NARS Aqua Gel Luminous Mask

As you probably know by now, masks are major staples in my skincare arsenal. While there’s many masks to choose from, I prefer overnight/”sleeping masks” for most occasions. Additionally, for pamper sessions or when my skin really needs some help, the traditional clay masks — or the ones you wash off — are still a winner in my book. I still manage to squeeze in sheet masks every other night or so, but lately, overnight masks are so much easier to deal with. My newest is the NARS Aqua Gel Luminous Mask, and I’m very happy with its multitasking concept. And, by that, I mean that I use this mask in a variety of ways.

The gel-like quality is convenient — it’s easy to apply, feels cooling and soothing on the skin, and it spreads easily without catching in different parts of the face. It’s very easy to slap it on and move on!

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The NARS Aqua Gel Luminous Mask is an “intensive hydrating mask for smoother, softer, more plump-looking skin.” For skin that is dehydrated, dry, tired, and dull, this is the perfect way to recharge your skin. NARS claims that “this advanced treatment provides a surge of hydration anytime—day or overnight, leaving skin ultrasoft, vibrant, and more youthful-looking.” Additionally, the mask is “infused with NARS exclusive Light Reflecting Complex™, Japonicus root extract, Wild Pansy extract, Beech Bud extract, and Sophora root extract,” which are all skin-loving ingredients that aid with intense hydration and strengthening the skin’s barrier function to lock in essential moisture.

Most importantly, the Aqua Gel Luminous Mask “saturates the skin with moisture. Skin feels comfortable, calm, and soothed. The appearance of fine lines and wrinkles begin to fade from view. Lightweight and velvety to the touch, this treatment mask helps skin achieve a new level of luminosity and preparation for smooth makeup application and longer-lasting foundation.”

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As mentioned previously, I use this mask in a variety of ways. First, I use it as is — a mask that can be left on overnight. This means after makeup removal, thorough cleansing, and prepping the skin with toner, serum, and my night cream, I apply this mask as my final step on top of my night cream. Usually, I leave about 10-15 minutes of absorbing time for my regular night time products, and then I apply the Aqua Gel Luminous Mask. At first, the mask is filmy and almost sticky. But when you give it some time to absorb, it adheres to the skin well and locks in all the products you’ve applied prior. I feel that this traps all the moisture and nutrients during the night, enabling my skin to recover, recharge, and rehydrate throughout the night.

Second, I use this as a quickie wash-off mask. Sometimes in the morning, my skin is looking tired and dull. So I’ll wash my face with Cetaphil, apply the mask, and then brush my teeth. During that time the mask is working quickly to re-vamp my skin. After brushing my teeth, I wash off the mask and proceed onto my morning skincare routine and then makeup. I’ve found that this method can truly make a difference in how my skin looks before makeup applications on days when my skin really needs it.

Lastly, sometimes I swap out my regular daytime moisturizer for this. I don’t do this often since I don’t think it’s as effective as when I apply this at night. However, when my skin is feeling dry, I apply this instead of moisturizer to give my skin a quick boost. Because it feels tacky at first, I have to have adequate time for it to absorb, then apply my sunscreen, then my makeup. It can be time-consuming so I tend to not do it often. I found myself doing this while traveling, however.

Retails for $39.00 USD.
Made in USA.

REVIEW: NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

I finally was able to get my hands on the newest NARS foundation — the NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation. This product has been very hyped but I’ve been waiting a long time for it. As a foundation junkie and a NARS fan, it was an exciting moment for me to finally get my new NARS foundation. :) This foundation is an “oil-free foundation that delivers full, natural-looking coverage with one drop, for lightweight, 16-hour wear.” Along side the highly acclaimed Sheer Glow Foundation, this is the perfect newest addition to the NARS foundation family. I heard through the grapevine that the All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation will replace the Sheer Matte Foundation.

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“Achieve full-coverage, lightweight foundation that leaves a natural finish. Highly pigmented and perfectly balanced, this breakthrough, full-coverage formula builds and blends effortlessly.” This foundation is unique — in that the texture of it is actually very light and almost watery. Even after you shake it really well, the foundation hardly feels like it would be something that delivers high coverage. In addition, I found that it’s highly adjustable as well — in fact, I can wear it as sheer as I want (with a damp Beauty Blender sponge) and pigmentation and coverage isn’t compromised. This foundation’s “Even Tone Technology” is referred to as the magic that “instantly neutralizes redness and dullness, while it works to reduce discoloration for more even, uniform skin. Perfect for all skin types, it features Long-wear Technology, an exclusive blend from NARS with flexible polymers and treated pigments that move with the skin while providing 16 hours of staying power.”

