NARS Powder

Nars Loose Translucent Crystal Setting Powder

February 2, 2013

Nars Translucent Crystal Loose 2

Nars Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder in Crystal ($34 / .035 oz.) (now available at, Nars Cosmetics online and is the loose powder version of the Nars Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder previously reviewed here. Both sell for the same $34 price point. The loose version contains more product by weight (.035 oz. for the loose, and .24 oz. for the pressed), however the pressed has the convenience of the purse-friendly compact and mirror.

Nars Translucent Crystal Loose 3

I’ve found that, with the qualification that they be properly applied, both provide me with the same airbrushed-photoshop effect. I absolutely love it. By the way, you must, MUST see this comparison picture on Beautylish. Seriously, even if you don’t think you are interested in this powder…. well, you just should know about it.

Nars Translucent Crystal Loose

The reason that I’ve been delaying this review is that I’ve really been working with the loose vs. pressed question. When I first applied the loose Nars Light Reflecting Translucent, I used the same type of brush that I used with the pressed. However, I found that this gave me an overly powdery look.

Nars Translucent Crystal 4

I did not use quite this much, I swear.

After experimenting, I found that I’ve got to use a very light touch (sometimes, a duo-fiber brush), and then buff, buff, buff. This method of application gave me a seriously glowing-matte perfection finish that made my makeup last all day. The all-day effect actually got better as the day went along, as my natural oils mixed with the product.  Although this doesn’t prevent oil from coming from the skin, on me it did prevent me from getting the overly-shiny glow that becomes so prominent after 6-8 hours.

My application tip of the day, and I cannot stress this enough, is less is more. You need only the tiny, tiniest bit to really make your skin look amazing. And buff, buff, buff this into the skin so that it really melds with your foundation. Less. Is. So. Totally. More.

So, which to buy? Here are my thoughts:

  • The compact is for travel convenience and super-fast application. I seem to be able to pick up any random powder brush in my cup and whisk on the compact version with the greatest of ease. I haven’t had to re-apply this yet during the day as it is quite long-lasting. However, for travel there is something so effortless about tucking this into the pocket of a carry-on.


  • I had a slight–and I repeat–slight preference for the look of the loose. If I were going into a 16 hour work day, a wedding, or any event where I wanted my skin to be free of perceived imperfection, I’d choose the loose. If I had a less hectic travel schedule, I’d go with the loose as well.

Bottom line–I love these. Love. You must check these out. But don’t let someone layer too much on you. Properly applied, these really make my foundation and blush last all day and make my skin look a bit like luminous velvet. Or, as close as my skin can get to luminous velvet. There is a mattifying effect, but the lightness of the powder doesn’t look aging or layered so long as you use a very small amount and buff, buff, buff.

Available at,, and Nars and elsewhere.

 This product was provided to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review. This review contains affiliate links (please see About Cafe Makeup for more information)

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  • C. J. February 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I reviewed both as well and I do slightly prefer the loose. I think its just more finely milled or something that just sinks into the skin. Love your review and the link to beautylish!

    • Amy February 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      Thank you CJ–for a review of these products by a woman of color, see CJ’s video review here.

      • C. J. February 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm

        Oh! Thanks so much for posting my link thats much appreciated!

  • Marie February 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks for the review and the tips on how to apply it. You just sold me on the loose formula. 🙂
    Do you think using a flat-top kabuki brush is a good idea to apply this powder? Or a regular kabuki brush?

    • Amy February 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      I think a kabuki will give you too much product, although “your mileage may vary” as always. I used a MAC 187 duo fiber brush dipped very lightly, shook it off and buffed it in with the same brush. Hope this helps! 🙂

      • Marie February 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm

        It does help a lot, thank you. 🙂

  • TrishB February 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Still don’t know what to do. The second Beautylish pic was washed out in every parameter compared to the first pic. Not really getting a a good comparison from that link at all.

    • Amy February 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      Hmm, her hair, eyes and lips look the same (or very very close) to me in both pictures (I’m on a big Mac monitor). It’s a pretty new product. Maybe wait till you can try it at a counter (or find a way to sample)?

    • Emi at Project Swatch February 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      Hmmm, I have to agree with this – the two Beautylish photos are a bit different – I wouldn’t call the second one washed out, but it is a bit lighter on my monitor.

