Tried and tested: Shimmer bronzers, instant facial tans and serum foundation

Rachel Marie Walsh rates the best new additions to beauty counters this month    


Becca Sunlit Bronzer, €39, 5 Stars

Becca’s team advances the whole product category with this newbie, as it does with almost any makeup you’d like infused with light (the brand’s matte products are generally fine but it is the illuminator non pareil). They also do powder better than liquid formulas (the shimmer-to-skincare ratio in their wonderful Backlighting Primer Filter, for example, necessitates quite a lot of gold while ensuring you make the most of the antioxidants) so bloggers’ bets on its on Sunlit’s beauty were easy money. It is silky and illuminating in a natural, non-glittery way. The five-shade range is free from orange undertones across the spectrum.

MAC Mineralize SkinFinish in Soft&Gentle, €31.50, 5 Stars

This one is perfect for those in a hurry or likely to apply too much bronzer unintentionally. SkinFinish really lets you make haste with no waste, as its super-fine texture never gathers or looks streaky. ‘Soft&Gentle’ is as it sounds: a light touch of tint for wherever light hits the face.

Bourjois Maxi Delight Bronzer, €12.99, 4 Stars

Coty acquired Bourjois from Chanel in 2015. These things are developed and manufactured in synergies, so I actually regard several of Bourjois’s pre-acquisition products as quite luxurious (the Cream Blush is delightfully similar to Le Blush Crème de Chanel, though the cheaper texture is finer and the colour more sheer)and didn’t think the sale auspicious for women that rely on pharmacy beauty brands but so far so good. I liked Spring’s City Radiance Foundation SPF30, €13.99. This bronzer is a 2014 release and a nice buy, not very shimmery but reasonably radiant. It best suits fair-to-medium skin.

BEST BUY: The Body Shop The Waves Shimmer in 01 Bronze, €25, 5 Stars

Waves of coloured shimmer and a clear plastic compact make ‘The Waves’ look tacky as stripper heels (which may actually be fun to wear, I am open to reviews) but this one pleasantly surprised me. Comparable to a Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick, this works as a bronze cheek colour, illuminating face powder and eye shadow. The formula is very shimmery (pearlescent mica pigment is the most prevalent ingredient) with a sheer initial colour-deposit. It has a fine texture and delivers a couple of skin conditioning agents, including marula oil.


Charlotte Tilbury Unisex Healthy Glow Hydrating Tint, €40, 4 Stars

There is too much perfume in this formula, a flattering nude-bronze gel that can be built for intense colour. It really is quite a bit, falling half-way down the ingredients list rather than in the less alarming last-line. Such a shame: there are some great antioxidants in the mix, the effects of which are compromised by fragrance’s capacity to irritate and sensitise. Unnecessary addition, we love Charlotte for her amazing makeup textures, champagne pigment addiction (she created J-Lo’s signature “glow” look from scratch before her own name ever graced makeup packaging), and flattering shade choices. Scent is overkill here. The finish is matte and this product is aimed at a unisex clientele, though if you are a man in the market for gel bronzer I recommend Clinique for Men Face Bronzer.

BEST BUY: Clinique Sun-Kissed Face Gelee Complexion Multi-Tasker, €32, 5 Stars

This product has the shade description “universal glow,” the makeup equivalent of a “one size” fashion disappointment. Dismiss it not, especially if you’re prone to oily areas or just like a matte glow without foundation. The tint is chestnut and certainly unattractively false if you get to heavy-handed. A sheer application both feels and looks uplifting. “Multi-tasker” highlights the gel formula’s capacity to refresh, comfort and impart subtle colour.

Dior Bronze Oil Natural Glow, €44, 4 Stars

This is a tinted dry oil for the face and body. The shade is a pleasing milk chocolate that smooths on sheer. It feels luxurious and light but is best saved for dry skin. Even dry types should exfoliate before application because shimmer particles in an oil formula may congregate over parched areas.

NARS X Charlotte Gainsbourg Hydrating Glow Tint, €33, 4 Stars

Charlotte Gainsbourg, you will know, is fabulous but not one for wearing much makeup. She herself reacted with surprise when NARS approached her for this season’s interesting colour collaboration. For the face, the chanteuse went with an illuminating bronze tint over foundation or even a tinted moisturiser. Well, the medium and medium-dark shades are bronzes, the fair is actually a flattering champagne. The formula is gel-cream and oil-free.


BEST BUY: NYX Total Control Drop Foundation, €18.50

I was very pleased to discover that one of the best matte serum-foundations available is among the most reasonably priced. NYX offers sixteen shades of this silky stuff and most of the fair ones are very natural, though it is always best to swatch prospective complexion buys on your skin in natural life (not a lot of cosmetics counters are set up for the natural light part. That’s for a potentially profitable reason and renders a purchase returnable if the colour is a mis-match even if you’ve opened the bottle at home).

Autograph Fluid Touch Foundation SPF20, €20, 4 Stars

This is a nice medium-coverage foundation for normal to dry skin. The lightest shade has strong pink undertones, which are not ideal for counteracting redness or dark shadows. Eliminating that, the range is very natural. You will need to apply quite a bit of product to take full advantage of the sunscreen actives, so I would not rely on them as my sole protection. The dropper bottle saves waste and overspill and keeps the hydrating formula stable.

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, €43, 5 Stars

Nars has put out two foundation and foundation-skincare hybrids since the release of this lightweight liquid makeup and it is still the only one for which I reach. It is radiant but not unnaturally so, provides coverage without looking like skin-spackle, and the shade range has excellent options for fair skin. Extremely dry or oily skin-types do not do well with a formula lacking in both rich emollients and substantial sebum-controlling ingredients. Normal and combination types who have not tried it really should. Both François Nars and his entire staff avoid foundation brush or sponge applications. They recommend warming this makeup in clean hands and finger-blending. It is a little messy but the results are smoother and softer, and who knows how to make this stuff look better?

Zelens Age Control Foundation, €78.95 at Space NK and, 5 Stars

Zelens is a skincare company founded by Italian skin cancer and skin-ageing expert Dr Marko Lens. His research generated a strong professional interest in Kampo ingredients and he has included some in this highly silky illuminating makeup. Kampo is a Japanese herbal medicine, over 1,500 years old but fully integrated into the modern national healthcare system. Soy-based fats, Vitamin E, hyaluronic acid and a trio of collagen-supporting peptides are highlights of a pretty impressive active ingredients list. As you might imagine, there are no oil-control or potentially dehydrating long-wear ingredients in the mix, so the formula best suits dry skin. The coverage is HD and the 5-shade range very natural. I am disappointed that this foundation lacks sun protection but am otherwise very fond of it. Little is needed for a medium application and the contents means it doubles as a daytime serum.


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