I Hate Spending Money On Makeup, But This $38 Bronzer Is Worth Every Penny

The proof is in the cheekbones: This is so much better than my drugstore old-faithful.

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NARS Laguna Bronzing Cream in Shade Laguna 03


True to everything they say about firstborn children, I hate being wrong. And I really hate being wrong when changing my ways requires spending more money. So when my youngest sister whipped out her NARS Laguna Bronzing Cream one night before heading out to dinner, I scoffed. “You can try it,” she offered. Her warm, natural-looking glow was admittedly admirable (especially for October), but at what cost? $38 for bronzer? I declined and brushed on my $12 drugstore stuff. But one look in the mirror, and the difference was clear: She looked like she’d just waltzed off the plane after a weeklong trip to Bora Bora. Next to her NARS, my shimmering smudges of brown powder were convincing no one. 

The next day, I begrudgingly took her up on her offer. All it took was one swirl of my index finger through the smooth cream and an even swipe on my face: My long-time drugstore go-to was headed for the garbage, and I was heading straight for Sephora.

NARS Laguna Bronzing Cream in Shade Laguna 03


As someone with full cheeks and a round face, my cheekbones can be elusive at best. This bronzer helps me create the appearance of them (that’s worth the 38 bucks alone), and I find myself swiping it down both sides of my nose, along my hairline, and just below my jaw too—contouring for dummies! I use the shade Laguna 3, characterized as a “medium bronze with warm undertones,” and there’s nary a whiff of the artificial orange you sometimes expect from a bronzer. Plus, it’s super buildable, so you can layer on as much or as little as you need, depending on the day or the occasion. 

Even with all the obvious and immediate benefits, I was hesitant to fully commit to the stuff. Oftentimes, I feel like tightly-packed creams like this one work well for the first few uses and then become tacky and practically impossible to work with. Two months into using it, and it still glides on as nicely as ever. Plus, it travels well; because it’s a cream-based solid, I don’t have to worry about an expensive powder hitting the floor and shattering into a million pieces. 

In only a matter of weeks, NARS Laguna Bronzing Cream has become my desert-island beauty essential. It’s worth making room in your makeup bag—and your budget—for.

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