New lips just launched from NARS in a few different formulas and today I’ve swatches of all the new NARS Full Vinyl Lip Lacquer ($26 each for 0.17 oz/5.5 ml, currently available at NARS and Barneys New York). There are 10 shades in this formula and 1 special-edition color Orgasm (reviewed here). In addition there are 5 new colors of the Velvet Lip Glide (reviewed here) and 5 new shades of the Powermatte Lip Pigment (to be reviewed soon). The NARS Full Vinyl Lip Lacquer is an opaque, rich color, full coverage gloss with a high shine. They come with a flat applicator with a sponge tip on one side and plastic portion on the other. One will dispense a lot of color while the other blends it out more. There are 10 shades total, 6 creams and 4 sparkles. I believe there are hits and misses with this launch formula-wise.
Most of the colors have a beautiful smooth application. There are some however that apply streaky on bare lips and settle into fine lines. Color descriptions and thoughts on which ones are the best below. First a look at the shades and swatches.
Shown above from left to right:
Santo Domingo is a medium to light muted dusty pink, it settles into fine lines at first but once you let it set on the lips, it smooths out
Conquest is a perfect medium bright warm pink
Valencia is a bright coral hot pink, this also settled into my lip lines
Red District is the best cream formula, it’s a perfect bright red, smooth, opaque, glossy
Mississippi is a sheer mauve plum, it takes a few layers but applies smoothly
Baden Baden is a gorgeous deep plum, but alone it was streaky, I’d recommend applying it over a matte lip pencil
Abruzzo is a high sparkle metallic wine plum with gold and silver flecks, I thought this would be too glitzy but this is a truly stunning color, smooth coverage and no texture
Everglades is one of the scariest lip colors I’ve seen, having actually driven through the Everglades a couple times I’d say this color evokes the same feelings I had driving through alligator territory (they are probably the most frightening living creatures I’ve ever seen)
At First Sight is a sheer sparkling white silvery gold, it’s pretty sheer, almost transparent but has the prettiest sheen
Cape Town is an iridescent duochrome orange, pink loaded with multi-color sparkles, it’s very metallic but smooth
Overall the shimmers performed better on my lips formula-wise. I would say the cream colors Valencia and Baden Baden are the higher maintenance ones for me as the color settled into fine lines if I applied these on bare lips.
Overall some beautiful colors and lovely formulas (patchy colors aside). There isn’t really any detectable scent to these. Lasting power is pretty good, they are thicker than the Velvet Lip Glides due to the high shine so they adhere better to the lips. Lasting power is pretty good, not as good as their Powermatte Lip Pigments, but for a gloss they stayed put until I snacked. My favorites are Santo Domingo, Red District, Abruzzo and At First Sight. Compared to other lip glosses these are among the most full coverage that I’ve tried. Ones like the Pat McGrath LUST Glosses or Chanel Rouge Coco Gloss are a lot sheerer. Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Glosses are probably the most similar (but hers are thicker), Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Liquid is also thicker with a more lipstick feel.
You can find the NARS Full Vinyl Lip Lacquer now at NARS and Barneys New York. Starting July you will also be able to find them at other NARS retailers like Sephora and Nordstrom. Have you tried these yet? What did you think?
NARS Full Vinyl Lip Lacquer provided courtesy of NARS for review.
For summer 2018 NARS has four new color items to expand their Orgasm Collection. Three launched last month and one was just released last week so I’ve waited until I had all the items to swatch and review. Last year’s collection brought us four new Liquid Blush Colors. This year we have two new lip colors and two complexion products. There’s something so perfect to me about peachy pink gold colors. I think every single item in this launch is perfect for a fresh glowing summer look. Items include:
Up first are the lip products. I really liked the Orgasm Lipstick from last year (which you can still find). On my lips it gives me the perfect wash of peachy pink with a soft golden sheen. The Afterglow Lip Balm this season has a more emollient finish since it’s a balm. It’s smooth, soft and has a very moisturizing feel. I cannot detect any scent. Swatched on the arm or hand it’s almost transparent. On the lips it’s a sheer glowing pink for me. There is shimmer in it but it’s not really apparent on the lips. Color is just my lips but glowing. Lasting power is average for a tinted balm – the texture itself is like a regular lip balm, it won’t last all day but I don’t mind reapplying. The Full Vinyl Lip Lacquer is a high shine high frost peachy gold. It’s quite metallic and opaque but can be smoothed out with blending or if you layer it on top of the balm. To me it has a very subtle vanilla scent. It’s very glossy but isn’t sticky. I prefer the balm or lipstick version for a more natural look but the full vinyl lip lacquer is still very nice. I’m eager to see the other colors in this formula. Lasting power was pretty good with this one. It stayed put until I had a snack or drink. Otherwise it adhered well to the lips without sliding off or budging, but still was light enough to let the lips breathe.
