I will forever associate bronzer with my mum. I have early memories of her waltzing down the stairs on Saturday nights, bidding my sister and I adieu before heading out the door. But this is not a tale of neglect (there was a babysitter, and the promise of ‘teas on knees,’ in front of Stars in Their Eyes). It’s one of obsession being born.
When I hugged her, I could smell Guerlain Terracotta Bronzer (entwined with YSL Rive Gauche fragrance). You might not think it’s possible to smell bronzer, but the next time you’re in a hallowed beauty hall, slow your pace at the Guerlain counter and breathe deep. It wasn’t just the smell though. I was fascinated – obsessed even – with the way her bronzer enriched her already olive skin. She radiated gorgeous.
Subconsciously, I was hooked. In the years that followed, I had an unhealthy predilection for anything that might be able to do something similar to my – not-so-olive – skin. I went through every bronzer there was: the Bourjois palette that looked like a bar of chocolate and opened out like a book; Benefit’s Hoola! (Brilliant then; still is); the Pout compact – lest we forget – in its bubblegum pink cardboard case.
My MO back then was: more is more. Unsurprisingly, I failed to crack my mum’s code – so much so, that in my early teens she would joke that my face was so saturated, the orange pulsed under her eyelids like sun spots. As I grew up, I discovered the exercise of restraint and when I entered the beauty industry I discovered Soleil Tan de Chanel, £40.
This bronzer does what I imagine skin coloured tights do – it enlivens pallor, blurs the gross bits and bronzes all over. It's a creamy gel texture, but not in the slightest bit hard to get right. All you need is a big fluffy brush. Colour-wise, there’s only one shade, and yes, it is prefaced by that tired old phrase ‘universally flattering’. But in this case it really is true.
It’s as if its creator took a swatch of perfectly St Tropez-ed skin to be colour-matched at the Dulux counter – which I realise sounds anything but universal, but tried and tested, it makes pale skin sing and black skin glow. Better yet, its gel formula means it gives skin an expensive, quenched quality, like you’ve been doing some form of glam exercise – power pacing with hand weights, say.
Then there’s its good looks. I defy anyone not to go slack jawed upon taking off the lid. Rich swathes of terracotta swirl around the pot like a part-melted, upside down Mr Whippy. So satisfying. Almost as satisfying as seeing the pot as a permanent fixture in my mum’s make-up bag since she eyed up my ‘good health’ some four years ago.