Snob Essentials

Bronzing Basics: Liquid vs Powder


Dear Beauty Snob,

I was wondering if you could please explain what the difference is between powder bronzers and liquid bronzers? I have fair skin with combination skin and I am 18 years old. I wonder if you could recommend a product from both sides. I’m looking for a very natural bronze, without any hints of glitter/sparkle. Can you recommend any products?

Thank you so much! Sincerely, Mai

Dear Mai,

I have not tanned since I was 18 years old yet have managed a fabulous bronzed glow each summer from the many bronzers I use! There are pros and cons to both liquid and powder bronzers. The liquid will give you a natural glow but you risk looking too greasy in hot weather, plus the application is messy(fingers get stained if you don’t wash thoroughly immediately after applying so I recommend using a slightly moistened wedge sponge). The bronzing powders are less messy and offer more coverage but does not look as natural. I use both a liquid bronzer layered with a light coating of powder bronzer for the best of both worlds! My absolute favorite liquid bronzing gel is one I have used since high school, I have tried many of the expensive brands but none give the sheer glow of Bonne Bell Bronze Gel!– $3.95 at drugstores.

I am not as loyal to bronzing powders. There are several I love. Givenchy Prism in ‘Happy Sun’– $43 (four shades for you to blend to the desired darkness), Bobbi Brown bronzing powder– $33 (this gives a nice matte color) and Prescriptives custom blend bronzing powder – $35(you never risk looking orange as it is blended according to your skin tone but darker.) None of these have any kind of glitter, you will just look like you spent a month in St. Tropez 🙂 Let me know what you end up trying!

Love, Beauty Snob

P.S.(I know our readers have their own bronzing tips and secrets, please share with us!)



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  1. I love self-tanning with Clarins Liquid Bronze and ModelCo Airbrush Tan in a Can. When it comes to bronzers, I swear by MAC’s Bronzing Powder in Bronze – it has a great colour that gives a sheer, healthy golden tan with just the right amount of shimmer in it (very very little). Just simply sweep onto the areas of the face where the sun hits (forehead, cheekbones, nose, chin), but personally, I like sweeping it on the perimeter of the face, and contouring my cheekbones to make my face look slimmer and the cheekbones, higher. There might be a chance of your skin looking a tiny tad unnatural, that’s why I always add some highlighter of some sort (MAC’s Strobe Cream is my current fav) to the cheekbones, forehead, down the nose and the chin.

  2. I can’t wait to get the bonne bell, you have never steered me wrong before! I love it when you feature drugstore cheap finds!!!

  3. Hi Christy,

    I do not recommend putting liquid bronzing gel on your whole body (if you must, just dab on shoulders for a sun kissed glow if you are in a tank top or strapless. I also like applying on my legs when I wear shorts or short skirts) because it could stain your clothes!

    for the body, try a self tanner!