Drugstore Bronzer Haul


Drugstore Bronzer Haul and Reviews

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What’s the best drugstore bronzer?

Summer is the season to bust out some bronzers! And bronzers are not just for the medium/tan, olive, and darker skinned folks. You fair skinned lovelies can benefit from the right bronzer too!

So if you Google “best bronzers” you’ll get hundreds of posts to sort through! Intimidating, right?

Instead of me doing thorough research and sifting through those hundreds of posts, and referring to my fave MUAs that I follow on YouTube or Insta, and methodically selecting which items I want to blog about, I approached this with a completely open mindset and a $50 budget. (Granted, I have extensive product knowledge and a MUA instinct but still).

I walked out of Ulta with 5 bronzers, 1 highlighter (not part of the bronzer project but heck, I’ll swatch it for you), and a handful of samples that I always ask for when I checkout.  Ugh, mostly perfume pour homme but one BareMinerals Pure Brightening Serum Foundation. Score!

In order to keep my YouTube video at a reasonable length, because I am a talker and don’t want to bore you, I’ve only done live swatches of the Ulta/drugstore bronzers.

Check out my video to see the live swatches and check out the product description below to learn more about the product.


Review Criteria

Brand Family

I always like to know what brand family products belong to. As I’ve gotten older (and wiser), I’ve started to prefer private labels but that’s getting harder and more expensive to do because larger ones often absorb awesome smaller brands. Read more about brand families and why they are important in a post I wrote here.

First Impression

To be honest, I mostly judge by look/feel of packaging and smell (a big one for me).

Swatch Test

Remember, swatching with your finger isn’t always the best representation of how the color will really look when applying product to your face, especially powders. My swatch test is not a heavy-handed swatch because how unrealistic is that? Basically, my swatch test passes if I can see the pigment transferred from my finger to my hand with reasonable pressure. This however, swatches in no way indicates what it will look like when applied with a brush.


It’s the middle of summer here in GA. I am 3rd trimester pregnant and chasing around my toddler, running errands, working out, and trying to survive constant trips to/from the water park. Needless to say if these bronzers last a full summer day for me, then it passes my test for lastability.

Application/Final Assessment

I applied each bronzer with my trusty MAC blush brush on top of a moisturized and tinted moisturized face! That’s it. No primer, because it’s summer and who has time?

L’Oreal Paris GlamBronze

01 Light Pale

L’Oreal Paris GlamBronze

Ok, so this one wasn’t <$10 BUT with a $3.50 off coupon at Ulta, this averaged out to <$10. This was totally impulse too, right at the checkout counter. It’s the Light Pale Color, which I’m not, but they were sold out of the medium and the dark looked WAY to orange-y. Based on appearance alone, this light pale doesn’t look light or pale, it honestly looks like a nice, complimentary shade for my skin tone.

Brand Family

L’Oreal Paris owns so many brands, they are like the matriarch. When I buy L’Oreal, I think of higher end brand (for the drugstore)…like Lancôme and Giorgio Armani. Check out all the brands under the L’Oreal umbrella in a post I wrote here.

First Impression

I’m generally happy with quality of L’Oreal products and their packaging, so this one seems to be the most promising bronzer of the group based on unopened first impressions alone.


Definitely super pigmented and passes my swatch test. It leaves a shimmery, more browny (not orange) glow. Even though it is labeled as light/pale, I’m more light/medium or medium (now with a tan) and it’s still pretty dark. Based on the swatch alone, this bronzer reminds me of a bit of Benefit’s Hoola but a little bit richer and with more shimmer.

Application/Final Assessment

This bronzer is pretty pigmented, even when applied with the brush, so don’t be too heavy handed! This bronzer definitely has the most brownish shimmer of the bunch and too be honest, it’s even a little too dark for me. I would recommend this color to women of color or women with brown skin, it’d look beautiful and act almost as a highlight. However, I will probably move this bronzer into my body bronzer category and buff on with a buffer brush.

Catrice Sun Glow Matt Bronzing Powder

Medium Skin


Brand Family

Catrice is owned by Cosnova. Other than that, I know very little about this brand except that is up-and-coming here in the States as a viable drugstore competitor.

First Impression

The packaging really isn’t that bad. It’s a cheaper version of the L’Oreal packaging. Nicer than the Essence and a little prettier than the Rimmel.

Swatch Test

This is a true matte powder. When swatched with my finger, there was zero fall-out, which was nice, however the consistency was a bit chalky.

Application/Final Assessment

This bronzer is quite the surprise of the group. I thought surely Rimmel would outperform this but I cannot honestly say it does. However, this bronzer does apply more orange so expect to spend some extra time blending it in. Overall though, this is a fine bronzer for the price and I’m happy to throw it in my gym makeup bag as a backup.