Swatched on bare lips:
For the two complexion products there is a new Illuminating Loose Powder and an Oversized Orgasm Powder Blush. The Illuminating Loose Powder comes in a small jar and the product is a very pigmented metallic shimmering peachy gold. If you apply with a dense brush or dip a lot of product it’s quite intense with an almost foiled look. If you use a loose brush or apply just a soft wash it gives the skin a more subtle luminous glow. A little goes a long way so I’d recommend playing with a little bit and layering more on if you want more color. There is a supersized Orgasm Blush this year. If you followed me on Instagram stories you may remember that I mentioned it looked slightly different than the original version. This was off the top of my head and a side by side swatch proved my thoughts correct. This year’s oversized version has slightly more pink with less gold shimmer. The difference is noticeable on my face with my skin tone. Your mileage may vary depending on how light or deep yours is.
NARS has seriously outdone themselves with their NARS x Man Ray holiday launch this year. This season they’ve launched a collection of individual colors, palettes and sets inspired by modern artist Man Ray. This is one of the first makeup launches that has me really excited about holiday – they’ve created a nice range of options so I think there is something for everyone. The collection launched exclusively at NARS online for the first part of October and now items are starting to trickle in at other counters. There’s quite a bit in this collection and I’m thrilled to be able to feature a lot of the items, but do note there are other sets and items available exclusive to certain retailers like Nordstrom and Sephora. You may have to do some shopping around to find the color sets you have your eyes on.
I’ve split my review into product category: eyes, cheeks and lips + one set. For the eyes this season we have shadows and pencils:
Duo Eyeshadow in Debauched ($36) is a richly pigmented duo of cool-toned plums. There is a smooth plum shimmer and a blackened purple with tiny violet glitter flecks. Both have good smooth pigment, the deeper shade is probably best applied in a patting motion or liner.
Duo Eyeshadow in Montparnasse ($36) has a smooth texture of shimmers with a soft warm pale gold champagne shimmer and maroon shimmer. Both swatch well with good pigment, but on my eyes the plum shade applies on the semi-sheer side once blended. To get more pigment you either have to pack it on over a cream shadow or with a dense brush.
Velvet Eyeliner in Nagoya ($24) is one of the most beautiful violet cream shades I’ve ever seen but it’s a color I don’t see myself wearing on the eyes. Application is a bit sheer but the color is so pretty!
Velvet Eyeliner in Santiago ($24) is a sheer shimmering auburn color, it makes for a good subtle liner for the lower lash line to add definition without looking harsh. However formula is sheer which I find a bit odd for a liner where I usually think you’d want more intense pigment.
For the cheeks we have beautiful highlighters, blushes and a stunning palette:
Powder Blush in Fetishized ($30) is a bright warm reddish pink, but once applied it’s not quite as warm or red as it looks in the pan. It has a subtle sheen to it but the pigment overall is very intense. I could not pull this one off alone but it looks amazing as a layering or mixing color, especially if you soften with a highlighter or warm it up with bronzer.
Powder Blush in Intensely ($30) is a very smooth matte semi-sheer orange cream color. Texture is dreamy and soft with flawless application. I often find orange blushes surprising because they can actually be quite flattering and different than what you’d expect. On my skintone alone this one just looked like orange candy, almost like Tic-Tacs. Again this is a great one for layering to warm up colors or even mixed with a highlighter. That’s the beauty of a lot of NARS colors – you can layer and mix and the result is often really pretty.
Overexposed Glow Highlighter in Double Take ($42) is a stunning highlighter, it’s all kinds of gorgeous with the warm gold with slight peachy tones. It has a smooth almost creamy feel with intense shimmer that you can blend out or layer for that super shimmery highlight. Swatch comparisons below to the Banc de Sable shades and some from Dior.
The Veil Cheek Palette with Laguna, Lovesick, Surreal ($49) is another beautiful color and if I had to pick one thing from the entire collection it would be this palette. Laguna is the Sun Wash formula which is a stiffer almost hybrid kind of formula. The full size ended up being a bit muddy on me, but as most NARS fans know – the Laguna individually (regardless of formula) isn’t always the same as the ones you get in the palettes. The palette Laguna is still very stiff and sheer, but it’s not quite as muddy. Lovesick is like a dual-intensity blush formula and is a rich coral with a sheen. It’s almost identical to the powder blush Fetishized but the formula makes it more wearable. Surreal is a similar formula to the Banc de Sable palette and the Overexposed Double Take Highlighter. It’s intense with a pretty peachy tan shimmer.
Some highlighter swatch comparisons below. If you own Banc de Sable the new holiday highlighters have a very similar effect in terms of formula, texture and shimmer. Colors are close and similar but not identical. I’ve also included two of the Diorskin Nude Air Luminizers (all on my face here). The NARS vs Dior both have that intense shimmer but smooth almost creamy feel (yet they are still powders).
Update 10/21: I re-swatched the comparisons with a denser brush. The original comparisons above looked a little washed out due to the curve of my arm combined with blending using a larger brush. A more dense application shows that Surreal is closer in color to Embruns than it looks when it’s blended out more. Same order below just swatched with a MAC 239 brush.
This year the Becca x Chrissy Teigen palette has been my favorite face palette launch (review + beauty look here). It’s wearable, easy to layer and I love the color combinations. At first glance I thought the NARS might be exactly the same, but it’s deeper, warmer and a bit more intense. If I had to pick one it would be a tough call. Both are extremely versatile and you can increase or soften intensity depending on what brushes you use or how much you layer product.
For the lips, the Man Ray collection has four glosses in a new formula called Photogloss Lip Lacquer then there are lots of sets with a mix of colors:
There’s a new formula called Photogloss Lip Lacquer ($26 each) which is super opaque and glossy without being thick or tacky-feeling. These have serious pigment and smooth finish. Lasting power is excellent for a gloss and there was no color bleeding along the sides.
Photogloss Lip Lacquer in Zambeze is a yellowed-beige cream
Photogloss Lip Lacquer in Off Limits is a bright sparkling fuchsia purple
Photogloss Lip Lacquer in Kiki is a blood-red semi-sheer, the sheerness made it a tiny bit streaky looking, it can be smoothed out if you apply over a liner or lipstick
Photogloss Lip Lacquer in Muse is a shimmering gold, the color and shimmer was a bit patchy looking once applied but there is no gritty texture and you can blend it out for a smoother finish
The Kiss Velvet Matte Lip Pencil Set ($49, Sephora exclusive) has four full-sized Velvet Matte Lip Pencils, I really love this set – they look better in person than in these photos. Pigment is smooth with a soft matte finish. They have a very airy feel to them and glide on the lips nicely. Lasting power is about average for a lipstick, they will fade after a few hours and transfer to cups if you drink, but I don’t mind reapplying. This set comes in a shiny gold zippered pouch:
Endangered Red is a soft muted deep vampy red
Spellbound is a pretty shimmering pale pink
Toundra is a muted plum-brown with shimmer
Wild Ways is a shimmering soft tan bronze
Audacious Lip Coffrett in Noire Et Blanche, not shown ($55, Sephora exclusive) with Lee, Dolores, Josephine and Charlotte Audacious Lipsticks
Audacious Lip Coffrett in Les Amoureux ($55, Nordstrom exclusive) with pretty neutrals that aren’t boring. I had forgotten how much I loved this formula of lipstick, Barbara was a staple for a long time for me. I need to use it more often. The lipsticks in these sets are miniature sized. The coffretts come in a round dome case.
Ady light peachy orange cream
Ardon medium rose
Barbara perfect nude pink beige
Then there are a number of duos with minis called Love Triangle ($24 each). Different color combinations are available at different retailers. I have the Deep Throat + Barbara duo which is available at Sephora. These aren’t full-sized, they’re minis and I think they’re great options for stocking stuffers or something under the $25 mark.
That wraps it up for my look at NARS x Man Ray for holiday. There’s a lot to pick from! My top picks include The Veil Cheek Palette trio, Double Take Highlighter, Velvet Matte Lip Pencil Set and the Audacious Lipstick Set. Quality and pigment is on point for everything except the two Velvet Eyeliners (a bit sheer) and the gold lip gloss (just a bit patchy-looking on application). The blushes are excellent quality but for me require layering to work, alone they don’t quite look right on my olive skintone but they are beautiful if you mix them.
All the items are limited-edition. You can find them available now although you’ll have to do some hunting to find all the pieces as some are exclusive to certain places. Online now at NARS, Nordstrom, and Sephora. They should arrive at other retailers very soon.
Have you tried anything from the collection yet? What did you think?
NARS x Man Ray items provided courtesy of NARS for review.
There’s a super cute NARSissist Velvet Lip Glide Set ($45) which is an Ulta Exclusive. It has six new shades which are really perfect for summer but wearable year round. I found this at my local store – they don’t have the full line of NARS but did carry a small selection including this set. The velvet lip glides are minis (same size as the Sephora Give Me Some Nude Lips Set) and I’m beyond thrilled all the colors are new. It comes in a pretty pink box:
Colors include cream colors. All the colors are consistently medium to full coverage with a smooth streak-free finish. Pigment is really good and they have a natural sheen even though they have a velvety finish. I don’t detect any scent in these and they feel comfortable on the lips. Lasting power is medium – they have a similar lasting power to a regular lipstick. I love that the formula feels weightless and doesn’t dry out my sensitive lips.
Rapture a medium soft coral peach
Night Together soft neutral medium pink brown with a hint of plum
I think the set is a great buy. Colors are very wearable but not boring. Even the brighter ones are easy to wear especially for summer. If you haven’t tried the NARS Velvet Lip Glide formula this is a nice way to try more than one shade without having to buy the full sizes.
You can find the NARSissist Velvet Lip Glide Set exclusively at Ulta Beauty. Have you tried this one yet? What did you think?
I’m a neutral lip addict and have a roundup review of some new formulas and color out right now. All of these picks are from Sephora as it seems like that’s where most of the new launches are at for the moment. Sephora stores are actually where quite a few of my readers have run into me – in multiple cities and not always my hometown stores lol. Many thanks to each of you who have been so kind to introduce yourself and say hello – I’ve been really touched with how nice you all are in person.
So for the new stuff – many of you have been asking about the new Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Liquified Lip and NARS Powermatte Lip Pigments. I’ve put some shades from each formula to the test. I also have some new Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Glosses swatched, Make Up For Ever Artist Liquid Matte Lipsticks reviewed (not new, but new to me) and a first impressions of the Hourglass Confession Ultra Slim High Intensity Lipstick. There are also quite a few comparison swatches in this post for reference. It’s a little bit of a lot for the lips.
Up first are the new Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Liquified Lipsticks. My DMs and emails have been literally flooded with review requests. Since I really loved the Amuse Bouche Lipstick formula this was an easy yes for me. I went to multiple stores to track these down because one didn’t have all the colors. And one of these is an online exclusive for VIB Rouge.
These aren’t like the normal liquid lipsticks on the market which dry down to a matte finish. These are essentially lipsticks in a liquid form but with a creamy finish. In my opinion this is what all liquid lipsticks should look and feel like, but I know not everyone will agree with me. Cava is the VIB Rouge Online Exclusive shade and with one swipe on the arm I knew immediately this would not be a wearable one for me. On my tan/medium skin it looks like a lilac. I do think it will suit fair skins better so I did not swatch this on my lips and instead am saving this for a friend. Caramelized is a beige with warm tones, Whip is the perfect nude pink, Chutney is a medium rose.
The formula is opaque and creamy. There’s a beveled sponge tip applicator which allows for precise application at the tip and the angled end covers/fills your entire lip area. Lasting power is quite impressive. There is color transfer to cups if you drink but it still stays put really well for hours. Formula has a nice nourishing feel – since it’s opaque it is a bit thick, but you can easily blend it out since a little goes a long way. Most of the colors in the line ran dark. I picked the lightest options and then it jumped to fairly dark or deep. To me they have a fall vibe but I guess since fall is going to be here soon these have arrived right on time.
I think the best color is Whip.
Below all four shades I bought swatched, compared to the Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Honeycomb, Pepper and Sake. I normally can’t wear super cool-toned colors on the lips because of my yellow skintone, Sake is about as cool as I go unless it’s a darker plum. The Liquified Lipstick has more opaque coverage compared to the Lipstick version.
Next is are two of my favorite lip gloss formulas. I’ve already featured the Marc Jacobs Enamored Hi-Shine Lip Lacquer in Skin Deep here in May but wanted to feature it again. It’s the perfect neutral-cool toned nude that has medium sheer pigment. On me it goes on a bit mauvey because of my tan and pigmented lips. If I were lighter it would be more on the neutral side. About a year ago Anastasia Beverly Hills launched some mini lip gloss sets with colors exclusive to that set. Set I purchased reviewed here. The other set has been repromoted this year at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale now. Earlier this summer she finally launched most of them individually in full size. I bought three Lip Glosses from Sephora in Toffee, Amber and Caramel as they are my favorites. For quick reference I’ve swatched a couple other neutrals from her line. Her packaging has changed slightly but the applicators are the same.
Descriptions of the following: Marc Jacobs Skin Deep is a neutral nude pink. It has medium coverage with a glossy sheen. The Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Glosses have full opaque coverage and a flat sponge tip applicator. Toffee is a neutral beige, Amber is a light peachy cream, Caramel is a medium warm pink, Kristen is a neutral pink-brown, Vintage is similar but more pink/rose. The Anastasia Lip Glosses are perfect – I wish she had more wearable conservative neutrals but for now these are perfect.
Next is the Hourglass Confession Ultra Slim High Intensity Lipstick. These are refillable and my local Sephora had a small handful of shades. The colors on display pretty much all looked the same and they were all neutrals. I swatched them on my hand and every single one looked perfect. Texture is creamy with a natural shine and it had impressive coverage. I limited myself to 1 in I Woke Up which is a perfect medium rose pink. Everything about this is perfect from color, formula, finish, feel and lasting power yet it has one major drawback for me: I find it overpriced for the size. I’m not one to pass up a lipstick because of price (ie Tom Ford, Louboutin, Cle de Peau, Surratt etc.) These lipsticks are supposed to be refillable with the refills priced at $22 which seems a bit more reasonable. But when you see these in person, they are SUPER tiny. The upside is that if you buy one or a few you will most likely use it up entirely before it goes bad. I feel conflicted about these – I actually find the packaging sleek and pretty. It’s something you have to see and feel in person to see how nice they are. The formula and coverage is excellent. I just can’t help but feel the price can’t really be justified for the size. These are 0.03 oz for $34 while Tom Ford Lips and Boys are 0.07 oz for $35.
Last are the mattes. In general matte liquid lips do not do so well on my lips. I have full lips and the matte dry down tends to emphasize lip lines and make my lips look very dry. I have still put quite a few to the test – I can make them work by adding a balm like the Dior Addict Lip Glow Pomade or Reviver Balms underneath or by dabbing a tiny bit of gloss on top. Some of the colors from these lines are so perfect – I wish they were made in other formulas. The Make Up For Ever Artist Liquid Matte Lipsticks have been raved about by so many people. For me the lighter shades 101 and 103 are a miss because they’re too pale for me, but deeper ones like 109 work better. The formula is a true matte and it’s super opaque. You only need a thin layer to get full coverage. I dab a tiny bit and blend with the fingers. These dry down to a full matte which I’m not a fan of – still the formula didn’t dry out my lips even if it made them look dry and they do stay put once you apply them.
The NARS Powermatte Lip Pigments were sent to me for review. I have all the colors and if you’re interested in a separate review let me know in the comments. For this post I tested the colors I knew I would wear on a regular basis. These are liquid matte lipsticks with a thinner formula which makes them easier for me to work with. Still they dry down to a velvety matte finish which I don’t like so to test these I had to apply the Dior Addict Lip Glow Balms underneath to make them work. The colors of the Powermatte Lip Pigments are so good – American Woman and Walk This Way are the best colors pinks I’ve tested in a long time. They’re not quite neutral but at the same time aren’t super bright. Just What I Needed is a perfect mauve neutral. I’m a huge fan of the Velvet Lip Glide because they’re more forgiving and don’t dry down to a full matte. I wish that NARS expanded that color range instead of this formula, but I’m happy that I can make it work with a bit of balm underneath. Lasting power even on top of a balm is really good – like most liquid lipsticks it will stay put for a long time. They don’t dry out the lips.
That wraps up my neutral lip testing and buys from Sephora. I hope you found this review helpful. To sum up all this testing, I’m still a lip gloss person at heart. My favorite lip gloss formula for opaque coverage is the Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss. Marc Jacobs has the best shine and smooth finish for a cushiony non-sticky feel. The next best opaque liquid lipgloss is the Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Liquified Lipstick. If you’re in search of a more traditional matte finish go with the new NARS Powermatte Lip Pigments.
I personally would give the Make Up For Ever Liquid Lipsticks a miss because I really don’t like the super matte dry down. These are ultra matte even with a balm underneath. I’m still undecided on the Hourglass lipsticks. If I were to rate them just on performance, quality and color, I’d 100% give it an A+. The price is what is holding me back from giving it a huge thumbs up – but product-wise it’s excellent.
All this being said, fall is usually a huge season for lip launches. I don’t know what’s in store for the upcoming season, but if you’re unsure about any of these there should be no rush. It appears that all are permanent, at least for now until the brand decides to reformulate something or discontinue a product. They will be around for a while. If you want to know what one new lip formula I think you should buy from this round up it would be to try one of the new Bite Liquid Lipsticks. If those really aren’t your thing I’d say wait a month or so to see what fall has in store for us.
Have you tried any of these formulas or colors yet? What did you think? You can find all of these now at Sephora. The NARS Powermatte Pigments were sent for review. All others purchased by me.
By popular request I have a roundup of foundations and bases I’ve been testing since I’ve moved to Florida where the weather is warm, sunny and humidity levels are very noticeable. By comparison, San Diego is very dry although to me it always felt moderate and what I considered normal. We live in the Tampa Bay area and so far the humidity isn’t quite as bad as I had expected. I’m saying this because in December we drove to Key West which is extremely wet and humid feeling – so humid the air feels like you’re walking around in a sauna. Also a few years ago we took almost a month to travel throughout Europe through Italy and the Mediterranean in late June. It was so scorching hot and humid during out travels I completely gave up wearing makeup on most of the days after trying and failing. That being said, yes Florida is humid and hot and finding a makeup base that stays put, doesn’t budge and that won’t slide off has been a challenge.
To date I haven’t found any makeup base or combination of products can truly 100% last or stand up to serious humidity especially if I sweat. I’m the type of person who doesn’t break a sweat easily but since moving to Florida I start sweating if I’m outside for 5 minutes and there’s no wind or breeze. I’m rounding up what I’ve tested by formula and coverage and note what I’ve found wears the best. Even though it’s humid here the reality is that both Andrew and I are rarely outside for long consecutive hours unless we’re at the beach or a park doing touristy things. Also even on those occasions we can take a break from the heat while in the car with the AC or take a stop at a coffee shop or restaurant.
Up first are the more natural looking foundations with sheer to medium coverage. The most requested reviews I get are for BB Creams and CC creams and I am sad to say that those are products I really do not like. Most feel thick on my skin or look pink in undertone. As one with really yellow/olive skin I can’t do bases that have pink so unfortunately I will probably not review any. Also a quick note on shades – many of you have commented over the years that you’re the same shade as me. Since moving to Tampa I’ve tanned quite a bit – it’s something I can’t avoid. I also lose my tan quickly so my color changes on a weekly basis. Because of this annoying fact I have to mix colors a lot – more than I ever have.
