Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

NARS Oasis Highlighting Blush
NARS Oasis Blush

Quick Vacation to a NARS Oasis

NARS Oasis Blush ($26.00 for 0.16 oz.) is described as a “sparkling pink champagne.” I wonder how they settled on that description, because this shade is extremely difficult to describe aptly!

It actually looks like a rather muddy mess of pink, berry, and gold shimmer in the pan, but it’s quite beautiful when applied onto skin.  It really doesn’t look gorgeous in the pan, as many blushes often do, but don’t judge a book by its cover.  On skin, it becomes a rosy berry mauve with soft flecks of gold shimmer-glitter (not quite glitter, but larger than glitter!). The pigmentation is excellent, and like many NARS blushes, a light hand is a must!  (In fact, you may want to use a stippling brush or have a buffer brush on hand for diffusion of color.)

Despite being neutral to neutral-cool, it wears well on my warmer skin tone (which may be a little tanner, since I spent the weekend outdoors, though I was lathered in SPF for sure!) and is a great alternative to starkly cool pink blushes for those with stronger warm undertones.  There is some glittery bits in this blush, but it’s not overwhelming and doesn’t even seem to translate onto cheeks at all (just seems to disappears into a magical puff of glittery smoke and mirrors!), but cheeks do have a soft, subtle luminous sheen–that doesn’t emphasize pores–when all is said and done.

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Saturday, June 19th, 2010

NARS Pro Prime Skin Smoothing Face Prep

How Pore-less Can You Be?

NARS Skin Smoothing Face Prep ($30.00 for 0.26 oz.) is a skin prepping product, not quite a primer, that’s supposed to minimize the appearance of fine lines and pores to give skin a smoother look.

Get closer to an Immaculate Complexion with NARS Skin Smoothing Face Prep. With one application, skin is smoother and the appearance of fine lines and pores is minimized. A truly multi-use product, it may be used before primer to create a flawlessly matte finish or used throughout the day to combat shine and rejuvenate the complexion. Apply to fine lines, large pores or rough spots for an instant smoothing effect. For all skin types.

I’ve seen some mentions about the product size being small for a primer–but it’s not meant to be used like a primer–perhaps a targeted primer, but even NARS describes it as being used before primer or as a blotting agent during the day. It still feels like it’s on the small size based on packaging, but I don’t see using too much per usage either. However, it does very much the same thing as MAC’s Prep + Prime Line Filler ($19.50 for 0.5 fl. oz.) (review here, swatches here), though Line Filler is listed as a primer.

NARS has a better consistency for on-the-go, since it’s almost like the consistency of a candle (yes, a candle!)–it’s thick and solid–but melts a bit when you apply it to the face or use your fingers to apply. It smooths out well against the skin, and it does minimize the appearance of the lines and imperfections on the back of my hand. It can be applied over or under foundation, but I think it may make a nice blot powder alternative, because of the silicone and silica in it, which both will help to give skin a softer, smoother appearance. The whole effect is very much a diffused, soft focus kind of look.

Because this is loaded with silicones, I didn’t (and won’t be) testing it fully on my face any time soon, so this is only a partial review (and why there is no rating) based on testing it on my hand and playing around for consistency and the like. I did notice that my hand slowly but surely made its way back to its usual state of more visible lines and the like after about two to three hours.

I also applied it on top of my cheeks and around my nose to see how it handled pores (I think mine are getting bigger… I never obsessed over them before, but now I feel like they’re about to become black holes and suck all life into them!).  Even though I didn’t test it for wear over time, the improvement in my fine lines and pores really just wasn’t significant.  It did, however, give my skin a very soft, silky feel when I ran my fingertip over the areas I used the product on, and it had a softer look.  Like as if someone blurred the skin there a bit, but the fine lines underneath my eyes were still as noticeable as ever, even if slightly diffused.

If you have the most minute fine lines and just the beginnings of the slightest wrinkle, this may fade those into oblivion, as it does an impressive job on the back of my hand.  It just didn’t show up to the party so much on my fine lines.  When it came to my pores, the side with the Face Prep looked softer and smoother, but the pores were still there.  It worked (hey, NARS doesn’t say it will erase all, just “minimize”), but it’s just not as effective as I’d want it to be in order to justify adding the product into my routine.

Recommendation:  This might be a nice product for those with more oily skin or for those with oilier and drier areas where a full-on primer may be too much on drier patches of skin.  It’s a product that can be applied both under and over makeup, which is nice, and it could definitely work to help keep the oilies at bay throughout the day.  It might be nice if NARS included a little sponge that fit inside the jar for those afternoon touch-ups, though.  If you’re looking for something to miraculously fill in your fine lines and shrink your pores to nothing, I think you may be disappointed.

