Friday, October 28th, 2011

NARS Arabian Nights Eyeshadow Trio

NARS Holiday 2011: Arabian Nights Eyeshadow Trio

Likely one of the most eye-catching pieces from the holiday collection, NARS Arabian Nights Eyeshadow Trio ($45.00 for 0.17 oz.) looks more complex in the pan than it is on the lid. It consists of three shades: black with red pearls, black with purple pearls, and black with gunmetal shimmer. After reading the color description, the colors pretty much live up to the expectations, but they look more interesting in the pan because the colored pearls are more dominant, while applied, they’re all mostly black.

The first shade is a deep, dark burgundy black-brown with wine red shimmer. It’s a better textured MAC Beauty Marked. It’s soft and smooth with good color payoff; it’s the best shade in the palette.

In the middle, there is a deep, dark blue-based black with violet purple flecks of sparkle. The sparkle seemed to stick better than expected in the swatch, but once applied, the sparkle didn’t translate–it ended up just looking like a deep, dark black. This shade is extremely soft, which makes it blendable, though it is prone to sheering out more than desired as well. I recommend patting it on and then softly blending the edges away. I couldn’t think of a decent dupe for this, because it’s not really purple but none of the blacks I’ve swatched that I can remember seem similar.

The last shade in the trio is a chalky, dry, sheer black with silver sparkle. Compared to the pigmentation levels of the other two shades, it’s beyond disappointing! It just doesn’t belong. It’s an inferior NARS Night Breed. Lancome The New Black is one of the better silver-sparkled-black shades I’ve come across to-date.

I didn’t encounter fall out from the first two shades, though the last shade had some issues with fall out, particularly because there was little base color for the sparkle to cling to. I tested out the wear of the middle shade on the lower half of the lid with the first shade on the upper half of the lid and slightly in the crease. They both applied well with opaque, even color and a smooth texture, and I didn’t have any issues with fading or creasing over eight hours (no primer).

With as much of a dud as the last shade is, I couldn’t recommend this palette–when you shell out this much for a trio, you should be able to expect three high quality shades. This is also a palette you’d mix and match with other products you own, since they’re all very, very dark. Even though there is certainly a difference in color between the first and second shades, it’s even subtler when applied to the lid.

The Glossover


Arabian Nights

With as much of a dud as the last shade is, I couldn't recommend this palette--when you shell out this much for a trio, you should be able to expect three high quality shades.











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NARS Arabian Nights Eyeshadow Trio

NARS Arabian Nights Eyeshadow Trio

NARS Arabian Nights Eyeshadow Trio

NARS Arabian Nights Eyeshadow Trio

NARS Arabian Nights Eyeshadow Trio

NARS Arabian Nights Eyeshadow Trio

NARS Arabian Nights Eyeshadow Trio

NARS Arabian Nights Eyeshadow Trio

NARS Arabian Nights Eyeshadow Trio (first and second shade on lid,
MAC Fresh Ice above crease–that was a mistake, boo!hiss! mineralize eyeshadows!)

Product & Review FAQ

Where can I purchase it? How much is it?

NARS, $45.

Is it limited edition?


Any dupes?

See individual shade reviews! :)

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71 thoughts on “NARS Arabian Nights Eyeshadow Trio Review, Photos, Swatches

  1. I just ordered this palette the other day!

  2. Boo, I was looking forward to this. I guess this means I get to keep my $45. :)

  3. Ani_BEE

    That black makes the worst Wet & Wild black look like a rockstar. 😉

  4. Thank you, Christine, for helping me save my money! :)

    On 1st impression, it’s so lovely. Without seeing swatches, I think I would have bought it!

  5. Emily

    hahaha “boo!hiss!”

  6. Georgina

    Amazing how different they look in the pan! I love what I see in the pan. Pity it doesn’t translate the same way on the eye.

  7. Elizabeth

    I agree with this trio not being worth $45 if only two shades are good quality. That is one reason why I did not purchase with the second being they are all pretty much black. I don’t want to have to buy the proper base to make the shadows pop. If I wanted colors like these I’d rather get the UD black palette.

  8. Aurore

    The middle shade reminds me of My dark magic Mineralize eyeshadow which was part of the Venomous Villains Collection.

