If eyeshadows are like dresses, then foundations are like lingerie… and you can never have too many! It is my archilles heel, and I’m always trying to find a gap in my wardrobe of foundations to fill. So, I was ecstatic when I chanced upon the NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation in Hong Kong (2 whole months ahead of Singapore!). If you remember, I also picked up a sample of Giorgio Armani’s Maestro Fusion Compact (reviewed here) at the same time, so I thought I’d hold off on NARS. But as far as first impressions went, I liked NARS Radiant Cream Compact, really really liked it. When the makeup gods decreed that our paths would cross again in the Bangkok airport duty-free (still weeks ahead of Singapore’s launch), at about 20% discount to RRP, resistance was futile.
NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation comes in a refillable compact – you need to purchase the compact and a refill separately. I like the idea of a refillable compact, it’s environmentally-friendly and cheaper in the long run. Unfortunately, I’m always switching up my foundations so it is moot. Also, when charged separately, it creates a sort of mental price block. The design of the compact is bulkier than most other compact foundations, and feels cheap in my hands. The only thing that is notable about this design, is the lid over the foundation pan, which is designed to stay on after you place the pan into the compact to provide double protection to preserve the integrity of the foundation as the formula is air sensitive. Stupid me tried to pry it out, but I’m happy to report that it is fairly idiot-proof.
In terms of the formula, NARS Radiant feels supple and is fairly easy to blend. Straight out of the pan, it gives medium coverage and is buildable (although I couldn’t quite get it to be full). For those with better skin, you may also apply using a damp sponge to get sheerer coverage. I had no problems applying this with the sponge that was included with the foundation, but preferred blending with my Hakuhodo S5555. Once applied, it leaves my skin with a velvety and luminous finish that looks completely natural, not overly dewy. For a cream foundation, it feels very lightweight on my skin, and resists the tropical heat and humidity quite well. I normally wear my cream products with a light dusting of very sheer powder foundation on top because I like it looking a bit more matte and i find it extends the wear of my foundation (my favourite is YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat powder compact foundation), and I find that I only need to touch-up once after about 6 hours and again before dinner if I’m going out.
When I first got this, I had fairly good skin, which is both a good and bad thing when testing new foundations. At the start of this week, my skin reacted badly to a mud mask and left it with sensitive red patches that turned slightly flaky. I then put all my cream foundations to the test, and sadly, NARS Radiant did not perform quite as well as I’d hoped. Despite all the claims of boosting moisture, my skin still felt dry towards the end of the day (I also tried and didn’t encounter such dryness with Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale Cream Foundation – reviewed here; and the YSL Serum Foundation – reviewed here). Even after my skin was about 90% recovered, I still found NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation to sink into the sides of my nose and crease up around my chin area where the skin was drier.
Due to their coinciding launch dates, I was asked how NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation compared with Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup Compact. Despite both being cream compact foundations, I found the 2 to be rather different. First of all, NARS Radiant in shade Fiji was a perfect match for me. It looks scary dark in the pan, but actually applies lighter and is a spot-on match for my natural skin color. However, it is much more beige and I generally prefer to look brighter. Maestro Compact shade 4 leans a bit more pink and is therefore more brightening on me.
Also, I did not experience problems with Maestro Compact sinking into lines and dry patches, although my skin was on its best behaviour when I was testing it. Recalling that I had some initial difficulties blending Maestro Compact, my intuition tells me NARS Radiant is easier to blend, but I am unable to test drive the 2 side-by-side to validate the theory. The final point to note is, at RRP $78 (for both pan & refill), NARS Radiant is much more affordable than GA Maestro Compact at RRP $115.
Overall, NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation is a lovely cream makeup product in a convenient compact. I like the velvety finish and medium coverage. It also lasts fairly well for a cream foundation, and did not oxidise overly much or fade as the day progresses. I do need to blot and touch up with powder mid-day, but that is not unusual for my combination skin and local humidity. For the price point though, I found the packaging to be rather lame, and the formula lacked pampering for dry, flaky, sensitized skin. After all, isn’t the point of cream foundations for those days when our skin aren’t at their best?
Have you tried any of the latest slew of cream compact foundations? If so, how did you like them?