      I’m definitely going to look at these powders though, I’m quite intrigued!

    • C. J. February 2, 2013 at 9:15 pm

      One side has the powder, one side doesn’t…. It really does work…. Maybe you can see the differences here….

  • Gail February 2, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks for the great review. I definitely see the difference on Beautylish so thanks for that link too. Does this powder contain bismuth?

    • Amy February 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm

      My sample didn’t come with the box (so I didn’t get the ingredient list). Here is Sephora’s ingredient list, which doesn’t list bismuth. However, it does use some open ended terms like “polymers”? Perhaps there will be a more complete ingredient list when it’s released on Nars website?

  • laura February 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I tried both and bought the compact because it is portable. Thank you, Amy, for this review. I am not a Nars fan but this is a good powder. I have combo skin that still can get oily on my nose (despite the cold weather) and this did a very nice job of helping it to stay matte. I wouldn’t call this a mattifying powder, but it didn’t work against me. I wear a powder foundation (By Terry) and had no problems. As a side note, I much prefer the Nars to the By Terry Hydra Powder, which has claims to blur pores and provide “correction.”

    When I tried the loose powder, it happened to be about 4pm on Thursday. Everyone needs help at this time of day, no? I had a full face of MU on and the powder did pull everything together. I looked refreshed as though my MU was recently applied. RIght now I am about NC10, and am thankful that this colorless powder doesn’t make me look even more pale.

    Nice job, Nars.


  • Meghan February 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    I want the pressed powder so bad! I’m a college student and I don’t have time for lengthy touchups during the day, and this just seems like it’d be perfect. To the NARS counter I go!

  • Dovey February 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Hi Amy, I enjoyed the thought you put into this review, especially on the loose vs compact comparison. I’m really hoping to try this in person sometime— and see how the functionality and ingredient list compares to MUFE’s HD!

  • Jenni February 3, 2013 at 2:37 am

    Thanks for the comparison! I’d choose the loose version since it seems to allow a lighter application than the pressed one!

  • LOU February 3, 2013 at 4:01 am

    I am using Too Faced Primed and Poreless at the moment and I quite like them, nevertheless, I’ll be heading to a Nars counter as soon as I finish them. These Nars powders look fantastic!

  • Gauri February 3, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Value for money!! Yay!! 🙂

  • grlnxdor February 3, 2013 at 8:07 am

    I’ve been using Nars Nico which is considered a blush as my finishing powder lately. I like it but it does my oily forehead no favors. I need to look into this product when the Nico is gone. Great review as always!

  • Celena February 3, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Hi! Can you tell me whether these compare with Guerlain’s meteorites, and if so, which you prefer?

    • Amy February 3, 2013 at 9:12 am

      Guerlain, as invisible as it is, does add color and a slight touch of powder (it’s finely milled but still). The Nars is more “you but better.” They really are different products.

  • Gail February 3, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    How does this compare w/MAC Prep & Prime – they make a loose and a pressed – and I have tried them & do like them – but trying to use all my Chanel powders up first.

    • Amy February 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      I’m sorry I’ve never used MAC Prep & Prime. I have read that MAC’s doesn’t do well in flash photos. Perhaps another reader can weigh in?

  • Beth Maiorana February 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I hope you answer this for me: I am fifty-eight, NC 20, dry skin, and really really wish to set my face with a lovely powder. I cannot bear to think that I, too, cannot use these beautiful powders. I am so intrigued by the new NARS Illuminating line and want to try. I really appreciate your comments/cautions about application of this. I think that is so overlooked, and does seems so very important. I do apply powder to set my makeup, but I do have to use a light hand and only use it on my “T zone” ususally. Thank you so much for this informative post- I am encouraged!! Glad I found your site this afternoon … xoxo Beth in Pgh 😉

    • Amy February 3, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      Beth, I recommend this powder to you. It has a lovely blurring effect. As someone who isn’t a teenager either, I emphasize that less is more with this one. Do not pack it on, but just use the tiniest bit. It’s been my experience that heavy powder application looks dry and aging. This Nars is appropriate for your age, in my opinion, it should have a very slight blur effect so long as one doesn’t apply too much it won’t be aging.

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