The concepts behind the new self-tanning products by Vita Liberata are so seriously innovative, I can’t believe no one thought of them before. First, there’s the sleeping mask (update: disappointed review is here). Then there’s the mineral powder bronzer, which I’m reviewing here.
The Trystal Self Tanning Bronzing Minerals ($45 for 0.32 oz.; $55 for a set that includes a kabuki brush) looks like any other mineral powder except for one key difference: the inclusion of dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the chemical commonly used in self-tanning products to create the appearance of a tan.
Directions: Apply in a circular motion over moisturizer or liquid foundation as you would a bronzer. Vita Liberata suggests applying more to the cheekbones for a contoured effect.
Vita Liberata’s website offers two shades–Light/Sunkissed and Medium/Bronze–but Sephora only has one shade for sale.
Based on the product photo and on the suspicion that the Bronze color would match a wider range of skintones, I would guess that the Sephora one is Bronze. Update: Sephora has updated the page to reflect that its shade is No. 2 Bronze.
Given my fair skin (about MAC NC15 or lighter), I opted for the lighter option and am very glad that I did. Light/Sunkissed is a shimmer-free, warm tan brown with just a touch of peach. It’s quite pigmented (use a light hand and very little product!) and lasts all day.
Although the powder appears matte in the jar, it doesn’t mattify skin and instead allows the skin’s natural texture and luminosity to come through. It also adds a smooth sheen on its own, similar to how mineral makeup does. Although the powder clumps up into tiny balls in the jar, it applies smoothly. It is free of any self-tanner smell and truly applies like a regular bronzer.
The kabuki brush that goes along with it is also terrific. The soft, dense hairs feel synthetic and the brush tapers to a rounded ball shape. Totally worth more than the $10 difference between the bronzer on its own and the bronzer+brush kit. It is quite dense, so a light hand is necessary.
Since I wanted a tanning effect all over, I applied the bronzer all over. I applied a little extra on my temples, under the cheekbones, and on my neck for a contoured effect. The end result is extremely natural looking. It’s still me but TANNER!
But hold on. That’s just the makeup at work; what about the self-tanning claims?
Vita Liberata claims that the self-tanner will develop over 4 to 8 hours and last up to 5 days. Disappointingly, the entire selling point of this bronzer didn’t really pan out.
I buffed it over (1) moisturizer+cushion foundation (no powder) and (2) just moisturizer or just moisturizer+sunscreen (waiting 5 minutes to allow it to dry down a little to avoid patchy bronzer). In the photo above, my “base” for the self-tanner to develop was HERA Ultra Moisture Cushion in #21 on the face and moisturizer and sunscreen on my neck.
Each time, I noticed no self-tanning effect. Once, I even put this on 3 hours before bed and slept with it on all night (!) and was still able to use my regular, pale foundation shade the next day. Remember that big blocky swatch above? That was applied over face moisturizer and left on for 7 hours and still nothing. I tried really hard to see any signs of tanning, but nope.
Maybe my particular cushions and moisturizers (I tried different brands) are incompatible, maybe I let them dry down too much (but then how else to avoid patchy application of a powder onto damp skin/makeup?). In any case, it shouldn’t be this hard.
So while it’s a good bronzer and bloody brilliant idea, stick with a conventional self-tanner for reliable results. For me, that would be Dr. Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pads (my current fave for the face) and Clarins Liquid Bronze. Update July 2015: I LOVE this as a bronzer and would repurchase despite the lack of self-tanning. A kabuki or other large, dense domed brush really helps to buff this in quickly and naturally. It does not go on as well with a regular powder or contour brush.
If this product worked for you, I’d be curious about your experience. Leave a comment!
Pros: Natural-looking bronzer for fair to light skin. Pigmented and lasts all day. Brush is high quality.
Cons: Ineffective as a self-tanner.