The 16 Best Bronzing Drops of 2023 for Glowing, Sun-Kissed Skin
Dotdash Meredith and Yahoo Inc. may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.
These formulas are the secret to achieving your best faux glow yet.
There’s just something about sun-kissed skin that implies vitality and health — but we all know that spending time outside without the protection of SPF isn’t good for us. But when you’re feeling lackluster, sometimes a dusting of powder bronzer isn’t enough to get the job done, and often doesn’t create the hyper-realistic look of truly glowing skin.
The solution here? Bronzing drops. These clever formulas are little boosters that you can add to your favorite skincare formulas or even apply directly to skin to add radiance and glow, whether you’re looking for something that’ll wash off at the end of the night or last for several days.
There are many options on the market, ranging from makeup to self-tanner, and some even target specific skin concerns, like bronzing drops that are compatible with oily skin or won’t call attention to fine lines and wrinkles. Yet the true magic of bronzing drops are how customizable they are — you can create your own perfect shade by the number of drops you use — and how ridiculously easy they are to use.
Related: The 15 Best Skin Tints of 2023 for Skin That Looks Like Yours, But Better
Best Overall: TAN-LUXE Super Gloss Instant Bronzing Face Drops with SPF 30
What We Love: This is a rare glow booster that offers SPF protection. What We Don’t Love: You’ll need to apply more than 12 drops to get SPF protection, which may be too sparkly for some.
What We Love: This is a rare glow booster that offers SPF protection.
What We Don’t Love: You’ll need to apply more than 12 drops to get SPF protection, which may be too sparkly for some.
TAN-LUXE is known for its collection of high-quality, hyper-realistic glow formulas; while this product doesn’t feature a self tanner, it does provide an instant sun-kissed glow as well as luminosity with just a few drops. If that’s your jam, you’ll love it even more when you realize that the treatment is formulated with SPF to shield your skin from future sun damage.
While the formula may look very intense coming out of the dropper, the metallic effect quickly diffuses into a sheer radiant bronze that never looks orange, even on fair skin, with the help of a brush. The hydrating and nourishing base sinks into skin to create a silky glide to the skin without feeling greasy, thanks to the addition of squalane, an emollient that acts like your natural sebum.
It’s worth noting that while many people use glow drops to add a subtle shimmer to their skincare regimen, you’ll need to use at least 12 drops to get adequate sun protection. This may result in a look that’s too high-beam for some, but for those who appreciate a bit of drama (or don’t mind using fewer drops with a separate SPF), this product from TAN-LUXE is a phenomenal pick.
Price at time of publish: $49
Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, squalane, argan oil | Shades: 1 | Drops Needed: 1-12+ (customizable) | Size: 1.01 fl oz
Best Budget: Versed Mood Lighting Luminizing Glow Drops
What We Love: This wallet-friendly formula gives your skin a healthy glow without sparkle. What We Don’t Love: If you have a very deep skin tone, these formulas may make your skin appear a bit ghostly.
What We Love: This wallet-friendly formula gives your skin a healthy glow without sparkle.
What We Don’t Love: If you have a very deep skin tone, these formulas may make your skin appear a bit ghostly.
If you’re looking for an affordable glow drop that’s good for your skin, try Mood Lighting. Versed exclusively makes skincare, so it’s unsurprising that this formula is loaded with antioxidant blackberry extract and peptide polyglutamic acid, which is even more hydrating than hyaluronic acid (it holds 4,000 times its weight in water vs. HA’s 1,000).
You can choose from two different hues, pearly gold and luminous bronze, which the brand recommends mixing into your skincare, under your makeup, or just solo to add a bit of glow to your complexion. Our only gripe with this product is that we wished a third, deeper shade was available, as those with richly melanated skin may find that too many drops of the Bronze shade will read as opaque (and thus will be best suited as a highlighter rather than an all-over face product).
Price at time of publish: $18
Key Ingredients: Polyglutamic acid, blackberry extract, vitamin E | Shades: 2 | Drops Needed: 1–3 (customizable) | Size: 1 fl oz
Best Drugstore: SOL by Jergens Deeper By The Drop Face and Body Serum
What We Love: These self-tanning drops can be used on both face and body. What We Don’t Love: Overusing this formula may make it too dark on fairer skin.
What We Love: These self-tanning drops can be used on both face and body.
