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making faces :: nars attacks!

we're here for your disposable income
i feel like i've gotten a bit of insight into what francois nars was like in school. i think he was that quiet type who always seemed smart and capable, but then came out with some burst of insane creativity and accomplishment when it came time for the city science fair or writing competition or anything where a lot of people suddenly had to stop and appreciate that this kid wasn't just smart he was freaking brilliant. the kid who made all the teachers look kind of dumb for having not noticed his innate brilliance before.

of course, i like that analogy, because i've been a big nars fan for a few years now [and even then consider myself as a tardy to the party], but this spring, it's kind of been like the science fair, or the city-wide young writers competition. there have been some really strong launches [some of which have been reviewed here and some of which are still coming]. some companies have chosen to stick with a solid colour collection, like the do every year [guerlain], while others have concentrated on launching new types of products [hourglass]. nars has joined in with chanel and mac to do a tightly paced series that encompasses both.

first of all, there's their colour collection, made up of bold hues said to be inspired by the early nineties. i'll take their word for it, because i remember the early nineties being about baby doll dresses, doc marten's, maryjanes and very dark lipstick. regardless of where it comes from, the nars spring collection does have a way of announcing itself in stores. you can spot the display from across even the busiest sephora and, if you're like me, you'll proceed to elbow people out of the way in order to get a closer look.


as much as i loved the whole collection, i had to save money for what i knew was coming and so i limited myself to the blush in "seduction", described simply and accurately as "sangria". it's a deep wine-red with a subtle sheen that you might think would be too dark for someone as pale as me, but which actually falls into a category of shades i love. because it's a nars blush, it's very possible to apply lightly and layer to your desired intensity. on my skin, it gives that fresh wind-kissed look like you get when you've been out for a healthy walk, although i also think it could be used to do a very 18th century doll-cheeks effect. it's more than pigmented enough to show up on deeper skin and it's a neutral enough red to work on either cool or warm skin tones. i think that the wonderful thing about this shade is that it is bold but so flexible that anyone who wants to can wear it.

seduction blush
it might surprise you to know that this isn't even the darkest blush that i own and, in fact, when i went to check it against similar shades in my collection, found that they were darker. mac "fever" is quite matte and warmer as well as noticeably darker. mac "breezy" is pinker and a bit darker. although these two are quite close when swatched, although i find that when used, the sheen on "breezy" is much more apparent.

l to r :: mac fever, seduction, mac breezy
next up, nars launched their new radiant creamy concealer, which is supposed to offer full coverage and, as the name implies, a dewy, light-reflecting finish. i was running low on my latest tube of diorskin nude concealer and decided to give it a try, thinking that the worst that could happen would be that i'd have another concealer that was good, but not great. perhaps it's because my expectations were moderate at best, but i'm quite shocked at how good this stuff is.

like a lot of pale people, i have dark circles under my eyes and that pretty much means that concealer is a necessity for me, especially during periods where i haven't been sleeping well. i also have fine lines around my eyes where concealers can get stuck, forming ugly little fissures and making the lines more obvious. my experience is that most concealers have a problem dealing with either the coverage or the lines. i really like the coverage of mac's prolongwear concealer, but there's no denying that it can make me appear more lined than i actually am. i love the soft texture of diorskin hydrating concealer and that it never gets crimped when i smile, but i also find that it fades considerably during the course of the day, meaning that the coverage gets less as time goes on.

nars radiant creamy concealer is really perfect for my needs. it gives very good coverage, but has an ultra-natural finish and never makes me look like a creasy beasty. there is also something to the "radiant" claim, because i find that it brightens my under-eye area. it doesn't make the skin look shiny, which was a concern, but it does make it look somehow fresher.

take a good look...
because of my recent "plague of boils", i also got to try this one out for coverage on blemishes. because it does offer good coverage and is soft enough to qualify as "hydrating", it's very useful for this as well, but its really special "radiant" finish is kind of lost in this case. it does last extremely well wherever its placed, despite its creamy consistency [usually equates to less wear time] and it doesn't tend to get gunked up in blemishes the way that drier concealers do.

it takes a lot for me to be really excited about a concealer, but this one has a lot to offer. i'm sold.

of course, nars didn't stop there with the complexion products, launching a "light-reflecting setting powder", a finishing powder in loose and pressed format that is supposed to offer a diffused, softened look that refines pores and diminishes the appearance of fine lines while offering- once again- a radiant, glowing finish.

and that's just about exactly what it does.

pores? what pores?
i opted to get the pressed variety, which comes in a lovely little pouch that houses an utterly useless application pad. i hijacked the flocked sponge pad from my deceased dior pressed powder and slipped that in the pocket instead and that works just fine. in the mornings, though i use a soft powder brush to apply it lightly to my forehead and cheeks, carefully avoiding my nose, which doesn't need any help to shine. i just keep the compact with me for touch-ups.

