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Bronzed and beautiful? Ciate London Palm Island bronzer review

Ciate London bronzer with makeup brush

Bronzer is a makeup magic wand - just ask any diva. It is a one-stop shop for warmth, dimension and a touch of all-year summer glow. It can contour, highlight and give any skin tone a sun-kissed finish. But with countless formulas, shades and application techniques out there, navigating the world of bronzer can feel like one mishap after another. Have I, finally, found the perfect formula with the Ciate London Brazilian Glow bronzing powder in the shade Palm Island?

First up, I have to confess… I’ve got a chequered history with bronzing products. On countless occasions, I’ve ended up looking more like a Commando after a multi-terrain training exercise than a bronzed goddess. In fact, I’ve mostly only ever come close to replicating the latter look. Think of poorly mixed instant gravy granules randomly rubbed on the face. Or, let’s get closer to the truth, a sharply defined streak of dirt!

It’s easy to blame a formula for a harsh blob of brownness when an application technique, or poor product shade choice, can be to blame. But, when you think about it, makeup that can’t be applied effortlessly (to exactly replicate the look shown in marketing images) shouldn’t have a place in anyone’s collection. I’ve experimented with powdered, liquid and cream formulas with varying degrees of success. Stangely, I’ve often found that lesser-known, cheaper products have outperformed top-brand, expensive ones. But my quest to find the perfect bronzer has continued because I’ve always thought: There’s got to be an even better one for me out there.

Enter… Ciate London and its Palm Island bronzer. This product is from the brand’s Brazilian Glow collection. It literally fell into my lap, courtesy of my daughter and a sample she received in a subscription beauty box. I can’t believe she passed it on unopened!

What Ciate London says about its Brazilian Glow bronzer

Ciate London says the products in its Brazilian Glow range deliver a long-lasting bronzing effect. The brand claims its formula is made with very fine pigments to deliver a ‘second skin’ bronzed look that is both weightless and natural looking. The products are talc-free and infused with a unique Brazilian Glow Complex, which contains Cupuaçu Extract, Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid. The formula is said to be brightening and provide a soft, hydrating finish. 

Brazilian Glow is available in three shades:

  • Palm Island

  • South Beach

  • Aruba Island

Palm Island is the lightest of the shades.

Interestingly, this is a makeup product that can be used anywhere on the body - not just the face. It can be applied to the collar bone, for example, and the limbs. This fact piqued my interest - not because I want to use a bronzer on far-flung parts of my frame but because I’d be interested to try a light bronzer as a finishing powder to add warmth to my entire face during the summer months. A hint of a tan look, if you get my drift, with a bit of product build-up for bronzing on the cheeks. 

So, how did this bronzer perform on my fair toned skin?

Close-up of Palm Island bronzer shade by Ciate London
Close-up view of Palm Island bronzer shade by Ciate London

Palm Island bronzer performance

The compact I was given was very small (being a sample), but turned out to be quite easy to work with. I would describe the shade as a baked warm beige with a hint of peach - not too light, not too dark. The formula is sheer and soft; buttery to the touch. It has an opaque quality that I’ve rarely found in a bronzing product before. It gave me a degree of confidence that, with a light dusting, it would take minimal effort to diffuse on the skin. Of utmost importance is avoiding a blocky look. No harsh lines is my ultimate goal.

I applied the product over a foundation that had been set with finishing powder. My preferred placement is on the cheekbones, because I like blush to be just above. I need it higher up to lift my ancient face! I usually have a crossover area for both products, and I nearly always apply the bronzer first. Some MUAs recommend applying blusher first.

I used a fluffy brush for the application with a minimal amount of product. I also tapped the brush to remove any excess before allowing it to touch my skin. I prefer to apply cheek products from the hairline down onto my face. I find this can help prevent a heavy-handed look. It’s easier to cope with a little too much product where nobody is going to see it! I gently press the product into my skin, using light tapping motions before blending. I also apply bronzer to my forehead and under my chin. I sometimes find it useful to use a clean brush for blending - to avoid adding more product than necessary.

While this is a talc-free bronzer, I wouldn't attempt to apply it to my collar bone area because I have had a mastectomy and received radiotherapy to a large area of my upper torso. Better to play it safe.

Ciate London Palm Island bronzer applied to my face like a dream. No harsh lines! It blended beautifully to create a true light tan finish. Now this is exactly the look I’ve been itching to create. I would consider using this product with no blush or with blush but all over my face and neck. It’s got the right qualities to be used over a primer as a skin tint, something I’m keen to try when the weather warms up. 

