I love Nars. I just straight up love it. I love Francois Nars, one of my all time favourite makeup artists, and his style of makeup that never dates… His use of eye-catching colour and texture and his ability to keep balance and freshness within even the boldest look. Well respected in the industry, working with legends such as Steven Meisel since the 80s, Nars isn’t only a great makeup artist but also a great photographer. He still to this day shoots each and every Nars campaign as well as creating the flawless makeup looks. I have his Makeup Your Mind and X-Ray books from over 15 years ago that look more contemporary now than some of the books coming out today.
Frustrated at the lack of products for professional artists, Nars launched his own brand in 1994. He created a range of professional quality, vivid colours, for all ethnicities, rocked by a succession of unconventional models that runs like wish list of my all time favourite beauty icons (Tilda Swinton, Erin O’Connor, Charlotte Rampling, Alek Wek…) And if I may gush a little more, I also get excited by the minimalist packaging, a modern classic by design genius Fabien Barron. I adore the colour range, the textures, the edgy meets luxury concept. It looks super sexy in your kit. I mean, what’s not to like? So without further gushing, let’s get stuck into my pick of the Nars makeup artist essentials.
1. Body Glow – £45 . . . Such a gorgeous, luxurious body product, although this is described as “multi-use” and can by all means work on the face to get that high shine, editorial, bronzed skin when needed. It has such a delicate fragrance and a golden sheen that shimmers without ever looking tacky, blends in like a dream and the lightweight oil texture sinks into skin almost immediately, so no oil slicks to contend with. The shimmer free Manoi oil version is also gorgeous for a supple, healthy and radiant look to the skin.
2. Blush in Taj Mahal – £23 . . . Picking a favourite Nars blush is a challenge, and while Orgasm repeatedly gets the accolades (and is rightfully a classic), this vibrant “blazing burnt orange with a golden shimmer” is my personal must have, and a shade I’ve yet to find anything close to elsewhere. On fair skin tones this would certainly be a bold and unusual choice, but Nars prides itself on being a multi-ethnic brand and on darker skin tones Taj Mahal is just a DREAM. I know “darker skintones” is a very broad spectrum but I’ve seen this look incredible on the cheeks of Rihanna as well as Alek Wek so it performs well across a range of beautiful deep skintones, to create a warm, peachy, glowing, sun-kissed yummy yummy glow.
3. Illuminator in Super Orgasm – £23 . . . Yep, I couldn’t go a whole article on Nars without giving Orgasm a shout out, although personally, I’d choose this pumped up liquid illuminator version over the powder blush formula any day. All other tinted highlighters pale in comparison in my opinion, and I am a highlighter hoarder. It glides onto the skin, blending beautifully even on top of foundation. This peachy pink with a gold shimmer is a fave, but their whole range of illuminators in six shades are a thing of beauty.
4. Matte Eyeshadow in Coconut Grove – £18 . . . A matte brown eyeshadow, you may be thinking, how exciting. But bear with me. Pretty much all of my shadows are in palettes, but Nars shadows are notoriously hard to depot, and this is the only non-paletted eyeshadow that is on my workstation for every single job. Just as its hard to find a true blacker than black eyeshadow, I find the same with dark brown. The majority are just wishy-washy versions, but this is anything but. Super soft and blendable, highly pigmented, deep dark chocolate-brown, velvety matte, awesome for a multitude of smokey eyes and for me, a total kit staple.
5. Radiant Creamy Concealer – £22 . . . A favourite of many a makeup artist, for its luxurious and, that’s right, radiant and creamy texture. It does what it says on the tin as they say. Lightweight yet buildable, hydrating and gently light reflecting, a little product goes a long way to blurring away imperfections. Particularly great for under eyes and around the nose, and ideal on clients with otherwise good skin, or even those who can go without foundation but need a little lift here and there. Comes in eleven great shades that can be mixed to cover all skin tones.
6. Matte Multiple in Altai, Cappadoce and Vientiane – £29 . . . Cream sticks, for contouring. What more can I say? Well I can say… Great shades, with no trace of orange, in an ultra blendable cream form. Fantastic for natural contouring, allowing the skin to remain fresh and powder free, but if you like the full on Kimmy K contour look then you can literally draw these on like a big fat magic marker and blend away!
7. Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Train Bleu – £19 . . . Ohhhh my God, this colour! A lipstick in the form of a jumbo crayon, described as “Deep Aubergine” it is the ultimate vamp lip shade. That deep, dark purple with hints of brown, in the smoothest creamy matte texture is a thoroughly modern take on the femme fatale lip. Looks great as part of a full on dark glam look, or packs an awesome punch on its own against clean fresh skin and little else, or buff out the edges for a contemporary lip stain. A lip shade with serious wallop.
8. Pure Matte Lipstick in Madere – £20 . . . I may need to stop throwing the phrase “kit staple” around in this article but I’m sorry, here’s another. If a staple is when I find the ultimate version of something, that solves the problems I had with other products until then, that always looks great, and comes out time and time again, then Madere is that. A cool modern nude that I use for fashion looks aaaall the time. When applied straight from the bullet this is a full whack pale pinky-white toned beige, a real sixties nude. But as seen on the runways of shows from Thakoon to Philip Lim, I get most use applying it with the finger, to tone down any natural redness, creating a modern, matte understated lip to finish any look.
9. Botan Brush – £56 . . . Nars brushes are a real thing of beauty, inspired by old school Japanese makeup brushes, this short-handled goats hair Kabuki brush is phenomenal. It can of course be used on the face, for powder products or blending, but I love it for the body. For applying and buffing in any kind of body makeup, from foundation, to highlighters, to bronzers, it’s a Godsend. Densely packed with dome-shaped bristles, it’s a beast of a brush with a palm sized handle perfect for working on those larger areas.
10. Matte Multiple in Siam – £29 … On a shoot last year, the stylist arrived wearing this shade on her lips and I instantly fell in love with it. At the time it had just come out and I had honestly never seen a shade like it. Imagine Mac’s Lady Danger on steroids and that may give you some idea. And this isn’t just for the lips, it’s a gorgeous pop of pixie colour on the cheeks, and just think what you could do with it on the eyes! Nars describe it as “Poppy Red” but I’d be tempted to stick the word neon in front of that. It is BRIGHT. And gorgeously matte. Oh Mr Nars, with all these gorgeous products you’re really spoiling us…
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