Contour Blush from NARS has a misleading name because the colors offered are much better for contouring (adding shape and shading to better define the face) than for blush, which is about adding color to the cheeks.
Housed in one compact are two pressed powders: The larger is for contouring while the smaller pan of color is a highlighting powder. You can successfully contour without also highlighting, so this pairing makes sense and, for the most part, the shades are very good.
Three duos are offered: Olympia is for light skin tones and has the least workable contour color owing to is softness and pink undertone. Paloma is for medium skin tones but is also workable for light skin tones, and is the best duo owing to its wider appeal and the almost-perfect color of its contour powder. Gienah is for dark skin tones or for medium skin tones to use a bronzer, and it's well suited for either purpose. With each Contour Blush duo, the highlighting shade is different to better coordinate with the depth of the contouring powder—a thoughtful touch not often seen in products like this.
Both powders have a silky, slightly dusty texture that's easy to apply. Although the shades look matte, upon closer inspection you'll see subtle sparkles. Not a deal-breaker but rather just something to be aware of if you're considering this.
- Silky pressed powder texture is easy to apply.
- Two of the three contour colors are appropriate for this purpose.
- All of the highlighting shades are good.
- The lightest duo is not suitable for contouring.
- Misleading name, as this product shouldn't be used as blush.
Frenchman Francois Nars has been painting the faces of New York's top models since arriving in the United States in 1984. Their images and his handiwork have been seen on the covers of countless fashion magazines, most notably Vogue and Elle. As the story often goes for the talented makeup artists who have become celebrities in their own right, Nars became frustrated with the state of available makeup and, surprise, another cosmetic line was born.
Beginning (as Bobbi Brown did) by launching a small collection of lipsticks in 1994, the clamor for the colors was incredible, and demand for more NARS products from the artist grew. Shortly thereafter an entire product line followed, gaining women's attention with sleek, tactile-enhanced packaging and risqué shade names.
As an overview, NARS makeup has many strengths, but just as many weaknesses. It reaches its zenith with blushes, foundation shades, brushes, and lipsticks, but falters when it comes to pencils, and mascaras. Still, the best of NARS are really spectacular, and include expanded color palettes.
Although much can be said about the makeup side of this cosmetics line, there is very little, if anything, to be said about the skin-care products other than "Why bother?" or better yet, "What were they thinking?" Most of the cleansers are drying, the toners are dated formulations of alcohol and other irritants, and the moisturizers are mundane, poorly conceived and dated formulations. A little grape juice and fennel won't save a mix of alcohol, film-forming agent, and waxes, especially not at these inflated prices. And sunscreen? Completely absent; it's not even discussed. The assembly of products is attractively presented at NARS counters, but don't be fooled!
For more information about NARS, owned by Shiseido, call (888) 788-6277 or visit www.narscosmetics.com.