(Cult Status)

Guerlain Invented Bronzer — 37 Years Later, Its Classic Formula Is Getting An Update

Clear some space in your makeup bag.

Cult Status is our series that highlights an iconic item from brands both established and buzz-worthy. In these features, you'll discover the fascinating history of how one extra-special piece exceeded expectations and became a forever product. This time, the focus is on Guerlain’s Terracotta Bronzing Powder.

There are few, if any, beauty brands that hold a legacy quite like French perfume, cosmetics, and skin care house Guerlain. In fact, the brand’s innovations in fragrance date all the way back to 1828, while the first stick lipstick, the Ne M’Oubliez Pas, was created in 1870. And, of course, there’s the best-selling Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder, which first launched in 1984. Now, 37 years later, the cult-favorite powder formula is relaunching with a few updates.

Guerlain quite literally leads the beauty pack when it comes to bronzers — they were the first brand to debut a product in that category. It wasn’t until 17 years later that another cult-classic bronzer created similar hype: Benefit Cosmetics’ Hoola Matte Bronzer. “The concept of a bronzing powder simply did not exist prior to 1984, and Guerlain was the best-positioned brand to introduce such an innovation to the world of makeup,” Brigitte Noé, Director of the LVMH Research Development, tells TZR. “Guerlain pioneered the idea of sun makeup with the invention of its compact bronzing powder, becoming a legendary bronzer.”

Courtesy Of Guerlain

Noé explains that the Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder saw success right off the bat, and simultaneously popularized the bronzer cosmetics category. “The myth behind Terracotta came from the fact that since its creation in 1984, women immediately adopted this natural-effect powder, which with just one instant step, is capable of lighting up their complexion, no matter the time of year or their skin tone,” she explains.

As French cosmetics are known for their scent, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that this bronzer’s smell plays a role in its popularity. “The success of the powder relies also on the unique sensorial experience it provides,” the expert adds. In the formula, you’ll find notes of ylang-ylang and orange flower warmed with Tonka bean and vanilla. It’s so adored that — according to the brand — one of the Terracotta Bronzing Powders sells every 30 seconds. Yes, it’s indeed that good.

Courtesy Of Guerlain

So, why relaunch a product that has garnered this much fame among beauty lovers? Well, as Hebant explains, “Guerlain has a long-standing commitment to nature and the environment, [so] we feel it is our responsibility to keep innovating our existing creations as our responsibility to both mother nature and to our customers.” To that point, Cecile Lochard, Guerlain’s Chief Sustainability Officer, says the iconic beauty brand is “reinventing cult products like Terracotta so that they perfectly match the wishes of today's customers and anticipate the demands of tomorrow.”

Lochard says the Terracotta Bronzing Powder formula now features 96% naturally-derived ingredients. “Guerlain conducted very long screenings of natural raw materials,” she explains. “At the heart of this exclusive formula, there are naturally-derived pigments and luminescent shimmers that guarantee the unique and legendary finish proper to Terracotta.” The expert adds that the relaunched Terracotta formula has nothing to hide, as the remaining 4% of ingredients have been chosen to ensure a perfectly preserved formula, as well as an impeccable sensorial feel.

On top of that, Noé notes that for the first time, the argan oil is sourced from the Targarine network of cooperatives in Southern Morocco. “This network participates in safeguarding local resources from Moroccan land and creating stable employment in rural areas,” she explains.

Courtesy Of Guerlain

As for the finish of the latest formula, Hebant describes it as, “a hydrated natural glow look with a touch of shimmer and satin thanks to the luminescent reflections within the powder, as well as dashes of hydrating argan oil.” With warm weather right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to add this product to your lineup — because who doesn’t want a radiant complexion in the summer?

The relaunched product, retailing for $56, is now available in six shades — light cool, light warm, medium cool, medium warm, deep cool, and deep warm. As it's the first-ever bronzer created, it’s the most iconic — meaning, you’ll want to experience it for yourself if you haven’t yet. So, whether you’ve been a longtime fan of the Terracotta bronzing powder or just being introduced to it, below, shop the new formula. Warning: Get ready to look sun-kissed with just one swipe

We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.