The Best Bronzing Drops for a Luminous, Lit-From-Within Glow

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Sure, you can ignore all the sun-safety advice and get your glow sans SPF. But for a sun-kissed tan minus any skin damage, the best bronzing drops are our go-to. Compared to the alternatives (powders, creams, and self-tanners), bronzing drops offer a lightweight, luminous finish—resulting in a dewy, lit-from-within complexion.

With their ever-increasing popularity (largely in part to the Drunk Elephant Bronzing Drops breaking the internet), plenty of brands have saturated the bronzing drops space. And no—they aren’t all formulated alike. While some have perfected the barely-there, compliment-inducing glow, others leave you looking like a disco ball that got left in the tanning bed. Not ideal. To determine the best bronzing drops worth adding to your cart, we tested the buzziest brands on the market today.

Featured image from our interview with Sabeena Ladha by Suruchi Avasthi.

Cyndi Ramirez best bronzing drops.

What do bronzing drops do?

You can think of bronzing drops as a short-therm solve for an instant glow. Whereas tanning drops play the long game with their infusion of DHA (the active ingredient used in sunless tanning agents), bronzing drops are a low-commitment way to add a little color and possible shine to your look. While many options are formulated with skin-loving faves like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and squalane, the best bronzing drops are makeup’s answer to a fading summer glow.

How to Use Bronzing Drops

The beautiful thing about bronzing drops is their versatility. They can be worn on their own, layered underneath makeup, mixed into foundation or moisturizer, or applied as the final step in your routine. Just be aware that blended with certain products, such as powder foundation, can yield a cakey finish. Try matching the drops’ lightweight texture with other luminous, liquid products.

When it comes to bronzing drops, the goal is a natural, believable tan. Because of that, less is always more. I like applying a drop to the high points of the face—forehead, nose, and cheek bones—or all over in place of a highlighter.

Skincare products

The Best Bronzing Drops for a Sun-Kissed Glow

Our Top Picks

  1. Best Overall: Kosas Glow I.V. Vitamin-Infused Skin Illuminating Enhancer – $38 at Kosas
  2. Best Primer: KORA Organics Silky Sun Drops 100% Mineral Sunscreen Serum – $56 at KORA Organics
  3. Best for Face and Body: Live Tinted Hueglow Jumbo Liquid Highlighter Drops – $38 at Ulta Beauty
  4. Best for Dull Skin: Saie Glowy Supergel – $28 at Saie
  5. Best Affordable: Versed Mood Lighting Luminizing Glow Drops – $17.99 at Target
  6. Best Pigmented: Pai Skincare The Impossible Glow Bronzing Drops – $39 at Dermstore

Best Overall: Kosas Glow I.V. Vitamin-Infused Skin Illuminating Enhancer

Why We Love It: The first green flag of our top pick: the inclusive shade range. Spanning from a shimmery Silver Champagne to a Rich Deep Bronze, Kosas knows what the girlies want—options. The brand also addresses the ultimate challenge when it comes to formulating the best bronzing drops: creating attention-grabbing shine without looking like a disco ball. We believe that the best makeup is developed through a skin-supporting lens, and that’s exactly the approach Kosas took with this multi-use product. Infused with vitamins and nutrients, it’ll keep you glowing long after you apply.

  • Number of Shades: 10
  • Key Ingredients: Glutathione, Squalane
  • Five-Star Review: “I really like the texture of this product and the glow that it gives. I usually use it sparingly mixed with foundation or Kosas BB cream. It adds a nice luminescence!”

Best Primer: KORA Organics Silky Sun Drops 100% Mineral Sunscreen Serum

Why We Love It: I’ve learned to be proceed with caution when it comes to celebrity beauty brands, but Miranda Kerr’s (vegan and cruelty-free skincare line) KORA Organics always leaves me impressed. While this sunscreen serum won’t build the same depth of color as other picks, it’s the perfect protective primer that floods your skin with serious hydration. This natural, nourishing boost creates a glowing, SPF 30-protected base upon which you can apply makeup, sans white cast.

  • Number of Shades: 1
  • Key Ingredients: Zinc Oxide, Raspberry Seed Oil, Chia Seed Oil, Noni
  • Five-Star Review: “This smells like their noni glow products and I love how glowy it leaves my skin. On days when I’m not wearing makeup, this is perfect. I do have sensitive and dry skin. I’m 30 years old. I love how seamlessly it blends in with my other skincare products and it doesn’t pill under makeup.”