  9. RM

    The first two shades are so pretty, and then the last one is so “what the heck”?

    I kind of feel like if I tried to use all three shades at once, it would just blend together in a mess of black. :( It looks nice in the pan, at least…

  10. Leah

    I think you’re too generous with a grade of B- on that! $45 for 2 shades that could be easily duped and a third shade that is a poor performer? Such a disappointment, Nars.

    • The scores are averaged – I rate each shade, then add the three scores together, divide by three to get the average (which is what you see here). Two good shades can’t be pulled completely down because of one bad one! :) I think rationally, you can’t justify the $45 price tag any more, but that’s different from the rating. I don’t grade based on originality/uniqueness either – because they most products would be Fs.

  11. Fey

    I cannot accurately express my disappointment in this palette.

  12. I don’t understand how under-performing shades like this make it into production, especially whenit comes to centerpiece items in a collection. Do you have any insight, based on your experience developing your eyeshadow for MAC?

    • Jessica

      I know, and then the same brands still expect us to put 40+ bucks out for those sub-par products… There really is no excuse for charging that price if the product isn’t great…especially when cheaper drugstore products are out-performing them!

  13. Alice

    this is so disappointing D:

  14. :( I was so looking forward to this pallet. I will take it off my list. I have decided I will not buy products just because. If I am putting my money down I want products to deliver. There are many cheaper black sparkly shades that could achieve this look.

  15. Grace h

    So much prettier in the pan. :-/ disappointing!

  16. Ana G.

    Such a miss!! I wouldn’t pay 45$ for this….

  17. tambem quero essa sobras!

  18. artemis

    first 2 shades look cool

  19. Sarah

    I love the name and the colors themselves are beautiful, but may look better as eyeliners on my skin tone, they seem a bit dark for fair skin.

  20. Aly

    $45 for three black-ish colors? No thanks! Lol

  21. M.

    That is so disappointing. The purple shade is gorgeous in the pan. Thanks for the warning!

  22. I think they’re all pretty.

  23. angie

    that mineralize shadow was way too frosty for a blender color…try something like malt, wedge, tete a tint, etc…

    • Daria

      If you read what Christine wrote, she did say that the using the mineralize shadow as a blender was a mistake.

      • I was hoping it was going to be like Vex eyeshadow (which I LOVE with black eyeshadow – it makes it this pretty iridescent icy violet!), so I grabbed it (since it was sitting on my countertop) but the texture and sheerer payoff was not so hot.

        • Nadia

          ITA on Vex with black eyeshadow! Vex is so underrated! It’s gorgeous…I’m wearing it today with Sketch. It looks awesome with Mulch as well.

          • Me too!! I was totally hoping the iridescent pink + white from Fresh Ice was going to pull the same way but mineralize eyeshadows foiled me again!

            • Nadia

              I hear you, I don’t like mineralize eyeshadows either.I fell for them once when I bought Love Connection. I rarely use it. I should just B2M it.

  24. Sass

    All I can say is wow. I think the score should have been around a D. People are raving about it on Youtube. Totally confused here. The swatches don’t lie ya’ll! Pass!

  25. I’m still torn on whether to get this or not. I really want it, but it’s true, if one of the shades is that bad, it may not be worth the price.

  26. Hilary♥

    So disappointed… it looks so gorgeous in the pan!!

  27. S.

    This is why I love your site 😀 I was going to buy this but that last color swatched horribly. I’ll just find dupes for the first two. Nars is disappointing me lately.

  28. cyndi

    i agree its not worth it for $45 theyre just black shades with random glitter i wish they were true to color like in the pan but if i wanna get the same look i can use any black shadow throw some glitter on top

  29. K

    God, the looks you can make with some of this stuff is gorgeous! Also man, it’s so sad about the last shadow cause this palette is beautiful. It’s a shame they didn’t just use Night Breed in it instead.

  30. cassi

    Thank goodness for you! When I saw the first picture I was ooooohing and ahhhing… and THEN I saw the last swatch. Ewww. Thanks for saving me money!!

  31. Melanie


    you just saved me 45 bucks.

