Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Soleil ~ perfume review

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Soleil fragrance bottle

When I reviewed the original Azuree Soleil Eau Fraiche Skinscent — part of the Tom Ford collection for Estee Lauder way back in 2007, before Tom Ford started his own line1 — I said it was "a mood as much as a fragrance". The mood is vacation, if you will allow that vacation can be a mood, and the kind of vacation is tropical beach vacation. That explains why I wear it so much despite the fact that it's hardly the best or the brightest or the most artistic fragrance in my collection. In the winter, who doesn't need a little tropical vacation now and then? And in the summer, it's one of those no-thought-required, works-anywhere-anytime fragrances that everyone needs in their arsenal. More than once, it's been the only fragrance I've actually reached for while on a real vacation, at a real beach.

So, Azuree Soleil, as some of you will remember, was a one-shot limited edition and it sold out pretty quickly, but it came back the next year, only slightly altered, as Bronze Goddess. It came back again, and sold out again, in 2009 and 2010.

For 2011, Bronze Goddess has returned once again, and this time it's brought along a buddy: Bronze Goddess Soleil. Now, Bronze Goddess, the original, is your basic coconut-suntan-oil-but-better scent, sweet but not too sweet, tropical but not overwhelming about it. Worn lightly (which isn't hard to do since it's a light scent), it really functions as something of a background smell and an immediate mood-lifter. There isn't anything else quite like it on the market.

Bronze Goddess Soleil might be the new version for someone who doesn't like coconut. I thought Bronze Goddess was a bit sharper and more citrus-y in the opening than Azuree Soleil; for Bronze Goddess Soleil, the citrus is far heavier and sharper still. It's also greener, and the citrus lasts longer before fading into the heart, which has less of a tropical floral feel (if there's gardenia, it's no longer noticeable). The dry down has a similar "warm sand and warm skin" feel, but without the creamy sweetness of the original.

It's quite pleasant and summery, and perfectly wearable. It's closer to a unisex, in case you found the original too feminine. Without the coconut and gardenia, it's also lost what I thought of as its raison d'être — I am already well covered, and then some, in terms of summer citrus — but I would guess that it will find its own fans. Still, I'll be surprised if it's going to cause a stir every year in the way that Bronze Goddess has.

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Soleil is available in 100 ml Eau Fraiche for $55; the notes include citron, bergamot, tangerine, lavender, petitgrain, pittosporum, neroli, orange blossom, jasmine sambac, grapefruit tree blossom, pink lily, blonde woods, iris, ambrette seed and crystalline musks.

1. And actually it first appeared the year before that, in 2006, as a body oil.

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  1. jonr951 says:

    I still have yet to try the original Bronze Goddess. Where have I been? Haha. Great review on Soleil. I’m looking forward to this one. I’m digging that it’s far more unisex. I need to catch both of them this time around before they’re gone again. : )

    • Robin says:

      I think EL must pull these from the shelves quickly, which IMHO is smart. Having your limited edition scents still sitting around months and years later is just a bad idea.

      • jonr951 says:

        I agree 100%. It’s very smart of them. Some limited editions don’t end up being limited these days. Haha. : )

      • SmokeyToes says:

        Sometimes the extras go to outlet malls. I’ve found limited edition bottles for a song (and makeup too)

  2. halimeade says:

    Great review, thanks. While I’ll still sniff it (I am stalking the EL counter for their summer cosmetics collection) it sounds like Soleil lacks all of the components that make the original Bronze Goddess one of my favorite scents. Maybe it will fill a void for those who don’t like the original, though!

    Oh, and for those who might want to snatch up BG out of season, I’ve seen it several times at the Cosmetics Company Outlet, the EL outlet store that is in some outlet centers. I’ve seem the Bronze Goddess body oil there, too, which doesn’t look like it’s being re-promoted this year.

