The Sample: Nars Beach Lover Set (Review, Swatches & Photos)

4 Nov

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.

Hungry Heart on left, Orgasm on right

L to R: Laguna gloss, Skorpios, Laguna Illuminator

Taken with flash –Laguna Illuminator swatched heavily on left, blended on right


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

»»Pricing: $49

»»Availability: Sephora

»»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.

18 Responses to “The Sample: Nars Beach Lover Set (Review, Swatches & Photos)”

  1. Sunny November 4, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    Oops, so sorry to hear this set is a bit… lukewarm. I like the idea (not that I’d really bronze all over in this weather though. I have become a bit too pale and it’d just look weird), but if everything is a bit meh then…

    • becca November 4, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

      Aw I always forget that there are actually some places where it’s TRULY fall. Though it’s been getting a bit colder here at night, it’s been REALLY hot and dry during the day and not only have I not lost my summer tan, I am still tanning! :P I was definitely disappointed in this set though. Cute idea, but the execution just wasn’t there :/

  2. Liz November 4, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    Great review! And lovely pictures. :) I was so tempted by this but it would have cost about CAD$70 after taxes so it didn’t happen. I like the odd bits and ends in a set but never the entire package. Like right now, there`s a super cute NARS blush duo in the Warhol kit but I don`t want the other stuff that come with it! Wish they would just sell mini sizes individually on a regular basis.

    • becca November 4, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

      I SO agree–EVERYONE loves samples and minis, right? I would be so happy to pick up a few of these items in mini sizes. It’s not like I would ever really get through a whole full-sized tube of the Laguna Illuminator anyway, so this size is just perfect!

  3. Larie November 5, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    Aw, that’s a shame. I feel like these sets are really hit or miss. The bronzer is a lovely shade, though!

    • becca November 5, 2012 at 2:24 am #

      I know–it seems I can never find a set like this where all the items are a winner! I really like the Illuminator and the Laguna gloss and of course, Orgasm is popular for a reason…it’s pretty but I just find the shimmer way too intense and unflattering on my skin. And don’t even get me started on those shadow pencils…oy! :P

  4. Emi at Project Swatch November 5, 2012 at 2:40 am #

    This is a great, detailed review! I’m not really into shimmer on my face, so the only thing I would wear is the Shadow Pencil – it’s totally gorgeous. And given all I’ve heard about the formula, that is a definite SKIP.

    • becca November 5, 2012 at 6:12 am #

      Thanks Emi :)

      I know–it’s SUCH a shame about the Shadow Pencil because the color is GORGEOUS and the texture is sooooo smooth. It glides just beautifully onto the lids without a hint of tug. But oh the wear….:/

  5. Makeup Morsels November 5, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    Love your pictures, as always! Too bad this set isn’t as kickass as it looks in your shots. NARS…I go back and forth. One day I’ll really want to try everything from the brand and the next I’ll breeze right by the counter. What are your favorites that you’ve tried from them?

    • becca November 5, 2012 at 8:33 am #

      Why thank you, dear MM! I know, I was super excited about this set at first but was ultimately quite disappointed. I feel the same about Nars. I started out LOVING the brand but then began to really dislike all the intense shimmery and glittery finishes. I do get wanting to make fun products, but I think there’s a difference between making a glittery blush fun and making it unwearable. Too often I’m left wishing Nars’ products were more ____ or less ____. It’s rare that one is spot on for me :/

      That being said, I think my favorite items from the brand are their lipglosses and eyeshadow duos (Earth Angel and Brousse are lovely!). Of course, the eye primer is a favorite and I never put eyeshadow on without it! How bout you??

  6. Lily November 6, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    It’s a shame, really… but I love your review. Very in depth and detailed :-)

    • becca November 6, 2012 at 6:36 am #

      Aw thank you Lily! I was quite disappointed too. All the shades were GORGEOUS, but the finishes and formulas were a bit off :/

  7. Joyce (bronzerbunny) November 6, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    Bummer this set didn’t work out for you! I do not enjoy the shadow pencils either… and I remember buying Hungry Heart when it first came out and loving it. and yes, I think I must’ve been drunk (lol) ACTUALLY, that was in my days of partying like crazy in NYC, so maybe I was, LOL! In any event, I waited too long and returned it anyway. (Sephora return policy is super lenient) I have Nars Laguna bronzer and multiple, and I don’t think i need more! Also, in lip gloss form, that is super interesting – it would probably be impractical for me!

    • becca November 6, 2012 at 6:39 am #

      HAHA too funny! I know though–I can’t imagine what came over me when I bought it. I bought it then kinda forgot about it then when it resurfaced in my collection again a few months later, I was shocked that I had actually purchased it. I thought I would totally return it but then forgot about it again (it was one of those bad purchases you just try to block out :P) and after I rediscovered it YET AGAIN, I figured I’d just keep it.

  8. Memoiselle November 6, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Hi Becca,
    Appreciate that you write so well about these products. Orgasm is a product that people will either LOVE or HATE. I like orgasm but the rest of the products don’t appeal so much to me. I agree with you that the gloss is a bit too dark for my liking.

    • becca November 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

      Actually it’s not nearly as dark on the lips as it is in the tube–I rather like it! Well…I guess if you layer it on you can build up the color but one coat is really nice! :)

  9. Beauty Box November 8, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    Shadow pencils are very tricky to work with aren’t they? They crease like mad and sometimes I wonder if the colour payoff is worth all the hassle…:p

    • becca November 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

      I think this one is pretty easy to work with, but yes they definitely DO crease like mad…or at least this one does. :/ I do have a couple of the Milani Shadow’Eyez ones though so maybe they’ll be a bit better? I really hope they have the same buttery smooth texture too…

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