Isn’t it so much fun when you discover a beauty staple that you can’t live without? For me, this staple would be bronzer. For some reason, I was long under the impression that because I had natural color to my skin, I didn’t need bronzer. I was obviously quite sadly mistaken. With summer finally here and my recent dabbling into the world of faux-glows with my Burberry Sheer Summer Glow compact, I became obsessed with finding the right one.
But where to start? There are so many beautiful, beautiful bronzers out there–especially with all the summer collections out in full-force. So how did I choose Guerlain’s Terracotta Light Sheer Bronzing Powder in Brunettes? Simple. In my mind, the name Guerlain has always been synonymous with “bronzer”. Guerlain bronzers are often referred to as the gold standard in the beauty world, and they are said to be some of the most incredible, amazingly natural-looking bronzers around. Have you ever read a bad review for their Terracotta bronzers? Have you even met any respectable beauty-lover who hasn’t heard of their Terracotta bronzers? Exactly. (if you haven’t, you need to leave immediately.) *please note: this is very much a joke! My point is, the Terracotta bronzers have a lot of hype surrounding them–and we all know how I’m a sucker for hyped products.
Guerlain describes this bronzer as an “ingenious mosaic of five shades of compact powder [that] includes a complexion highlighter to create a natural-looking glow.” This is the sheer version of the Guerlain classic Terracotta bronzer–perfect for me because I am somewhat of a newbie when it comes to bronzer (that and my lead elbow, a problem which I’ve referred to before). Don’t get me wrong–I did own a few bronzers prior to Guerlain’s, but I never really fell in love and I never used them regularly (about once every month to two months). But Terracotta Light has changed all that for me. It creates the most divine bronzy glow–I’m addicted to how radiant and healthy it makes my skin look. When I use this, it literally looks like I’ve just stepped off a plane from a weekend jaunt on the Amalfi Coast. It’s gorgeous sun-goddess without a hint of orange fake-bake.
Brunettes is comprised of 5 different shades that create a mosaic of color. There is a light, pearly-apricot (I so wish they made a blush that was exactly this shade. It’s gorgeous!), warm coppery brown with gold shimmers, a slightly ashier matte tan, warm medium matte brown with red tones, and a deep chocolatey matte brown.Swirled together, all 5 colors work in harmony to create a delightfully warm, slightly peachy sun-kissed hue.
The apricot shade subtly brightens and warms the face while the shimmering shade acts as a built-in highlighter. How Guerlain managed to create such a beautiful, golden-apricot-tan shade without veering into orange territory is beyond me, but the results are truly spectacular. It’s the ultimate one-stop product. Most days, I just put on a little bit of eyeliner, mascara, and a bit of tinted balm. But when I add a few swipes of this all over my face, it takes the look from just meh to gorgeous and glowy. No separate blush and/or highlighter needed. I look pretty and put-together but never overdone. It adds some life and glow back into your skin that your foundation may take away and keeps your skin from appearing too flat and one-dimensional. But because of the luminous finish, this might not be your ideal choice to use as a contour powder.
The texture is extremely smooth and refined and is an absolute breeze to apply. It’s a firmer powder, but still silky and pigmented. Like the name implies, it does indeed apply a bit more sheer than your average bronzer. If you like your bronzers to be more noticeable and highly pigmented, check out their original Terracotta formula. I think the level of pigmentation is perfect though–it’s pigmented but is one of those powders that is incredibly difficult to overdo. You can layer this baby all over your face without fear of entering into “guido” territory. My only qualm with the texture is that the 3 matte shades are harder than the 2 shimmery shades. As a result, they aren’t quite as pigmented as the other 2. They’re still pigmented, but I do wish all the shades had the same firmness because it makes me think that the soft, shimmery shades might wear away a bit quicker. But then again maybe not–only time will tell.
*UPDATE: the softer shimmery shades do, in fact, wear away much quicker than the harder matte shades. After about 7 months of regular use, there are significant dips in the shimmery shades but not so much in the matte ones, resulting in a strange, almost pockmarked surface texture which you can see here Still, it’s my favorite bronzer and as long as Guerlain keeps making it, I will keep buying it over and over again.
