In the dark ages between 2008-2012, I had a toxic relationship with tanning beds. I hate to admit it, but the things I did to my body were unnatural—literally—as we were not meant to bake in UV light for 10-20 minutes at a time. Alas, tanning was still very much en vogue at this time, and I would go to great lengths to keep my skin tan and glow-y all year long.
These days, we now know better than to ever step foot in a tanning bed, myself included. We've also made serious strides in sunny innovation. Gone are the spray tans and self-tanners that turn us Oompa Loompa-orange, or the drugstore bronzers that leave a total mess behind. Thankfully, cosmetics companies have come a long way.
My recent bronzer of choice, however, is noticeably more natural and minimalist than some of the products that have crossed my desk as of late. Merit's newly-launched Bronze Balm ($30) is the sheerest, most effortless way to extend the life of your summer glow (or fake one altogether.) Its creamy, blendable formulation glides across and into skin in seconds, accentuating contours and adding warmth right where you want it to. I can't get enough of the stuff.
From pressed powders to overnight tanners, I've tried it all on my sunless journey and can honestly say: the Merit Bronze Balm is has surpassed them all. In short:
Bronze Balm's formulation is so sheer, making it easy to fake a "natural" tan. I've used other products that scream, "bronzer!!!" no matter how hard you try to blend it into your skin, but this one doesn't. It glides on subtly and blends in with just a few swipes of a brush or sponge. And there's no worrying you'll take it too far—its translucence allows you to build as much or as little as you'd like.
Merit took a hint from its fan-favorite Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick ($38) and made its bronzer into an easy-to-apply balm (and looks positively posh in its golden tube.) It's basically a luxe crayon for your face, giving you total control over application.
I got two balms: Clay ($30), a light, sandy color, and Seine ($30), which is a smidge darker. Personally, I like to "draw" Clay in broad strokes across places the light would naturally hit, like my forehead and T-zone, while using the angled edge of Seine to sculpt out my cheekbones and jawline for an ever-so-slight contoured look. I spend a lot of time in the sun so I'm fairly golden already—when that glow starts to fade, I know I can just rely on the Clay to give my face some warmth and depth all year round.
But there is no wrong way to use it. Its stick form allows you to get creative and highlight points of your face you didn't know you could. Not to mention, there's no place you can't bring it—its convenient shape is perfect for tossing in your bag for glow on the go.
It's good for you, too
Merit has dedicated its brand to creating products that are safe for our skin and won't clog or upset our pores. Bronze Balm is no different—it's formulated sans any acne-triggering ingredients (sensitive-skin peeps rejoice!), and it actually nourishes your face while it's on. You'll notice how creamy and satin-y it is—that's thanks to the heavy load of fatty acids and dose of vitamin E in each balm that moisturize skin for hours on end.
True to its mission, Merit also made its Bronze Balm using sustainable materials better for our precious planet. On top of being vegan and cruelty-free, it ships in the brand's signature packaging which is made from materials that can be recycled or composted when it's finished.
It's products like the Merit Bronze Balm that makes me so glad I don't have to rely on tanning beds anymore to extend the life of my summer sheen. Buy your own balm here and see for yourself why I'm so smitten.
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