What We Don’t Love: Overusing this formula may make it too dark on fairer skin.
Most self-tanning drops that are safe to use on the face and body are usually exclusively available from more costly brands, so this one from Jergens is a nice find. You can easily mix it into your favorite formulas from your existing skincare lineup, whether that’s a serum, moisturizer, or even body oils if your skin can tolerate them. This product is oil-free, so those with acne-prone skin can safely use it without fear of congestion, and it’ll leave your skin hydrated with coconut water.
The brand suggests using anywhere from three to six drops of this product for a subtle glow to up to 15 for a deeper bronze. If you’re familiar with the gradual tan formulas from Jergens, you may be tempted to use this product every day to achieve a similar result. Don’t be fooled, though — these are not gradual tan drops, so if you have fair skin and go for a deeper glow on a daily basis, the result may look a bit orange. For best results, regardless of your skin tone, we recommend spacing your usage out to every few days.
Price at time of publish: $16
Key Ingredients: Coconut water, cranberry extract, açai palm extract | Shades: 1 | Drops Needed: 3-15 (customizable) | Size: 1 fl oz
Best Buildable: Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops
What We Love: This formula features peptides to provide firming and wrinkle-smoothing benefits. What We Don’t Love: You’ll have to work quickly to blend.
What We Love: This formula features peptides to provide firming and wrinkle-smoothing benefits.
What We Don’t Love: You’ll have to work quickly to blend.
While D-Bronzi is currently making the rounds on TikTok, it’s not just a trend — this cult-favorite formula is a longstanding staple of many makeup bags for a reason. The lightly luminous drops can be blended into serums, oils, or creams (face or body!) to deliver a sun-kissed glow as bold or subtle as you like. In addition to platinum peptides, the product boasts cocoa extract, which helps soothe skin while defending it from free radicals for an even healthier-looking complexion.
While some bronzing drops may work well applied directly to bare skin, this one can be a little patchy if you use it that way. You’ll get the best results from this product by mixing it into something silky, which will help it spread smoothly across the skin. They’re also best used on light to medium complexions — it may not do much for deeper skin and it could be too dark for very fair skin tones.
Price at time of publish: $38
Key Ingredients: Cocoa extract, platinum peptides, chronocyclin | Shades: 1 | Drops Needed: 1+ (customizable) | Size: 1 fl oz
Best for Fair Skin: Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Glow Drops
What We Love: It’s easy to customize your use of this formula to achieve a bespoke glow. What We Don’t Love: There’s a learning curve to master the application process.
What We Love: It’s easy to customize your use of this formula to achieve a bespoke glow.
What We Don’t Love: There’s a learning curve to master the application process.
These drops from Isle of Paradise are of the most highly-regarded self-tanning formulas around (including on TikTok). This option from the brand is one of the few out there that makes our ultra-fair skin glow in away that implies jetsetter, not Oompa Loompa.
Instead of applying them directly to the skin, you mix them with your favorite face moisturizer or serum in the palm of your hand before slicking the custom concoction on to achieve an even glow. Bonus: The formula contains vitamin C to help even out your complexion while delivering a boost in radiance.
While we love the ability to control our dose of self-tanner, note that mastering this formula will take a bit of practice. It’s intuitive to use, but you’ll have to first ensure that you’ve evenly applied the skincare product you’ve blended with your self-tanner to avoid streaks or patchy spots. We suggest starting with the lowest number of drops recommended by the brand (four) then working your way up to more as you become an expert in achieving an even glow.
Price at time of publish: $32
Key Ingredients: Vitamin C, avocado, aloe vera | Shades: 3 | Drops Needed: 4+ (customizable) | Size: 1.01 fl oz
Best for Dry Skin: Caliray Just Add Rays Universal Translucent Glow Booster Drops
What We Love: This clean formula features an ingredient designed to balance your skin’s microbiome. What We Don’t Love: Make sure you shake the bottle before using to get even color.
What We Love: This clean formula features an ingredient designed to balance your skin’s microbiome.
What We Don’t Love: Make sure you shake the bottle before using to get even color.
We’re huge fans of this California-cool brand, and this glow drop formula delivers a “day spent surfing” radiance while helping your skin to work its best. That comes courtesy of emogreen, an ingredient that works to balance the skin’s microbiome, a key component of skin health — without that balance, your skin could be impossibly dry and susceptible to irritation. It also features a blend of rich oils to help your skin soak up the luminosity without enhancing any flaky texture.