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I’m never dissatisfied with NARS foundations, and I’m so pleased with the performance of the new All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation. It’s super light weight and glides onto the skin effortlessly. Most of the time I like to use a Beauty Blender Sponge, but other times, I use a dense synthetic buffing brush and it blends out beautifully no matter what. The great thing about a buildable foundation is that you can add additional product onto places where you really need it the most. For me, I add a few extra dots to my cheek areas when they’re irritated or red; everything is instantly concealed with this foundation — and, in the most natural way possible.

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I got my usual shade “Mont Blanc” which is a light shade with pink undertones. It balances my pinky, Asian skin really well and hasn’t irritated it in any way. Additionally, I found that even without a setting powder, this foundation holds up well on its own. Oil-control is surprisingly good, and even after oil breaks through, the foundation remains uncakey. I like that this foundation is really natural and feels light on the skin. It’s great for mornings I wake up with issues with my skin because this will cover it right up. However, I also like it for days when there’s nothing wrong with my skin since I can apply it so naturally and sheerly on my skin.

Overall, I recommend this foundation. I think no matter what skin type you have and what you initial skin concerns are, this foundation will continue to work for you. A little bit of product goes a long ways — I use barely half a pump and I’m happy with that. At $48.00 USD, I find that it’s a fair and reasonable price for a high-end product that performs well.

Retails for $48.00 USD.
Made in USA.

NARS Eyeshadow Duo in “Tokyo”

I’ve written about NARS eyeshadows in the past — my favorites being the NARS Duo Eyeshadow in “Cordura” and the NARS Single Eye Shadow in “Blondie.” Recently, however, I’ve been really into the NARS Eyeshadow Duo in “Tokyo.” Best of all, I love how the duos come with a sturdy mirror and modern, complementary shades.

The duos consist of a “long-wearing, crease-resistant formula [that] is uniquely paired in dazzling and creative color combinations, expertly coordinated by François Nars. Worn together or alone, these shades are richly pigmented and can be applied sheer or built up for a more dramatic effect. Used wet, these shadows also double as eyeliners.” I’ve been gravitating toward the “Tokyo” duo because it’s been great on a every day basis with its “silver shimmer/ lavender shimmer” shades.

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The best excuse for this duo is that it’s unique. While I own mainly neutral tones and eyeshadows that are “every day” and “wearable,” I found that the “Tokyo” duo is a great way to integrate something different with my usual every day looks. In the pan, I feel like it looks quite drab; but, on the skin, it’s reflective in a nice way without looking like it’s too much. Another great thing about these two shades is that it adds a little something extra to dark, smokey eyes, so in a very true sense, it’s quite multi-tasking.

Made in Canada.
Retails for $35.00 USD.

NARS All Day Luminous Powder Foundation SPF 24 in “Siberia”

I’ve literally been waiting ages for the release of the NARS All Day Luminous Powder Foundation, and I was super happy to be able to get mine when they became available. As a “12-hour wear, lightweight powder foundation with SPF 24 and natural, buildable coverage,” it sounds like the most perfect powder, so my expectations were high as well. With that, I was a little hesitant too since I’m quite picky about powder foundation formulas and textures. The look I try to go for almost daily is a healthy, translucent, dewy complexion so naturalness is a big factor.

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This powder foundation functions with the “ease of a powder and glides on skin like velvet, while offering medium coverage that does not mask.” The “modern, lightweight formula offers a smooth finish and protects from harmful rays with SPF 24.” It’s considered to be “sweatproof, with lasting color in hot and humid conditions, it can be applied with both a wet and dry sponge for versatile coverage.” As with most powder/powder foundations, you lift the pan with the product in it to reveal a sponge. I almost always like to sweep on powders/powder foundations with a large, fluffy brush, so for me, the sponge will likely go unused.

