Feb 152011

One of the most edgy items from Nars Spring 2011 collection is Nana Lip Glosss ($24), described as a “deep black grape” that is “quintessentially French.”  As anyone who loves Chanel Rouge Noir as much as I do knows, a deep vampy lip is an essential part of a women’s color wardrobe.  My question was whether this gloss had the same power as the famous deep red-black lipsticks.  You can see a runway deep lip on pale models at this recap of Theyskens’ Theory show earlier this week at New York Fashion Week (MAC was used there).  Could Nars Nana let the deep lip translate to women in the real world?

I have to admit, the tube of the NARS Lip Gloss looks pretty cool.  It’s rare to see a lipgloss with that deep pigmentation in a department store line:

“Deep purple grape” certainly describes how the product looks in the tube, although I found more red in the color when applied:

Nars Nana absolutely fits within the vampy dark lipstick category.  Here, swatches compare with Guerlain Rouge G in Bee (reviewed here), and Chanel Hydrabase in Rouge Noir and Rouge Coco in Rouge Noir (both here).

My thoughts:

  • Nana is a gorgeous deep wine color.
  • It applies with a cushiony gel feel, with minimal stickiness.
  • It is super pigmented,  you can get the super-pigmented deep vampy lip pretty easily.
  • It is relatively long-lasting for a gloss (a few hours with sips).
  • The texture is very high gloss, in a good way.
  • One point of caution–this sinks into liplines.  It shows it all.  There are glosses that skim over the texture, Nana is not one of them.
  • Another point of caution–the super pigmented gloss is unforgiving when you apply it.  Small mistakes show.  Be ready for clean up.
  • Third point of caution-it’s a little tough to spread this evenly.  It grabs and pulls as you put it on, even when your lips are newly exfoliated.

If you want my advice, use a lipliner with this gloss. I grabbed Chanel Beige, and it created a little cushion fill between my lips and the gloss.  Although Chanel Beige diluted the strong color, you won’t have that effect with a deeper lipliner.

Here’s Nana on Liz with no lipliner (just Nana gloss, nothing else):

You might say that Liz is quite an expert at applying gloss by now, she’s been wearing Chanel Glossimers since she was thirteen (not a typo). The uneveness that you see is not because she isn’t applying it properly-she knows how to apply lipgloss (it’s a lip. gloss.) and this is still our result.  I found that the gloss applies much, much smoother over a lipliner.  But we wanted to give you the straight up pure gloss version, ’cause that’s how we roll.

Here’s Nana over Nars Pure Matte Lipstick in Madere (reviewed here):

As with Madere, Nars Nana is a niche product that requires some thought and care.  Not for everyone.  If you’re into the vampy look, and go with a good lipliner, you’ll adore Nana.

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Feb 142011

Because I’m obsessed with edgy neutrals, I had to try NARS Pure Matte Lipstick in Madere ($25), released for Spring 2011.  This is a very light matte nude that nearly matches my NC15 skintone.

Mattes are tricky, nude mattes are even trickier.  About five years ago, Angelina Jolie seemed to wear a matte nude everywhere.  She made Guerlain’s Divorna 480 famous by suggesting it was her favorite shade (it was discontinued a few years later).  Jolie did not become famous by cultivating a girl-next-door image.  The matte nude lip complimented her other-worldly glamour.  As you can from the movie poster (below) matte nude lipstick can look drying on even the most glamorous celebrity.  It seems to go with the territory.

NARS Madere is lighter and slightly pinker than Guerlain’s Divorna 480.  Chanel Rouge Allure Mythic is between them in tone, but has a glossier, moisturizing texture (and avoids the drying effect by forgoing attempts for the matte effect).  If your monitor is not very sharp, you might not see NARS Madere on the far left:

Liz and I tried Madere and, predictably, found the lipstick nearly matched our skintone.  This light matte color nearly disappears.  Liz disliked both the drying effect and the color, I thought this is pretty normal for a matte nude:

On Friday, I saw that Francois Nars used the Pure Matte Lipstick in Madere on the Thankoon runway for New York Fashion Week, topped with the Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil in Hopi:

I began to suspect that there was more than meets the eye to Madere.  Liz and I tried Madere lipstick with Hopi lip pencil ($24) (review forthcoming), to see if we could recreate the look:

The Velvet Gloss lip pencil changed Madere completely, giving it a glossy gold finish.

