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The Only Chanel Makeup Product I Swear by (and Have Been Using for Years)  

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Ah Chanel. An iconic brand, known for its tweed jackets, LBDs and quilted bags. Of course, being an average citizen, earning an average wage living in an average sized home I will never be able to afford even the mere cuff of a Chanel suit. But it’s fun looking, isn’t it?

So, that’s the fashion. But what about the beauty? Particularly the makeup. 

As a beauty journalist of 18 years, I’ve been lucky enough to test plenty of Chanel eyeshadows, foundations, mascaras, powders et al. But I feel it’s my duty to report that Chanel really isn’t my favourite makeup brand. It’s not even in my top ten. 

For fear of the Chanel Gods coming down on me like a ton of shimmer bricks, I’ll save my reasons why for another day. But let’s just say for those prices, and with that brand name, you should really be blown away. And their makeup doesn’t even give me a hint of a breeze.

That is, save for one product. Chanel Les Beiges Bronzing Cream. The sole existing Chanel makeup product in this beauty editor’s makeup stash. Which is a good job really since it costs £46 (or $60 if you’re in the US). That’s about my monthly limit for beauty-related expenditure.

It’s one of three products that, if it were to ever be discontinued, it would shake my world off its axis. Of course I exaggerate. (Kind of…)

Here’s my report on why more people should know about Chanel Les Beiges Bronzing Cream. And why it’s the star of the show that is my makeup bag.


Journalist Philippa Pearne shows the results of Chanel's bronzer

Journalist Philippa Pearne shows the results of Chanel’s bronzer. Image – Courtesy of writer


In the beginning

It’s 2006. I am 23 and borrowing someone’s cluttered desk in the corner of the CosmoGirl! office. I’ve been interning there for a few weeks and have been trusted well enough to be left in charge of the beauty desk for a week while the team are on an exotic island shooting their upcoming summer stories. Bitter. Me?

I read the to-do list left to me by my line manager. “Please can you call in the following products for a makeup feature?” it says. “And feel free to test some of them out while I’m away so that we can get a head start on writing them up.”

My Caribbean shoot-inspired jealousy miraculously lifts. “You don’t have to ask me twice,” I think to myself. I call in the products and, you’ve guessed it, one of them is Chanel Les Beiges Bronzing Cream. Shade 390. 


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As soon as it arrives, I unscrew its beautifully monogrammed, shiny black lid and the first thing that hits me is its exquisite swirly design, all smooth and bronzed and looking good enough to eat (disclaimer: I didn’t eat it). The second thing is the divine smell that lures me into wanting to apply it to my skin – immediately.  

And I do. I find a new kabuki brush from the beauty cupboard (perks) and swish it around the bronzer before lightly applying it to my cheeks, a bit on my forehead and down my nose. Then I look in the mirror. I’m hooked. 


Image – Courtesy of writer


Goodbye glittery bronzing powders. So long flat skin with zero glow. There’s a new bronzer in my life now, she’s a goddess and I’m keeping her (for hygiene purposes, you understand.)


Why it’s special

Image – Unsplash


The shades…

Shade 390 is such a natural, gentle hue that fair to medium skin tones like mine can wear as much as they like without looking orange or muddy.

It warms my skin tone up just enough for it to look slightly sun-kissed but not ridiculous in the dead of winter. In the summer, I migrate to shade 392 which is a little bit darker. It’s less natural but enough to get away with when I’ve got a natural tan

Shade 395 is now available for darker skin tones (it wasn’t 18 years ago) and I just use it as a contour. But I’ve seen it work wonders as a bronzer on olive and black skin. 

Owning all three shades might seem *a little* excessive. But rest assured these were definitely not bought all at once. Good things come to those who save and you’ll find out later why replenishing them doesn’t need to happen often.


The finish…

It isn’t wet or claggy. It’s not radiant. But it’s not matte either. It’s just right. 

It blends perfectly too, meaning you can move it around your face easily without worrying about it gathering too much in one area, like you might with a powder or liquid. 

If you apply too much though, the formula is easy to correct and adapt. And the colour lasts a full day, as long as you haven’t been doing things like working out or rubbing your face of course. But that’s just common sense.


The value…

The pot is huge. Almost to the point of it being a little bit annoying when I’m travelling because it won’t fit into my travel makeup bag along with *everything* else. 

But its size does mean that I only have to buy it around twice a year. And that’s someone who uses it, without fail, every single day. If you only use it occasionally you could easily make it last the full year.

I know what you’re thinking. “£46 for a bronzer!” But my favourite skin serum costs the same and I replace it every two months. Let that sink in (if you’ll pardon the pun.)


The universal appeal…

This isn’t a product that I’m conscious of growing out of. Don’t get me wrong, being 40 is fabulous and a privilege. But some foundation formulas, eyeshadow shades and makeup trends can sometimes feel a little young for me now. 

Not this bronzer. I will be wearing it until I’m aged 99+. That is, if Chanel don’t discontinue it. *Cue grovelling apology for everything I said earlier about the rest of their makeup range*. 

I’ve even got my mum – aged 75 – hooked on the stuff. 


The takeaway

What more than the above could you possibly need from a bronzer? Wave goodbye to the days of mattifying bronzing powders and any powders that contain even just a hint of sparkle. This cream is more flattering, easier to apply and lasts for ages.

So many of my beauty consulting clients are surprised when I suggest using a bronzing cream. Some don’t even know they exist. And in my opinion, none do, except this one. 

I may not be an avid Chanel makeup user, but I’ll put my hands up and admit that this product does blow me away. I’m talking gale force winds and sometimes, on a good skin day, even the chance of a hurricane. 

I wasn’t paid a penny during my 18 months of interning at women’s magazines (ah, the good old days *rolls eyes*). And I know this isn’t exactly a cheap product. But that day, I won the skin-finish lottery when Chanel Les Beiges Bronzing Cream landed on my to-do list. 


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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