Free of self-tanner, this product uses a sheer and gilded luminosity to enhance skin, whether applied directly to a freshly-washed face or mixed into your favorite foundation. Just don’t forget to shake the bottle before squeezing out your drops. Because of how nourishing this formula is, it’ll need a bit of mixing to evenly disperse the pigment and shimmer in the bottle ahead of applying it. Simply give it a quick flick of the wrist, which will help you dispense and dab on an even glow.
Price at time of publish: $34
Key Ingredients: Triple oil blend, vitamin E, emogreen | Shades: 1 | Drops Needed: 1+ (customizable) | Size: 1 fl oz
Best for Oily Skin: Tanologist Face + Body Drops
What We Love: This self-tanning formula is quite budget friendly and comes in a range of shade options. What We Don’t Love: If you don’t regularly exfoliate, your tan will get a bit patchy as it fades.
What We Love: This self-tanning formula is quite budget friendly and comes in a range of shade options.
What We Don’t Love: If you don’t regularly exfoliate, your tan will get a bit patchy as it fades.
While a lot of self-tanning drops feature an oily texture, this one doesn’t — and not only does it use oil-balancing juniper extract to help prevent clogged pores, it’s non-comedogenic, too, all of which make this product ideal for oily and easily congested skin. It’s one of the most affordable formulas on this list and, unlike other wallet-friendly products, it comes in multiple shades (from light to extra dark) to suit a spectrum of self-tanning aficionados. Just mix it into any of your favorite skincare products, face or body, and apply to achieve a bronze glow in as quickly as one hour.
Remember that when you use a self-tanner, you need to use a scrub to prevent dead skin cells from building up — otherwise, your tan won’t fade evenly. This formula is no different, and it’ll be especially noticeable if you use a deeper shade. But if you’re a seasoned self-tanner user, you’ll have no trouble adjusting to Tanologist’s drops.
Price at time of publish: $19
Key Ingredients: Pink grapefruit, goji berry, juniper | Shades: 4 | Drops Needed: 2–12 (customizable) | Size: 1 fl oz
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Danessa Myricks Yummy Skin Glow Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
What We Love: This glow booster is infused with some powerhouse skincare ingredients. What We Don’t Love: We’d like to see an expanded shade range.
What We Love: This glow booster is infused with some powerhouse skincare ingredients.
What We Don’t Love: We’d like to see an expanded shade range.
This gorgeous glow-getter is part of makeup artist Danessa Myricks’s Yummy Skin cosmetics range, which is known for its seamless blend of quality, pigmented makeup and hardworking skincare actives — and in this case, those actives will work tirelessly to tame acne. Niacinamide is the star here, which helps control and balance oil production to reduce breakouts and minimize the look of enlarged pores, while vitamin C will help fade those pesky dark marks left behind by past blemishes.
You don’t need to use much of this product to get a high-wattage glow — just two drops or so is all it takes to make your skin gleam with a champagne gold or copper glow. You can apply it directly to bare skin, mix it into your foundation or tinted moisturizer, or concentrate it on your cheekbones for a dramatic highlight. We do wish that the product came in just one or two more colors to suit super fair and very rich complexions, but in the meantime, this formula sheers out nicely to flatter a variety of skin tones.
Price at time of publish: $34
Key Ingredients: Vitamin C, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid | Shades: 2 | Drops Needed: 1-2 (customizable) | Size: 1.1 fl oz
Best for Combination Skin: Luna Bronze Good Night Face Bronzing Serum
What We Love: Waking up with a healthy glow will make you feel like a million bucks. What We Don’t Love: This is not a product to keep on your bedside table, lest you wake up with stained palms.
What We Love: Waking up with a healthy glow will make you feel like a million bucks.
What We Don’t Love: This is not a product to keep on your bedside table, lest you wake up with stained palms.
There’s just something about Australian self-tanner brands like Luna Glow — they produce incredibly realistic bronze glows while also being great for skin. This one in particular features a clean and conditioning formula that will pamper your face with skin-brightening desert lime extract and hydrating aloe vera, leaving it perfectly balanced and bright.