Best for Face and Body: Live Tinted Hueglow Jumbo Liquid Highlighter Drops

Why We Love It: The number of empties I’ve happily (re: desperately, frantically) replaced of this serum-infused highlighter has me shook. It bridges the makeup/skincare divide, instead acting as a hybrid product that locks in moisture with hyaluronic acid and strengthens skin with sunflower seed oil. While some friends have noted they don’t love the texture as it can lean a bit sticky, I’ve found that mixing a few drops into my moisturizer makes for a streak-free, glowy application.

  • Number of Shades: 4
  • Key Ingredients: Squalane, Sunflower Seed Oil, Hyaluronic Acid
  • Five-Star Review: “I love this thing. It gives me this gorgeous “glow from within” look. It’s not glittery or sparkly I don’t really think it has a shine either; it just gives a radiances that’s beautiful. I love how it melts into my skin. The consistency is very nice as well.”

Best for Dull Skin: Saie Glowy Supergel

Why We Love It: Saie is a go-to for hard-working, minimalist makeup, and as with all the brand’s products, the Supergel yields a your-skin-just-glowier result. The lightweight formulation is infused with brightening vitamin C and hydrating squalane for a subtle, but radiant shine. We wear it on its own for a glowy boost, layered with a tinted SPF, or mixed with foundation for a dewy finish.

  • Number of Shades: 2
  • Key Ingredients: Squalane, Glycerin, Papaya Seed Oil
  • Five-Star Review: “I love this product! It’s so nice and I feel so sparkly 🙂 Makes my skin seem like it’s glass. I haven’t gotten any reaction to it yet so YAYY!!”

Best Affordable: Versed Mood Lighting Luminizing Glow Drops

Why We Love It: Versed has been a budget-friendly favorite for years, and the introduction of these peptide-infused glow drops solidifies our loyalty. Despite their lightweight feel, these drops boost hydration and elasticity for visibly plumper, smoother skin. Antioxidant-rich blackberry extract strengthens the skin barrier while polyglutamic acid locks in moisture. You can wear them with makeup, but these drops are my favorite for a pool day when the vibe is au naturel.

  • Number of Shades: 3
  • Key Ingredients: Polyglutamic Acid, Blackberry Extract, Vitamin E
  • Five-Star Review: “I love the sheer golden glow this product gives me. It’s just enough color on days when I don’t want full face makeup. I mix a few drops into my moisturizer instead of foundation. Then add a little concealer, mascara and lip gloss to get out the door in 15 minutes or less! I also love that it’s reasonably priced.”

Best Pigmented: Pai Skincare The Impossible Glow Bronzing Drops

Why We Love It: The impossible, made possible. These bronzing drops deliver a buildable, customizable color infused with naturally-derived pigment. Its radiance is unbeatable, nourishing the skin from the inside out with moisturizing mainstays like hyaluronic acid and sea kelp. The resulting finish is a pearlescent, golden-hour glow.

  • Number of Shades: 1
  • Key Ingredients: Citrus Limon Fruit Water, Hyaluronic Acid, Algae Extract
  • Five-Star Review: “I use the shade Rose Gold for my fair skin and it is the prettiest product in my entire collection! It’s subtle enough to use on the entire face when mixed in with a product, plays well with pretty much every base product I’ve mixed it with, and looks gorgeous alone on the skin as well. (Also, it somehow manages to look beautiful on skin with acne/texture/fine lines).”
Woman using bronzing drops.

Other Bronzing Drops to Consider

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter

The famed celebrity makeup artist puts out countless cult products—but this might be one of Tilbury’s best. It’s a true multi-hyphenate, working as an all-in-one highlighter and primer while also offering a light layer of coverage. While other bronzing products can draw attention to blemishes, the Flawless Filter blurs imperfections for a smooth finish.

Jones Road Gel Bronzer

The best bronzing drops combine color and hydration—check and check for this lightweight, barely-there bronzer. We love the gel-like texture and buildable color. The only drawback is the applicator; it can be difficult to get the product out.

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Hue Drops

Brightening and soothing, these drops leave skin even with a warm color. The product is great for dull skin as it offers a sheer tint packaged into a serum. Heavy-hitting ingredients like niacinamide, watermelon, and hyaluronic acid soothe, hydrate, and calm the skin.

Typology Glow Drops With 5% Vitamin C + Aloe Vera

These antioxidant-rich drops are pure elegance, offering a radiant, illuminating sheen. Fortified with brightening vitamin C and nourishing aloe vera, you can blend the product into a moisturizer or tinted serum, or layer a few drops on top of your makeup for a glowy finish.

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