To kick off The Beauty Blackout's Multi-Part Overview of Victoria Beckham's epic collaboration(s) with Estée Lauder, it made sense to start at the very beginning. But the beginning of what exactly? Upon some reflection, it became clear to me that this collaboration was the beginning of many, many signficant things: 1) a (hopefully ongoing) partnership between Victoria Beckham and Estée Lauder; 2) the beginning of our love affair with all things VB x EL; and 3) the beginning of a beautiful friendship. A friendship between...well...us. Oh come on! It's only the truth! If you really want to know how this blog came into being....well, it all began with Victoria Beckham's Java Sun Bronzer.
Java Sun Bronzer
Emily: Java Sun was my first VB x EL product - I bought it back when the very first collaboration launched in September 2016. Readers, what else can I say but this? It was love at first swipe. Okay, more accurately it was love at first stamp + buff (aka the Beauty Blackout’s classic ‘brontouring’ technique - patent still pending, FYI. We'll keep you posted. Literally).
If you’ve ever used Tom Ford’s original Bronzing Powder in Terra, you’ll probably/definitely love Java Sun. You know that slightly sunburnt look you get when you’ve lingered just a little too long in the sun? In this day and age, using ‘sunburnt’ as an adjective in any sense other than a negative one is positively heretical, yeah, we know that already. We’re not advocating getting a sunburn, to be clear. We’re just acknowledging the fact that there’s something really gorgeous about that slightly ruddy, warm, sun-kissed flush that you get from a whole day spent (un)productively at the beach. It's that bonne mine ‘healthy glow’ which every bronzer we’ve ever bought (and there have been many) has promised us but, sadly, failed to deliver. Until, that is, Java Sun came along. Rachel, why did it take you so damn long to buy Java Sun???
Rachel: Emily, I plead ignorance. I didn’t know how amazing it was! I mean, I was this close to buying the reformulated - the Ultimate- version of Terra when you suddenly appeared and started raving about Java Sun. To be honest, you sounded hardcore evangelical, and as someone with a healthy skepticism for all things evangelical….well, you can't blame me for doubting your credibility a little. I did BUY it though, immediately. And thank god you weren’t overhyping it because I don’t know if our relationship would have taken off if that had been the case.
Emily: Can I just say that I'm really, really glad our relationship took off? I bet our readers are too. Anyway, great point - we need to touch upon what’s happened to Tom Ford’s Terra. Folks, it got reformulated. Don’t ask me why. There's an old adage you may have heard of: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Well, the geniuses at Tom Ford Beauty headquarters decided to ‘fix’ Terra. And the only thing that’s ‘Ultimate’ about the new formula is that it’s ultimately worse than its predecessor. And compared to Java Sun, the 'Ultimate' Terra is so sad and paltry a bronzer, a mere shadow of Java Sun, that it pains me to include them in the same sentence.
Instead, think of Java Sun as Terra 2.0 - the perfected version, if you will. Like the OG Terra, Java Sun is composed of a mix of cool clay and baked terracotta hues, and has a marvellously neutral cast. But Java Sun surpasseses Terra's not inconsiderable excellence. It’s a more ambitious bronzer, perhaps even a little intimidating. In comparison to Java Sun, Terra seems rather lacking in pigment, with a semi-streaky, almost patchy texture. Meanwhile, Java Sun is bolder and more confident. What you get is a sun-baked Sedona red that makes blush strictly optional, but never quite steps out of the rocky desert shadows. Java Sun is best described as a cool-toned terracotta. That may sound like an oxymoron, and perhaps it is. But there’s something special about this bronzer that defies the ordinary conventions of describing colour. Take it from me. Don’t be a Rachel. Buy Java Sun now. Why wait?
Saffron Sun Bronzer
Alright, so it’s not quite fair to the lovely Saffron Sun to discuss it right after waxing lyrical about Java. But, in our defence, Victoria Beckham did choose to debut Saffron second, as a lighter, more wearable alternative to Java. Key word: LIGHTER. This is a beautiful bronzer but if you’re anywhere above N25, I suggest giving Saffron a miss unless you prefer only the faintest hint of colour.
Compared to Java Sun, Saffron Sun has subtle golden undertones, and a neutral to ever so slightly warm cast. Like Java, Saffron is matte and perfect for a bit of brontouring/sculpting. The texture is incredibly finely milled, dense and velvety with an effortlessly blendable consistency. While Java Sun feels like an afternoon lounging upon the sun-warmed stones of an Italian piazza, Saffron Sun places you at a slight distance - standing half in the shadows, gazing downwards at the scene in front of you through the shade of amber-rimmed sunglasses.
Modern Mercury Highlighter
You’v already heard the hype. Modern Merucry is the best highlighter ever, blah blah blah. Well, too bad. Modern Mercury IS the best highlighter ever. End of story. It doesn’t matter how many highlighters you own - a dozen, a hundred, whatever. It doesn’t matter if you hate highlighters with a burning passion. You still need Modern Mercury. Doubtful? Well, they often say that a picture is worth a thousand words....and just look at these:
Imagine liquefied, molten rose gold. Emphasis on rose rather than gold - this is the coolest rose gold you could possibly imagine; it's the antithesis of copper. Modern Mercury has a dense, creamy texture that feels somewhere in between a powder and a cream, Running your finger across the surface feels almost sinful. It’s so richly pigmented that you need only the wispiest, and airiest of fan brushes (we recommend Hakuhodo’s excellent F6141). If you’re a fellow pale person, fear not. This is your nighttime highlighter and your daytime and/or all-the-time eyeshadow.
Have you ever wanted to be a modern day Cleopatra - eyelids gilded with gold leaf? Well, Modern Mercury has you all set. And we know how ridiculous 'blush topper' sounds but - well, try it out with Modern Mercury and you might stop snickering (we did). Be careful though. Like its name, this product is mercurial; we wouldn’t sit too long on the fence before deciding to buy it (you know you will). It could be gone tomorrow and, then....who knows for how long? However long it might be would be too long, I think you’ll agree. If you’ve somehow managed to get this far without opening another tab in your browser and purchasing Modern Mercury already, just do what your gut is telling you to do. Blame it on a beauty blackout.
Tom Ford Moodlight Duo and Victoria Beckham Modern Mercury: A Comparison
As two gelee-to-powder highlighters manufactured by Estee Lauder, you would imagine there might be some similarities between Tom Ford's Moodlight Skin Illuminating Duo and the Victoria Beckham's Modern Mercury Highlighter. And you'd be right - they do share some things in common. However, they are most certainly not dupes.
Modern Mercury is a cool rose gold, as close to neutral as a rose gold can possibly get. The darker shade on the bottom of the Moodlight duo is considerably warmer, more coppery. Modern Mercury also has an intense creaminess to it that Tom Ford's Moodlight lacks. In comparison, it's far less rich and creamy, closer to the powder end of the spectrum.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Beauty Blackout's Multi-Part Review of the entire VB x EL collection. Today's discussion questions: have you picked any VB x EL products up? If so, what are your thoughts - is it love? How angry are you about the reformulation of Tom Ford's Terra? And, last of all, has any beauty blogger ever written about bronzer (and/or highlighter) this dramatically before? This post was a veritable ode to perfection (aka Java Sun and Modern Mercury). We hope we did these wonderful products justice. Let us know what you think in the comments!