Cream vs. Powder Bronzer: What’s the Difference & How to Apply It

Cream vs. Powder Bronzer: What’s the Difference & How to Apply It

When I was younger and poured over my Bobbi Brown Teenage Beauty book, I always wondered what it meant to apply bronzer and have a “sunkissed glow.” As a young Black girl, the two or three pages dedicated to dark skinned people in the book was clearly an afterthought, but I ate it up anyway. Noticeably missing from that section was the need for bronzer for Black girls. I didn’t even think it was a product I could use until I was in my 30s. WILD.

But now, I have a bronzer for every occasion. While I think a lot of brands still have a long way to go with their bronzer diversity, we are getting a lot more options than before. But I’ve always had a question about what the difference is between cream and powder bronzers. Do they serve different purposes? How should I use both? And where do I place bronzer to get that elusive glow?

Read on to find out the answers to all these questions, and more!

As a Black woman, I didn’t even think bronzer was a product I could use until I was in my 30s. WILD. But now, I have a bronzer for every occasion.


What Is Bronzer?

First things first—what is bronzer? Bronzer is a makeup product that’s used to give you a sunkissed glow, enhance your tan, or give you that look like you’ve been out in the sun on a tropical vacation (without the redness). It’s typically a warm colored makeup product and comes in a variety of types. The most popular is powder bronzer, followed by cream, and then balm bronzers.


What Is the Difference Between Powder vs. Cream Bronzer?

One of my biggest questions was trying to figure out the difference between powder and cream bronzers and if they serve a unique purpose. My go-to powder bronzer is the Fenty Beauty SunStalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer in the shade Coco Naughty. I also recently bought the Danessa Myricks Power Cream Bronzer and the Tower 28 Bronizo Illuminating Bronzer, two cream bronzers that are perfect for dark skin.


General consensus is that cream bronzers are easier to use. They are easier to blend, give you a more natural look, and aren’t super matte like a lot of powder bronzers are. They’re really great for people with dry skin, as they won’t cling to dry patches or texture. I like to use cream bronzers when the weather is warm for a nice flush of color.

Powder bronzers require a little bit of makeup know-how to get them to look natural. You want to make sure your powder bronzer is shimmer/glitter-free, you’re using the correct brush (something like this), and you use a light hand to avoid an unblended wash of color on your face. Powder bronzers are also great for those with oily, acne-prone skin.

Whatever you decide, bronzer serves the same purpose—to give your skin a bit more depth, dimension, and a vacation-ready glow.


How Do You Apply Powder Bronzer?

Powder bronzer is best applied with a special bronzer brush. These brushes are tapered to help deposit the product exactly where you want it to go—typically along the hairline, the sides of the temples, directly underneath the cheekbones, and sometimes down the sides of the bridge of the nose. Swirl your brush around in your powder product of choice and tap off the excess. With a light hand, apply your bronzer to your desired areas.


How Do You Apply Cream Bronzer?

You can apply cream bronzer with a brush, but my favorite way is to use my fingers. Warm up a bit of the product on your fingers and place in the same areas I mentioned above. You can use your fingers or a damp beauty blender to diffuse the product into your skin. I also like to put a little bronzer on my eyelids too for a really easy no-makeup eye look.

So, cream or powder bronzer? It’s really up to you! I love both for various reasons. What’s your take? Let me know in the comments!


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