Chanel les beiges vs Nars laguna: Is the new cream bronzer on the block better than the cult favourite?

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That post-summer bronzed glow makes absolutely everyone look healthier and happier. But as we become increasingly aware of the sun’s damaging effects on skin, more of us are choosing to swap a natural tan for sun cream, fake tan and bronzer to get the look.

Cream products are often more popular than powders for their lightness, radiance and easy application, and cream bronzers are a great, beginner-friendly option as they’re blendable and buildable, meaning no harsh lines or oompa-loompa orange.

At a push, they can be applied with your fingers and patted across the skin, though we prefer to apply them with a brush – preferably a big one as too much precision in application can look unnatural. We recommend swirling a kabuki or stippling brush across the product for the best effect.

There are plenty of products to choose from out there, but Chanel’s Soleil Tan de Chanel – now Les Beiges Bronzing Cream – is a cult favourite for a reason. However, Nars’ Laguna is probably one of the most famous bronzers on the market right now, and beauty geeks will be excited to hear it is now available in cream form as part of the brand’s permanent collection.

So, we’ve put the new formula and the classic against one another to see just how they measures up. Keep reading for our verdict.

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How we tested

We considered packaging, price, shade range, pigmentation, application experience and look and feel on the skin to find out whether the newbie can replace an old-favourite in our make-up bags. Read on to find out which came out on top.

Nars laguna bronzing cream

Buy now £32.50, Narscosmetics.co.uk

Rating: 7/10

The sunny vibes start with the rose-gold lid, which gives a luxe feel to an otherwise fairly standard plastic pot; it’s lightweight and quite compact, so is good for carrying with you. It’s scented with the brand’s signature floral, coconut fragrance, which comes from monoi perfume oil and while this can be quite intense on first application, it fades fast.

Nars’ bestselling Laguna is perhaps its second most famous shade, after Orgasm, and its powder form has been a staple in our stash for years. If the original Laguna suits your skin tone, you’ll get on well with this: the shade 02 (of five – an impressive range for a bronzer) in the new formula is identical to that of the powder.

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It is incredibly pigmented and intense on first application, so you only need a small amount; go easy while you get used to application – we suggest buffing off the first swipe or two on the back of your hand. Apply it a little dab at a time and it buffs out to a sheerer, more natural tone than it appears in the pot, and can be built up in intensity as suits you.

It’s also quite loose for a cream formula, lifting from the pot on to a brush very easily, and has a nice slip over the skin, meaning you have plenty of time to get it just right before it dries down. Once blended, it is natural-looking – not entirely matte but not sparkly either; just an attractive, light-reflecting glow. Layered with a cream or liquid highlight it’s hard to beat for a “just back from Barbados” radiance.

The formula contains silica, which creates a blurring, line-smoothing effect on the skin, and coconut oil, which some skin types find causes breakouts, but we had no such problems.

Chanel les beiges healthy glow bronzing cream

Buy now £43, Chanel.com

Rating: 10/10

The Les Beiges Bronzing Cream is a slight reformulation of the discontinued Soleil Tan de Chanel. The packaging is almost identical to the original – a chunky round tub that is pleasingly weighty, despite being plastic – save for the colour of the logo. And inside is a desert-like swirl of brown that you’ll be reluctant to disturb with a brush.

It comes in three shades, which isn’t huge, but is an improvement on the original, which offered one, “universal” colour. The lightest, “tan bronze”, imparts a natural colour to our medium-fair skin that is neither orange nor overly intense. This, paired with its light, satin-y texture, which is imperceptible on skin, is what makes it such a hall-of-fame product; it simply looks like naturally tanned skin.

It’s well-pigmented but not strongly so, so you don’t run the risk of going too dark on first application, making it perfectly buildable. The cream has a soft-focus effect and blurs imperfections with the inclusion of silica too. Plus, it has the same light, freshly floral scent as the rest of the Les Beiges range.

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It’s also incredibly easy to apply with a nice big kabuki or stippling brush, leaving no streaks or harsh lines. Once on, you can’t see where bronzer ends and real skin begins, with very little buffing required, and it doesn’t disturb make-up underneath.

There was much talk about the addition of coconut oil to the new formula as it can be comodogenic, but we’ve had no problems with breakouts after use, and its inclusion seems a fair trade-off for the cream’s soft, effortless glide across the skin.

At £43, it’s definitely an investment piece, but with daily application you can expect a pot to last you somewhere between six months and a year. And while the Nars appears the cheaper of the two, you get 19g as opposed to 30g of Chanel, making this better value.

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