Aug 112013

Nars Creamy Foundation01

Here, I had a preview post on the new Nars Radiant Cream Compact Foundation (currently available here at Sephora, Nordstrom, and also on Nars Cosmetics online). I’ve  had some time to experiment, so I wanted to do a follow-through post. After visiting the store and speaking to some Sephora sales associates, I’ve learned a lot.

Once I learned to work with this foundation, I absolutely loved it. After experimentation, it gave me a complexion as glowing and youthful as I could ever hope for. My honest-to-a-fault husband proclaimed the Nars Radiant Cream Foundation as good as–if not better than–some of the Chanel foundations. So, in my opinion, this is worth investigating.

Nars Creamy Foundation02edit

Note that the compact is sold separately for $10 (also available here at Nordstrom. Although this adds a bit to your first purchase, this is a well designed, sturdy compact with a huge mirror and convenient go-everywhere shape. Once you own it, you won’t be re-buying the compact as the refills pop in and out so easily.

Each foundation tray is $38 for 0.42 ounces. The glowy, gorgeous formula does come with a caution. That it, it is important to keep in mind that Nars recommends that you retain the lid that comes with the foundation on the product while you have it in the compact-in other words:

How to store:

Because of the unique texture, this formula is air sensitive. To ensure the integrity of this product, close inner lid of compact securely after each use and store away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.

This shows how the foundation refills come, and how they can be popped into the compact:

Nars compact demo

I’m speculating, but I wonder whether the fragility of the formula is the reason that the pan size of this Nars Radiant Cream foundation is smaller than the amount that fills jar-filled cream foundations. For example, the Nars is .42 ounce for $38.  By comparison, Laura Mercier Crème Smooth Foundation is $50 for a 1 ounce glass jar, and Giorgio Armani Designer Shaping Cream Foundation is $65 for 1 ounce.  It makes sense that this unique formula–which might be susceptible to drying out–must be kept sealed, and can be quickly replaced at a low cost (rather than charging double for a full larger size, which could go bad if you don’t use it every day).

The Nars Radiant compact formula is dewy and very lightweight, particularly compared to any other cream foundations that I’ve tried. Many cream foundations just feel heavy, a price you needed to pay to get fuller coverage I suppose. Any weight is a little tough for me, I can practically feel my pores clogging. So I avoid them.

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Nars Radiant Cream feels a touch moisturizing but not at all heavy.  This would work beautifully for dry to normal skin, it gives a touch of a glow that is just gorgeous. As the Nars description states:

Blending seamlessly with weightless medium buildable coverage, skin feels soft and comfortable with moisture levels boosted by 80% after 12 hours, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and enhancing skin’s radiance.

Close-up, Nars Radiant Cream foundation minimizes pores, imperfections, and adds a flattering sheeny-glow. It gives a bride-worthy glowit’s really gorgeous. Because the formulation is moisturizing, those with oily skin should still feel free to use it (oily skin needs moisture too). If you find that those will  oily skin are getting too much glow, you will want to use a powder (such as any favorite, or try the Nars Translucent Setting Powder).

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I found that Deauville was absolute perfection for my NC15/Chanel Ivoire skintone. Here are few comparisons with other color foundations that I have in my drawer–Mac Pro Longwear NC15, Make Up For Ever HD Liquid #118, Chanel Lift Lumiere Ivoire, and Chanel Perfection Lumiere in 32 Beige Rose:

Nars  Foundation Swatches Comparisons1

I got some samples of other Nars foundations to test whether the shades are consistent within the line. Here, I found that the colors were almost dead-on identical. Here are the Nars Radiant Cream foundations in Mont Blanc (compared with Nars Mont Blanc Sheer Matte), Nars Fiji Radiant Cream (compared with Fiji Sheer Glow), Nars Radiant Cream in Sante Fe (compared with Nars Sheer Glow in Sante Fe), and Nars Radiant Cream in Tahoe (compared with Nars Sheer Glow in Tahoe). Although I didn’t test all 20 shades, this spot-check gave me confidence that Nars has worked to ensure that you can find your Radiant Compact shade pretty easily if you know your standard Nars shades. I love a consistent line, don’t you?

Nars foundation sample swatches1

I played with my application technique for several days. First, I gave my skin very good preparation–serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen. If you skin doesn’t look it’s best when testing out a new foundation, you won’t be able to tell the quality of the foundation. I then added concealer to problem areas. Armani’s Maestro concealer and MAC Pro Longwear Concealer give the best all-day longevity these days. Here’s what I found:

— I could get sheer coverage by using just a touch of Nars Radiant Foundation with a standard flat foundation brush. This worked well when I did a good job with my concealer. The Nars Radiant Cream foundation is highly build able–I could go all the way to full by adding layers.

