Press samples provided for my unbiased consideration
When NARS released their Dual-Intensity Eyeshadows this past Fall (reviewed), they caused quite the stir in the beauty community; not only are these seriously gorgeous to behold, but the formula is a complete innovation to that of any which has come before. Happily, that unique formula is now available in the brand’s Dual-Intensity Blushes (CAN $52.00/available in 6 duos), created with NARS’ ‘exclusive Translucent Prismatic Technology which features pearls and pigments perfectly suspended in a transparent soft base that then allows for multi-dimensional effects with a unique weightless, luxurious texture‘. All six pairings can be mixed & matched for a customizable shade, or applied with a dampened brush (such as the new N°23 Wet/Dry Brush) for a ‘watercolour effect’. To quote François Nars:
“Don’t be so serious; it’s only makeup”
Kind of puts everything into perspective, no? Above all else, makeup is supposed to be fun, and what could be more entertaining than these vivid, intense, shimmery lovelies?
NARS | Dual-Intensity Blushes & Wet/Dry Blush Brush campaign, featuring Tilda Swinton
Wet/Dry Blush Brush N°23 (CAN $49.00) is a small rounded and densely-headed brush that can be used either dry or dampened. The bristles are very tightly packed together and the slightly domed top makes for a very soft, almost buttery sensation upon the skin; think of this as a variation on the kabuki style, and you have a general idea of how it will perform. My favourite way to use this brush is more in the finishing capacity; the density certainly helps with buffing the blush in for a seamless finish, but I prefer starting my application with a softer brush and building as I go. With regards to using this brush wet/dampened, I followed the tip on the NARS website:
‘For a watercolour effect, mist brush with water before application. Dab over the apples of the cheeks and swirl in a circular motion, painting on pigment to your desired intensity’
It should be said that this application method comes with a bit of a learning curve; it’s best to start with a lightly dampened brush (don’t panic if you’ve oversprayed – you can blot any excess with a paper towel) and begin with a scant amount, building from there.
TIP: after several trial & error attempts, the most effective way I’ve found of using this brush (whether wet or dry) is to start by lightly tapping it onto your desired shade and be careful to always start with a small amount – especially with the more pigmented duos. Follow by lightly stippling the brush along the skin (again, use a light hand – I can’t stress that enough) and proceed to then blend everything in using the recommended swirling pattern.
Panic Dual-Intensity Blush is a vibrant pink-fuchsia/peach-pink duo. Both shades are highly pigmented (the peachy side is actually a few degrees more intense than the fuchsia portion) and a little goes a long way. The shimmer is incredibly complex, and while visible, it’s not of the obnoxious variety; it serves to add a radiant dimension to the overall colour.
With regards to application, I found that a softer brush such as the NARS Yachiyo Kabuki (CAN $55.00) does the best job for setting down a diffused layer of colour followed by a good buffing with the N°23 Wet/Dry Brush to blur out any harsh lines, as well as help the shimmer meld into the colour.
NARS Panic Dual-Intensity Blush swatches: heavily, dry and with a dampened brush
NARS Panic Dual-Intensity Blush swatches, alternate lighting
Craving Dual-Intensity Blush is a softened seashell-pink highlighter/shimmering beach-bronze duo. Unlike Panic, this duo actually benefits from being applied with the N°23 Wet/Dry Brush, as each shade bears a lessened intensity to start with and there’s no fear of overdoing the application or creating any splotchiness with either colour. Of course, you’re always free to experiment with other brushes, but I’m totally loving both the look and control that the Wet/Dry Brush provides me when used with this particular duo.
I must admit that I was a little skeptical as to how well Craving would work as a blush, but after playing with it for a few weeks, it has quickly become one of my fave hybrid blush/bronzer/highlight products I’ve ever used. Worn dry, the colour of the bronzer portion is not only buildable, but adds a beautiful sun kissed warmth. The highlighter, is breathtakingly beautiful; there’s a luminous pink current running through it that gives a ‘seashell-like’ flash, and when applied lightly along the high planes of the face, it gives off such a stunning radiance. I don’t have enough words to describe how much I love this highlighter – in terms of colour, texture, and finish. Love, I tell you.
Applied with a dampened brush, the darker portion obviously intensifies in tone – but not by too many levels; it can also double as a contouring shade when worn in this capacity, especially for fair complexions. One tip I discovered by accident, is to apply the highlighter first along the upper part of the cheekbone, then I use the Wet/Dry Brush in a downward motion, blending it into the bronzer; this gives a gradient effect to the two shades and fuses them perfectly one to the other.
NARS Craving Dual-Intensity Blush swatches: heavily, dry and with a dampened brush
NARS Craving Dual-Intensity Blush swatches, alternate lighting
When I received these Dual-Intensity Blushes (along with the Wet/Dry Brush), I wold have sworn that Panic would be my favourite – and while both of its hues are totally up my alley, Craving has turned into the sleeper hit, hands down. The complexity of the shimmer with both is something that needs to be seen & played with in person, and while some duos may seem like rather unconventional blushes, think of it in terms of trying things out of your comfort zone, because you just never know when something will simply ‘click’ (like Craving did for me).
Available now through all NARS counters at The Bay, Holt Renfrew, Murale, Sephora and sephora.com throughout CANADA. Find more information via narscosmetics.com