The product didn’t have ghastly sheen and did look like a ‘second skin’ - especially after I’d set it with finishing spray. There was no obvious powdery finish and I had no issues with it adhering to my face over a liquid foundation product. 

As with all my reviews, I applied this product early in the morning. I will reveal how long the bronzer lasted and whether or not there was any separation in my summary at the end of this feature. Before that, let’s discuss bronzers and how to choose the right products for your skin tone and makeup application skill level.

Finger swatch of Palm Island shade of bronzer from Citate London
Zoomed in: A finger swatch, which demonstrates the powder's buttery formula

Arm swatch of Ciate London's Palm Island bronzer
Full swatch, which shows the level of bronzing on fair skin

Choosing your perfect bronzing product

The key to natural-looking bronzed skin lies in selecting the right shade. What looks good on an olive-toned skin is unlikely to suit pale or dark skin tones.

As a rule:

  • Fair skin: opt for light bronzers with a hint of pink or peach, like the Ciate London Palm Island. Taupe shades are also flattering.

  • Light-medium skin: warm bronzers with golden or caramel undertones will enhance your natural radiance.

  • Medium skin: you have the most flexibility! Experiment with warm, neutral, or even cool-toned bronzers to find your perfect match.

  • Olive skin: golden or amber bronzers with warm undertones will complement your complexion beautifully.

  • Deep skin: rich, chocolate-hued bronzers with red or orange undertones will add depth and definition.

Finding your formula may involve a bit of experimentation. Bronzers come in various textures, each with its own unique benefits:

  • Powder - the classic choice, offering buildable coverage and easy blending. Ideal for beginners and oily skin types.

  • Cream - blends seamlessly for a dewy, natural finish. Great for dry skin and adding a subtle glow.

  • Liquid - offers the lightest coverage and a sheer, sunkissed effect. Perfect for mixing with foundation or moisturiser for a customised glow.

Makeup products and brush
General image of makeup products

Bronzing techniques to try - step-by-step

Now for the fun part: application! Here are some essential techniques to achieve different looks:

The natural glow:

  1. Swirl your bronzer brush into the product, tapping off excess.

  2. Sweep the bronzer along your cheekbones, temples, and forehead, following the areas where the sun naturally hits your face.

  3. Blend, blend, blend! Use circular motions to buff out any harsh lines for a seamless finish.

  4. Lightly dust bronzer across your nose, chin, and jawline for added warmth and dimension.

The sculpted look:

  1. Use a shade slightly darker than your bronzer to define your cheekbones, jawline, and the sides of your nose.

  2. Apply in light, feathery strokes and blend well to avoid harsh lines.

  3. Highlight the areas you want to accentuate, like the tops of your cheekbones and brow bones, with a light, shimmery highlighter.

The bronzed goddess:

  1. Layer cream and powder bronzer for a more intense, sun-kissed look.

  2. Apply cream bronzer as a base for added depth and blend it seamlessly.

  3. Set it with powder bronzer for a long-lasting, radiant finish.

  4. Don't forget your décolletage! Sweep bronzer lightly across your neck and shoulders for an even, all-over glow.

Pro tips:

  • Use a fluffy brush for sheer, diffused application and a denser brush for more concentrated sculpting.

  • Start with a light hand and build up gradually to avoid looking overdone.

  • Spritz your brush with setting spray for a more wet-look finish and longer wear.

  • For a touch of shimmer, mix your bronzer with a highlighter.

With these tips and tricks, you're well on your way to bronzing like a pro! 

Bronzing pearls and a powder brozer with makeup brush and flower
Alternative bronzing products

Palm Island by Ciate London - final verdict

This bronzer stayed intact all day, with no product separation. I’m impressed. It is the exact right colour and tone for my skin and does give me a warm, lightly tanned look. It contours beautifully. I’ve used it every day for the past week and my little compact shows no signs of running out of product. 

Brazilian Glow currently retails at £24 for a full-sized compact, which is a fair price for a high-performance bronzer that delivers on all fronts. It is long-lasting on the skin as well as in the pot. What I love about it most is that it delivers a natural-looking finish. There’s no hint of orange, which is so often the case with other brands. 

I rate this Ciate London product 4.9 stars out of 5. The only reason I’m not giving it a 5 is because £24, while cheaper than Huda’s Hoola bronzer, is going to be outside the affordability range of many people affected by the cost of living crisis. It would be great to see it available in a smaller size to reduce the outlay and to give more people the chance to discover it.

Overall, I love it. It’s a keeper and, yes, I will be buying the full-size version! I feel bronzed and beautiful.

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