It is a rarity for this column to focus on just one beauty product. Such a rarity, in fact, that I hope it doesn’t irk any regular readers who may come here for a weekly selection of the best products to buy now. However, sometimes a product merits the space.
Occasionally, I might be able to justify allowing one star to drape itself languidly across this page, as if on a chaise lounge, to display its beauty for our mutual pleasure. I hope you’ll permit me the indulgence.
The product I refer to is not any old thing. It is what you could reasonably describe as the most recognisable and best-loved bronzer in the world. We are well into bronzer season, and many of you will have cracked out your Chanel Soleil Tan Bronzer to compliment the brighter weather.
It is a generous tub of bronze-toned, sturdy cream with just enough ochre in it to keep it natural looking. It is the bronzer of movie stars and celebrities; a product so beloved by makeup artists that they buy it in bulk. It is a mimesis so ingenious that it really does look like a natural tan, even on those (like me) who cannot achieve one.
Only, Chanel Soleil Tan Bronzer doesn’t go by that name any more, because it has been reformulated. When this news began filtering through the panicked tweets of beauty editors and out into the wider world, it created large-scale agitation. I can imagine Chanel cosmetic scientists in their lab, their hands shaking as they worked on the reformulation, anticipating armies of elegant French women turning up with placards to protest if they didn’t get it right.
Well, they got it right. If you're one of a surprising number of people who have contacted me in a panic about your favourite product being reformulated and now under the name Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream (€43 at brownthomas.com), worry not. Somehow, they have managed to make it even better.
It maintains its generous proportions and firm, smooth texture, like a butterscotch-hued new block of Kerrygold, but swirl an appropriate brush through it - something firm but girthy - and it will bestow a seemingly filtered diffusion of warm, but never orange, colour that buffs and blurs cloudily. It manages to both sculpt and bronze the face, and when swept across cheeks, the centre of the nose and along the hairline into the temple, will give the face structure as well as the best faux sun sun that you can buy.
I wish there were at least three shades. One for paler and one for deeper skins as well as the current shade, which isn’t entirely universal (but will stretch to work for many skin tones and, unusually, even works on my paler skin when buffed out well). It also launches as part of an exquisite summer collection - the Sheer Healthy Glow Highlighting Fluid in particular is spectacular. If you’ve always loved this bronzer, you’ll still love it, and if you’re seeking best one ever made, here it (still) is. What’s in a name, after all?