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


  1. I was kind of excited for this, but not any more after reading your review. The coverage is too light in my opinion, I thought it would be a lot better because it is a cream foundation :S

    1. I am so disappointed in this foundation, especially since the rest of the range is so good.

  2. Wow! This is such an amazing review :)

    I've nominated you for a Liebster Award. Check it out on my blog: