I'm always happy when I'm finally able to review cult beauty products on my blog. This particular item is old as heck! I've read countless opinions on it and I am now able to add my own two cents. This review is brought to you by my housemate because the Soleil Tan de Chanel ($50) is hers. :) Sharing is caring. Keep reading to see my full thoughts on this popular product...
Way back when, this product was called the Chanel Bronze Universal. I'm glad they changed its name because it reflects this product's utility better. It's also a more helpful name for general consumers and new makeup users. It is now called (and has been for a while) the Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base. This name is much more suitable because this is not an universal product. As you've probably read in many reviews, Soleil (for short) comes in only one shade and it's a very orange, warm, light color. Because of that, it basically excludes anyone who is around an NC or NW 30-35 or darker (those are MAC Cosmetics foundation shades but in general terms someone who is medium/tan or darker). Clearly this makes it suitable for bronzing/contouring for only a small handful of people: pale, fair, and light medium complexions.
Like I mentioned above, Soleil is a light orange-y bronzer. Right now I'm at my palest. I don't have any tan lines, I don't fake tan, and I haven't been to the beach in a while. I'm around NC25-30. Even so, I think Soleil is borderline too light for me. It shows up and you can see it, but I need to layer it. And even then, if I were to catch a bit of sun and get tanned, Soleil would become almost imperceptible on me. A natural look is great, but this borders on "Did I even put anything on?".
Its warm and orange-ness makes it great for tanning and bronzing the face. It'll make it easy to achieve a sun kissed glow or to match your face with your body if you fake tan. This is also one of the reasons I'm glad they changed its name to Bronzing Makeup Base. Of course, you can use it to contour if you want. Personally, I tried it and didn't like it on myself at all (for contouring). It looks like an odd orange stripe across your cheek, specially in natural lighting. Cooler toned bronzers are more suitable for contouring because they mimic natural shadows. However, I've seen videos of people conturing with this and it looks fine. So it's a product that you should really test in person first.
This is where Soleil has everyone coming back for more. I've used a lot of cream bronzers but I have never experienced this exact silky mousse texture before. Some products have come close, but nothing melts into the skin quite like this. It's really easy to blend and doesn't sit on top of your face at all. It looks like your actual skin. Hands down it's a great cream formula. Not only that, but it lasts a really long time without fading.
Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzing Powder, NARS Laguna Bronzer, Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel, Bourjois Delice de Poudre Chocolate Bronzer
I tried to swatch this against my warmest bronzers to see how it compares. And then against a cooler bronzer like the Too Faced Chocolate Soleil.
Summary: The formula is incredible! The pricetag is very high but it's actually a better value than most high-end bronzers. The NARS Laguna Bronzer is $39 but it contains only 0.28 oz versus 1 oz for $50 of Soleil. Personally, I find it too orange to be suitable for contouring. I think this is more strictly for tanning and bronzing. Like I mentioned before, I wish this came in more colors. It will barely show up on medium, tan, and darker skintones. A more universal choice would be for Chanel to make this a darker color so people who are fair can use less product or a lighter hand but darker skintones could still be able to wear it. I definitely can't see NC/NW 47's or darker being able to use this at all.