Wednesday, August 21, 2013

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation in Mont Blanc

I am in love with the both NARS Pure Radiant Creamy Concealer and the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer.  I adore both of these products and they are absolute staples for me.  So, when I heard that NARS was coming out with a foundation in this line, I was soooo excited.  And after the press releases for the product that came out this summer, I was even more intrigued.  It sounded like this product was designed for my dry, mature skin.

 Here's what NARS has to say about their new Radiant Cream Compact Foundation:

New NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation brilliantly evens skin with a lightweight, luminous finish. Combining the supple feel of a cream foundation with the sleek ease of a portable compact, the Advanced Emulsion Technology formula may be applied wet or dry for artistic versatility. 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.
Includes a Radiant Cream Compact Foundation Sponge.
Test Results:
90% noticed their skin looked brighter and more radiant
95% felt their skin was smoother
93% felt the appearance of dry skin was improved
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.

Admittedly, I had a lot of expectations (and hopes) going into this.  Here are my thoughts after using this foundation.


I purchased the compact that goes with the foundation.  It has a nice, big mirror and a holder for the sponge that ships with the foundation.  The compact has the typical rubberized NARS coating which usually doesn't bother me, but when you're dealing with a cream product it's just a giant mess waiting to happen.

The little pod that contains the foundation does not fit securely in the compact when you open the compact.  It rattles around.  It isn't in danger of falling out, but it definitely does not fit securely.  This isn't a deal breaker, but it's annoying, especially when the compact cost $10.

To use the product, you open the compact and then open the little pod.  When you open the foundation pod, if you open it too far, which is easy to do, it actually pops the pod out of the compact.  It's just a bit cumbersome, especially for a foundation that's touted as being very portable.  And if you don't use the application sponge then the compact is immediately 100% bigger than it needs to be.

The foundation pod itself is incredibly plain and does not close particularly securely.  You definitely could just buy the pod and use the product out of there without the compact, but I would be worried about throwing it in a bag or a drawer.  I think that other products running into it could flip the lid open and lead to a giant mess.  Also, since NARS go to the trouble of mentioning that you need to close the prod to keep it from drying out, I really wish the thing closed tightly.

(the foundation pod ships in a sealed package)

I've seen a couple of other reviews where people took the lid off the foundation pod.  While this definitely improves the experience from an aesthetic perspective, it is expressly NOT what NARS recommends for storing the foundation.

Foundation consistency and application

They are not kidding about the "cream".  I was sort of expecting this product to be similar in texture to the CoverFX cream foundation (for no real reason other than that they're both cream foundations) and wow are they not at all similar.  The NARS foundation is super creamy and emollient.  And this is coming from someone who has incredibly dry skin.  This stuff was crazy creamy.

According to the NARS press release, this is supposed to have a  "buildable formula" that will "deliver medium to full coverage".  Um, yeah.  About that ...

I tried two different methods for applying this foundation:

Application with a brush

Using a brush is my preferred method for applying cream foundation.  I used a small, densely packed synthetic brush.  The foundation is so creamy that I had a very hard time building up any coverage using a brush.  On my very dry skin, it slid around and I ended up with very light coverage that did absolutely nothing to cover any blemishes and did very little in terms of evening out my skintone.

The light coverage also did not wear well.  After 4 hours it was incredibly patchy and by the time I finally removed it at the end of the day it looked absolutely abysmal (not that any foundation looks great after 14 hours of wear, but this looked worse than if I'd worn nothing).  Pigmentation pooled in my pores, fine lines and anywhere that I had any texture at all while making the rest of my face too shiny and turning the setting powder into a patchy paste.  It was terrible.

Application with the sponge

Using the brush produced such awful results that I decided to follow NARS's recommendations and try using the sponge to press the product into my skin.  This definitely produced better results.  I got a lot more coverage than I did with the brush.  It was probably light to medium coverage.  I did still need to spot conceal, but it was so much better than what I got using the brush.

The amount of product I ended up using with this method was appalling, especially considering this foundation contains less than half the usual amount that you'd get in a foundation (.42oz).  I applied it once using this method and it made a huge dent in the product.

