Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder in Bronze 04 - review and swatches


This bronzer must have been in my collection for around 18 months now, but I haven't used it that much so it's only been since introducing it to Project Pan two weeks ago that I've used it enough to review it.

Long story short, it's definitely usable and it can look really nice on the skin, but it's not my favourite and I would like to pan it because there's not a permanent spot for it in my collection. More on that below.

If you're a beauty junkie like myself who reads a lot of blogs and watches a lot of videos on Youtube, then I'm sure you'll have seen these bronzers raved about in your travels.

People often list these among their favourite bronzers of all time, and Temptalia gave this particular shade an A+ rating (there are currently four shades in the range: I have the darkest one).

But unfortunately I personally don't love this formula as much as others seem to - to the point that I'm wondering whether I got a bad one. 

Indeed, mine was so dry and lacked so much pigment when I bought it, that I immediately checked the batch code online (I thought it might be very old). It wasn't: it was manufactured six months before I bought it. So we can dismiss the idea that it might be a really old powder, because it's not. Perhaps that's just how the formula is.

Laura Mercier claims/product details:
  • An ultra-smooth, baked face powder that provides natural colour with soft matte radiance 
  • For a flawless, no-makeup look
  • Sheer, buildable coverage lets you customise your glow, while the modern multidimensional matte finish imparts a hint of soft luminosity
  • Bronze shades provide a neutral warmth in varying intensities
  • The ultra-lightweight formula feels weightless on skin and applies smoothly and blends effortlessly
  • The smooth, silky, velvety texture feels comfortable, while the long-wearing formula lasts up to eight hours and stays colour-true without oxidizing for an even wear
  • Non-dusty, non-drying
  • Formulated without fragrance
  • Dermatologist tested
  • RRP $50 AUD for 7.5g, but do shop around

I bought mine online and I went for shade 04 even though I don't have a deep skintone so shade 03 or even 02 might have been a better match for me in theory.

Reason being, I prefer bronzers with a red undertone because I find that those look best on my colouring, and this was the reddest of the bunch. Also, I'd heard that it was a very sheer formula so I didn't want to spend ages building one of the lighter shades.

Turns out this was a good decision because I'm burning through the product (it's so sheer), so imagine how quickly I would have gotten through one of the lighter shades!

Now for some shots of the pan.

There it is in direct sunlight:

And indirect sunlight:

Next, swatches.

There's a heavy and a light swatch, natural light:

Direct sunlight:

Indirect sunlight:


While I don't mind this bronzer, it's definitely not my favourite for a few reasons.

First, it's an incredibly dry powder and I prefer my powders to be creamier. It's honestly one of the driest powders I've ever touched, which is why I felt the need to check the manufacture date - and I was surprised to discover that it was made in November 2015, only six months before I bought it.

Sure, dryness doesn't always affect how powders perform, but in this case I feel it does: I own both this bronzer and one of Laura Mercier's highlighters (which is in the same range as this product), and they both look ok on my dry skin if I only use a little, but as soon as I try to build them, they look very dry on me and I don't like that.

They look especially dry if I try to use them on the eyes, which I often do with highlighters and bronzers, so it's important to me that a formula suits both the face and eyes and I personally don't feel that this one does. If you don't have dry skin then you probably won't notice this aspect, but I definitely do.

Second, it's so sheer that I need to use a lot in order to get it to show up. As you may know, I'm all for less pigmented products because I prefer a more natural look and I also find them easier to use (I'm less likely to make mistakes with a sheerer powder), but on me this one crosses the line into 'where is it?' territory. 

What this means in practice is that I need to use a lot of product to get it to show up, so it can sometimes look very dry on my dry skin and I'm also burning through product like nobody's business. And I'm only light/medium to medium in colouring, so imagine how fast you'd get through it if you were darker.

Indeed, after two weeks of use, I've worn away the top third of half the pan. This makes me think I could get through it within three or four months, while bronzers would normally take me a year (sometimes more) to pan. This means it's not good value - and you only get 7.5g, so it's not great value to start with because bronzers are usually larger. 

Third, I don't like the clunky, dated and cheap-feeling packaging. Sure, it's the product that matters more than the packaging, but if I'm going to drop a decent chunk of money on something (these retail for $50 AUD at the moment, although from memory mine cost $42), then I want to enjoy the experience of using it. I want to pick up a heavy, well-made compact and feel that I'm using something luxurious.

I don't feel that with this. I feel as though I'm using something that should have cost less and I tend not to reach for my two Laura Mercier powders much because there's no ceremony attached to using them - at least, not for me. I've held budget products that feel more special than these do.

The good thing about this powder is that it applies and blends well, and yes, because it's so sheer you're unlikely to make mistakes. It doesn't however last well on the skin and I find that most of it is gone from my face by lunchtime, which is odd for me because products tend to stick to my dry skin so I'm not used to them falling off my face so quickly. Maybe because it's such a dry formula, it's not adhering as well to the skin as a creamier powder would. Who knows.

Shade 04 is a nice, warm brown with red undertones and it has a decent amount of very fine, gold shimmer running through it - so you can see a few flecks of sparkle and it has a golden sheen that I quite like because it's not too much. It's definitely not matte, though, so I think the 'Matte Radiance' part of the title is a little confusing because some people might be misled by it (eg, they blind-buy it hoping for a matte bronzer, only to discover that they've bought a glowy one).

On the claims, I think I've covered most of those but let me touch on them briefly here: not it's not ultra-smooth (it's so dry that it feels a little gritty, albeit finely milled); yes the coverage is sheer; yes it applies and blends well; no it's absolutely not silky or velvety in texture (it's desert dry); and no it's not non-dusty and non-drying - it's both dusty and dry to the touch, and it can look that way on my face.

Overall I can live with this bronzer and there are things to like about it, but I don't love it and I don't think it meets its claims. I was planning to pan another bronzer next year but I'm starting to think I should pan this one first, for the simple reason that I can knock it out quickly over summer and then turn my panning efforts to something else.

Not my favourite, but it can look nice on the skin.

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