the powder appears very white, but it's almost colourless on the skin. it does indeed soften both lines, making them appear less distinct and blurring imperfections. and boy, does it add a glowy finish. i find that i have to apply it lightly, or else i'm in danger of causing a traffic accident in the morning light. but if you want to shine like a crazy diamond, this is the stuff. i believe that the fact that it is so very reflective would actually make it appropriate for women of colour, because it would be less prone to turning ashy like other white-tinged translucent powders.

what really impressed me about this is that, while it makes my skin feel like it's been wrapped in silk, the powder has a "stickiness" that keeps it adhered for hours. i sometimes touch-up during the day, but it's more out of habit than necessity. this is a finishing powder that sets and stays put, so that your skin looks remarkably fresh for the entire day. although there is some fading, i would say that it's still performing well, sans touch-ups, at the six hour mark and still has a little something going on after eight or nine.

i've heard some describe this as shimmery, but i really don't see it. the powder looks like a  very fine voile, without visible shimmer, which to me would denote particles separate from the base.

how amazing is this powder? on days when i look more bedraggled than usual, it's not uncommon for me to apply this under my eyes. the one giant faux pas for any woman over thirty is supposedly to apply powder where it could get into a wrinkle and call attention to it, but this is so soft and smooth that it just blends right over and makes things... perfect.

and lastly... nars has a new lipstick, a satin version of their lip pencils [to complement the matte and gloss versions they've introduced over the last few years]. i am not crazy about the fact that you have to sharpen nars pencils, rather than just twist them up. it wastes product that you're paying for, but i also find the idea of cleaning lip product out of a sharpener intrinsically gross. so it was a bit of a leap for me to even consider purchasing these. [i have one of the gloss pencils which i got as a points gift from sephora, but have yet to actually purchase any of their other pencil-format lip colours, no matter how gorgeous they look.] but when i tried a couple of these on in the store [note: this is actually where the pencil format is handy, because you just grind away and start with a pristine product each time], i was sold.

in order to try out how they wore, i limited myself to just one to start. i opted for deep brick red "golshan", because it was different than other shades in my collection, but it was tough choosing between that and plum red "hyde park" or bungundy berry "palais royale". honestly, they all share a beautiful formula that's lighter than almost anything, sets to a near-matte finish and leaves lips soft for hours. i wouldn't say that the product is hydrating, in that my lips don't feel softer after i've worn it, but i would say that it guards the moisture that's there, which few lipsticks do, especially ones like this that have a mostly matte finish.

the colour glides on and is perfectly even and opaque in a single pass. it sets quickly and feels like nothing- you'll forget you're wearing it. although it can't survive a meal, the lasting power is good and it leaves a nice, even stain, which is a bit of a sticking point with me. i hate products that become patchy.

given how soft the product is, i'm actually surprised that it doesn't bleed or feather. i noticed some minor feathering after lunch, but that's likely because of the oils in my food and is a pretty common complaint with even the most matte of lipstick formulas.

almost all of the colours are cream finishes, meaning that there's no frost or shimmer to them. as a result, they might be easier to duplicate, but quite honestly, if it's a shade that you wear a lot, or if you do find something that's unique in your collection [i did, and i have a pretty massive collection], it's worth grabbing just to have the formula.

"golshan" is a medium-deep warm brown-red that seems to have a touch of coral to it when seen in the light.

swatched, it looks similar to guerlain "gardner", but gardner has a golden shimmer to it that makes it look both lighter and warmer on the lips. ellis faas "202" is darker and browner.

l to r :: guerlain gardner, golshan, ellis faas 202
as you can see, nars have been up to a lot. what's surprising is just how excellent much of it is. in fact, as loud and proud as the spring colour collection might be, i feel like it's actually the least impressive part of their series of spring launches. all the other products aren't just new takes on what we've seen before, but really innovative, effective new additions [thankfully permanent] that deliver on some pretty hefty promises. there have always been some great, exciting colours available from nars, but now there's a whole slew of new reasons to look at them.

here's a look that combines all the products i've talked about.

the base ::

nars pro-prime primer
korres quercetin and oak foundation "porcelain"
nars radiant creamy concealer "vanilla"
mac paint pot "painterly"
hourglass ambient lighting powder "diffused light" [yellowed white, applied to the points on the centre of my face- forehead, nose, chin]
nars light reflecting setting powder [dusted over my face, avoiding the nose, with special emphasis on brows and cheeks]

the eyes ::

nars e/s duo "vent glace" [shimmery ivory, frosted golden pewter]
tarina tarantino e/s "sparkling ammunition" [frosty khaki, smudged along both lashlines and applied to lower water line]
mac superslick liquid liner "desires and devices" [sparkling swampy brown-green]
cargo lash activator mascara

the cheeks ::

nars blush "seduction" [sangria]

the lips ::

nars satin lip pencil l/s "golshan" [deep brick red]

all products are available direct from, at major department stores and at sephora.


LilJeJa said…
Love the lips!
Kate MacDonald said…
Thanks! I can tell you that this will certainly not be the last of those pencils that joins my collection

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