Wear time actually improved considerably with a heavier application.  It did get patchy, but probably around the 8 hour mark rather than the 4 hour mark with a lighter application.

I included before and after application photos below so you can see it does have decent coverage.  It's evened out my skintone, but it definitely hasn't covered all my freckles (not that anything does).

(bare faced, first thing in the morning - no coffee)

(just foundation - heavy application, no powder or concealer)


As I've said before, I have super dry skin and I have dry patches.  This foundation does not cling to dry, flaky patches of skin on initial application, which is good, but it also doesn't do anything to help those patches.  For how creamy this product is, it doesn't do much to moisturize the skin.  As the day wore on, the pigmentation in the foundation did seem to pool around any texture on the skin.

And as for setting, the foundation is supposed to "set in seconds".  Well, I suppose that any foundation will set in seconds, it's the number of seconds that varies.  This did not set quickly on me.  It took a minute or two.  And even then, it doesn't really dry down.  It retains a somewhat tacky feel even an hour after application.

Clearly, you can powder this product to set it and I did in my T-zone.  I set it the first day with a MAC mineralize skinfinish natural with a brush and then, the second day using a Laura Mercier translucent pressed powder with a puff.  As with the foundation application itself, I got much better results pressing the powder directly over the foundation as opposed to trying to brush it on.  I probably should have set the foundation over my entire face because, wow, did the tacky finish grab on to my powder blush.

The third day, I didn't set it with any powder at all and by the four hour mark, I was completely oily in my t-zone and the foundation was beginning to break down and the pigments were pooling in my pores and around any texture on my skin.  So I would say that for me at least (and I don't have a particularly oily t-zone), powdering this foundation is a must.

What is the point of having a foundation with this super emollient formula that works great on dry skin and has a radiant finish if you have to powder over the top of it to make it workable?  As a general rule, I am not someone who avoids "heavy" feeling foundations, but this product did remain tacky enough that it was a bothersome.

One of my biggest loves with the tinted moisturizer and concealer from this line is that they are packed with pigmentation.  Not so with this foundation.  It has a lot of silicones, oils and emulsifiers, but not a whole lot of pigmentation so it can look uneven, even with heavy application.  If you have anything other than dry skin, I can't imagine this foundation working for you at all.  Even on my very dry skin, it slid around.

You're supposed to be able to use this product either wet or dry.  And again, I have no idea what you would gain by applying it wet other than just making you shiny.  The product is so emollient that it's difficult to build up coverage in the first place, so I think that applying it wet would leave you with virtually no product.  Perhaps after you've broken the seal on the pod, it will start to dry out quickly.  At that point, I could see a wet application working, but fresh out of the packaging, it's certainly not something I would do.

Color Match

I purchased Mont Blanc which is "Light 2 with a pink undertone".  It's a fantastic match to the skin on my arm in the middle of summer, but it's a bit too dark for my face.  Set with powder and in the middle of summer, it's workable.  In the middle of winter - when the foundation formula would be most useful - I don't know that the color will work.

(This is a HEAVY swatch, btw.  Terrible pigmentation)



The packaging is a miss for me.  The compact seems to be more trouble than it's worth, but the foundation pod by itself is not really usable either.  The lid to the pod pops open too easily and it has virtually no aesthetic appeal.

Product consistency is mostly a miss.  Even on super dry skin, it's so emollient that it slides around during application if you use any method other than pressing it directly into the skin with a sponge.  It did not set quickly and it takes hours to dry down and lose the tacky feel.  It works well on dry, flaky patches, but it the pigments do tend to pool around any texture in the skin as the foundation starts to break down.

The NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation contains .42oz of product and retails for $38 wherever NARS is sold - I got mine at Sephora.  The accompanying Compact retails for $10.

Final verdict:  5/10

Monday, August 19, 2013

Wet n' Wild Color Icon Blusher in #834E Berry Shimmer

Wet n Wild is one of those lines that I just love to pieces.  The entire line generally has functional (if boring) packaging, a phenomenal price point and the quality is outstanding.  Because of this, I own just about everything Wet n Wild has on the market.  But last weekend, I found a blush I had somehow neglected to pick up.

