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Department Store vs. Drugstore Bronzers: Is the Quality Really the Same?

Do you really need name-brand, department-store bronzer, or is drugstore bronzer fine? Here's our guide. Pick the best bronzer to get your glow on.

Drugstore Bronzer or Department Store: Which Is Best?

If you tend to shy away from the sun because you’re concerned about UV rays, your skin will probably thank you with a smooth, wrinkle-free finish. But what about your complexion? A picid, pasty face doesn’t look much better than a tanned, wrinkly one – OK maybe a little better. But girl, you’ve still got to get your glow on, and the best way to do that is with a bronzer!

Bronzer is such a versatile makeup item that it can even benefit those of us who do get our daily dose of Vitamin D. For instance, bronzer can be used as a contouring powder, and when applied with a contrasting highlighter can effectively sculpt your face. And, of course, bronzer always helps to brighten up a dull or sallow complexion.

But if your bank account’s about as light as your face, you may be wondering if you can get away with using a cheap, drugstore bronzer. Many beauty items, such as foundation, are clearly ones you’d only want to purchase at a department store-while others, such as mascara, are best bought in drugstores. But with bronzers, critics are pretty well split down the middle.

Proponents of department store bronzer argue that the cheap variety will leave you with orange patches and streaks, as drugstore products often have less blendability. However, drugstore beauty brands have definitely improved in recent years, and bronzer is no exception.

Let’s explore the differences between the quality in the department store and drugstore bronzer, so you can determine if the savings are truly worth it.

When Department Store Bronzers are Better

If you’ve got fair or light-colored skin, you’re better off going with a department store bronzer. Why? Many high-end bronzers, such as Becca’s Sunlit come in a variety of shades (Becca has five). Since our skin tones are all so different, we should all strive for a bronzer that complements our individual coloring.

A one-sized fits all bronzer, while it may look pretty on girls who are darker-toned, won’t look so nice on us Casper colored gals, and will instead appear fake and mask-like. A tanned face with a pale body is never a good look on anyone, so look for a bronzer which is designed for lighter skin tones. You’ll get a sun-kissed glow, sans the “my face went on vacation and my body stayed behind look.”

And if you’re concerned about burning through your expensive makeup too quickly, loose mineral bronzer seems to provide the best bang for the buck. Loose mineral bronzer is highly concentrated, so a little goes a long way, and also allows for customization, so you can more effectively match your bronzer to your skin tone.

When Drugstore Bronzers are Better

If you have a medium to dark complexion, you can probably get away with purchasing a drugstore bronzer. You’ll just want to make sure you purchase one that is both blendable and multi-faceted, as a single shade, monochromatic bronzer can appear flat and dull, and likely not the look you’re going for.

Beauty brands Milani and Physicians Formula offer baked bronzers with multi-colored, blendable shades, and built-in shimmer, and provide a beachy glow all year round.

Just make sure, if you’re fair-skinned and choose to go the drugstore bronzer route, that you don’t choose a bronzer with red or brown tones, as this will make your skin appear orange.

Foolproof Bronzer

If you can afford it, and you’re super worried about looking streaky or fake, another option is to try liquid bronzer.

High-end brand Cover FX offers bronzer drops, which provide a seamless, foolproof bronzing solution- simply add a few drops to your existing makeup base or moisturizer and you’ll have a gorgeous, all-over glow.

However, while a little goes a long way, you may find the price of around $40 for a half-ounce jar to be cost-prohibitive.

Our Takeaway: Which Type of Bronzer Is Best?

Whichever type of bronzer you ultimately select — drugstore or department store, just ensure that you’ve chosen the right shade and formula for your individual skin tone. We all want to have that beachy glow, without looking flat or dull, so your best bet is to find your ideal shade, and remember that due to our varying skin tones, what works for someone else may not always be your best choice.

Resources— Marie Claire, Business Insider, Total Beauty

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