  32. Pappetee

    I really wanted to get this beautiful trio e/s before the Sephora FF 2011 expires, but thanks to your honest and fair review and swatches, I think I’m better off buying 2 Chanel single shadows. Or I’ll wait for your possible review (keeping my fingers cross now) of the upcoming NARS Hanamichi Kabuki e/s palette. :-) The NARS Arabian Nights Trio e/s reminds me of UD Black Palette, which looks pretty in the pan but was a disappointment to apply.

  33. Aw man. Another item to not purchase. I’m just glad I found out now instead of in store while swatching. :( I had such high hopes for this one too but it looks like the colors in Urban Decay’s Black Palette. More black then color (unless you use Fyriannae’s Pixie Epoxy then the colors might come out). C’est la vie.

  34. Karlie Tipton

    Nars “Night” colors always look so beautiful in the pan, but I’m usually unimpressed with the results. Oh well…

  35. I was looking forward for your review of this trio and glad I waited! The swatch just doesn’t look anything like in the pan. Thank you for saving my money :)

  36. cords

    The colours in the pan are phenomenal, but it swatches so poorly id rather keep my money unfortunately

  37. Glad I read your review before I purchased it. It looked so different in the pan but the swatches don’t look that special to me. I never have much luck with NARS shimmer shadows so I don’t know why I am surprised really…!

  38. Very nice but it’s pretty dupeable!!

  39. Katie

    i wont be getting this one…the last swatch is horrible! you are right…in a palette priced $45, all the shades should be high quality.

  40. After seeing it on christina’s eyes I actually love it

    But I already have sparkly blacks, such as the victoria secret eyeshadow and MAC dark soul pigment

  41. What’s the white eyeshadow u have on with it?? That’s not in the palette. And when does this release p

  42. Veronica

    That’s disappointing. It would make such a great color trio if it was better quality.

  43. Lotus

    So glad you saved me from buying this. It’s too bad. The colors look so beautiful in the pan!

  44. Maya

    I saw this today and it was a complete disappointment. All the colors looked stunning in the pan and like a boring black when swatched

  45. Layla

    so disappointing! they looked incredibly nice in the palette, was going to add that to my christmas wishlist! :( Christine, i thought u just swatched one of the colours 3 times…seriously! 😛

  46. Hunter

    I have to say, I swatched this in the store with primer on the back of my hand and they looked gorgeous. Nothing like these swatches show. You can’t expect a shadow to look beautiful with no primer. I found this palette to be gorgeous, and worth the money.

    • Maybe NARS should update their description and state that their eyeshadows need to be worn over a primer if that’s the case! :) I fully expect a product to perform as the brand describes it to, so if they say it can be worn alone, then it should perform well alone. Many, many eyeshadows look gorgeous without a primer IMO! A really good eyeshadow will look as good with a primer as it does without. The pigmentation/payoff of an eyeshadow can be excellent without the aid of a primer.

    • I would also like to see how this looks swathed over a primer because, to be honest, I don’t wear any makeup without a primer. Nothing lasts me for hours on bare skin and also, most eyeshadows, no matter which brand I’m talking about look way better with a primer underneath.

      • I don’t believe in swatching for reviews over primer. :) NARS says it should last on its own and perform well on its own – this is the very basis of every review here on Temptalia: how well does a product meet the stated claims by the brand? Why should we lower our expectations? A truly great eyeshadow needs nothing to perform well. I’ve shown that many times here on Temptalia; there are many brands who get it right. NARS can get it right. They didn’t here.

        • Hunter

          I have to agree with Vesna, being as oily as I am I wear an eye primer every day. Plus it just makes the pigment look really good. It doesn’t say on the NARS website that this should/can be worn without primer, and since most brands, NARS included, makes an eye primer, I think it’s safe to say their makeup artists are using an eye primer in their ad campaigns, etc. I think it’s only fair to the brand/product to swatch fairly :) Just a thought.