This is the Wet n Wild Color Icon Blusher in #834E, Berry Shimmer.  It is a gorgeous deep wine color with gold sparkle.  The pigmentation is absolutely phenomenal.  It has fantastic color payoff.  

The texture of the blush is very soft and easy to blend with a lovely satin finish.  I found that as you blend it out, it does tend to lose the sparkle, but not the pigmentation (I hate it when blushes work the other way around - I'm looking at you, Milani).  

The Wet n Wild Color Icon blusher in Berry Shimmer contains 4 grams of product and is available wherever Wet n Wild is sold.  I picked mine up at Wal-Mart for $2.93.

Overall:  9/10

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hard Candy Eye Def Metallic Eyeshadow in #426 Golden Earth

Yes, my Hard Candy kick continues with the Hard Candy Eye Def Metallic Eyeshadow in #426 Golden Earth.  I was super impressed with the other Hard Candy cream eyeshadows I've tried, so I didn't hesitate to pick up the metallic cream eyeshadow.

(The Eye Def range also includes Glitter shadows, which I have not tried.)

This definitely is metallic, but sheered out (as you can see above on the right), it's very wearable.  Applied heavily it is a full on metallic bronze.  Sheered out it is much warmer, redder and softer, not as metallic.  

The eyeshadow has a thick cream texture that is easily applied with the doe foot applicator.  The packaging itself is underwhelming.  It's a super long plastic tube with an equally long applicator wand.  I suspect that you would waste a lot of product because of the packaging, but since there's virtually no danger of me ever running out of any of my color cosmetics, it's not something I'm going to worry about, especially at this price point.

It sheers out easily and it dries down quickly.  It's perhaps not quite as quick to set as the Hard Candy liquid eyeshadow, but it is set in less than a minute and I didn't find it prone to creasing as it dried.  I did not leave my eyes closed while it set, though you certainly could if you're worried about it.  It does dry quickly enough that I would recommend applying it to one eye at a time.  Once it is set, it is very budge proof and not at all tacky.  It does need to be removed with an oil cleanser or oil based makeup remover.

The Hard Candy Eye Def Metallic Eyeshadow contains 12.6 grams of product and comes in 9 shades.
It retails exclusively at Wal-Mart for $6.

Overall:  8/10

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sonia Kashuk Eyeshadow Quad in Bed of Roses

So here is another Sonia Kashuk product that I didn't photograph brand new because I didn't expect to be reviewing it.  Sigh.  Anyway, apologies for the less than stellar looking product below.  It is all my fault for using before photographing.

The Sonia Kashuk Eyeshadow Quad in Bed of Roses seems like it would be pink leaning based on the name, but it's really not.  The pan that looks pink above actually isn't.  It's just sparkles with no real pigmentation.

  • pink looking shimmer - just shimmer with no real pigmentation, pink or otherwise, very cool, doesn't adhere particularly well and tends to transfer and fall out like crazy.
  • matte cool light brown - underwhelming color payoff, very stiff. Has glitter in the pan but it really doesn't translate to the skin at all.
  • metallic cool gray brown - buttery soft, crazy pigmentation, excellent payoff
  • metallic taupe/purple cool - buttery soft, crazy pigmentation, excellent payoff.
This is a drugstore product, but definitely on the pricier end of the spectrum. Is it worth it when only half the shades are any good? Normally, I would say no, but the two metallic shades in this palette are absolutely phenomenal and they're very taupe leaning and I am such a sucker for a good taupe eyeshadow. For me, it's worth it. If you're not such a taupe fiend, it may be a miss.

Sonia Kashuk Eyeshadow Quad #45 Bed of Roses contains XX grams of product and retails for $13.69 exclusively at Target.

Overall: 7/10

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshadow in 101 Gri-Gri

Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshadow in 101 Gestlogist Gri-Gri is limited edition with the Chanel Fall 2013 collection, Superstition.  It is described by Chanel as a metallic taupe.