    • Robin says:

      I’ve seen it there too…that’s part of why I think they just pull it from the shelves on a certain date. (Love those outlets either way — great deals on MAC, among other things)

      • halimeade says:

        I am quite glad that the nearest CCO outlet is plenty far away, otherwise I’d be in serious debt rather than nearly broke haha.

  3. Abyss says:

    Ooh, are these in stores already? I’m not hugely into citrus but I’ll still give this one a try since I’m woefully short on hot weather fragrances and Bronze Goddess wasn’t quite right on my skin. It had a strange, almost pickle-like note which I didn’t care for. Love that they are so affordable though!

    • Robin says:

      Then who knows, maybe this one will suit you! Worth a shot, and yes, good price.

  4. Janice says:

    I had and used up a bottle of Azuree Soleil, but haven’t sniffed this since it was reincarnated as Bronze Goddess. Now I’m thinking I should try it again—the original Bronze Goddess, not the Soleil. I have a bit of Bond’s Fire Island, which I thought would be great for that summer vacation feeling, but it doesn’t really have a coconut note and, surprisingly, I sort of miss that when I wear it.

    • Robin says:

      Bond’s Fire Island, and most other beachy perfumes like that, smell like perfume to me…what I love about BG is that it doesn’t smell like perfume. It smells to me like the bit of suntan oil that didn’t come off in the shower, or the smell of your after-sun lotion :-)

    • DoryCubana says:

      @Janice – have both and agreen on both. Fire Island is great, but it does not have this beachy, tropical feel which I loved in EL AS. Bond FI is a perfume, AS is a fun splash, but I need both, we need both, right?

  5. SmuttyCubby says:

    I am addicted to BG, and I don’t think it’s particularly feminine at *all*; I think of it as the daytime companion to _Straight to Heaven_ from By Killian. They both have that beachy vibe without telegraphing Coppertone.

    I live in Seattle, so BG is the olfactory methadone that gets me through the dark weeks of late spring. I just wish they’d do an EdP, as I am *not* someone who reapplies.


  6. Tamara says:

    BG is delicious! And SmuttyCubby (great name BTW!)
    I’m in Wa. too so I know what you mean.
    I can’t wait to get my another bottle this spring<3

    • Robin says:

      I wish they’d do a body lotion, that would be perfect. I am going to need more soon too.

      • Haunani says:

        That would be nice for the post-beach evening/night!

        • Robin says:

          Yes, and easier for layering. Although don’t know what I’d layer it with offhand.

  7. malijo789 says:

    Is there alot of gardenia in the original BG?

    • Robin says:

      Well, it’s a relative thing. I think it’s terribly light, but have heard people say it’s overwhelming.

    • halimeade says:

      On me I hardly smell any gardenia at all, just a vague suggestion of floral.

  8. maggiecat says:

    I will have to try this – I was one of the few who had a “meh” reaction to Bronze Goddess (clearly my problem rather than EL’s) and maybe this is the one that will allow me into the fold of “Goddess” worshippers!

    • Robin says:

      Do report back then…maybe you’ll love it.

  9. SmokeyToes says:

    I really liked the first two, I’ll have to try the latest and see how it works. At my local Ulta, items like this sit and then become discounted, it helps to do a drop by every now and then to pick up the deals.

    • Robin says:

      Nice! I never go to Ulta, but maybe I should. Never really liked their setup compared to Sephora though, not least because they don’t give out samples.

  10. Amanda says:

    Just got a decant of BG am so in love! Cant decide really between that and CB I Hate Perfume At the Beach 1966. I just got that too and on certain tries it wins. I am looking for that ‘coppertone’ effect, so perhaps the Soleil isn’t for me. My last one competing for summer fragrance in this vein is Creed Virgin Island Water, the more sophisticated and less oiled up friend of these two… VIW to me is like the pale-ish woman who vacations a lot but doesn’t get dirty in the sand, has an umbrella, looks amazing but isn’t there to tan. BG is like the … Gisele Bunchen type who cant help but naturally look amazing, tan, and smells like summer.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, I love that CB fragrance too! It’s in a different box in my mind, since it reminds me of my childhood more than it reminds me of a tropical beach vacation.

