Clarins Aquatic Treasures Summer Bronzing Compact - review and swatches


Two weeks ago I introduced this Clarins bronzer as my first product for Project Dent 2017 (see here) and I've used it every day since then so I'm ready to review it.

Now I understand that Clarins releases a summer bronzer every year and this is the one from 2015, so I wasn't sure whether or not to review it because it mightn't still be available, but I've just seen that it is (see eg Adore Beauty) so I'll go ahead and review it now while you can still get your hands on it.

I bought it at the end of 2015 because I was having a bronzer moment (particularly a matte bronzer moment) and I was able to buy it discounted, plus I'd seen a few beauty bloggers say that these Clarins bronzers are amazing so I wanted to get my hands on one and see if I agreed.

I also liked the look of this one because it has four decent-sized sections of the pan that contain different shades, so you can focus your brush where you want to and get your chosen colour. Since I'd been having some issues finding bronzers that would work for my colouring year-round, this felt like a good idea.

You can see how big the compact is: it contains a whopping 20g of product so if you wanted to own just one bronzer that could see you through summer to winter for a couple of years, this would be a good pick.

As a project panner, however, products this large tend to frighten me because I have no idea how I'll ever get through them and I don't like owning things that will most likely start to deteriorate before I've had the chance to even make a dent in them.

Clarins claims/product details:
  • Custom-blend your perfect tan 
  • With a natural finish that brings a beautiful warm summer glow to your face and body, no matter how tanned you become this stunning compact will suit you
  • Takes care of the skin: contains ingredients that minimise lines and imperfections, helping to deliver a radiant, glowing complexion
  • Helps keep the skin moisturised and supple and protects it from the harmful effects of free radicals and pollution
  • Strictly limited edition and complete with a mirror
  • RRP $55 AUD for 20g, but do shop around

There's the compact, photographed in direct sunlight above and in natural light below.

It's an impressive-looking affair with its four different shades and the pattern embossed into the surface. The mirror is large enough that I can rely on it as my only mirror when I travel because I can almost see my whole face in it.

What I'm going to do now is overload you with swatches ; )

In each of the below shots, I've swatched the colours from the lightest shade to the darkest (so going clockwise from the top left) - so that's the four swatches on the left. As for the three on the right, the first is a mix of all four shades, the second a mix of the two lightest and the third a mix of the two darkest.

There we are, indirect sunlight:

Direct sunlight:

And in natural light (indoors):


I've just had another look at the online reviews of this product and all the ones I've read are glowing. I'm going to add something different to the mix and say that, while I don't think this is a bad product, it also hasn't met my expectations and it's probably my least-favourite of the bronzers I own.

My first issue with the product is that it's too damn peach. I mean, look at those first two swatch photos above in particular. Peachy bronzers tend to work best on those with paler skintones, but for me (I'm light/medium in winter and medium in summer), when mixed together the shade does not work well as a bronzer. It makes a nice blush, yes, but not a good bronzer.

Fortunately I can mix the darker two shades to get a bronzer that looks better on me, whatever colour my skin is at any given time because the mix pulls a little more red. It's still not a perfect colour though so I don't look forward to using it.

The lighter two shades also make a really nice peachy nude blush and I actually like the blush shade more than I do the bronzer shade, so in the past I've reached for this as a blush and have forgotten its bronzer function altogether.

The lighter two shades are softer and more silky than the darker two shades, which are a little hard and sheer - although I can work with them and I don't mind building colour because that means I'm less prone to making mistakes and winding up with too much product on my face.

The colours do blend reasonably well but not as well as my other bronzers, and the darker two shades in particular need a little more work to blend.

Also, for some reason my darker shades have developed a bit of hard-pan over the two weeks I've been testing the product. The hard-pan hasn't happened everywhere, just in the area of the product where the pattern is made up of little dots (so second rim from the centre). This is bloody annoying of course and I'll eventually have to scrape off the top of those areas in order to be able to use the product underneath.

I've also used all four shades as eyeshadows during the testing period, and while they apply and blend well for that purpose, I've also hit the 'too peach' problem with these and I always need to use a grey or cool brown shadow to pull the look back from being too warm (and this is coming from someone who loves warm eyeshadows).

So in sum, while I don't think this is a bad product, it's also not one I really love. I included it in Project Dent because I wasn't using it and I think that's because I don't love the packaging (it's a bit dated) and it's not something that makes me feel special when I use it.

I also don't like that I need to work a little bit harder with the two darker shades that I use for bronzing because I sometimes struggle to pick up product (depending on what brush I use) and the whole hard-pan thing is concerning, particularly considering that I've only had this open for six months so it's not as though it's old.

I think for now I'll use this as a travel-only product or even throw it into my handbag because it is handy to have a blush, bronzer and four eyeshadows in a compact with a large mirror, but I can see myself eventually putting this into Project Pan because it's not something I want to keep in my collection.

Do let me know if you've used any Clarins bronzers before and what you think of them if so. I would potentially recommend this product for those with fair or light complexions who suit peachy bronzers, but I wouldn't call this a 'universal' bronzer given the issues I've mentioned above.

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