I tried Madere topped with the deep purple Nana Lipgloss ($24) (review here) which is a highly pigmented deep purple gloss. Madere provided a neutral, creamy base that made Nana sparkle and shine.  The look was very modern and edgy, and I absolutely loved it.  Below is a picture on Liz.  Although Liz still wasn’t sold, I loved the Madere/Nana combination, in part because my skin tones are more mauve-based (Liz’s undertones are more pink), and also because our tastes are different:

Here, we compared Nars Velvet Gloss Pencil in New Lover.  On the left, no base or lipliner (just the pencil).  On the right, New Lover is applied over Madere:

NARS Madere Pure Matte lipstick is a niche product, targeted to those looking for an unusual and edgy look.  I was ready to return Madere on the first few tries, but now I realize that I’m going to be able to achieve some interesting looks with it.

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Feb 102011



NARS has just released six beautiful shades of Velvet Gloss Lip Pencils ($24 each), including one in New Lover. This shade is a deep rose with a touch of coral and gold shimmer, and it is absolutely beautiful when applied.  When this arrived, I was intrigued to find that this beautiful deep color was highly wearable, unique and flattering.  I did not suspect that I would own it for so short a time…

These chubby pencils come with a glossy center product that seems to take on a life of its own when applied to the lips. We don’t use a pencil, direct is best.

Nars New Lover and Boy 3

Most stores that carry NARS will sell this dual sharpener ($6), shown here closed (left) and open (on the right).   Sephora’s version ($3) works too:

When Liz and I started playing with New Lover, we both fell in love with it.  It gives very flattering color to the lips, in a word it looks expensive.  Gorgeous.  Of course, Liz persuaded me that New Lover really needed to go back to college with her when she leaves again.  And that is how I lost my NARS New Lover pencil.

Below, Liz is wearing New Lover with no lipliner, base or topcoat.  All you see on the lips is the New Lover pencil.

NARS New Lover alone

I found that New Lover is very soft and glossy for a pencil.  It doesn’t have the creaminess of a lipstick, and so those with liplines or roughness may wish to exfoliate before application.  The texture of the product seems to cling a little closer to the skin than a typical gloss or lipstick, so every imperfection can show.  Close up of NARS New Lover (again, no lipliner, base or gloss).  It’s remarkably glossy, and you can see the gold shimmer throughout:

We decided to see how NARS New Lover would look topped with Chanel’s Rouge Coco Shine in Boy, just to play at little bit.  Liz dabbed some on, without bothering to use a mirror.

As I said in my earlier review, Boy is a very easy-t0-use lipstick.

Here is the final effect, with NARS New Lover topped with Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Boy.  The rest of Liz’s makeup breakdown is here.  Adding the Rouge Coco Shine seemed to smooth out the appearance, and make any small liplines melt a bit and pulled the color pink.

By the way, Liz’s tshirt is Alexander Wang and the necklace is from J. Crew.

I think I need to order a few more of the NARS pencils– maybe in duplicate.

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Feb 062011

I had a few reader requests to compared the Spring 2011 NARS Calanque Trio with Urban Decay’s Naked Palette.  Here are the results, together with some thoughts about the NARS Calanque now that I have been living with it for a few days.

NARS lightest shade is more olive compared with Urban Decay’s Virgin and Sin, both of which have a softer pink tone by comparison.  By far, the biggest difference between these colors is the texture.  The Urban Decay is soft and buttery, with virtually no fallout.  NARS has fallout, which I could control somewhat by patting the shadow on the lid.

However, over the pasts few days I have noticed that the NARS lightest shade does go on in patches both on the arm and the lids–the texture of this eyeshadow does not meld to the skin like Urban Decay’s shadows do.  Instead, there are areas of the skin to which this shade does adhere, and others where it does not.  Unfortunately, I noticed that this did not adhere smoothly to my brow bone either.  Also, the NARS does have far more sparkle that Urban Decay’s lightest tones.  I found this amount of sparkle overwhelming on the brow bone.

NARS middle shade is a soft latte creamy brown with a sheen.  You can see that Calanque’s middle shade is lighter than the deeper, matte Naked and Buck colors from Urban Decay.

NARS deepest shade leans very slightly more olive green than the deeper brown Darkhorse and more bronze Smog:

Since living with NARS Calanque for a few days, I’ve concluded that it doesn’t work for me.  Although I love the two deeper shades, the lightest shade goes on too patchy and sparkly to reach for with any frequency.   As you can see, these two palettes are roughly the same price and Urban Decay’s texture on the lightest shades is far more wearable.  In the meantime, I’ve seen that Best Things in Beauty and The Beauty Look Book are concluding similarly.  Although you might find Calanque workable with a cream base, after several attempts I’ve concluded that there are too many other options out there that don’t require that level of effort for a similar or lower price point.