In the pan it looks like a very silvery gray.  Swatched it takes on a much more purple/brown tone.  I think it definitely is a taupe.  It has a silver shimmer running through it and if you apply it wet, it definitely looks more metallic.

The texture was incredibly soft and had great pigmentation.  

I found that on the eye, much like the Tom Ford Cream Eyeshadow in Platinum, it tended to look almost wet after a while.  When it started looking like that, I knew it was only a matter of time before it started creasing, but ... it never did crease on me, even after 10 hours of wear.

Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshadow in 101 Gestlogist Gri-Gri contains 1.6 grams of product and is Limited Edition.  It retails for $28.50 wherever Chanel is sold.  I bought mine at Nordstrom.  As of the writing of this review, it is still available at most online retailers.

Overall:  7/10

Monday, August 12, 2013

New York Color Individual Eyes in #945 Midtown Mauve

Shiv at LetzMakeup mentioned the NYC palettes a while ago and I got curious.  I swear, I haven't used NYC in at least two decades and I figured maybe it was time to give them another try.

I decided to pick up the Individual Eyes palette in #945, Midtown Mauve.  It's also branded as the new Brown Eyes palette.  (I really don't think this is a new product.)

The palette contains 4 eyeshadow shades, a primer and a cream highlight along with directions on which color to apply where.

(L-R: Contour, Lid, Crease, Highlight)

  • Contour - matte dark plum with a tiny bit of glitter. Good payoff. Blendable.
  • All over lid color - very cool toned satin light pink.  Okay payoff, especially for such a light color.
  • Crease - satin mauve/taupe with good payoff. Soft. Blendable.
  • Highlight - matte white.  Bad payoff, but pretty much what I would expect at this price point.

Also included in the palette are an eyeshadow primer and a cream highlight.  They are both very emolient and in my experience, neither one of them really dried down.  

If you're someone who regularly uses concealers as primer, then I could see this working for you.  I would personally be afraid that it would crease, but I didn't put a lot of effort into testing it.  

The cream highlighter is very white and shimmery.  It can apply a bit patchy.  All in all, this is a total miss for me.  I don't have any desire to really try it out.  It's just not for me.

Overall, the shadows aren't bad. I really, really like the taupe-y color and it alone is worth the price of the palette for me. Speaking of price, this palette was incredibly budget friendly.

The NYC Individual Eyes Brown Eyes palette in #945 Midtown Mauve contains 1.6 grams of each of the powder eyeshadows and 1.45 grams each for the cream products. It is available whereever NYC cosmetics are sold. I got mine at for $3.97 at Wal-Mart

Overall: 6/10

Friday, August 9, 2013

Josie Maran Argan Beautiful Eyes in Beautiful Nudes

So every now and then I review a product just so I can bitch about it.  And yes, this is one of those times.

I am not very familiar with the Josie Maran cosmetics line, especially the color cosmetics.  But I was in Sephora and on a total impulse buy, I picked up the Argan Beautiful Eyes eyeshadow palette in Beautiful Nudes.

Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful palette ... to look at.  Go ahead, look at it.

Go on, take a closer look.  Look at those shadows, look at how rich they look.

Yeah, it looks gorgeous doesn't it?  Well, it's not.  There was one shade, ONE SHADE in the entire palette that performed fantastically well and all of the others ranged from mediocre to abysmal.  Oh, wait, I haven't mentioned the price yet, have I.  Well, let me be clear, this palette would suck at any price point.  I would be considerably less irritated about it if it was a drugstore item, but it's not.

This crap palette cost me $36.  Yes, $36 dollars.

  • Lid color - gold with shimmer - Total crap.  Super stiff texture.  No color payoff at all.  Had to dig into the product just to get enough to swatch.
  • Liner - dark mate cool brown - Excellent payoff, very soft, very pigmented.  Exactly what you waould want if you were using this color as a liner.
  • Corner Crease - bronzy brown with shimmer - Very stiff.  Dry texture.  Mediocre color payoff.
  • Crease - metallic bronze - Good payoff.  True to pan color.  Nice texture.
  • Base/Highlighter - cream - There was no obvious glitter, but it seemed to have an almost duo chrome finish.  It looks cream in the pan, but swatched is white with a blue sheen.  Super dry.  Stiff.  Terrible color payoff.