— Using the included Nars sponge gave me medium-to-full coverage very quickly. I don’t like a full coverage look on me (especially during the day), so I’m unlikely to do this very much.

— The brush that gave me the best control was the Louise Young LY34 Super Foundation Brush ($41). I’ve seen this brush featured in so many British and UK videos that I was surprised to find that it is sold on Nordstrom online. The size and shape of the brush head gave me almost-perfect control.

 Here’s some pictures of the brush.

Louise Young Foundation Brush1

It looks enormous (it is in reality), but the softly rounded bristles allow you to get in every little tiny area of your face.

Louise Young Foundation Brush2

The Louise Young Super Foundation brush is handy for other compact and cream foundations as well.

As this review is already becoming over-long, here are some highlights:

  •  Yes, the Nars Radiant Cream Compact foundation is an exciting new addition to the makeup line. It is fabulous, and makes my skin look glowing and amazing.
  • The Nars Radiant Cream is moisturizing, and minimizes textual imperfections.
  • Properly prepped, the formula is very flexible and buildable. Choose your tools accordingly for the coverage that you like.  If you like a lighter coverage, just prep your skin well and maybe spot-conceal if you need it. Then add a sheer layer of the Nars Radiant. The enclosed sponge gives full coverage right out of the pan. Other tools (like the Louise Young Super Foundation brush) can help you customize your coverage (and vary it in different areas of your face).

I had to laugh when I heard a random Sephora sales associate exclaiming about the beauty and versatility of the Nars Radiant Cream foundation as I was in a store the other day. I quite agree.

Currently available here at Nordstrom, Sephora, and also on Nars Cosmetics online.

Nars provided the Radiant Cream foundation to Cafe Makeup without charge for consideration for review. This review contains affiliate links (for more information, see About Cafe Makeup).

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  22 Responses to “My Thoughts: Nars Radiant Cream Compact Foundation and Louise Young Super Foundation Brush”

  1. Thanks for the wonderful review!! I was waiting for this as I mentioned I have good match with NARS foundation color but have bad experience for the formulation on my dry skin. This sounds like a winner and I will definitely try it. My questions: have you tried with wet sponge (maybe even something like Beauty Blender)? Also, what about with just fingers? Also, may I ask a bit about how you prep your skin on daily basis (most particularly I’m interested in the sunscreen that you use, and/or any serum in conjunction with it). Thanks in advance, Amy!

    • Hi Claire–I haven’t tried a wet sponge but the Nars website does recommend using a wet sponge for lighter coverage. That’s a good endorsement! I don’t own a beauty blender. I prep my skin differently, depending on the condition it’s in. Right now, I’ve just had five days of plane travel and stuffy hotels, so I prepped it with Perricone MD Formula 15, Perricone MD Cold Plasma, and Tacha Camilla Oil. I like Omovoricza things too. But I have quite a cupboard of skin care, so…. For sunscreen, I’ve been enjoying Chanel SPF 50 lately–it should work well on dry skin. Elta MD’s are nice, as are some of the French brands (La Roche Possay, Avene). I love the French line Institut Estederm’s sun care, but it’s hard to find in the U.S. Again, I have more sunscreens than the average bear, so I don’t want to go on too long about those.

      • Thanks for all your great reviews – Amy, have you tried the new Chanel SPF 50 – they changed the formula – I don’t like it – I emailed Chanel and they said they didn’t change it – If you look at the ingredients – they did. I was able to find an old one at Macy’s a couple of mts ago so I bought that – Have been using this stuff for years and so disappointed that they changed the formula. Just wondered if you have checked out the new formula and appreciate your opinion. Thanks again

        • Ohh Gail, no I haven’t. I saw that the bottle changed but I had just re-bought an SPF 50 in February so I haven’t had a chance to try the new one. That’s tragic. It made such a good foundation base, never clogged pores. Really seemed to work too. I’ll try to get a sample at some point. You know, I think I’d be looking at Shiseido next for a good cosmetic line’s sunscreen if the Chanel is not going to work.

          • Living in Florida – I am pretty familiar w/sunscreen – I loved the old Chanel SPF 50 – used everyday and it did make a great foundation base. I use the Shiseido makeup and the compact for the beach and use the spray for hair/back of neck whatever – I will have to check out the daily one – I tried the Kiehls and Clarins – didn’t like the smell for my face with Kiehls and Clarins was ok – Love Chanel but Shiseido might be the answer – will let you know what I find.

          • Gail–I picked up a lot of color with the Clarins (the SPF 40), although I found it cosmetically elegant. Yes, please let us know!

