considered everything from formula to finish, colour range to staying power – here are some of our favourites.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
By Terry brightening CC palette beach bomb
Our reviewer is a bit of a fan girl for By Terry, and doesn’t really expect anything but excellence, but was really blown away by this product. First impressions of the palette are the beautiful pink and gold packaging with ornate flower detailing. The design really brings the feeling of summer and luxury – think sunning yourself in Portofino. When you actually open the palette you are met by a lovely, soft aroma of fresh roses – a welcome break from the chemical smells of some products.
Our reviewer tried out the palette in the shade “beach bomb”, and it made her feel exactly that – a beachy bombshell. The palette contains four shades; an illuminating highlight in “bright sand”, a warm and peachy blush, a vivid rosey-pink blush and a glowy golden bronzer. The texture was not chalky at all – we were amazed at how silky and creamy these little powders were and how the nourishing rose-hip oil (which is infused in the shades) left our skin feeling amazing. The shades were so gorgeous and would look equally as beautiful on the eyes – which means one less palette you need to pack in your holiday makeup bag. The colour pay-off was amazing and really buildable, making it an extremely versatile product that would compliment a wide range of skin tones.
A beautifully presented palette, with high-quality cheek products that have all you need for the “fresh from the beach glow”. And the light, rosey perfume makes this palette a treat for all the senses.
Dior backstage glow face palette
This little bronzing quad is not for the wallflowers. A glittery coral, a metallic copper, a golden bronze, and a deeper, shimmery bronzer, these shades really do pack a punch. Our reviewer tried out the palette in the shade “copper gold” to recreate that beachy glow, but the whole range is really beautiful. The colour pay-off was wildly impressive and would show up beautifully on a wide range of skin tones, however the bronzing shade in particular was really intense, so those with fair complexion beware.
For those who prefer more of an understated look, this isn’t the palette for you, as the stunning metallics and shimmers ensure that when that beach sunset glow hits your cheeks you’ll be turning heads. At IndyBest we love a multipurpose product and this beautiful quad could easily be used as eyeshadows, saving that all-important luggage room. A win-win!
Bobbi Brown shimmer brick compact
Bobbi Brown really knows how to do a good cheek product. Their classic bronzing powder (£33, Bobbibrown.co.uk) has quickly become a desert island product for us, and this shimmer brick bronzing compact also did not disappoint.
Complete with five shades of varying degrees of coppery/bronze, this palette has got the whole sun-kissed spectrum. The design of the palette means you can’t just pick up one shade on your bronzing brush, which our reviewer thought created a more dimensional look on the face. However, you could use an eyeshadow brush and target your favourite shade to use it as an eyeshadow.
Our reviewer found that application on the highlights of the face, cheekbones, brow bones and bridge of the nose, really gave that “lit from within” glow. She received two comments on how “well” she looked, it really is amazing what a bit of shimmery bronzer can do.
Estee Lauder bronze goddess matte & glow bronzing trio
Estee Lauder have got it bang on when they say “bronze goddess” because that’s exactly what this palette makes you feel like. This palette contains two matte powder bronzers (medium and deep) and one glowy highlighter shade which allows for a more dimensional look, and stops your face looking flat, but also means you can customise your particular bronzer shade depending on your level of tan.
We think this palette would be great for more cool-toned skin as it did not have that orangey cast that some other bronzer palettes have. Our reviewer really loved applying this, the pretty tortoiseshell compact felt so glamorous in an old-timey classic kind of way – like a Hollywood starlet powdering her nose. This palette feels like endless summer.
Sleek face form contouring palette
This palette is a handy little trio, complete with your staple bronzer, blush and highlight – all you need for a pretty, flushed, summery look. Our reviewer has been using Sleek products for years, and while some products can be a little hit or miss, this one is a staple. After having purchased this palette three times over and converted many friends into fanatics as well, this palette was a clear choice for this round-up.