The formula of this product is really light and airy, and sweeps on easily without looking or feeling cakey. I was surprised how natural it looked even in daylight — with no dry patches catching anywhere and with no creasing around my nose and mouth area. The coverage certainly seems buildable, but I like to layer a light dusting of the powder. As a setting powder, this is great with pretty good oil-controlling abilities and not settling into pores. It doesn’t look or feel gross on top of liquid foundation/BB cream/CC cream, so that’s a major bonus as well. As a powder foundation, it’s light and provides nice coverage. On good skin days, some concealer and this has been doing the trick for me so I’m very happy about that.

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I chose the shade “Siberia,” which is the lightest shade available. While my foundation shade has been “Mont Blanc,” it seems that the powders run in-between shades since they don’t correlate with every foundation shade in the liquid formulas. As a Light 1 shade, “Siberia” is a “light with neutral balance of pink/yellow undertones” so it falls right where it needs to for my skintone. I love this product for smoothing the surface of my skin and evening out my skintone — which is pretty fabulous for a powder product. Since it feels so feels lightweight on the skin, I’d recommend it for those who prefer products that leaves skin with a natural finish.

Made in USA.
Retails for $48.00 USD.

NARS Matte Multiple in “Anguilla”

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When the new NARS Matte Multiples were released, I read a lot of mixed reviews because of its controversial size. In size, the Matte Multiples are 0.26 oz. each while the The Multiples are 0.50 oz. each. However, despite the size controversy, I like the new Matte Multiples because they are a “modern matte multipurpose makeup stick for lips and cheeks that may be used wet or dry.” Marketed as a multi-functional product, my hopes and expectations were high — especially since these were much smaller than The Multiples for the same price.

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“This innovative formula—the next wave makeup artistry for lips and cheeks—delivers vibrant pops and sensual sunkissed modern matte hues for lips and cheeks. Used dry it delivers a burst of high-impact color; used wet, color melts into skin with an imperceptibly smooth, sheer finish.” The formula is super soft and creamy and blends like a dream on the skin. It’s got enough slip so that application and blending is easy, but it does set nicely without looking wet or glossy. The waxy texture is almost mousse-like, but glides on the skin easily and looks pretty without any shimmer or glitter.

The shade “Anguilla” is a pretty “ginger pink” that looks great on my skin. The warm pinky shade is a great pop of color without looking too bright; and, it’s great because it provides a great look without looking too done up. The color also looks pretty on the lips — almost a nudey-pink shade. But, I found it to be a bit drying on the lips.

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For the price, this product is expensive for what it actually is. And, like most people, I found that the regular The Multiples was a much better deal. Like all NARS products, this product is extremely pigmented so a little does go a long ways. But, despite that, I think a price range of $26-$28 would’ve been more sufficient in my opinion. For me, the only shade that I really liked was “Anguilla” since the other ones were just too much for me. It’s really not a must-have, so it’s not a product that you need to run out and get. The quality is nice, but for essentially a cream blush, there’s other options out there (honestly speaking).

Retails for $39.00 USD.
Made in USA.

NARS Duo Eyeshadow in “Cordura”

Finding new gems is the best part of collecting and testing out makeup. And, as you know, I’m a big fan of NARS eyeshadows in general. In the past, I’ve written posts about the NARS Guy Bourdin Holiday Collection Limited Edition Cinematic Eye Shadow in “Mississippi Mermaid” and the NARS Single Eye Shadow in “Blondie” — and they’re still well used in my collection.

This post will focus on the NARS Duo Eyeshadow in “Cordura” because of MakeupByTiffanyD as usual. Her newest video called My Favorite Soft & Simple Smokey Eye Makeup Tutorial was my most recent obsession this week; and, I was on the hunt for the duo she featured in the video. I tracked mine down at Nordstrom since it was sold out at Sephora.

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“Cordura” is a duo that features both a warm shimmery brown shade and a dark shimmery brown shade. The complementary shades work well to bring a modern take on the smokey eye. While you can build it up to be dark and smokey, you can also layer the colors thinly to get a gradient and more natural look for the day. This “long-wearing, crease-resistant formula is uniquely paired in dazzling and creative color combinations” that have been expertly coordinated. The colors are rich in pigment, smooth and buttery, and are long-lasting even without primer.

I’d always recommend NARS eyeshadows and their range of products in general. However, this duo is special for its versatility and unique brown shades. In a world of neutrals, it’s hard to find unique brown shades when all I own are good brown shades. The browns in this duo are more golden-brown and give the perfect amount of depth and dimension to the lids.

Retails for $35.00 USD.