    • SmuttyCubby says:

      I actually tried VIW in the VI, and I think it has all the olfactory interest of a can of Diet 7up. It’s sparkling and light, but there’s nothing left after the top flashes off – it’s ethereal, which has its charms, but it’s not good enough of ether to make me want to drop the coin on a bottle.

  11. brianplace says:

    My friend SmuttyCubby pretty much convinced me to put this in the “buy” column this year (as soon as I can get my hands on it. :)

  12. Joe says:

    Thanks for reviewing this so soon, R.

    I’ll definitely look to test this, even though I’m also definitely not lacking in summery citrusy things. I don’t have a problem with either coconut or slightly feminine, but the original BG just has never done much for me, though I have a small decant.

    Several other scents do a better job of putting me in that “vacation” mood, and if I were to add one to the collection, I might go for the (albeit much more expensive) Bond Fire Island. Again, though, this Soleil certainly sounds worth trying!

    • Haunani says:

      Fire Island fills this place in my collection. I don’t wear it often, but it really does take me on a virtual vacation!

      • Robin says:

        You guys take more expensive vacations than I do, LOL…I’ll stick with my $55 bottle :-)

        • Haunani says:

          Well, I bought the Fire Island second-hand. It’s still WAY too much for me to ever use, though!

  13. eminere says:

    Grammar nazi coming thru:

    “… but I would guess that it will find it’s own fans”

    That should be its, not it’s (it is).


    • Robin says:

      Oh thank you so much! I hate that error more than most….

  14. Nile Goddess says:

    Absolutely agree with you Robin.

    I LOVED Azuree Soleil in fact was quite obsessed with it. Bronze Goddess felt like they had to cut the costs on the ingredients – replaced the beautiful frangipani note with heavy gardenia, the tangerine and sandalwood notes were quite muted. But as the last bottle of Azuree Soleil was used up, BG seemed to improve. At least it feels to me like last year’s edition was superior to the one of 2009, and with shops here selling both editions it was possible to compare the two.

    I am curios about the 2011 edition of BG, and of course will try BG Soleil but the description sounds a bit like Versense or any other sharp chemical citrus on the market. Meaning it will compete with my lovely Herba Fresca – and lose :-)
    Still, worth a sniff I suppose.

    • Robin says:

      I know what you mean about sharp chemical citrus, but liked Versense all the same…and like it better than Soleil! Herba Fresca beats them both though.

      • Nile Goddess says:

        Oh, and I loooove coconut if it’s well done as in a fragrance for adults.

        So far the only ones I know and like are BG and Premier Figuier Extreme. Coconut is not the main note in PFE, but it’s quite strong on me, which I like.

        Am about to finish the last bottle of Ananas Fizz and being heartbroken about it :-(

  15. mixiemay says:

    As I am deep in the throes of perfumista stage 3, I just marched myself over to the estee lauder website, pushed “add to cart” on BG, and bought it. Unsniffed. What sealed the deal is that there is only one store within my driving-with-three-kids-all-under-5-range that might have had this but I just checked their website and they don’t carry it. So. I hope I love it, I think the concept of it is great and at the very least, the return policy seems easy. Robin, is it the end of the quarter confessional yet? I need to do penance so I can get back to sinning! I am up to 3 FB this quarter and there’s still one blasted month left.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, hope you will love it! Next damage poll is not until April though.

  16. March says:

    That’s so interesting, R. And I think you are right — the way you describe this makes it sounds less distinctive and desirable (at least to me.) I did pony up for a bottle of Bronze Goddess a year or two ago.

    • Robin says:

      I bet a shocking number of perfumistas own BG. I wish they’d put it inside more of their cute little solid compacts.

  17. Dzingnut says:

    Nile Goddess: I have a 98% full 50ml bottle of Ananas Fizz, which I loved in sample form, but which didn’t really do it for me when sprayed. Can you give it a new home?