Shown below from left to right:
MAC Next to Nothing Face Color is the sheerest base I’ll do. It really has a super natural tint but adheres well to the skin. I fluctuate between Medium and Medium Plus. The shades run on the pink side but since the formula is so sheer it’s really forgiving. Review and swatches of all shades here.
Bobbi Brown Nude Finish Tinted Moisturizer with SPF15 is more like a natural foundation. It’s sheer like a tinted moisturizer but gives better coverage than most that I’ve tried. It does contain Octinoxate 7.5% and Titanium Dioxide 3% so if those cause problems for your skin you may want to skip. I had no issues with this formula for my skin. If I were still in San Diego I would probably use this more regularly – since it has a mild moisturizing quality it can get a little bit dewy. I bought mine at Nordstrom but Bobbi Brown Online has more shades available.
NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint with SPF 30 is one you’ll see me wearing a lot in beauty looks or lip swatches. This one has Octinoxate 7.5% and Octisalate 3% – it’s one that doesn’t irritate my skin and has a natural looking finish that isn’t too matte, just naturally velvety. I wear St. Moritz now but on my lighter wear Groenland or mix the two.
Diorskin Forever Foundation SPF 35 is one of the best foundation bases I’ve ever tried. The only downside is finding a match can be a bit tricky. I tested 30 and 31 first – in store I had one on each side and they both matched perfectly. When I got home and tested again I found they sometimes darkened about a 1/2 shade. 31 is more yellow while 30 is more pink so I kept 31. I went back to find the next shade down which is 21 (even though there are a lot of shades in between). 21 is the most yellow. If you’re normally my skintone go with either 21 or 25. I use both 21 and 31 mixed together to get my perfect match. For me it’s 100% worth it because this looks naturally flawless on the skin and gives me exactly the coverage I want. It also stays put the best for me. It has 3% Octinoxate and 1.75% Titanium Dioxide.
I have tried the Diorskin Forever Makeup Primer and it’s quite good. I’m just not really a primer kind of person but do think this one is one of the better ones I’ve tested.
Next up medium to full coverage foundations which is what I usually prefer. Most people, friends and family included don’t realize that I’m almost always wearing a full coverage foundation until they see me with bare skin and see all my freckles. I was active in outdoor sports while in high school and even though that was YEARS ago I still got a lot of freckles and sun spots from being outside a lot. I have tried a number of whitening/brightening treatments over the years which has helped with acne scars and dark spots but I still have a lot of freckles.
Shown left to right:
Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation and Concealer is hands down my most-worn foundation base. It offers medium to full buildable coverage and I love everything about it. For me Tom Ford Beauty has the best foundation shades to match my skin tone. It blends easily and covers my skin exactly how I like it without getting cakey. It lasts an impressive amount of time without sliding, creasing or budging. Review + swatches here.
Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Foundation is the newest one I’ve tried. I got an early sneak peek at some of the shades and given my challenge finding a match in the Candleglow version I was skeptical about this one. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good a formula is for a base – if there’s no decent match, it’s going to be a no-go. I was lucky to find my match to either Buff or Dusk. Right now Dusk is the better match because it’s more olive. On a few occasions I have found I need to mix in a bit of Macadamia to lighten it just a slight amount. I am extremely impressed with this formula. You do need to blend quickly as it dries and sets in a short amount of time. Once it sets it gives a flawless finish that looks matte but not flat. This is one of the few true matte finishes I’ve tried that I like the look of. I’ve found it pretty budge-proof – this is one I wore this on the 4th of July. I applied a fresh face of makeup in the early evening before we headed downtown to scope out some firework locations. I had this on from 4:00 pm until around midnight. That evening the air wasn’t too and we were thrilled that it actually stopped raining by the time we found parking and walked a mile to downtown. After looking around the Channelside area we decided downtown was not for us so we walked back to our car and drove to Hyde Park Village for dinner. After we then walked another mile to Bayshore Boulevard to watch the fireworks. All this rambling is to explain how this formula held up. The humidity was probably the highest I’ve felt here to date – this one held up remarkably well although I did get very glowy looking, it did not slide off or budge.
Giorgio Armani Power Fabric is another long-lasting full coverage foundation that works well in this heat. Before I had to mix 4 and 6. Right now I’m probably 6.5 which is more golden, but I can make 6 work. If you can find a shade match this an exceptionally good one for lasting power.
