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July 23 2014

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Beauty Throwdown: Battle Bronzer

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The days are getting longer and warmer, which means that we’re officially over the winter hump—and that the bronzer boom is about to begin. April typically marks that time of year when a new crop of insta-tan powders, liquids, creams, and gels hits the market, so that the pasty-and-proud can add a little bit of color back into our lives before we ease our way into sun-kissed summer skin. Guerlain has long been our go-to for products of this nature, although at the mass level, Physicians Formula is certainly trying to give the French prestige brand a run for its money—specifically with its new Bronze Booster Glow-Boosting Season-to-Season Bronzer, which happens to bear a striking resemblance to Guerlain’s Terracotta 4-Seasons Tailor-Made Bronzing Powder. Let the battle of the bronze begin.

The Original: Guerlain’s bronzing quad has been a long-standing favorite around these parts for its unique design: The tortoiseshell compact sports four different shades of complexion-warming pigment so that you can carve out cheekbones with a hint of simulated sun no matter what time of year it is. Available in two different shades, 01 Blondes and 02 Brunettes, both offer the perfect gradation of caramel-y tones enriched with an almost imperceptible amount of pure gold so that the finish is matte, yet still luminous.

The Challenger: Physicians Formula has taken the color gradation idea and run with it. Its gold and copper compact with inset mirror is also divided into four segments, each embossed with the words Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, which are similarly available in two different shade offerings. The immediate—and most pronounced—difference is the visible and sizable gold flecks in its palette. One swipe sees the imprint of glitter, a cosmetic effect that has never sat quite right with us. The addition of nourishing kapi kaacchu seed extract to ensure a smooth finish that prolongs the life of any real tan is admittedly a nice touch, though.

The Bottom Line: This really comes down to a personal preference for sparkles. We banished the shiny particles from our makeup routine years ago but don’t begrudge anyone who hasn’t. If you’re looking for classic, tawny-colored contouring and have a little extra money to burn—$50, specifically—go Guerlain. But if you don’t mind a little shimmer in your life, Physicians Formula’s version offers the same great palette gradation at about a third of the cost.

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