I am so completely disappointed in this product and really turned off on the entire Josie Maran color cosmetics range.  At this point I'm trying to decide if I want to scrape off the top 2 or 3, or maybe 4 layers of the product to see if it gets better as you go.  The tester in Sephora seemed buttery soft across the board with great payoff, but that is not how this palette is shaping up at all.

The Josie Maran Argan Beautiful Eyes eyeshadow palette in Beautiful Nudes contains 11 grams of product and retails for a whopping $36 wherever Josie Maran is sold.  I got mine at Sephora.

Overall:  3/10

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hard Candy Glamoflage Heavy Duty Concealer in Ultra Light

A while ago, I picked up the Hard Candy Glamoflauge Heavey Duty Concealer in Ultra Light after hearing good things about it on YouTube.

The packaging I purchased had both the Glamoflage concealer and a mini concealer pencil.

I really don't ever use drugstore brand concealers.  I've just never had good luck at all with them, so I sort of swore off the entire lot.  However, I've heard really great things about the Hard Candy Glamoflage concealer, so I decided to give it a try.

First impressions:  The formula separates easily.  It reminded me a lot of Too Faced Shadow Insurance or OCC Lip Tars in that the pigment seemed to separate out of the mixing medium and even when it looked mixed in the tube, when dispensed, it always seemed to be a clump of mixed concealer swimming in a pool of extra fluid.  Not great, but at this price point and this big of a tube, I don't feel bad wasting product.

It does have a nozzle tip dispenser, which I really like.  It makes it easier to control how much product you get and it allows you to keep the product sanitary.

The product (when well mixed) does have a good amount of pigmentation.  It covers well - not the greatest I've ever seen, but well.  And a little bit goes a long way.  

My biggest complaint with the product is that the formula reminds me a lot of liquid lipsticks.  It has a slightly tacky feel to it.  It's not creamy. In spite of that, I didn't feel like it settled too much into my under eye wrinkles - but there was some.  Don't get me wrong, it didn't look great, but it didn't look near as bad as I expected given the texture.  I do think the fact that the pigments seem to separate from the mixing medium can make it look patchy, especially if applied in a thin layer.

The other thing,  it doesn't dry to a completely matte finish.  It retains a kind of sheen, even when dry.  I do always set my concealers with powder, which took down the sheen, but still, it's disappointing.  

I will say however, that this particular texture would allow you to apply it in really thin coats, let it dry down and then apply more where you need it.  If that's what you're looking for, then this would be great.

The pigmentation is good.  It has good coverage.  As far as the color, Ultra Light definitely isn't the lightest concealer I've ever seen - I'm not complaining about that.  I swatched it next to my NARS Pure Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla (which is not the lightest shade in the NARS range) and it was a pretty spot on match.  The Hard Candy Ultra Light is a bit pinker, but otherwise, they're really close.  (The NARS does have better coverage).

Wear time wasn't the greatest.  It looked good for 5 hours, but after that it just sort of ... disappeared.  It didn't smudge off or flake off or settle into the fine lines (any more than it did upon initial application), but by the 8 hour mark it was pretty much just gone.

The little concealer pencil that came with the Glamoflage was a total fail.  The formula was super yellow and about 3 shades darker than the Glamoflage.  It was thick and sticky and didn't blend out worth a damn.  As far as extras go, I wish they wouldn't have bothered.

All in all, I think this is a fantastic drugstore concealer.  It works better on spot concealing blemishes than it does on my under eyes.  It's not the greatest concealer I've ever used and it's probably not even in my top 5, but it has a great price point.  My favorite concealers are all high end and are easily 5 times or more as expensive as this product.  For the price, it's great, but that is not my biggest consideration.  If it's yours, you may want to check this out.

Hard Candy Glamoflage Heavy Duty concealer in Ultra Light contains a whopping 20 grams of product.  Hard Candy is cruelty free and is available only at Wal-Mart.  Glamoflage retails for $6.

Overall:  6/10