          • When a brand specifically describes their eyeshadows are highly pigmented, long-wearing, and crease-resistant, I’m not sure why I should assume they need to be used over a base to actually be those very things. They’re literally describing their powder formula to encapsulate these characteristics. Brands decide how they want to market their products; not even their “artist tips” say “Make sure you use a primer!” Come to think of it – did NARS even have an eyeshadow primer prior to Smudgeproof, which only came out in the past 1-2 years? I tried to Google for it, because I don’t remember one, though I didn’t turn anything up in the first page. Brands offer lots of products so they can provide as many things as you may want from them, but just because there’s a lip primer, does that mean it’s OK if a lipstick says it’s long-wearing and only lasts an hour? I appreciate your suggestion but find what you ask to be the complete opposite of fair – almost deceptive and kowtowing to brands who overstate their claims and product efficacy.

            Here are the descriptions from NARS:

            “Modern, unique, sometimes unexpected color combinations of eyeshadow shades. Worn alone or together, all Duo Eyeshadow shades feature micro-fine powders that are highly pigminted, longwearing and crease resistant.

            “Highly pigmented, velvety-matte, ultra-fine powders for shading, creating depth and lining eyes. Long-wearing, crease-resistant colors glide on smoothly and evenly and blend effortlessly. Can be applied sheer or layered for a more dramatic effect.”

            “Lumionous, light-reflecting shades for shading, highlighting, and lining eyes. Highly pigminted, longwearing, crease resistant colors that can be applied sheer or layered for more dramatic effects. Color glides on smoothly, evenly and blends effortlessly.”

  47. MissMercurial

    ASDFGHJKL; need that second shade like nowwww. Brb checking if any of my fave mmu companies make something similar…

  48. Harleigh

    Unfortunately, this is par for the course for NARS’ sparkly shadows.

  49. Heather

    Actually Revlon has a holiday collection out now featuring MUA Gucci Westman and it has similar colors (plus a blueish-teal glitter) but they are all packaged as singles. I believe they are under $10 each and at Walgreen’s all Revlon products are buy one, get one 50% off. There is a really nice lip palette included in the collection. The main color is a Train Bleu (my new favorite) dupe plus it has 4 other glosses in clear, silver glitter, nude and fuchsia. I picked that up for 6 or 7 dollars. Sadly, I think I may return my trio and try the cheaper singles.
    I really had high hopes for this trio. I just cannot get the colors to stick to my lids. I’ve tried with and without primer and I even did a soft eyeliner scribble underneath, nothing is working for me. I’m extremely happy with the Holiday duo though. I was adding an antique gold color along with it to make it pop but I discovered that using a wet brush in the side with the gold shimmer does the trick without adding another color. A wet brush picks up gold galore! And it looks awesome with Train Bleu!

  50. Wow, it is gorgeous! But $45 is crazy.

  51. This bad swatching reminds me of UD Black Palette. Looks nice on the pan…but once you swatch it, all the colors look black and muddy regardless of what the colour differentiation is on the pan.

  52. lafemmetopaz

    I actually love this palette. One color is actually part of the night series, at least in my opinion. The black with red pearls is the shadow night fever.

    I bought it this weekend, I’m a WOC and the shadows are fabulous on my dark/deep skin tone. Also, I tried them with two different bases; Benefit creaseless cream Birthday suit and the other Bobbi Brown’s long wear cream eyeshadow in Galaxy.

    Christine, maybe you should give them a try again using a base underneath.

    • The look you see in the post is without a base – and the other eye I used a base (because I test out the wear for both with and without a primer) – they looked the same :)

  53. Eva

    I got these at work and was very disappointed because the colours when applied don’t look anything like in the pan. With the flash there is a difference, but in real life there is no difference between the shades and they don’t glimmer very much either. If you’re thinking of wearing these in club or at night they all might as be the same shade. If you want glimmering dark go for Meekong (Nars), the shimmer is amazing.

  54. Stephanie

    The first two shades on this trio pallet (NARS Arabian Nights Holiday 2011 Collection) would be good dupes for MAC’s She Who Dares (the purple and pink) from the Venemous Villain’s collection, would you think???? That’s what they reminded me of with the pink and purple sparkles. So for those that weren’t able to catch that eyeshadow could possibly use this instead. (And the last shade would be a dupe for Cinderfella from MAC as well….)

  55. Marisel

    When will you start doing tutorials again? I loved your looks.

  56. CoralWings

    They all look kinda black XD I like this though, might get my mum this on Christmas, she loves these shades!