Next are cushions. I’ve always been interested in cushions but testers usually look pretty gross and also finding the right shade can be a challenge. Korean brands tend to run pink (at least the ones I’ve tried) but I’ve had luck with a few in the past. The best thing about the cushions is that they usually come with a refill pack so you’re getting 1 plus a backup. Right now there are 3 cushions I really like:
Dior Capture Totale Dreamskin Cushion is one I featured in my sunscreen story. It has SPF 50 and isn’t really a foundation but actually a skincare product. I can use this alone or as a base for other foundations. I think the swatches can be a bit misleading because you have to put this on your skin to see how it matches. 30 looks way too dark for me but because it’s sheer it blends in seamlessly with my skin.
Saturday Skin All Algow Sunscreen Perfecting Cushion Compact with SPF 50 is probably the best cushion I’ve tried. I ordered two shades online sight unseen. 05 Honey is my match as this darkens just a tiny bit on my skin. Color selection is pretty limited – so far I’ve only been able to find 4 total, 3 are available at Nordstrom and all 4 are available at Urban Outfitters. It offers medium to full coverage but pulls more towards the full size. It gives the skin a very natural looking glow without being too dewy. It also stays put and doesn’t budge. Active Ingredients are Octocrylene 2%, Octyle Methoxycinnamate 7%, Octyle Saliclate 4.8%, Titanium Dioxide 9%, Zinc Oxide 2%.
Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion has full coverage with limited shades. I bought the Brightening Version while in New York in 25 and 33 and after testing them at home was so disappointed to find they are simply too pink for my skin. I ordered the Perfecting Cushion in 25 to try instead which has fuller coverage and a better match. This darkens about one full shade on my skin. The formula is a bit on the heavy side for my preference but still holds up well in warm weather. I don’t hate this but don’t love it – I suspect it’s due to the fact that I don’t have a 100% shade match but I can make Shade 25 Deep Beige work for me.
Next are a few miscellaneous items I love for powders, concealers and a couple tools. I own a lot of loose powders but in general prefer pressed ones because they’re not as messy and easier for touch ups.
For pressed powders:
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Skin Perfecting Micro-Powder has one of the longest product names I think I’ve ever seen but it’s seriously THE best pressed powder I’ve tried. I saw this applied in action on my BFF at a Charlotte Tilbury event. Her foundation/base had completely worn off already and she told the artist she didn’t really want to try the foundation. The artist applied #1 on her skin and it was literally transformed into a smooth flawless canvas in front of my eyes. My shade is #2 and although I think she could add more options this one has been my go-to for at least a couple years now.
Armani Luminous Silk Compact Dual-Use Powder is another great setting powder. This one has more color options compared to the Charlotte Tilbury. It offers medium natural coverage and comes with a dual-sided sponge so you can either apply it for sheer or more full coverage. I use a powder brush to set my liquid foundation with this one for the most part. The sponge is something I use for touch ups. Even though I’ve darkened quite a bit I’ve still found Shade #4 to work perfectly for me.
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Plus is one of the few mineral powders I actually like. I tried so many when mineral powders were in – so many just looked too heavy on the skin, even after buffing it in. This one offers medium coverage and I use a brush to set my foundation. It gives an airbrushed finish but it’s not completely weightless in feel. It is a very natural looking product though and holds up well with the heat/humidity.
For concealers, I really don’t find myself using concealer a lot anymore. I simply don’t need it with good coverage foundations but my 3 most-used ones:
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer is my all around go-to for everything, spots, under eyes, red areas. It’s creamy and blends in seamlessly with the skin. Coverage is medium but can be built up. It never looks fake or cakey and stays put as long as I set it with powder.
Tools, an updated brush tool series coming up soon on the blog, but for now my two must-haves:
beautyblender is the best foundation application tool I’ve used. I’ve tried a number of the different colors and while technically they should all perform the same, I don’t find they do. The best ones for me are the original beautyblender (bright pink), bubble and nude. Review from a few years ago in this post here.
MAC Brush 140 S Synthetic Full Fan Brush is probably the best powder brush I own. It launched with the MAC Next to Nothing collection and has the perfect density and softness to pick up powder and apply it in a sweeping motion all over the face.
I wasn’t able to face swatch and photograph all the foundations, but here’s a look at two and also what my bare face looks like. With the Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Foundation in Dusk I’m just wearing the foundation (no powder to set). It was taken with a low flash and I didn’t get any white cast or flashback. Lipstick is MAC Faux.
I hope this roundup was helpful for you! A few notes on other formulas I tested, previous favorites and why I don’t use them as much now:
The Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer worked better for me when I was in San Diego. Right now it’s really too dewy for my skin type. It’s still a great product for sheer coverage.
The Make Up For Ever Ultra HD is still an amazing line for the liquid and stick foundation. I used my shades up the first month I arrived here (this was back in March). Since I’ve gotten darker I haven’t had a chance to investigate other shades to find what my current match is.
The Becca Aqua Luminous Foundation is too luminous for me right now. Earlier in the spring or even when I was here in December it worked perfectly. Right now it’s a no-go just because I have normal/combo skin.
I will be testing the new Diorskin Forever and Chanel Les Beiges cushions. Will keep you posted. I have tried the Lancome Cushion but it’s really heavy in coverage – too heavy for me.
