It’s getting to be that time of year again–the days are getting shorter, the temperature’s dropping, and there’s a constant smokiness in the air…winter is fast upon us. The horror!! Ok, maybe it’s not that bad, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it my favorite time of year. Sure, it’s nice sometimes when you’re snuggled in bed with your sweetie watching a movie. Or you’re drinking a hot cup of tea and reading your favorite book next to the fire…or next to the heating vent, as the case may be. But mostly it’s cold and my skin is always itchy from being so dry no matter how much lotion or cream or oil I use and it’s harder to wake up in the mornings because it’s so cold and your bed is so nice and warm…it’s times like those when I really start to miss the dog days of summer. The warm sun, the brilliant blue skies, the bronzed skin and sun-flushed cheeks…
*warning: this is a very picture-heavy post!!
Though summer is quite a ways away, at least there’s one way to capture that warm, sunny, summery look again–and that’s with Nars’ Beach Lover set. This 5-piece, travel-sized set is a limited-edition Sephora-exclusive. It includes: a mini Blush Duo in Hungry Heart/Orgasm (0.17 oz.), a mini lip gloss in limited-edition shade Laguna (0.14 oz.), a mini Soft Touch Shadow Pencil in Skorpios (0.07 oz.), and a mini Illuminator in Laguna (0.57 oz.). Hungry Heart is a light iridescent cream shade with golden micro-glitter. Orgasm is a slightly-peachy pink shade chock-full of gold shimmer. Skorpios is an iridescent coppery bronze shade. The Laguna gloss is a deep, semi-opaque bronze with gold shimmer–the Laguna Illuminator is a sheer, shimmering bronze.
First, let’s talk about that Blush Duo. I really wish that this set had come with the Laguna/Orgasm duo instead of Hungry Heat/Orgasm because I feel like it would have gone better with the whole beachy theme…and because I really dislike the Hungry Heart highlighter. I actually have the full-size Hungry Heart duo. Please don’t ask me why I bought it in the first place–I must’ve been drunk or something. I can’t imagine ever having liked it and probably should have returned it asap, but I waited too long and got stuck with it. :/
Hungry Heart in the mini Blush Duo doesn’t add too much color, but there is a hint of a creamy-white cast which can look chalky, especially on anything darker than light-medium skin. Mostly though, it just dispenses a lot of gold micro-glitter. To me, Hungry Heart isn’t a highlighter–it’s a glitter product. It could be fun if you are someone who likes glitter. Compared to other glitters, this one is a bit more refined and–dare I say it?–sophisticated. When I compared the mini Hungry Heart to the full-sized version, I did notice a difference in both texture and finish. The full-size is much softer and creamier than the mini. It’s also much more glittery. It has a ton of gold micro-glitter in a matte cream-colored base while the mini has markedly less glitter content but a slight shimmering base. As for Orgasm, I am quite fond of the color–more so than I remember being (I bought Orgasm several years ago and ended up passing it on to my sister)–but it’s so shimmery that it highlights every single pore and imperfection on my cheeks.
1. Nars Blush Duo, 2. Nars Lipgloss in Laguna, 3. Nars Soft Touch Shadow Pencil in Skorpios, 4. Nars Laguna Illuminator
*You can clearly see that the bottom pan, which is the full-sized Hungry Heart duo, is much more glittery than the one at the top, which is the Blush Duo that comes in this set. I tried to do comparison swatches too but it’s hard to capture the micro-glitter in photos, so the difference wasn’t as apparent
Orgasm is on the firmer, drier side–it’s not stiff, but it’s definitely not soft or creamy. Hungry Heart in comparison is softer and silkier. Despite the glitter content, I don’t find the texture to be gritty at all. Orgasm lasted a little over 5 1/2 hours and Hungry Heart made it through a full day (well, about 10 hours before I washed my face). Because the glitter is so fine, it stayed in place all day without a hitch. There was definitely some glitter fallout by the end of the day though.
The Skorpios Soft Touch Shadow Pencil is indeed quite soft and oh-so-smooth and the color is lovely…but that’s pretty much where the positive attributes end. As many of you are no doubt aware, this pencil has unfortunately been given many a scathing review–why Nars has yet to reformulate is beyond me. The pencil creases almost immediately post-application. If people with dry and normal lids were already having problems getting this pencil to stay, imagine the trouble an oily-lidded gal like me encountered. It was not pretty. Needless to say, this was a fail for me.
On to the Laguna gloss. The gloss is typical Nars–a fairly thin consistency with just a touch of stickiness. It feels comfortable on the lips and applies evenly and smoothly. Unfortunately, it does carry that same notorious plastic-y taste/scent. It didn’t smell as strong as I remembered, but once it was on my lips, it was all I could taste/smell. Laguna is semi-sheer. It can be layered and provide up to a medium coverage, however. The color, however, is just gorgeous. I was scared it would be too dark or too brown, but it looks beautiful on the lips. Laguna lasted about 3 1/2 hours on my lips.
Lastly, we have the Laguna Illuminator. The color in the tube may be a bit daunting to some, but it isn’t dark at all and adds just a kiss of color. The gel formula is quite nice and smooths easily across the skin. It’s easy to sheer out and blend the color and once it is, there’s only the barest hint of bronze–it’s mostly just a bronzy glimmer. I do wish there was a touch more pigment and less sparkle, but I guess it’s consistent with the rest of the set in that regard…Laguna doesn’t leave any sticky or greasy residue behind and is unscented.
Though there were some decent pieces and I liked the idea of the set overall, I couldn’t really recommend it. I think Nars did a very poor job with the formulas of the products. I wish so many things were different…that they would reformulate those damn shadow pencils, that the Laguna Illuminator was a little less sparkly and a little more pigmented, that Hungry Heart was less glittery and more shimmery, and that the Orgasm blush was less shimmery, more matte. Everything in this set was just a little off and unfortunately, for $50, it doesn’t make it worthwhile.
Pros: colors are lovely; sizes are decent for the price; fun themed set; wear-time is decent for the lip gloss and blush
Cons: shadow pencil formula is godawful; gloss is a bit too dark; “highlighter” is really just pressed micro-glitter but can add chalkiness to darker skintones; Orgasm blush emphasizes pores; blush and highlighter pans are difficult to get a cheek brush into; Laguna Illuminator is a touch too sparkly and not pigmented enough
»»Recommended for: anyone looking to extend their summer glow (that can put up with some less than stellar formulas)
»»Overall Rating: Blush Duo=C, Soft Touch Shadow Pencil=F, Lip Gloss=A-, Illuminator=B+
Disclaimer: this set was won in a giveaway hosted by the lovely Charleston Girl at Best Things in Beauty. Regardless of how the product was obtained, my priority is to you, my readers, and I will always give you my honest opinion.