REVIEW: NARS Final Cut Illuminator in “Adelaide”

I’ve been eagerly reading review posts of various Spring/Summer limited edition collections being released, and I’m sad to say that nothing really tugged at my heartstrings. While the FINAL CUT collection by NARS was available on Nordstrom’s website for weeks, I decided to wait to see the collection in person before making any kind of commitment. Though the blushes looked beautiful and were all very tempting, I stopped myself from getting them because I have so many blushes that look just the same! Instead, I got the Final Cut Illuminator in “Adelaide” and skipped the lip products entirely.

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NARS Illuminators are marketed as items that will “light the skin from within.” They are designed to be worn as a highlighting product for the face, or applied to the skin before makeup, and can also be mixed in with foundation for the ultimate glowy effect. Previously, I featured the NARS Illuminator in “Copacabana” and it’s still a favorite item in my collection.

In general, the Illuminators are a range of highlighting products that are described to be “light-reflecting liquids that glides on to refresh and enhance the complexion.” The Illuminators promise “to create a shimmering incandescence” on the face and body. Despite the color in the tube, “Adelaide” is “deceptively sheer [and] decidedly luminous” all at the same time. NARS claims to “magically transform your skin from ordinary to extraordinary” with these products.

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“Adelaide” is a bright, cool-toned pink with shimmer in the tube, but blends out sheer and pretty on the skin. As you’ve probably already guessed — a little goes a long way. I found that “Adelaide” was the only unique item in the FINAL CUT collection and I’m very happy with the purchase. So far, I’ve worn it as a highlighter on the face after blush, alone in place of blush, and mixed in with my foundation — and, I found that “Adelaide” can really bring your blush to life. The glow is undeniable, yet it’s still subtle and natural without going too overboard. Surprisingly when mixed in with foundation, it doesn’t change the tone of it. I was afraid since it was so pink, the color of my base makeup would be altered — however, since my skin naturally leans a little pink anyway, I found it to be no problem.

My favorite way to wear this is in place of blush — just on my cheeks like a stain. The texture is creamy but not thick and not too thin. It blends out beautifully without drying too fast like the Benefit tints. The effect is pretty and I recommend the Final Cut Illuminator in “Adelaide,” for sure. In my opinion, the other items can be passed up if you already own various shades of pink blushes. If not, this collection would be a great place to start!

Made in USA.
Product contains 1.1 oz.
Retails for $30.00 USD.

NARS Guy Bourdin Holiday Collection Limited Edition Cinematic Eye Shadow in “Mississippi Mermaid”

Previously, I wrote a post about the NARS Guy Bourdin Holiday Collection Limited Edition Blush in “Day Dream”. I passed up the eyeshadows, but one did catch my attention before I left Sephora. Since then, I went back to get the shade that was tugging at my heartstrings called “Mississippi Mermaid”. As a limited edition product, availability may be limited. Some stores may still carry it, so if you’re interested in this particular line/shade, it’s best to get it now! :)

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“Mississippi Mermaid” is a champagne-peachy shade that looks like nothing special in the pan. In fact, even swatched, this shade may not be for everyone. This shadow can be applied dry or with a dampened brush for a more intense finish, but I choose to wear it dry like all my other eyeshadows. As with all of NARS’ products, pigmentation is impeccable so controlling the amount of product you apply is key to this shade. When applied with a heavy hand, the color looks chalky. But, once thinned out/blended, the shade is a warm, shimmery champagne-peachy shade that can be flattering.

I like to focus this shade in the inner corners of my eyes when I’m wearing a slightly darker look. Other days, when I’m in the mood, I’ll apply this shade all over the lids and follow with some eyeliner. It’s a great, but subtle way to create dimension on the lids without wearing a glittery/metallic shade.

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This shade is pretty and I liked “Mississippi Mermaid” the best out of all the other shadows in the Limited Edition Cinematic Eye Shadow range. The reflective tone is what makes the color unique and worth having in my collection. However, since it seems so basic, I can understand why this shade might’ve been passed up and overlooked! I recommend this color if it’s still available to you — it’s so great for the inner corners since it’s not stark white or too gold.

Product contains 0.07 oz.
Retails for $24.00 USD.
Made in USA.