The soft serum texture goes on like a dream and is the perfect pre-bed skincare step, especially when layered under a comforting moisturizer to lock in all the goodness. If you often wake up looking and feeling tired, we can’t overstate how uplifting it feels to check yourself out the morning after using this product and see a vibrant, healthy-looking face staring back at you (snooze button who?).
Just remember that if you tend to apply your skincare routine while in bed using products on your nightstand, this is not the move when using Good Night — because it’s a self-tanner, you’ll need to thoroughly wash your hands so you don’t wake up to those telltale stained palms.
Price at time of publish: $48
Key Ingredients: Desert lime extract, wattleseed fruit extract, aloe vera | Shades: 1 | Drops Needed: 2-4 (customizable) | Size: 1 fl oz
Best for Sensitive Skin: Bondi Sands Pure Self Tanning Drops
What We Love: This fragrance-free, colorless formula is hydrating and nourishing without being sensitizing. What We Don’t Love: Remember, there’s no guide color, so practice will make perfect.
What We Love: This fragrance-free, colorless formula is hydrating and nourishing without being sensitizing.
What We Don’t Love: Remember, there’s no guide color, so practice will make perfect.
These customizable drops from Aussie brand Bondi Sands are ideal for sensitive skin — the formula features gentle, effective ingredients like hydrating hyaluronic acid, brightening vitamin C, and nourishing vitamin E without containing any potential skin irritants like color or fragrance. And while nearly all DHA-based self-tanners will have some kind of aroma as the color develops, this one is barely noticeable (and, even better, the tan appears in just six hours).
Because of how clean this formula is, you won’t have the guide color found in most self-tanners that will help you determine where you’ve applied it, so be aware that if you’re not careful, you could go overboard in some spots or get a little streaky in others. Mixing this product into a moisturizer and then applying could help, but the best way to expertly use these self-tanning drops is to start slow and work your way up to more intense application.
Price at time of publish: $23
Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E | Shades: 1 | Drops Needed: 4-12 (customizable) | Size: 1.35 fl oz
Best For Mature Skin: PerriconeMD No Makeup Bronzer SPF 15
What We Love: This formula features zero sparkle for the most natural-looking bronze. What We Don’t Love: The bottle is pretty small.
What We Love: This formula features zero sparkle for the most natural-looking bronze.
What We Don’t Love: The bottle is pretty small.
If you hate how most glow boosters call attention to fine lines and coarse skin texture with shimmer, this PerriconeMD product is the one for you. It features a very sheer texture that buffs into skin seamlessly, infusing it with anti-aging ingredients like firming and brightening vitamin C as well as Chinese ginger plant extract, which combats discoloration and dullness. This product even contains SPF 15 for enhanced sun protection as you fake your glow (just be sure to apply your go-to sunscreen, too).
The only caveat to this product is its size — it’s less than half an ounce, so the bottle has a petite presence. That said, if you’re someone who only uses a formula like this in the summer months, you’ll have more than enough to get yourself glowing through the season. We recommend dabbing this product directly to where the sun would hit your face (the forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin) and blending it in with your fingertips to fake your warm-weather look.
Price at time of publish: $35
Key Ingredients: Vitamin C, Chinese ginger plant extract | Shades: 1 | Drops Needed: 1-2 (customizable) | Size: .3 fl oz
Best for Beginners: Chanel Les Beiges Sheer Healthy Glow Luminizing Fluid
What We Love: This super-sheer formula delivers a delicate, ethereal glow that is impossible to overdo. What We Don’t Love: Right now, there are only two shades.
What We Love: This super-sheer formula delivers a delicate, ethereal glow that is impossible to overdo.
What We Don’t Love: Right now, there are only two shades.
With some bronzing drops, it’s a little too easy to get heavy-handed with the application — leaving your face spectacularly sparkly or with a chrome finish — but Chanel’s subtle and elegant formula never gets too intense, making it ideal for bronzing drop newbies. It creates a luminous veil on the skin, making it look fresh and dewy whether you’re using the product as a primer, mixed into your makeup, or as a spot highlighter.
It isn’t just the product itself that gives your skin a glow — this luminizing fluid features brightening vitamin C to add extra radiance to your complexion over time, too. You can choose from two different shades, Sunkissed (a soft bronze) and Pearly Glow (a pearlescent champagne). We would love to see a deeper, coppery bronze added to the lineup in future, but we will say that because these shades are so sheer, we’d expect them to blend well into most skin tones.
