We Tried The New Darker Shades Of Benefit's Hoola Bronzer — & They're Legit

Welcome to Unfiltered, where we give our honest, no-B.S. reviews of the most buzzed-about beauty products, brands, and services on the market right now.

Even if you just found out that there's a difference between bronzer and contour, you've still likely heard of Benefit's Hoola Matte Bronzer — it's just that popular. This long-time favorite has over 230,000 loves and nearly 2000 5-star ratings on Makeup artists, vloggers, editors, beauty lovers, and probably your next door neighbor have raved about this formula, and Hoola stans swear that it has a natural finish that gives off a summertime glow, even if you're in the midst of winter.


But the original Hoola was lacking in its range. In 2017, the brand decided to expand and launch this cult-favorite in a lighter shade for porcelain-to-fair skin tones, but one question ignited: What about those with tan and dark skin tones? Well, the time has finally come. Benefit is launching two new shades: Caramel for medium-to-deep skin tones and Toasted for deep skin tones. This will bring the lineup to four options, and as one Instagram user put it, "It's about time."

So, now that women with caramel and chocolate skin tones have a shot at the cult product, we asked five R29 staffers to put it to the test to see if it lives up to the hype of the original. Read their unfiltered thoughts, ahead.

Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer in Caramel and Toasted will be available for $30 on February 26 at

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1 of 5
Danielle Thornton, Executive Assistant

Shade: Caramel

"My version of bronzer is a significantly darker shade of foundation that I purchased on super clearance. This Benefit though? It's making me want to ditch the foundation trick and switch to the real version. I’ll admit I overdid it a bit when brushing it on, only because I didn't expect the powder to have such a powerful pigment. After buffing it out, I went from winter pale to summer glow in seconds. It's safe to say that I’m adding this bronzer to my birthday wish list, which just so happens to be the day before it launches."
2 of 5
Jessica Cruel, Deputy Beauty Director

Shade: Toasted

"For years, I didn’t even know they made bronzers dark enough for Black women. But recently I got into the product as a way to contour without complication. I just sweep bronzer on my forehead and cheeks for a quick sculpt. I’ve known about the Hoola bronzer for years, but never tried it because — well, the original shade looked more like a setting powder for me than a bronzer. And when I saw this Toasted shade in the box, I thought it would be too red on my skin (my expectations were rather low, I admit), but the color is just the right shade to give depth to my cheeks. I used the blunt edge of the included brush to apply the product right in the hollow, then I buffed it out in circular motions. The end result is as a natural-looking shadow."
3 of 5
Thatiana Diaz, Beauty Writer

Shade: Caramel

"When Benefit announced it was creating darker shades of Hoola, my immediate reaction was: 'OMG, it's happening.' As a makeup lover, I've always heard about the greatness of this product, but when I applied the original, the shade disappeared like a setting powder. But as soon as I swiped Caramel on my hand, I knew my time had come (Alexa, play Etta James' "At Last"). The pigment has incredible payoff, so a little goes a long way if you're a lighter medium. I used my own contour brush — I'm not a fan of the included brush — and dusted it on under my cheekbones, jawline, and around my hairline. Then, I blended it in with a wet Beautyblender to make it look more bronze-from-within. The finished product? The natural, chiseled glow I've always heard about."
4 of 5
Channing Hargrove, Fashion Writer

Shade: Toasted

"It's important to know that I didn't even know how to properly apply bronzer before this trial. I usually add depth to my face with highlighter and blush. But after a quick tutorial, I dipped a brush into the bronzer and applied it to my face in a '3' shape, sweeping from my forehead to my cheekbones and then down to the jawline. After I applied, I realized that I probably made a mistake by not tapping the excess product off the brush — the color payoff was intense. I attempted to buff it in, but it still looked like an obvious contour (a look I wasn't going for). The color was incredibly dark, which means that it would probably work for deeper skin tones than mine, but I'd say I'm in need of a shade in-between Caramel and Toasted."
5 of 5
Aimee Simeon, Beauty Writer

Shade: Caramel

"I never thought I’d use the word 'speechless' to describe Benefit’s Hoola Matte Bronzer. That’s because — until now — I’ve never been able to use the bronzer (it disappears into my skin tone). When I learned that the cult-favorite was getting more shades, I was nervous. It could either go really, really bad, or I would be in for a pleasant surprise. Luckily for my face (and for Benefit), the new shades of Hoola took me by extreme surprise."

"I picked up the square-shaped pan expecting the shade Caramel to vanish into my complexion, but the opposite happened. I didn’t tap the extra product off my brush before applying — I didn’t expect such an intense pigment — and so I got a rich, chocolate-colored payoff that looked amazing. The bronzer made my face look warm and sculpted instantly, like I just got back from a vacation. I also dusted some along the bridge of my nose. The first time I used it, I knew I'd put the rest of my bronzers in my junk drawer. Yes, it is that good. Benefit, I see you."
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