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 isn't 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 (mixed with YSL Rive Gauche fragrance). You might not think it’s possible to smell bronzer, but the next time you’re in a beauty hall, slow your pace at the Guerlain counter and breathe deep. Ahhh. 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 tried anything that might be able to do something similar to my not-so-olive skin. There was the fake tan that made me look as if I'd bathed in Sunny Delight, the foundations that were three shades too dark, and every single bronzer Boots stocked: the Bourjois palette that looked like a bar of chocolate and opened out like a book; Benefit’s Hoola!; the Pout compact – RIP – in its bubblegum pink cardboard case.
My MO back then was: more is more. Unsurprisingly, I failed to crack my mum’s code. In fact, as a teenager, my face was so orange, and so saturated, it pulsed under her eyelids like sunspots. Thank goodness I not only grew to understand the art of restraint, but also entered the beauty industry, where I'd have access to the best bronzers ever made, and would discover Soleil Tan de Chanel, £40.
This bronzer does what I imagine skin coloured tights do, giving everything a nice all over, even colour, and a slight sheen. It's got a creamy gel texture, but it's not in the slightest bit hard to apply. 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. 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, say, power walking with some ankle weights.
I defy anyone not to gawp when taking off the lid. Rich swathes of terracotta swirl around the pot, begging for your brush to take a dip. It's almost as satisfying as knowing that the product is now a mainstay in your mum's make-up bag, and has been, since she eyed up your 'good health' some four years ago.