Price at time of publish: $48
Key Ingredients: Seaweed extract, glycerin, vitamin C | Shades: 2 | Drops Needed: 1-3 (customizable) | Size: 1 fl oz
Best Splurge: RéVive Glow Elixir Hydrating Radiance Oil
What We Love: This formula delivers a natural and luxurious radiance while saturating skin with intensive nourishment. What We Don’t Love: The packaging can get messy to use.
What We Love: This formula delivers a natural and luxurious radiance while saturating skin with intensive nourishment.
What We Don’t Love: The packaging can get messy to use.
If you’re looking for a “just stepped off my yacht” glow, invest in this supremely luxe formula from RéVive Skincare, which leaves skin feeling super moisturized and soft (courtesy of plant butters and oils!) as well as more even and healthy in tone. It’s a staple in Thomas’s kit: “I just love the way it blends into the skincare I use,” she says. “It gives a glowy finish without being overly glittery and provides a really beautiful, warm tone that makes it look like you’ve been on a sunny vacation.”
The only downside is the packaging — to get the full benefits of this product, you need to shake the bottle vigorously, which can cause the product to build up around the dropper and cause spillage when unscrewing the cap. While we’d prefer to see this formula in a pump, we do enjoy the sensorial experience of dripping the elixir down our cheekbones.
Price at time of publish: $125
Key Ingredients: Shea butter, sunflower seed oil, vitamin E | Shades: 1 | Drops Needed: 1-2 (customizable) | Size: 1 fl oz
Best Glow: Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop’lit All-Over Glow Enhancer
What We Love: This is a nice way to upgrade your existing foundation. What We Don’t Love: If you’re looking for serious pigment payoff, this is not the product for you.
What We Love: This is a nice way to upgrade your existing foundation.
What We Don’t Love: If you’re looking for serious pigment payoff, this is not the product for you.
If you’re usually someone who wears a more matte-looking foundation — or even loves a “your skin but better” look yet just somehow always appears tired — this glow-boosting formula from Fenty Beauty should be in your kit. “These drops come in four shades and truly make the skin glow,” says Hart. From a soft opalescent pink to a deep bronze, the serum-like formula melts into skin to flatter a broad range of complexions with a subtle tint.
For those who love Fenty for more vibrant products like the powder highlighter, keep in mind that you’re not going to get the same level of intensity from Drop’lit. This truly is not a liquid highlighter but a subtle luminosity booster. While this may disappoint some who like a serious gleam from their shimmer formulas, we appreciate this glow enhancer for its more subdued finish, as it makes for a more versatile addition to one’s makeup kit.
Price at time of publish: $34
Key Ingredients: Sodium hyaluronate, milk thistle extract, pomegranate peel extract | Shades: 4 | Drops Needed: Pea-sized amount | Size: 1.22 fl oz
Best for Dry Skin: Pai The Impossible Glow Drops
What We Love: This is a rare glow booster that’s organic certified. What We Don’t Love: The bronze hue is not versatile enough for all skin tones.
What We Love: This is a rare glow booster that’s organic certified.
What We Don’t Love: The bronze hue is not versatile enough for all skin tones.
While many brands these days are clean, it is a scant few that can claim to be organic like this one from Pai, which uses skin quenchers like hyaluronic acid and sea kelp to attract and seal lasting moisture into dry skin. You get to choose from three unique shades — champagne, rose gold, and bronze — to add radiance to your complexion, whether you mix it into SPF, apply directly to your cheekbones, or even mix it into your body lotion. You can even buy a smaller size of this product to test it out before committing to a full-sized bottle, which we greatly appreciate.
For those who are looking for a bronze shade that will suit all complexions, you may have to be very careful with your dosage of this formula as the color may not be a good match for those with very fair skin, especially if you have pink undertones (Rose Gold will be best for you). However, if you have a warmer skin tone or don’t mind mixing this formula into self-tanner or moisturizer, you’ll likely love this product.
Price at time of publish: $35
Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, sea kelp, lemon fruit water | Shades: 3 | Drops Needed: 1-3 (customizable) | Size: 1 fl oz
Best for Body: Sol De Janeiro Glowmotions Glow Oil
What We Love: This formula delivers an intense yet flattering glow that blurs imperfections. What We Don’t Love: It features a strong fragrance, if that’s not your thing.