Availability: NARS, Sephora.com

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Friday, June 18th, 2010

NARS Niagara Lipstick
NARS Niagara Lipstick

The Summer Season: NARS Niagara Lipstick

NARS Niagara Lipstick ($24.00 for 0.12 oz.) is a smooth shade of lightly brightened coral-pink with a frost-gloss sheen.  It’s not a fully glossy look, but it’s not quite frosty, either.  Thus, frost-gloss sheen texture is born!  The shade is quite pigmented, giving pretty much full, opaque color without having to layer heaps on.  NARS Lipsticks are scent- and taste-free, though they have a little waxy scent to them (which is more of the “natural” scent, e.g. from the ingredients themselves, rather than infused with fragrance).  It’s lighter and not as shimmery as MAC Crosswires, which runs a little more coral, and this one leans a little pinker.

Is this the right coral for you? Would you wear it?

The Summer Season is a series of posts featuring bright, vibrant shades of coral, orange, and pink lipsticks and lipglosses — all perfect for a summer of fun — that runs through July 2010.

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Friday, June 11th, 2010

NARS Lipgloss Sephora Exclusives
NARS Lipgloss: Albatross, Angelika, Luster, Super Orgasm, Oasis

Preview: NARS Sephora Exclusive Lip Glosses

On July 29th, NARS will roll out five limited edition lip glosses at Sephora. Each will retail for $24 and is named after one of their best-selling blushes. The shades include: Albatross (luminous glow), Angelika (cotton candy pink with gold and silver sparkle), Oasis (sparkling pink champagne), Super Orgasm (peachy pink with gold glitter), and Luster (sheer golden apricot).

  • Albatross is a sheer white-gold with pale gold shimmer.
  • Angelika is a semi-sheer brightened blue-based pink with very subtle silver shimmer.
  • Luster is a sheer muted tangerine-peach with copper-gold shimmer.
  • Super Orgasm is a sheer played down pink with gold shimmer.
  • Oasis is a plummy mauve with gold shimmer.

NARS Lip Gloss has a thin, slightly tacky texture.  I found these a little stickier than the average NARS Lip Gloss.  Though I’ve only tried Albatross on my lips, they seemed on the sheerer side (which is standard for the brand’s glosses), so don’t expect a big pop of pigment.  They’re all easy-to-wear, everyday kind of shades.  Angelika is the brightest, but it sheers out quite a bit–it has a creamier, jelly-ish look in comparison to the other four, which definitely have more of a shimmer finish.

(I would happily do lip swatches for you, but these photos were taken at a NARS preview event that I attended in San Francisco yesterday, so all I got are swatches for now! Apologies!)

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Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

NARS Pro-Prime:  Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base

NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base ($24.00 for 0.26 oz.) is much-needed primer addition to NARS’ core range. In addition to the eyeshadow base, NARS also launched their Pro-Prime Face Prep ($30.00) (which, at this time, I am not planning to review).

I picked up a sample tube of the primer with a recent Sephora order, and the sample tube allowed me about four or five uses. From the images I’ve seen online, the packaging is similar–just a longer tube for the full-size version. They both have a doe-foot applicator (like the kind you see in lipgloss). It has an incredibly thin, slightly creamy consistency. When applied, it looks white on the applicator, but it is virtually colorless. This colorlessness is actually my only–albeit marginal and nitpicky–complaint.

It’s so colorless, even from the get-go, that it is difficult to determine where you’ve applied the primer. This makes covering the entire lid a little more difficult than when one would use a colored, even subtly so, primer. I’ve noticed that if I’ve missed an area, that area will look duller and flake, since there is no primer there. The problem is just it’s really difficult to tell if you’ve missed an area!

Aside from that, if you’ve covered your entire lid, it works really well. It lives up to all the claims NARS makes about it: lightweight, extends the wear, smooths the surface, and maximizes color. I didn’t experience any budging, smudging, creasing, or migration when I used this as a primer underneath my eyeshadows. It is a clear, matte primer that merely smooths over the lid and acts to hold and bond all the eyeshadow together. Colors definitely didn’t look muted at all, and they held their intensity throughout the day.