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Feb 032011

NARS Tainted Love set ($59) is a limited edition Valentine’s Day set of three items based on three gorgeous cool, saturated pinks:

  • Angelika Multiple (0.5 oz)
  • Angelika Lipgloss (.28 oz)
  • Schiap Nail Polish (.5 oz)

Together, these items total roughly $80 if purchased at full retail, so the price is right.  The Angelika Multiple is only available in this set right now. The Angelika Lipgloss ($24) is available separately (NARS, Nordstrom.com, Sephora.com).  NARS Schiap nail polish ($17) has been available separately since last year (it’s on NARS site now).

Besides being named after the greatest break-up song of all time, the set provides a striking set of coordinated colors.  I love cool pinks on my warm, fair skin tone–one of my favorite blushes is Chanel Turbulent–so when this went up for sale on Nordstrom.com, I ordered.

Although I found NARS powder blush in Angelika too cool and sparkly (mine was gifted to Liz), I found the Angelika Multiple far more wearable.  It’s a creamy blue-pink with subtle sparkles, and gives a really pretty in-from-the-cold glow.  But I also think that this one will look good all year round.

How gorgeous is this color over a Summer bronzer?  Love it!!  I drew it on my cheeks and blended with my fingers.  Some women prefer to apply creamy products with a foundation brush, which would work well for this product if you fit that category.

Here is Nars Multiple swatched next to Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge in Pale Pink, Make Up For Ever in #4 Walk of Shame, and NARS Multiple Pink in Cadaques.  You can see how sheer the NARS Multiple Tint is compared to the creamy Angelika Multiple:

Although this set just arrived, I popped the Angelika Multiple on and found it very workable, and quite pretty.  I found if much more wearable than the powder blush version, which had much more obvious sparkle and seemed too cool and powdery-looking for me.

NARS Angelika Lipgloss is a very cool bright pink, but rather sheer.  I found it added a pretty pink with a touch of lavender color to my pigmented lips, but did not cover them with color.  The sheerness keeps it very fresh and wearable on my warm skin tone.

Here is NARS Angelika lipgloss compared to:

  • Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss in Imaginaire
  • Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss in Confidence
  • Chanel Glossimer in Courtisane
  • Chanel Aqualumiere Gloss in Diamond Rose
  • Chanel Glossimer in Nakkar
  • Chanel Glossimer in Pink Teaser
  • Chanel Glossimer in Pink Pulsion

Very cool pink compared to the others:

NARS Schiap nail polish is a sweet cool pink polish that evokes Chanel Boa and Riviera.  Schiap Nail Polish has been released before, and because of the late hour, I’m going to link to The Beauty Look Book’s comparisons that seem color accurate to my eye.  For fun, I’m including these bottle pictures.  I found this formula was thinner than Chanel Riviera.  NARS Schiap looks pretty good with two coats, but really needs three to eliminate the visibility of my nail line.  It’s got a nice shine, but really starts to sing with a topcoat, so I’d recommend using one (I’ve used Poshe, but others will do).

For me, this set has two great products (the lipgloss and multiple) and a fairly nice nail polish.  The price is good, and I find this bright pink color irresistible.  I’ve never been big on candy or flowers as a gift-this sweet little set will keep you looking pretty for months and so makes a much better gift.

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Feb 032011

EDIT: Since posting this “first look” review, I have posted comparisons with Urban Decay’s Naked Palette and have further thoughts about the Calanque Trio here.

NARS Calanque Trio ($45) is a limited edition palette released for Spring 2011.  This is my first experience with a NARS trio.  This comes is the same standard sized palettes as NARS eyeshadow duo’s and blushes, with a full sized mirror in the lid.

There are three colors pressed together into a single pan:

  • The lightest shade, a light gold infused with platinum, cream and silver sparkles
  • The center carmel with a pearl texture
  • The deep green infused with bronze and gold

Continue reading »

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Jan 282011

NARS Nouveau Monde ($32) duo eyeshadow palette is new for Spring 2011, and is the perfect solution for  a very easy, sophisticated eye.  There are two medium-shimmer colors.  On the left is a soft, shimmery grey-lavender that adds luminosity without being jejune or overwhelming.  As a person with warm skin tones, I have to be careful about wearing lavenders, as it almost the opposite of my skin tone some lavenders can overwhelm or look cartoonish.  Fortunately, NARS understands colors so well, because there is not a hint of shrill tones–instead, this heathery lavender is very grown-up, very finely milled, and sets off my blue-green eyes perfectly.