The matte bronzing shade is a great dupe for the cult favourite Benefit hoola bronzer (£27.50, Benefitcosmetics.com), and ideal for contouring or a pared-back look. The blush in the palette in shade “fair” is strikingly similar to the famous Nars orgasm, a pretty peachy pop with veins of gold, with the highlighting shade being very close to Nars albatros (£29, Narscosmetics.co.uk) also. The packaging is black, sleek and simple, and slim enough to put in your purse, and at less than £10 this is a great budget option.
Charlotte Tilbury filmstar bronze and glow
Oh Charlotte, you really can do no wrong. This highlighting and bronzing duo, in her trademark, rose gold packaging, is a new staple in our reviewer’s makeup bag. It is easy to see why this one has such a cult following. Though we were dubious at first as the bronzer palette is offered in only two shades – light to medium and medium to dark – the formula is so velvety, subtle and buildable, that feasibly those two shades could cater to all skin tones.
The highlighting shade has a golden base, universally flattering no matter your undertone or skin colour, and reflects light off your cheekbones in the way only a candle-light dinner can. This was more of a cool-toned bronzer, perfectly mimicking natural face shadows, which really sculpted our reviewer’s cheekbones. We also recommend using the bronzing shade in your eyelid crease to really add dimension to your face. It would also work great on cooler, blue-tinged skin undertones.
This palette is a great one for someone who prefers a polished yet natural look and is perfectly sized for any clutch with a handy mirror.
Benefit cheek stars reunion tour palette
This palette really has all you could need for a whole summer worth of cheek colours. It contains all of Benefits’ greatest hits, featuring the bestselling hoola matte bronzer and cookie golden pearl highlighter, with some new shades – Georgia, a peachy blush; Dallas, a rosey bronze and finally; sugarbomb, a blush-pink blush.
The shades all blend out beautifully, and the matte bronzer was a great contrast to the high shine of the glossy highlighter shades. As always, Benefit’s kitsch and retro packaging make it stand out from the sea of black makeup compacts; but our reviewer found this packaging a little bulky for slinging in your bag on the go, so this one is definitely more one for the vanity table.
It really is rare to be able to use all shades in a palette, but there was a perfect bronzing shade for each stage of our reviewers tan cycle. And while it is on the more expensive side, you are getting six shades and a lot of high-quality product for your buck, plus it smells incredible too!
Benecos natural fresh bronzing duo Ibiza nights
This is a cute little brand; selling all organic and vegan products at super affordable prices. This duo is a great compact, with a warm brown shade and a rosy blush – ideal for creating a rosey, sun-kissed complexion. Our reviewer found the consistency to be smooth and velvety, with a gentle shimmer that won’t look too much for day-to-day wear.
While this brand is great on price; a big downside is the lack of colour inclusivity, as there is only one shade available that will compliment light to medium skin tones as a bronzer, and perhaps dark skin tones as a rosy blush. The colour pay off isn’t as good as some of the more luxury brands, but at this price, a few more brushes of bronze on your face can’t hurt. All in all, a good product at a great price with a compact dainty enough to fit in your makeup bag or purse – fab!
Nars full dimension cheek palette
Nars is famous for its cult cheek products, we’ve mentioned a few of the bestsellers above, and this palette is no exception. Included in the palette is; “inhibition”, a shimmery copper; “private viewing”, a burnished apricot; “double dare”, a shimmering peach and; “graphic content”, a matte warm brown.
Our reviewer used this palette to create a whole face look; it served as both a bronzer, blush and contour as well as a coppery eyeshadow resulting in a very trendy, monotone look. The formula is very creamy and soft on the skin but has a remarkably impressive staying power and would stay put during a sweaty summer day.
The verdict: Bronzing palettes
This was a very tricky decision but hats off to By Terry’s brightening CC palette – with the pretty packaging and prettier summery shades. Honourable mentions must include Estee Lauder bronze goddess, and Bobbi Brown’s shimmer brick, which were like summer in a palette.
For the latest discounts on beauty and make-up buys, try the links below:
For an effortless summer glow, read our review of the best face tanners, from sprays to serums
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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