NARS Single Eye Shadow in “Blondie”

I’m a big fan of NARS and their eye shadows. Their shadows are great to have in your collection because the colors are unique — even if they don’t look special in the pan initially. I own several that I try to put in regular rotation, even though, I admit sometimes they go unnoticed when I’m playing with other colors/brands. Recently, I came across some eye makeup looks catered towards neutral lovers in a Japanese fashion magazine. The shade that seemed to be used multiple times was the NARS Single Eye Shadow in “Blondie”. Naturally, I just had to see this and swatch this in person.

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Upon first glance, this shade looks like nothing special — almost like one of those filler shades in palettes. In fact, even when you swatch it, it seems like a shade that you could pass up. However, in natural light, this shade is the most flattering for the lid as an all-over base color, contour color, and even eyebrow color. While the tone of this color comes off as a flat matte, there’s something about this shade that comes to life once in contact with skin. For me, I like this color best when I pair it alone with some winged eyeliner. For fancy makeup, I like to use this when I apply a smokey eye to blend the harsh darker colors along the crease. Even in neutral looks, the shade is great to contour the crease — giving your lid a subtle definition that you would otherwise be missing.

For those with blonde, medium blonde, dirty, and even light brunette hairs, this shade would make such a flattering eyebrow color as well. For me, since my hair is a medium brown color, this shade is too light. But, in a pinch, I’ve made it work when used in conjunction with a darker eyebrow pencil. This shade is worth getting to experiment with; and, comes in handy as the ultimate blending shade.

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NARS shadows are smooth and buttery — almost creamy, even though they’re powder products. The pigmentation is insane, so it’s best to use a light hand and a good blending brush when applying to the eyelid. I recommend NARS products in general; and, would recommend the shadows as well. The Duo Eyeshadows are definitely worth looking into for the price. Other NARS products I would recommend are the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer, the Sheer Glow Foundation, and the Satin Lip Pencils.

Made in Canada.
Retails for $24.00 USD.

NARS Guy Bourdin Holiday Collection Limited Edition Blush in “Day Dream”

Don’t be shocked, but I don’t own any NARS blushes. Yes. You’ve read that correct. Years ago, when “Orgasm” was a hot-seller from NARS, I jumped on the band wagon because it was such a popular and highly sought after blush shade. When I got it, I was unimpressed, felt that it was like a million other shades I owned, and it was just too glittery for my liking. I kept it around for another few years without ever using it again, and eventually, I threw it out when I moved. I didn’t miss it and never looked back — so, to me, it wasn’t a loss.

Fast forward another few years, and here we are with the exclusive limited edition Guy Bourdin holiday collection at Sephora. I’ve glanced at this shade for a few weeks without my heart strings being tugged until last week. Much to my surprise, the shade “Day Dream” is a pretty, soft peachy pink with a nice sheen — no glitter or shimmer. It swatched beautifully so I decided to give NARS blushes another try.

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So, who’s Guy Bourdin? Well, according to Sephora, this “limited-edition shade of high-intensity blush [was] inspired by legendary fashion photographer Guy Bourdin.” NARS claims that they are the “ultimate authority in blush,” offering the “industry’s most iconic shades for cheeks.” For the most part, I think I could agree — when browsing the colors available in person, they do carry unique shades that surprisingly flatter the skin; and, NARS blushes are known to be highly pigmented.Take a look at all the shades available at Sephora.

The color “Day Dream” is pretty and flatters my ivory/fair skin tone. The peachy pink shade leans a bit more pink, but the hints of peachiness brings warmth to the tone against my cheeks. While I own many pink blushes of various undertones, I don’t tend to be swayed by peachy-pink colors unless they’re lip colors. For whatever reason, “Day Dream” really seems to work for me — giving me a warm flush of color, while providing a subtle glowiness without sparkles and shimmer. The texture is buttery soft and pigmentation is just right — not too stark and not too light. The formula is long-lasting (even through sweat).

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I’d recommend the Guy Bourdin Holiday Collection Limited Edition Blush in “Day Dream” and I think it’s worth re-visiting NARS blushes in general. I’m sure for the real blush lovers out there, NARS blushes are collectible items. For me, I can’t say that I’m all that convinced that they are the best on the market, but so many people swear by them, obviously their reputation stands for a reason! I’d consider going back and looking at other trademark shades like “Sin,” but for my liking, I may look at “Gaeity” and “Desire” next. What about you?

Read more about the NARS Guy Bourdin Holiday Collection 2013 here at Makeup Stash.

Made in Canada.
Retails for $29.00 USD.