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

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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Nov 022010

NARS Holiday 2010 includes Sex Appeal blush ($26).  This is a very, very soft light baby peach.

When applied, Sex Appeal provides only the faintest hint of color using a standard blush brush and normal application.

In some ways, NARS Sex Appeal reminds me of a MAC Beauty Powder called Tahitian Sand.  Both give the softest peach-toned color, although Tahitian Sand can be built up to a near-blush shade with heavy application.   Sex Appeal barely shows on my MAC NC15/Chanel Intensity 1.o (Cameo/Ivoire) skintone.  I’m afraid that I will not get very much use out of Sex Appeal–the color hardly shows at all.   My personal routine makes me more inclined to use a liquid or shimmery cream highlighter for a more pronounced glow.

Here is Sex Appeal heavily swatched next to a standard peach blush, Shu Uemura’s P Peach 47:

My feeling is that NARS Sex Appeal is very much a “your mileage may vary” blush.  For my fair, warm-toned skin, I believe that the color is truly a barely-there blush.  Does Sex Appeal work for you? Perhaps you can persuade me that I am wrong about this blush?

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Aug 262010

NARS Fall 2010 release of the NARS Rajasthan Eyeshadow duo ($32), is a must have.  I’m not alone here.  If there is any possible way that you have missed bloggers, reviewers and me shouting from my rooftop, Rajasthan is an awesome eyeshadow duo.

This powder duo includes a medium toned greyed-down gold/bronze, together with a highly complex blue-grey-black.  Both shades have medium shimmer and excellent pigmentation.  The combination of the warm lighter shade with the deeper cool black is a perfect combination of warm-cool complexity that is both interesting and quite flattering.  Neutrals with an edge–just what I want this fall.

NARS Rajasthan is remarkably easy to use.  For the past few days, I’ve been using the lighter shade as a wash.  I then take my brush edge, and apply the darker color smudged over my eyeliner.  Done. Sometimes I use the darker shade to add some smoke to the outer edges of the lid, or a touch in the crease.  Literally, less than a minute with one brush.   Can it be used by those who love to spend hours crafting with several brushes?  Sure, but it’s easy for me to pull out when I do not have the time.

Despite some earlier conflicting reports and controversy, it now appears that Rajasthan is a permanent addition to NARS line.  Highly recommended.  You can compare Rajasthan to NARS Tzarine duo at this post, which has comparison swatches.

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Mar 312010

Via Vanity Fair, a variety of new products announced from NARS:

  • New  Multiple Tints ($38)  in three new shades: Beverly Hills (bright red), Turks & Caicos (bright orange), and Cadaques (bright fuschia)
  • A new cream blush in Enchanted (this was used at the Oscars on JLo and others)
  • Nars Pure Sheer SPF Lip Treatments ($25 each)
  • Bains Douches Glitter Pencil ($24)

A bright fuschia Multiple?  This I must see!!!

EDIT:  I’m adding this information from this lovely site about Nars Summer 2010 Belle de Jour Collection (click to enlarge):

It appears from a rough translation of this site that the eye products are creams–Burn It Blue duo, a blue-green two-toned cream. The single is Cayenne, another cream.  The blush is a soft peach tone. The gloss is called Coup de couer, described as a brandy tone.  The multiple is apparently called Lamu, and is apricot with gold particles.  There is a shimmery gold-champaign nail polish.  I apologize in advance for any accuracies, as I’m not fluent in the native language of the original source.  If you have any corrections, kindly let me know so that I can edit this further.

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