MAC Studio Fix Fluid is one of the most full coverage foundations I’ve tried, I do like the formula but it’s a bit too opaque for me on its own. I can wear it and find it has impressive lasting power in this heat but I need to mix it with a Strobe Cream or something along those lines to sheer it out for my coverage preference.
Some final thoughts and favorites:
Best foundation for me is anything from Tom Ford, but right now my favorite formula is definitely the Waterproof Foundation/Concealer. I used to use Bisque. Now I alternate between Natural (more neutral) and Sable (more olive/yellow).
Longest lasting matte base is the new Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion. If you have normal to dry skin definitely make sure your skin is well moisturized or add a hydrating primer. Reason for this is it’s medium to full coverage and matte formulas can emphasize lines. For me this one went on flawlessly without a primer but my skin is a bit more combination with the heat/humidity.
My most-used concealer is from NARS.
Best sheer/natural looking foundation is the NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint.
Best new discoveries this year for me are the Diorskin Forever Foundation and Saturday Skin All Aglow Cushion.
I really can’t pick 1 favorite powder (sorry!) – it’s tie between the Charlotte Tilbury and Armani. If you want a flawless truly airbrushed look go with the Charlotte Tilbury. However shades are limited as there are only 3 so the next best option is Armani. The Armani has sheerer coverage with a brush.
For other touch ups and this heat I swear by the Tatcha Japanese Blotting Papers. While my in-laws were visiting we went to Orlando. All of us were sweating with the heat, humidity and thunder showers. I kinda forced them to use these – even my husband didn’t want to use it, he looked at the little square and said “there’s no way that’s going to help.” I gave them 2 each and assured them it really would help and after they tried it I was really happy to find that they did feel a lot better after using them.
Finding a good base in truly humid weather is going to be a challenge and results will definitely vary depending where you are located. Even within the Tampa Bay area humidity levels vary depending on how close I am to the coast. We live in one of the canal areas and while we aren’t directly on the bay we can see if from our house. Temperatures just a few miles inland in certain areas fluctuate and since the weather changes by the hour here so there are some times and places where it’s so hot literally nothing will truly stay put.
For those who are looking for a new base to try I hope this gave you some good ideas. If you have any you swear by let me know in the comments!
Press samples featured include the Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion, MAC Next to Nothing, Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Concealer, MAC Brush 140S Brush. All others purchased by me.
NARS has been on a roll with new launches and the latest is the Bord de Plage Highlighting and Bronzing Palette ($59 for 0.11 oz/3.2 g x 6). This is currently a Nordstrom exclusive and fairly similar to the Sephora exclusive Banc de Sable (no longer available, but review and swatches here). As a highlighter fan I had to try the new one even though it looked like there was a possibility the two would be really close. If you already own the trio, I don’t think you need to get the 6-pan palette unless you’re really wanting the sunwash bronzers.
The Bord de Plage Highlighting and Bronzing Palette has six shades in a large mirrored compact. There are four highlighters in the same pressed version as Banc de Sable. There are also two bronzers in the Sunwash Bronzer formula (reviewed here). The highlighters are all gorgeous with a beautiful shimmer that blends in with the skin nicely and doesn’t emphasize pores or lines. The shimmer is noticeable but not overly frosted. The Sunwash Bronzers aren’t really something I’m a huge fan of, although I do feel the ones in the palette have a less muddy feel/look to them on my skin compared to the individual ones I bought earlier in the spring.
Colors in the palette include the following, top row:
Rivage (also in the Banc de Sable Palette) is a pale ivory white-gold shimmer
Crique is a light yellowish gold champagne shimmer
Laguna Sunwashed bronzer is a medium brown tan with a matte finish
Colors in the bottom row are slightly darker:
Corniche is a shimmering champagne with cool-tones, it’s a pearly color
Galet is a shimmering champagne peach-copper
Casino is a slightly deeper version of Laguna
Comparisons between Banc de Sable and Bord de Plage, Rivage in both is identical. The Sale in the trio is almost identical to either Crique/Corniche. Quick note on Galet – I’m quite tan right now so it appears more champagne than copper on me. I’ve looked at swatches on some other blogs and Galet looks more coppery on fair skins.
Bottom line I love this palette but find it really similar to the Banc de Sable one so I probably did not need both. Quality is excellent with smooth shimmers that blend nicely into the skin – it’s perfect for cheeks and eyes and you do get a good mix of champagnes and pearly shades. I do think there are similarities between the top and bottom but I really love all the colors so I don’t mind. Lasting power is really good with this one – it stays put for a long time even with the heat and humidity. If I had to pick this or the trio, I would pick the trio because it has that pretty peachy shade which I don’t see here. Still this one is quite good and I think it’s reasonably priced.
The NARS Bord de Plage Palette is available at Nordstrom. It’s limited-edition. Have you tried this one yet? Or did you get Banc de Sable?