The powder is lightly scented–nowhere near as strong as Burberry’s powders. It has a light, powdery perfume scent–almost like sweet baby powder, perhaps. It’s not my favorite scent, but it’s not terrible and the powder is so beautiful that I don’t really mind. Thankfully, the scent does dissipate pretty quickly. I can’t smell it at all once I’ve applied it on my face. I applied a heavy swatch on my arm and after about 15 minutes, the scent was hardly even detectable anymore. After 45 minutes, there was no more perfume-y smell, just the barest hint of sweetness to my skin. Still, if you have an aversion to scented face products, you may want to test out this product prior to purchasing.
This is very pricey, but it comes with a decent amount of product–0.35 oz. (10 grams). Though the amount is right in line with some high-end bronzers (Dior and YSL both give you 0.35 oz.), it’s considerably more than other high-end brands (like Edward Bess and Givenchy, at 0.25 and 0.24 oz. respectively), and most “mid-end” brands (like Benefit, Nars, and Bobbi Brown–though price per ounce is a whole different story…). I like to think of it as an investment. After all, healthy, glowing, lightly bronzed skin never goes out of style, right? Makes perfect sense to me!
On my bare, oily skin, Brunettes lasted about 5 1/2 hours before fading noticeably. I could still see it after the 7-hour mark, but it could have definitely used a touch-up. Over foundation and set with a powder, it lasted about 7 1/2 hours before there was any major fading. On those with dry to normal or combination skin, this should last all day with only one touch-up necessary, if that.
I love this bronzer like I’ve never loved any other. It just works! It creates such a believable, sunny glow that even I almost forget that I didn’t just get back from vacation. Despite the “Brunettes” moniker, I believe that this bronzer will work for blonds and brunettes alike. It is quite a warm shade though, so I do think it will be most flattering on those with warm skin tones. If you have a cool undertone, don’t fret! There is always the Blondes version (it has pink tones instead of apricot), as well as the 2 newest additions, Sun Blondes and Sun Brunettes (my understanding is that these are similar in tone to their Blondes and Brunettes counterparts, but a bit darker and warmer). Don’t want pink or peachy tones in your bronzer? Try the original Terracotta bronzers. I highly, highly recommend checking out the entire Terracotta line! You’re sure to find one (or two) that suit your bronzing needs perfectly! I know I’m definitely going back for Sun Brunettes. The Terracotta bronzers are my new obsession!
Pros: creates the ultimate natural-looking tan; acts as a kind of 3-in-1 product (bronzer, blush, highlighter); works for blonds or brunettes; powder is silky, finely milled, and pigmented; easy to blend; wear time is decent for my oily skin and will be good for dry, normal, and combination skin
Cons: lightly scented with a fragrance that might make some think “old lady perfume”–the scent is not overwhelming though and dissipates quickly; pricey, though you get a good amount of product; 3 matte shades are slightly harder than the 2 shimmery shades
»»Pricing: $50/0.35 oz. (10 g.)
»»Recommended for: warm skin tones–brunette, blonde, or redhead
»»Overall Rating: A-
Please note: I realized after I had pretty much finished writing my review that my Guerlain Terracotta Light Sheer Bronzing Powder in #02 Brunettes is listed on both Sephora and Guerlain’s site as #03 Brunettes. After spotting this discrepancy, I started doing some research online and realized that my compact design is quite different than the Terracotta Light compact that I’m seeing on various blogs as well as Sephora and Guerlain’s site. Those compacts feature an almost holographic (think Dior compacts) glowing red design of the interlocking “G” with the word “Terracotta” embossed along the top and “Guerlain” at the bottom. The compact I have in my possession feature no such things–instead, it has a raised metal interlocking “G” design with the domed brown plastic over top. There is no embossing of any kind–just smooth, hard plastic. Since it’s too late to do so tonight, I am going to try and get a hold of someone from Guerlain tomorrow and see what that’s all about. I am not insinuating that this is a knock-off or anything like that, I just think it’s curious and would like to know if it was simply an error or if there are 2 numbering systems in place or something. Anyway, just thought I’d let you guys know that. I’ll update when I find out more! If any of you know the reason for this, please share!
Update: I received a reply from Guerlain, which states that the Terracotta Light shades have recently changed and I received an old compact with the old numbering system in place. The old shades were 01 Blondes and 02 Brunettes. The new Terracotta Light shades are as follows: 02 Blondes, 03 Brunettes, 04 Sun Blondes, 05 Sun Brunettes.