The right green is a rich mossy-khaki green, that has a slightly more rich and soft metal tone.  It’s absolutely gorgeous, and quite complex.  It’s shockingly easy to do a very beautiful eye with these tones.  First, I tried a wash of the lavender on my lid with my MAC 217, then placed the green in my crease, smoked above it toward the brow bone.  It was perfect.

Another idea is to use the lavender as the lid color, and the green as a liner, smoked up in the outer corner.

Third, it’s quite easy to use the green as the main lid color, and a touch of the lavender in the center of the lid as a highlight.

Although these may not appear to be traditional pastel colors, they pair perfectly with the minimal neutrals that fashion is presenting this Spring.  Consider how gorgeous would this palette look with these soft, modern tones from Phillip Lim:

This is the type of palette that will carry into Summer:

Here’s some suggestions for coordinating the shade with other colors-here, with NARS Sex Appeal blush, OPI’s Not Like the Movies (Katy Perry collection), which goes really nicely with the lavender shadow of Nouveau Monde.  They both have a very silvery, light soft lavender glow.

Think about adding a peach or neutral lip (here, either Chanel Rouge Coco in Patchouli or Peregrina), or a very soft sheer cool pink, like Le Metier de Beaute Cap d’Antibes (not pictured, review to follow).  For me, the key is to keep the rest of the makeup luminous and with some sheerness, and keep in mind that the Nouveau Monde duo’s lavender side is a touch on the cool grey side.  I wouldn’t weigh this down with a bright or opaque tone, at least for my coloring:

Here are some swatches and comparisons–the lavender shade of Nouveau Monde with Chanel Lavande single eyeshadow.  For the mossy khaki green of Nouveau Monde, I compared this with MAC’s Scarab (from the Catherine Deneuve collection), Chanel Vert Khaki and Chanel Khaki:

The texture of Nouveau Monde is just perfection–the light shade is luminous and believable, the deep shade is rich and buttery.  Love this duo!

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Dec 182010

This year’s Holiday makeup has been all about shimmer, shine and metal.  Several collections were quite large, offering something for literally almost everyone.  Others were narrow and theme-focused.  After living with some of my choices for a few months, I thought it would be fun to review some of this season’s favorites.

First, Geurlain Perles D’Or Metorites, reviewed here.  A surprise hit for me, I’ve used them more than I could have imagined, and will continue to do so.  No coverage, just a beautiful, glowing finish when used as an overall powder.  True love.

Continue reading »

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Nov 052010

NARS Holiday 2010 collection includes Bad Influence ($16), another addition to the taupe nail trend (also discussed here and here).  Overall, NARS Bad Influence is the closest polish that I’ve seen to Chanel’s Particuliere ($23)–the colors are nearly identical.  NARS is slightly more neutral/gray and the faintest touch darker in normal light.  Also, NARS is ever-so-slightly thinner in consistency, although both should be applied using two coats to full opacity.

This leaves the final differentiator–the price.  NARS is $16, Chanel is $23.  But, well, it is Chanel.

Here are some very quick swatches that I did this afternoon, with Nars Bad Influence in the center, Chanel Particuliere above, and just for fun Deborah Lippmann’s Waking up in Vegas at the bottom:

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Nov 022010

Nars Holiday 2010 include Etrusque eyeshadow ($23), perhaps named for the ancient civilization that is now part of Italy renowned for its gold metalwork.  Etruscan is a truly unique eyeshadow-the pigmentation, softness and blend-ability of this eyeshadow are incredible.  The pan looks so soft that it might appear to be a creme, but in fact this is an extremely soft and beautiful powder.

Buttery? Yes, and the pigment covers your finger at a gentle touch.  It’s beautiful.

Here is a comparison with the goldest shade in the Dior Five Golds eyeshadow palette (the top right shade), as well as Bare Escentuals True Gold loose powder (applied with a wet brush):

Is this limited edition?  Nordstrom.com says yes, but only NARS knows for sure.  I can tell you that Etrusque is a very special eyeshadow.  If you were to catch me reminiscing, I’d be talking your ear off about the old Shu Uemura eyeshadows, except that NARS Etrusque is even softer.

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