    • Nile Goddess says:

      Dzingnut: I would LOVE to! Question is – how will the bottle get to me?

      I live in Prague, the Czech Republic, and sadly a few people in the postal system must be well fragrant thanks to me and the bottles I’ve been sent and got lost in the mail :-(

      • DoryCubana says:

        I share your pain. But Croatian postal system improved, luckily for me. I travel to Prague a couple of times per year. Should I have known, maybe I could have served as a messenger?

  18. SmuttyCubby says:

    Nordstrom downtown in Seattle didn’t have any BG frag out as of Thursday, and it wasn’t on the order, so the BA thought it would be three weeks! So, I tried the BG Soleil last night at a small-market Macy’s. Talk about profoundly underwhelming.

    I think it’s *much* more feminine than the original BG, personally – more generic white floral and both more sillage and persistence on skin. It’s got some nice citrus technology in there, and the degrade coloring on the bottle is a nice riff on the Hermes Jardin series (it’s much nicer in the flesh than I’ve seen as photographed). It’s really much, much more “perfume-like” in the style of, say, an Escada summer flanker than the skin-and-sun vibe of original BG.

    I suspect my grandmother will love it as a summer counterpoint to, say, Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. It’s utterly wearable in the style of, say, the EL travel-retail releases, but it’s just not for me. Then again, I’m hardly the target demographic.

    Amusing BG anecdote: I was wearing it in a really sleazy bar on a hot night last August, and it was cheek-to-jowl in there. One of the other patrons, sliding past me towards the bar, stopped mid-slide and said “You smell expensive”. I’m going to take that as a compliment.

    • brianplace says:

      (which sleazy bar was that again?)
      thank you for the sample; it does smell great; too bad it lasts 10 minutes. :(

    • Robin says:

      Interesting that you find it more feminine, will be curious to hear more feedback as more people get to try it!

    • DoryCubana says:

      Got the same “compliment” from a homeless person on a tram ona wintery night while wearing “Cuir Beluga” by Guerlain. I was stunned.

  19. Ikat says:

    I’ve been craving a beach/suntan lotion fragrance these last several weeks. I finally ordered BG and BGS from the EL site.

    They seem like cousins, not sisters to me. BG is the suntan lotion-sort of Coppertone in the family. Very wearable because of the low sillage, but not terribly long lasting. Yes, a body lotion would be fantastic.

    BGS has the cream of BG removed and citrus added. To me, it’s a nice grapefruit citrus (and I say that with trepidation, as the grapefruit in Guerlain Aqua Allegorica Pampelune smells distressingly like vomit to me). Sorry for that, but that’s why I really shy away from grapefruit notes. Bronze Goddess Soleil, however it very nice and citrusy-very slightly vague suntan lotion (not getting a Coppertone hint). I would really classify it as a light fresh citrus. Bobbie Brown Beach is far more suntan than BGS. This is light, and easy, but fades quite fast. I would certainly take a decant with me to spritz on during the day and it would be entirely nice and worksafe.

  20. PinoiPerfumista says:

    “Without the coconut and gardenia, it’s also lost what I thought of as it’s raison d’être.” Spot on.

    IMO, they should have used a different name and not Bronze Goddess (Soleil) since BG = Azuree Soleil = coconut + gardenia.

    • Robin says:

      A different name wouldn’t help sell it though! But I know just what you mean.

  21. CharlieChuckles says:

    I finally got the chance to test BGS. It really doesn’t seem related to BG at all. It’s not bad but it smells familiar to me. I’m not yet a broadly experienced sniffer so I can’t say what it smells like, but I know I’ve run across this idea before in a mainstream scent. To me, BGS is well-done but boring = don’t need it. I’d far rather buy a 2nd bottle of BG.

    • Robin says:

      I’d far rather too. Will be interesting to see if BGS comes back next year — I doubt it, but I’ve been wrong many times.

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