I tried Chanel’s re-launched iconic Soleil Tan and it’s unlike any bronzer ever

The stunningly-perfect Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzer is a hall of fame icon. The sleek frosted palette, clay-like solid cream and 70s bombshell bronze goddess shade are unlike any bronzer ever – and I’ve tried all the dupes.

When dabbed with a big brush, the stiff buttery cream diffuses onto the skin in a seamless soft-focus blur of toffee Angel Delight. It’s more than a bronzer: it’s bordering on a BB cream, where tiny flaws are smoothed away and freckles are enhanced, while the authentic sunbathed-all-day shade gives the same pep to skin as a juice cleanse fortnight in Bali. I use it every.damn.day. It’s my church. And now my church has had a refurb.

I’m about to go really deep into a single make-up product. I feel this is a safe space to do so, because if you’re here too then it means you love GLAMOUR and you love beauty, on a physical, psychological and overall freaky-fan level. So do I. Like I can genuinely guess your brand of lipstick just from its smell, and I’ve trialed over 1,500 mascaras in the past 10 years. Freak I tell ya.

So when I type the words CHANEL HAVE CHANGED THEIR SOLEIL TAN BRONZER, I’m pretty sure I can hear the collective sharp intake of breath from millions of you fellow, fabulous beauty freaks. Welcome, my people. Now let’s dive in.

When I heard about the re-launch, instead of flying into an apocalyptic rage – like a lot of angry beauty YouTubers have – I thought, well, they wouldn’t fix it if it ain’t broke, right? So there’s probably a very good reason why the Chanel Gods felt they needed to rewrite their bronzing bible.

Indeed, some of the original ingredients didn’t comply to new EU regulations and approval rules. Questionable preservatives (such as Butylparaben) and allergy-triggering ingredients have been removed and replaced with modern, botanical and skin-compatible alternatives. Except for one controversial new addition… but more on this later.

With this makeover opportunity comes a few more subtle tweaks. The title has been changed to “Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream” (with a shade name of “390 Soleil Tan Bronze Universel” – a nod to the original), and the shallow pot is identical except for a beige CC symbol on the lid (instead of gold), and it’s packaged in a beige box (instead of black) to match the rest of the collection. The Les Beiges makeup sub-brand from Chanel features ‘healthy glow’ complexion enhancers such as highlighters, tinted moisturisers and blush sticks, so it makes sense to have their best-selling wellness-in-a-jar bronzer within this family.

The colour and texture are almost identical but let’s take a closer look. In my swatch, pictured below, the original Soleil Tan de Chanel is on top and the new version (let’s just call it Soleil 2.0) is below. You can see that Soleil 2.0 is slightly lighter in colour and a little less rusty. The scent has been tweaked: OG was more ‘baked peach pie’, Soleil 2.0 is more ‘balmy island flowers.’

The new version also has a very, very subtle glow to it when you buff it out on the skin, yet it still has the same wonderful, velvety, non-sparkle finish as the OG. It looks and feels a bit fresher as the new cream has a faint ‘wetness’ to it – but not so much that it would bugger up your base makeup. In fact, it blends over the skin in the same, beautifully-blurry way. Quite frankly, the difference is negligible, and having used both on different cheeks every day for a month I actually prefer the new one.

To see it ‘live’ on much better skin than mine, have a look at Lisa Potter-Dixon’s fab IGTV; the brilliant makeup artist compares both in a very realistic way, and as a superfan of the original bronzer her enthusiasm is contagious. I was properly gripped to see what she thought of the new formula.

Now for the two elephants in the room. Firstly, there is still only one ‘universal’ shade, which many people disagree with on an inclusivity level. Secondly, the new ingredient added into the mix that’s causing so much venomous online rage is something called Hydrogenated Coconut Oil. It provides a welcomed new ‘glide’ when applying the bronzing cream, but many blame this emulsifying thickening agent for clogging pores and aggravating acne (which would give it the name ‘comedogenic’). I asked a representative at Chanel what they made of this claim, and here’s their honest answer:

“We know that there has been some concern surrounding the use of coconut oil, however the concentration of hydrogenated coconut oil used in this formula has been rigorously selected and mixed with other ingredients to ensure it is non-comedogenic. The non-comedogenic effect has been confirmed under dermatologic testing, on mix skins and oily skin.”

I trust Chanel. I trust their dermatologists. I once read an 87-page document about their skincare laboratories (I still have it on my hard-drive), which I can only describe as a love letter to nature, science, technology and sustainability, and the deeply, almost-obsessive passion they have for inner and outer skin wellbeing. They do things really well. That’s why they’re Chanel. So tearing a product apart because one ingredient gave you a pimple three years ago is absolutely your prerogative, but I don’t have time for that.

I do, however, understand some of the uproar. Life, here in SS20, has been turned upside down. People aren’t coping. Therefore small, familiar and reassuring things matter more than ever right now, helping us to keep our shit together.

For instance, a continuous supply of tonic, gin, ice and limes. Or a good jigsaw puzzle to dip in and out of. Likewise, a strategic and joyous skincare and makeup routine is so important in times of chaos, because humans crave routine. Makeup today is the every-woman’s frontline-facing PPE, and it’s just really, really bad timing that Chanel wants to mess with one of our key workers.

Will you stay with me for one more mad metaphor? This bronzer is the movie equivalent of Tim Burton’s 2005 adaptation of Charlie The Chocolate Factory. People globally were incensed that the beloved Roald Dahl tale could be re-imagined more wonderfully than Mel Stuart’s original 1971 movie. But have you seen that version recently? Hello casual racism, gender stereotyping, shocking white-washing and colonial overtones.

In Burton’s remake, much of this tone-deaf toxicity is removed and the story is deeply more loyal to the original magical book. Sure, Burton’s isn’t as inclusive as we’d like (all the main characters are the same skintone), but it is more progressive with innovative technology (3D high-def was revolutionary back then) whilst reinvigorated our nostalgic devotion to a brilliant and unique creation.

Soleil 2.0 reminds us how totally, utterly genius this bronzer really is. All the bad stuff has been taken out without compromising on the original textural wizardry. Scientific advances give us a sharper, more filtered and crisp finish. And whilst the shade may be stuck in the 70s (although for me personally, this is #tangoals), I’m predicting that Chanel will soon pull a blinder and extend the range with a paler and darker alternative within its new Les Beiges sub-family.

Fingers crossed. Until then, let’s all welcome back a beautiful lifelong pal into the makeup gang, and ask ourselves whether a single pot of bronzer will ever again cause so much fanfare, online debate or 1,200 dedicated words on a prime-time website beauty column.

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