What We Love: This formula delivers an intense yet flattering glow that blurs imperfections.
What We Don’t Love: It features a strong fragrance, if that’s not your thing.
When you’re baring limbs, there’s nothing like accentuating them with a bit of glow – and this nourishing formula seriously delivers, with a glorious radiant finish that makes skin look smoother, firmer, and more even in tone. It’s loaded with conditioning plant extracts like fatty acid-rich cupuaçu butter and antioxidant açai oil, which seal in lasting moisture and soften away dry patches. It’s not a self-tanner, but it’ll layer nicely on top of one to enhance sun-kissed skin (and moisturizing helps self-tanner last longer, so it’s a win-win)!
If you love the brand’s signature Cheirosa ’62 fragrance (which has luscious notes of pistachio and caramel), you’ll be addicted to this formula as soon as you slick it on, but for those who prefer to spritz on their own perfume or are sensitive to scent, you may want to use this product sparingly, especially around mealtimes.
Price at time of publish: $35
Key Ingredients: Cupuaçu butter, açai oil, coconut oil | Shades: 3 | Drops Needed: 1+ pumps for body (customizable) | Size: 2.5 fl oz
What to Keep in Mind
Your Skin Type
As is the case with any beauty product, you’ll want to make sure the bronzing drops you buy are compatible with your skin tone as well as type. Regarding tone, think about the desired outcome. “I always advise clients to use something that will give them a warm glow and build gradually over time just as a natural tan would,” says Thomas.
When it comes to your skin type, consider the texture and finish of the drops before buying them. If you have dry skin, you’ll want a more moisturizing or oil-based formula, like Caliray Just Add Rays Universal Translucent Glow Booster Drops and RéVive Glow Elixir Hydrating Radiance Oil — these will add nourishment to your skin. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid (found in Pai The Impossible Glow Drops) and glycerin will also help draw moisture into your skin.
Oily skin types will want to look for oil-free formulas that feature ingredients that will help regulate oil production, like niacinamide (a key ingredient in Danessa Myricks Beauty Yummy Skin Glow Serum with Hyaluronic Acid). You may also want to look for a matte finish, like that of PerriconeMD No Makeup Bronzer SPF 15. “If you are oily, be careful when using luminous formulas that add sheen to the skin,” says Hart. “Products that contain mica as it may enhance the shine on the skin.”
All bronzing drops are completely customizable, but when it comes to tanning drops, you’ll want to ease your way in, starting with a lower number of drops and then building up once you get a sense of how the color looks on your skin. “As a general guideline, we recommend that you start with a small number of drops — two to three — for a subtle, natural-looking tan,” says Claghorn. “If you prefer a deeper tan, you can gradually increase the number of drops used.”
Hart adds that “building your tan gradually will ensure you don’t end up feeling too dark or with an uneven base.”
The ease of using tanning drops is that you just mix them with your favorite skincare products. Claghorn recommends picking a serum, moisturizer, or oil that is lightweight, spreads easily, and is compatible with your skin type to achieve the best results. You should do this in the palm of your hand, rather than on your body or in the bottle, so you can best control the tan.
“Avoid mixing tanning drops with products that contain active ingredients like retinol or exfoliating acids, as they may interfere with the tanning process or cause uneven results,” she warns.
To build a gradual tan, start with just a few drops to achieve a subtle hint of color and assess it 24 hours after your application. Then, increase the number of drops gradually. “In subsequent applications, you can add an additional one to two extra drops to your mixture,” says Claghorn. “Keep an eye on how your skin responds to each application and adjust the number of drops accordingly — this approach allows you to achieve a natural-looking, gradual tan without any sudden or dramatic changes.”
Once you’ve hit your desired color, maintain it by applying your custom blend every couple of days. Don’t forget to exfoliate a few times a week — this will make sure your tan wears evenly and won’t look patchy or spotty.
You’ll see a lot of overlap in bronzing drop formulas, like mica to add luminosity in cosmetic products and/or DHA in self-tanners to create that faux glow effect. You’ll also find plenty of unique products with skincare actives and one of our favorites to look for is vitamin C. In addition to being a potent antioxidant, it helps brighten up a dull complexion and can fade hyperpigmentation — so essentially, you’ll be combatting sun damage while faking a sun-kissed look.