Essence Contouring Powder 01  $3.68

Ok, for less than $4, I had no clue what to expect with this one. My good friend Alexanna mentioned wanting to try their mascara, and she’s pretty on point with products she tries, but outside of that, I’ve never heard of this brand! The MUA working at Ulta that day told me she was wearing one of their highlighters and it looked really nice on her.

Brand Family

Cosnova also owns Catrice. Essence is supposedly the Europe’s #1 cosmetics brand. Essence offers even more inexpensive products than Catrice. I’m sure I will learn a lot more about this brand after I move to Europe Fall of 2016. Yep, you heard me – we are moving abroad at the end of this year!

First Impression

The packaging felt the cheapest of the bunch and I promise, it’s not because it is. Part of what makes me happy in getting ready is opening up a beautiful cosmetics product and applying the product to my face… if I feel like I am opening up something luxurious (even if it’s drugstore), I tend to use it more.

Swatch Test

When swathed on the wrist/forearm compared with all the other drugstore bronzers, it didn’t look as orange-y as it did in the package, so that’s a good sign!


This bronzer by far had the most “orange” to it but it also wasn’t super pigmented so it was easy to blend in and make look more natural. However, nothing about this bronzer made me feel special. I felt like it wore off pretty quickly & this may be a perfect bronzer for a fair skinned gal who doesn’t want to spend too much or spend too much time with a bronzer.

Rimmel Natural Bronzer Sun Light $4.61

Brand Family

Rimmel is owned by Coty. Although Coty doesn’t have any high-end brands in their portfolio – they have been around for a long time and Rimmel has a great reputation abroad and in MUA circles. I love some of Rimmel’s lipsticks and mascaras but have never actually tried anything in their face/powder/foundation line. My sister love’s Coty’s translucent setting powder here.

First Impression

The Rimmel does have a bit of a drugstore fragrance, if you know what I mean. This bronzer is just a tad more expensive than the Essence but the packaging feels totally different in a good way!

Swatch Test

The Rimmel swatches a bit more on the chalky end but not enough for me to be totally put off by it. The swatch doesn’t really impress me but it also doesn’t disappoint me.


It claims to be waterproof. I applied it pretty liberally to my face before a swimming class. Not nearly as pigmented as my higher end bronzers and a little bit more on the orange-y side but I was able to work it into a nice bronze that surprisingly lasted {barely} post-swimming work out and rinse off shower.

Application/Final Assessment

This is another perfect bronzer to buy if you forgot your bronzer for a weekend trip/mini-vacation – or you need a quick cheapy-y bronzer to get you through and have a $5 bill. Really, it’s between Catrice and this one… I opted more for the Catrice because I noticed zero odor with Catrice but this Rimmel bronzer had a slight {drugstore} scent to it.

Physician’s Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer Light Bronze $8.30

This is by far my favorite bronzer of the bunch — I will probably head out and purchase one more to put in my pro kit! It’s THAT good.

Doesn’t this just sound delicious and luxurious? Careful to all you oily skinned babes – shea butter is an ingredient you definitely want to avoid on the skin. If you are just oily in the t-zone, chin, and upper lip – you should be okay. I just wanted to forewarn you!

First Impression/Swatch

Once you get over (if you can get over) the intense shea butter smell, this looks the most luxurious of the bunch (aside from the obnoxious packaging). Check out a side-by-side looksie of the Laura Mercier & this… The scent may or may not be a turn off for you. I’m not a huge fan of overly scented products, especially makeup products that go on the face, but this smells nice. I didn’t notice the scent as the day progressed. At first glance, it makes me think of Laura Mercier’s bronzers…

Swatch Test

The product feels silky & more on the creamy side.

Lastability/Final Assessment

This is by far my favorite bronzer of the bunch and I keep gravitating towards it on the daily. I love mixing it with my NARS Laguna – it makes for such a pretty and lasting glow. It also looks great alone. Ahhh!!!! If the packaging was nicer and the scent a bit more subtle, it could totally pass for a higher end bronzer. Note on the brush: It’s a sponge brush, which was not expected but appreciated, especially given the more creamy (but not cream) texture. However, I found the brush worthless.

Brand Family

Physician’s Formula is a private label! I didn’t know or expect that but…yay!! I’ll have to keep them in mind a bit more when shopping drugstore.

So as you can see in the video, I’ve compared these with some higher end bronzers as well as another fantastic drugstore bronzer by Milani. If there’s some other bronzers that you think I should try out, let me know. Or if you think I missed the mark on any of these, let me know as well.

Stay Beautiful,


Natalie Setareh

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