A few months ago, two favorite clean makeup brands – KOSAS and Ilia – launched new talc free powder bronzers at the same time! It was hard to decide which to try, so naturally, I bought both. This post has taken me awhile to update though, because I needed to try a couple different shades in the formulas and I’m glad I waited because I’ve now had months to see how these perform over time and my opinion has changed on which is better. Let’s see my KOSAS Bronzer vs ILIA Bronzer review and which looks better!
To give you a brief background on my feelings about bronzer…
I’m a huge bronzer lover. It changes my face entirely and it’s a step I rarely skip.
I love a bronzer I can layer – because I tend to go a bit heavy then blend it out.
I also love a more neutral bronzer. Something I can both bronze and contour with, within reason.
The bronzer also needs to blend well. I don’t have time to fuss with patchy formulas.
The first of the two formulas I bought was the KOSAS Sun Show Bronzer. I bought the Medium shade, Golden Bronze.
This formula is meant to mimic a sunlight filter on your face.
It’s not meant to be a contour at all.
It has a slight sheen to the baked formula, but it is not shimmery once applied to the skin… just mimics a healthy radiance.
This bronzer launched with three shades – light, medium and deep.
The component (packaging) is translucent plastic, with a baked talc free formula.
KOSAS brand is all about “makeup for skincare freaks,” so this formula is a moisturizing powder meant to lay on the skin in a really flattering way… never matte/flat looking.
Retails for $34 USD, and has 6g of product. You can find it at Sephora, on KOSAS website or a few other clean beauty retailers.
First impressions were strongly positive! I loved the packaging, and I always love a radiant (NOT GLITTERY) formula. Think… similar to the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders.
The baked powder applied so smoothly to my skin and definitely left me looking like I had a sun filter on my face. Exactly as described.
I never felt like I was applying too much of this powder – I could layer it up and it blended out smoothly and melted into the skin.
However, shortly after I owned this bronzer, the packaging broke and the top half snapped right off. I am a makeup blogger – so I am pretty careful about how I store my products… this wasn’t flung across a room. Just normal use and one day, the top just cracked off. I cannot recall a time I’ve had the top of a compact snap off in a very long time… it’s just not something that happens to me, so I was pretty bummed.
Then, I noticed the powder doing something I find often happens with clean beauty brands – they hard pan.
Hard panning is when you see a layer of your powder makeup unable to transfer to a brush or your fingers. It’s like a film is coating the powder and most people will scrape it off.
To remove hard panning… I prefer using tape. Use a few pieces of tape to pull the filmy layer off the powder until you get to the ‘fresh’ product again.
OR, you can use a spoolie brush… scrape it off and spray with rubbing alcohol, let dry. I prefer tape because it doesn’t disrupt the product and allows it to stay looking fresh.
Hard panning is really frustrating though, because it tends to continue to happen over the lifetime of the product and thus, prevents the application from looking as good as it did in the beginning.
Because of the broken packaging and the hard panning, my feelings about the KOSAS bronzer have shifted.
Within a week, I had to compare the ILIA bronzer to KOSAS, so I picked up the darker of the two shades in this formula – Novelty.
ILIA’s formula is meant to be more what I look for in a bronzer – something that can give you a sunkissed look, but also can be used to contour.
ILIA’s bronzer is not as radiant, although it’s not a flat matte either. It’s a finely milled formula that is easy to blend and increase intensity, if desired.
It comes in two shades – Drawn In (light/medium bronze) and Novelty (medium/deep bronze).
The packaging is a square light blush plastic component, and includes a mirror.
ILIA’s bronzer retails for $34 USD, and contains 12g of product – DOUBLE what KOSAS has. You can find it at Sephora, on ILIA’s website and on other clean beauty retailers online.
Initially buying the darker shade, Novelty, I had a tough time comparing this formula to KOSAS because the colors were not comparable.
Novelty is much deeper than I thought, and thus, it wasn’t as easy for me to use as a bronzer AND contour – it was just too dark and rich for my complexion.
Novelty also was too rich for me to blend easily. Because it was too dark, I knew I had to try the lighter shade to give it a fair shot, so I ordered Drawn In.
Once I tried Drawn In, I was immediately happier! Drawn In is definitely significantly lighter than Novelty, but it allows me the flexibility to layer up when needed and the tone is more neutral for me to contour.
I’ve had Novelty for months and continued to use it for testing reasons, and have not had once issue with hard panning.
Additionally, I have used Drawn In for a few weeks every single day, and have not had any issues with hard panning.
My biggest frustration with ILIA’s product is the packaging is a bit bulky/wide… as in the square itself is a bit bigger than necessary… but to be honest, with the added perks of a mirror for application and knowing you’re getting DOUBLE the product than KOSAS for the same price… I have to let the packaging slide as a frustration 😉
I do hope ILIA adds one more shade to this collection, as Drawn In may be too light for me in the deep summer, and Novelty still may be too dark.
This was a big shocker to me!
When I first picked up these two bronzers, I was SURE I’d love KOSAS and continue to prefer it and recommend it over the ILIA.
However, with time, I now prefer and feel more confident in recommending ILIA instead.
KOSAS is a unique formula and with some finesse and cleaning up the hard panning, it still looks stunning on the skin – especially in the warmer months.
ILIA is by far a better value and looks beautiful on the skin.
…and, my ILIA packaging hasn’t broke on either shade 🙂
Have you tried either of these? What are your thoughts? Any other clean, powder bronzers I need to try?