NARS Smudgeproof is most comparable to Urban Decay Primer Potion and Too Faced Shadow Insurance. The consistency is very similar–they are all very thin and a little creamy.  However, NARS definitely feels more velvety once it dries–which is very quickly.  They are all nearly colorless, though NARS is definitely truly colorless–UDPP has a slight nude tone to it and TFSI even less nude. I’ve always found that UDPP seemed to have a slight shimmer to it, and NARS is completely matte (which is a good thing, if you want to keep your matte eyeshadows matte!). Of course, the major difference between the two is the price — UDPP goes for $18 for 0.34 oz. while NARS is $24 for 0.26 oz and TFSI is $17 for 0.35 oz.

Between the three, I’d actually go NARS. I really didn’t think I’d like it more than the other two, but I would. One of the issues I have with TFSI is the product can separate a bit in the tube. I do really like that you can squeeze out what you need and easily apply with a brush. Both NARS and UDPP have doe-foot applicators, but NARS is a simple tube, so it’s not nearly as wasteful as UDPP is. I’ve never finished a bottle of primer in my life, so even if $24 is a higher upfront cost, I really don’t see it not being worth the investment, since a tube should last you many, many uses.

Fun Fact: Ironically, since I revisited my TFSI review, which was made back in 2008–OMG!–TFSI, at the time, was $1 more than UDPP, which was $16.  The whole point?  UDPP has raised its price $2 in two years and is now more expensive than TFSI.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! :)

  • Product: 29/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 4/5

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a lightweight, colorless eyeshadow primer that stays on all day without budging, smudging, or fading, you may want to give NARS Smudgeproof a try.

Availability: Sephora

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Thursday, May 13th, 2010

MAC Marine Life Dupes

MAC Marine Life Dupes — Sorry, Keep Looking

When I think of dupes, I think of something that is pretty close to it — I’m talking 90% or closer — not just similar. There are plenty of similar shades to Marine Life; after all, it’s really just a vibrant coral-red with minimal shimmer in it. NARS Deep Throat and MAC Foolish Me come the closest, though the texture of Deep Throat is obviously different and Foolish Me is a little more orange. It’s not quite as red/orange and intense as Marine Life, but it’s the closest I found of the many shades I do own that were in the running.

  • MAC Ripe Peach (Limited Edition) is lighter, more peach-coral than vibrant red-based coral. Verdict: not really a dupe, maybe a cousin.
  • Benefit CORALista is a pinker, less distinctly coral version with a significant amount of shimmer in comparison. Verdict: not a dupe, but a good friend.
  • MAC Instant Chic (Limited Edition) is much softer pink-coral with a bit of peachiness to it. It has a more powdery look and feel, but it’s so, so subtle. Marine Life is like Instant Chic if it took steroids for a year. Verdict: similar color but so, so much lighter–like a fruit picked too early.
  • MAC Hipness is much pinker in comparison to Marine Life. It’s not quite as intense, and it doesn’t have the strength of the redness that Marine Life as. Hipness is a less shimmery, pinker version of CORALista, though. Verdict: not a dupe, too pink.
  • Illamasqua Hussy is similar in its intensity, but it’s definitely pinker. It’s a more pigmented, matte version of Hipness/CORALista. Verdict: not a dupe, too pink.
  • NARS Super Orgasm is a peachy-pink concoction that pulls a noticeable gold sheen. It has a lot more shimmer (and even Orgasm, which I don’t own, would still be pretty shimmery in comparison). Verdict: not a dupe, too peach, not pink/red enough.
  • MAC Springsheen is very similar to Super Orgasm–it’s that same mix of peach and pink with a gold shimmer-sheen. Verdict: not a dupe, too peach and shimmery.
  • NARS Deep Throat is a pinker version of Super Orgasm/Orgasm, and it’s probably the closest to Marine Life, but it’s still not quite as red or as intense–plus it has the sheen/shimmer that Marine Life definitely doesn’t have. Verdict: almost a dupe, like sisters.
  • MAC Dainty is a sheer peach-coral with a smidgen of pink in it. It’s way too sheer and light to be a great dupe for Marine Life. Verdict: not a dupe, too light and peach.
  • MAC Foolish Me is everything that Marine Life is, except a little more orange.  The two are very similar, both in finish and color, but Foolish Me does run a little on the orange side.  Plus, it’s discontinued, so that sucks. (I thought about this one originally, but it looks so orange in the pan… just swatched it at the last second, and yep, they are indeed surprisingly close.)  Verdict:  similar, like fraternal twins.

I don’t own Fleur Power or Style, but I did swatches here last year, and by referencing those, I can tell you Style is most definitely not a dupe — too orange/peach. Fleur Power comes a little closer, but it seems a bit pinker in comparison to Marine Life.

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