Late September Sun: Bronzer Swatches and Review ~ Colourpop, theBalm, e.l.f. & more!

Happy Monday everyone! I’ve been hanging out on Pinterest a lot lately, collecting beautiful fall pictures (pumpkin everything!) as well as finding new organizational ideas. Spring cleaning may be the more common trend, but there’s something about fresh fall weather that makes me want to clean all the things! Part of my fall clean is to go through all my makeup, swatch categories of things, and toss the old & terrible. I’ll be trying to pan the things I like but don’t love, but the really bad things I’m just going to toss. I value my space more than I value keeping everything I own 🙂

So today I have for you swatches of all the bronzers I own! For someone who rarely wears bronzer I sure have a lot.

lots of bronzers

lots of bronzers

So I have two e.l.f. bronzers; the Cool Bronzer quad and the Contouring Blush & Bronzer that I’ve previously reviewed. Both are in nice sturdy compacts with large mirrors. Really nice for the low price point.

I also have minis of theBalm Balm Desert (thank you Birchbox) and the famous Benefit Hoola. Additionally I have ColourPop Aphrodisiac and W7 Cosmetics Honolulu.

Out of all of these I think I wear Aphrodisiac and Balm Desert the most. Some of these I don’t like at all, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

e.l.f. Cool Bronzer quad and Contouring Blush and Bronzer duo

e.l.f. Cool Bronzer quad and Contouring Blush and Bronzer duo

First up I have the e.l.f. products. The quad is really old and the duo is pretty new. I’m not sure if over the past year(s) e.l.f. has improved their powder formula, but the new duo is infinitely better than the quad. The quad’s powder is grainy and a little chalky, and hard to build up. For me at least, a light color wasn’t that big of an issue since I don’t like heavy bronzer, but it does mean you have to use four times as much to make any color show up on your face. The contour side of the duo is much more pigmented and smooth; it’s pretty opaque in one swipe.

I‘m keeping the duo and tossing the quad. I love the packaging enough that I pried it apart and shook off all the powder (it was that easy) and I might transform it into a travel palette and stick a magnet on the bottom. We’ll see.

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depanned e.l.f. quad

Next is the W7 Cosmetics Honolulu bronzer.

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W7 box bronzer – Honolulu

The box bronzers from the W7 line are all obviously trying to be like Benefit’s boxes. It’s cute but its a little hard to store since its bulky. Honolulu is supposed to be a dupe for Hoola. When I was first thinking about getting Hoola last summer, Honolulu keep cropping up in reviews as a great dupe. I grabbed mine off of eBay for I think less than $10 including shipping.

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W7 Honolulu bronzer

The lid comes all the way off, not a hinge like Benefit’s. Also the box did come with a little squat rectangle brush but that is long gone (haha).

I wish this was actually like Hoola! It’s not a bad powder at all, it’s just darker and more orange than I wanted it to be. It’s a pretty pigmented powder but it does blend out nicely.

Benefit Hoola bronzer

Benefit Hoola bronzer

I actually got this mini as an impulse/panic buy. Last summer I flew out to an event and my luggage got lost (eventually found, thank goodness) and half my makeup was in my luggage and half had been in my carry-on. I knew there would be lots of photographers at this particular event and I was absolutely certain that I needed a nice bronzer in order to contour and look great, especially since there was no guarantee my luggage would be found in time. Long story short, I bought this off of Amazon (thank you prime shipping!) but ended up not using it since my luggage was found just in time.

Anyways, Hoola is a cult product but I’m not sure if its good for me. So many people swear that Hoola is The Perfect Bronzer for even paler skin, but it’s still way too warm tone on me. Even blended out, it looks like I’ve fake tanned instead of achieved a glow from the sun. It’s not bad, but it’s not for me. I’m going to try to pan this one. Blended with a very light highlighter and blush, I might be able to morph this very-tan into a pretty glow.

Next up is theBalm.

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theBalm Balm Desert bronzer/blush

Despite being a baby mini size (t’s a half-inch square), I still like this a lot.

itty bitty theBalm Balm Desert

itty bitty theBalm Balm Desert

theBalm is one of my favorite brands; I’m such a sucker for that packaging and cheeky names. Balm Desert is a great product too. This one works as a warm blush on me more than a bronzer, but it’s a perfect summer blush. There’s a gold sheen to it and its distinctively rosier than most bronzers, so it truly is a nice blush.

Last but not least is Colourpop.

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Colourpop Aphrodisiac

To whomever said Aphrodisiac was a ‘perfect contour for all pale girls’ you are wrong. That’s way too general of an assumption. I’m sure paler warm toned skins would look lovely in this, but Aphrodisiac is still way too warm for a contour shade for me. It’s been relegated into bronzer territory by me, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I actually like this way more as a natural bronzer than a contour. I combined this with the highlighter Teasecake and together they’re a really pretty warm sunny glow. I have yet to use them separately in a way that I’ve enjoyed, but together they’re magic.

Like most Colourpop products, Aphrodisiac blends nicely and feels creamy. Although I tend to pat/blend instead of rub/blend when I’m applying this after foundation. That way I don’t disturb the base layers.

Swatch time! These swatches are finger swatches, at least 2 swipes, and unblended. I wanted to show the true color before they get blended away.

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e.l.f. bronzers: Contour duo bronze shade on the Left / Cool Bronzer quad on the right

The white from the quad is barely noticeably on my pale skin, despite being 4-5 layers. You can also see how warm the “cool” quad still looks on me. The quad is also much patchier than the duo bronzer shade. The quad was just a total waste for me; not very pigmented and I only used the white and the lightest brown shade. Good riddance to that space waster!

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from Left to Right: Aphrodisiac // Balm Desert // Hoola (in diffused light from the window)

(bright light)

from Left to Right: Aphrodisiac // Balm Desert // Hoola (bright light)

Balm Deseert has a definite rose look to it, which I like. It makes for a good blush, especially with that pretty golden glimmer. Hoola is a tan leaning orange, and Aphrodisiac is an almost plummy brown color when in a full, unblended swipe.

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from Left to Right: Benefit Hoola and W7 Honolulu, slightly blended on edges

Not dupes at all! Honolulu is much darker and a bit warmer. Hoola is definitely the lighter choice. If Hoola was too light for you, Honolulu is a great cheaper alternative. But if Hoola was ‘just right’, Honolulu isn’t a good replacement.


In summary, I’m tossing e.l.f.’s bronzer quad as well as W7 Honolulu. I almost never use them and they’re taking up way more space than they’re worth. They were both cheap though, so I have no qualms about saying goodbye.

Balm Desert was a great blush in summer, but I have a feeling I won’t be using it much this winter (Tarina Tarantino’s Neopolitan Lane blush is my natural blush go-to in winter). Aphrodisiac and Hoola I kind of want to pan, but I know it’ll take forever unless I’m relentless about using bronzer everyday. At least the Hoola mini doesn’t take up too much room!

This was a long post 🙂 Thanks for reading! I plan on going over my collection of many contour and highlighting products next. (My millions of lipsticks is a whole ‘nother story)

til later lovelies,
xoxo Swatchette

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