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=== The Brand ===
NARS Cosmetics is a brand which was founded by the makeup artist and photographer François Nars. It is best known for its "Orgasm" blusher but has a full range of makeup including the Sheer Matte foundation which I am reviewing.
NARS is not the best known or most widely available brand but it is stocked at Space NK and can also be bought from some branches of House of Fraser and John Lewis (but not Debenhams). You can also get it at Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. Alternatively you can buy directly from the NARS website at narscosmetics.co.uk.
=== Sheer Matte Foundation ===
The name is quite self explanatory with this foundation! It is sheer, so it gives fairly light coverage and is not as heavy as a lot of other foundations. It gives a matte rather than a dewy finish, so it is suited for people with oily skin and it aims to control shine.
=== Packaging and Dispensing ===
The Sheer Matte foundation packaging is simple and classy. NARS is known for its minimalist design and this bottle is quite typical. It is a glass bottle with very little writing other than NARS in large capital letters down the side. It comes with a chunky matte black screw top which leaves an open bottle neck when you unscrew it, but you can buy NARS compatible foundation pumps separately for £3, which I opted to do. I find that the pump makes a big improvement to the bottle as it means I can easily dispense a very small amount of foundation at a time. Tipping foundation straight out of the open bottle neck causes way too much to come out and I find it a bit unhygenic to be scraping bits back in that I haven't used.
The bottle contains 30 ml which is the amount I would expect from most foundations and which should last a long time even if worn daily. We are advised the foundation should be used up within 2 years of opening it.
=== Shades ===
There are 20 shades available and I think the range is pretty good. I wear the shade "Mont Blanc" (light 2) which is a pale shade with a pinky base. Often I find that I need the lightest available shade from a brand, but NARS actually has one for people even paler than me. Not being able to find a pale enough foundation is a common complaint which I often hear from people, so I think it is great that NARS really does cater for the full spectrum as the shade Siberia (light 1) is much paler than you often find in most brands. There is a good mix of shades with pink, yellow or neutral bases to them. There is also a good number of shades suited to Asian and black skin tones, so most people should be able to find a good match.
=== Application and Wear ===
My skin can be oily at times, especially in humid environments, so I first decided to try this foundation while on holiday in Florida and the Bahamas. Some of the products I had been wearing had ended up making my face look shiny or sliding off, so I decided I wanted something more matte which might do better at withstanding the heat.
I apply this foundation after moisturising and on top of primer. I use a normal flat foundation brush to put it on, and then blend and buff it with an airbrush foundation brush, similar to a stippling brush. This gives it a very natural finish and it doesn't look like I am obviously wearing makeup. I find it very easy to apply as it has a nice liquid texture, not too runny and not too stiff. When I apply a small amount from one pump it does only give minimal, sheer coverage but it looks good and evens out my complexion, making my skin look brighter and fresher. It is buildable and can easily be added to in order to achieve a bit more coverage if necessary, but it is not really going to be enough to cover anything like acne scars or blemishes.
When wearing it in hot climates I found that once applied it was fairly transfer resistant and not too easily rubbed off. It lasted pretty well, keeping light coverage throughout a day but needed redoing if I wanted it to look really fresh again in the evening. On the whole I was really happy with it and it did a good job of keeping me shine free, controlling oil and stopping my foundation just melting off.
As I had been so impressed with how well this had worked on holiday, I went to Space NK when I got back and bought a full bottle. Sadly however, I have been much less impressed with it in the English climate! On quite a few occasions when I have worn this, I have been really shocked to see that shortly after applying it the foundation has started to go a bit patchy. It can look extremely powdery and has shown up some slight dryness which I did not even know I had! I would never have described my skin as dry at all, as it is definitely more on the oily side, but this foundation shows up every bit of dryness. On those dry areas, the foundation seemed to peel away a little bit and the coverage did not look even. It also felt a bit uncomfortable and powdery on my skin. Needless to say, if you do want to try this foundation, you definitely need to make sure you have moisturised very well beforehand, even if you think you don't have dry skin.
In an effort to avoid this problem, I also tried mixing the foundation with a tiny bit of serum or a bit of moisturiser on the back of my hand, which improved the situation somewhat, but made the consistency a little bit strange and made it harder to put on my face and blend.
I found it quite surprising that my experience with this foundation was so wildly different once the environment had changed, and I haven't found it suitable to wear at home at all really. Even on the few hotter days we had I was wary of risking it as I had seen how bad this foundation made my skin look when the coverage had gone patchy, so I prefered to stick with my trusty Estee Lauder Double Wear. I will give it a try again the next time I am in a hot and humid environment, which I hopefully will be next week, but I would not buy it again.
=== Irritation? ===
It is dermatologist tested and fragrance free, and I haven't suffered any kind of irritation or allergic reaction from it though I do have quite sensitive skin.
=== Price ===
This foundation costs £29.50 for 30 ml from the NARS website.
*** This review is a relay entry for team Dooyoolympians ***
Nars Cosmetics Sheer Matte Foundation 30ml / An oil-free / soft matte-finish foundation with sheer / buildable coverage that controls oil and shine throughout the day / Replete with skincare benefits and the NARS Complexion Brightening Formula / skin is more luminous / softer and smoother / Used daily / Sheer Matte Foundation improves skin brightness / radiance and texture / For normal to oily skin types / Minimizes visible discoloration / Brightens and clarifies overall skin tone / Oil free / Absorbs oil and controls shine / Dermatologist tested / Non-comedogenic / Combination/ oily skin / Full Coverage / Matte Finish / Oil absorbing.