      • Hi Amy, I must tell you that I tried the Elta MD sunscreen based on your review, good stuff, so thanks so much!! I also like the Chanel SPF 50 but I forgot why I abandon it (maybe because it contains avobenzone? or chemical suncreen? I prefer a more stable physical block). I will check out your Pericone & Omorovicza reviews. I hope you will review the Institut Estederm sunscreen. Thanks again, Amy!

        • The reviews for the Institut Estederm sunscreens that I’ve tried are here and here. Yes, Elta MD does a nice job but there was something about that Chanel….

    • @Claire: I recently tried applying it with a damp Beauty Blender and found I really loved the application. It went on smoothly and while it did sheer it out a little bit, going back over the areas where I wanted a bit more coverage proved to be a cinch and I didn’t end up with any cakiness. I also thought the foundation responded great to a bit more moisture (water from the Beauty Blender), and I personally liked how it look a bit better, particularly around the drier parts of my nose.

  2. Hi Amy,

    I really like the re-usable compact idea — and the affordability of the replacement is nice as well! My favorite part about NARS is the shade range — I think they do such a good job. Deauville was a staple color of mine for some time until I started to get sensitive to the Sheer Glow formula. I’m tempted to try the new Creamy formula and see if it works better for me!

  3. Very nice review and I want to say thank you for the darker swatches, there’s not too many beauty bloggers that swatch them for us so again thank you!

  4. Fantastic review! Found this incredibly helpful with every question I had answered! The foundation also sound brilliant, as I’m already a huge fan of the TM I think I will definitely be having a look at this. So exciting everytime a new great foundation comes out!! x

  5. Sounds great. I hope more reviews will come out soon for this product in which it was tested/written by someone with oilier skin too so I can see how my combination skin might fare. I like the refillable packaging style, but I’m not sure I agree that $38 per refill for less than a half ounce is a low cost price point (even for NARS, since their other 1 ounce foundations mostly sell for $44 each). I’d find the refill more reasonably priced if it was closer to $30, personally! I mean, of course less than THAT would be nice, but I think we all know that’d be ridiculously unlikely. 🙂

  6. Have you had any issues with the longevity? I was so excited about this foundation because I love their Sheer Glow formula, but I feel like this starts to break down on me after only a few hours. Still playing around with different application and skin prep methods, and setting powders.

    • Hi there—no, I have not had issues with longevity. This is true, despite the fact that I’m not using a longevity-type primer under it. I should note that I haven’t tested this in humid weather, but longevity is something that I’m very concerned about. I periodically check all the areas of my face (especially my forehead, which tends to get glowy toward the end of the day–this Nars passed with flying colors.

      If you are looking for a cream-type foundation with extra-super-really-serious longevity alternative, try the Tom Ford foundation stick. Oh. my. goodness. Serious longevity all the time–just beyond. I still haven’t done a review of it, but will try to. Given the price, if you can try it at a counter (or from a store with a GOOD return policy for used makeup) that would be ideal.

  7. Hey Amy!
    I was wondering how does this fare when compared to the Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Compact? They’re both moisturizing cream foundations, but which one do you feel lasts better?

    • Hi Amy (great name by the way!) 🙂

      I never fell in love with the Aqua compact. You’re right–they are a similar idea. Working from my memory to compare them, the Chanel felt heavier to wear, seemed to take more product to get a good build, and gave me way too much glow too quickly. I’d really have to do an updated comparison to be more accurate, I must admit it’s been some time since I’ve tried the Chanel. Perhaps one of our other readers has thoughts?

  8. Ahhh, that was good thinking on their part. All of my cream foundations dried out (especially creamy/gel formulas) before I could use them up. An inner lid makes sense.

  9. Hi Amy. Love your blog, and fantastic review! Two questions:

    1) Is the outer compact really necessary, or could you just store the Nars foundation in its original smaller compact? Does the outer compact help it from drying out further?

    2) Can you PLEASE review the Tom Ford foundation stick??! I’ve had my eye on this for ages but don’t live near a counter to test in person. I’m particularly interested in seeing swatches, as I have light-ish pink toned skin and the very few swatches I’ve seen online look yellow. I would love to read your expert opinion on this foundation!

    • You can use the Nars foundation without the outer shell, I would say best for home use. The plastic case for the refills is thin, and could pop open in a purse or suitcase. Yes, I’m happy to review the Tom Ford Foundation stick–in the meantime, I’ve been matched to shade #3 in the Ford stick (pictured here).

  10. Hi Amy!

    How funny, I get heavier coverage when I use the foundation brush than with the sponge, maybe it’s to do with the brush I use? For all my compact foundations I use the Hourglass retractable kabuki brush.

    But anyways I find this foundation simply gorgeous, and perfect for summer being so light. I actually prefer it to their tinted moisturiser. I guess it’s easier to get a light finish if I sheer this foundation than to build up the tinted moisturiser.


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