Whether or not you look for a “clean” formula is up to you. But remember — your skin is your biggest organ. “Everything you put on it absorbs and affects you,” cautions Thomas. “The FDA really only regulates what is put into nail products and hair dyes, but not self-tanners or products that alter skin tone, so you need to read the ingredient label and make sure that what you are applying is not going to affect you negatively.”
In particular, Claghorn recommends keeping an eye out for cosmetic preservatives, specifically parabens. “The main reason some individuals choose to avoid methylparaben and propylparaben is due to their potential endocrine-disrupting properties,” she says. Endocrine disruptors can negatively interact with your body’s hormonal function. While more studies are needed, it’s often better to be safe rather than sorry.
Your Questions, Answered
What do bronzing drops do?
It’s right in the name — they add a drop of bronze. “They are a concentrated liquid bronzer that can easily mix into your skincare or makeup to customize your level of tan,” says Hart. “They’re an easy and quick way to achieve a sun-kissed look without damaging your skin in the sun.”
The beauty of bronzing drops is that you can create a wide range of looks by using them in a variety of ways. Thomas likes applying them to where you’d place a bronzer — the high points of the face — to mimic the effect of having been on a sunny vacation.
There are also a variety of bronzing drop options to choose from. “Some are luminizing and give the skin a beautiful glow, while other bronzing drops dry more matte and are perfect for oily skin types,” says Hart. There are also some bronzing drops that are self-tanner.
Are bronzing drops fake tan?
Sometimes; you can find bronzing drops in makeup, self-tanning, and even hybrid formulas.
“Tanning glow drops contain self-tanning ingredients that interact with the top layer of the skin to create a temporary tan appearance,” explains Claghorn. “They offer a safer alternative to traditional tanning methods and allow individuals to achieve a desired tan without sun exposure.”
When shopping for bronzing drops, it’s important to read the packaging to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want. “Usually, if the package only says ‘bronzer,’ it will not contain self-tanning ingredients that will actually darken the skin,” says Hart.
How do you darken your foundation with bronzer drops?
Mixing bronzing drops into your foundation will add a nice shimmer and warm tone, which will not only give your foundation a glowy finish but help deepen the shade so you can stick with one product all season long.
“It’s a great product to throw in your bag when you are going on vacation so that you can adapt your foundation as you have more time in the sun,” says Thomas.
Hart recommends starting with one drop and continuing to add until you have the depth you are looking for — try using the back of your hand as a mixing palette.
Before you start playing cosmetic chemist, though, take a look at the ingredient lists of your foundation and bronzing drops. “Most bronzing drops typically have oil in them, so when they’re mixed with a water-based foundation, it is important to note that they will not play well together,” says Thomas. “Any foundation that is oil based will work seamlessly with it and actually sheer out the foundation a bit to give it a more natural skin finish.”
Bondi Sands Pure Self-Tanning Drops, Tanologist Face and Body Drops, and Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops are all water-based, so they should play well with your water-based foundations.
How do you apply tanning drops?
The key to success with tanning drops is to start with the proper base — clean, exfoliated, and dry skin. If you apply lotions before mixing up your tanning drop concoction, the tan will be unable to stick to the skin and could create a patchy look.
Blending your drops of choice into moisturizer, serum, cream, or oil and apply evenly in circular motions is the tried-and-true application method. “Work them well into the neck, around your ears and into your hairline to ensure you get an even tan,” says Hart.
After you’ve slathered yourself in bronze, wash your hands so they don’t stain! “If you’re rinsing the tanned area within two to eight hours of application, do not use soap and do not apply cosmetic products until the tan is fully developed,” says Claghorn. Otherwise, you risk washing away your tan. After that, you can use soap.
Why Shop With Us
Emily Orofino is a beauty writer, editor, and consultant with more than a decade of experience in the industry. She has very fair skin and has spent years trying out a variety of bronzing drops and self tanners to find the most natural-looking glow. For this piece, she interviewed celebrity makeup artists Courtney Hart and Natalia Thomas and SUGARED + BRONZED founder Courtney Claghorn who shared their insights into bronzing drops and secrets to achieving radiant skin.
Related: We Tested Nearly 30 Self Tanners — These 6 Won't Leave You Orange
For more InStyle news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on InStyle.