Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: NARS Eyeshadow Base

Empty Art Deco base

I'm very lucky to find that most of the makeup products I buy are really nice. I suppose it's a result of my need to research everything before spending my money on it. Because my Art Deco eyeshadow base, which I initially didn't like due to the cologne like smell of it, was clearly and quickly running out, I decided to try something new.

I gave in and bought the very much raved NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base. 

I got it from John Lewis website and spent £19, hoping that I would like it as much as other eyeshadow bases I've tried. What a disappointment! 


NARS base comes in the standard NARS packaging. When you open the black box, you find a satin feeling bottle with a rubberized cap. 

Brand new NARS base 

In the bottle you have 8g of product. When you unscrew it, you will see that the bottle is actually filled with product to the brim. That's a sign that you have not been robbed. How considerate of NARS. 


The applicator is very standard, looks like many doe foot lipgloss wands.


When applied, the product is off white (1). When spread over the eyelids and blended, it turns clear, somewhat (only) slightly wet looking (unlike Urban Decay Primer Potion that seems to have a skintone color) (2). It means that if you have any discolorations or visible veins on your eyelids, it won't cover them. But this is not what I wanted it to do anyway. 

There are a few things that a good eyeshadow primer needs to do. Firstly and most importantly, it should extend the wear of eyeshadows, prevent them from creasing. Secondly, make the eyeshadow a little more vibrant and intense. A primer should also smooth out the eyelids and "help" us with blending the product we have just applied. 

According to the NARS website, this primer does all of the above and a little more: "No smudging, creasing or caking. This lightweight eye primer is the insider trick of the trade, creating a seamless canvas that keeps cream and powder color looking brilliant, fresh and just-applied all day long. A polymer and mineral-powder blend establishes a firm grip on color ensuring hours and hours of gorgeous wear. Fortified with a special deep-sea extract and an antioxidant rice extract, the Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base dries on contact and keeps the delicate eyelid smooth and prepared for color application."


I have oily and hooded lids which means troubles getting (any) eyeshadows stay fresh and creaseless the whole day. 

What happens when I, a problematic user, put the NARS primer to a test? 

a) Eyeshadow vibrancy

Take a look at the pictures on your left hand side. For this quick swatch test I picked one of my favorite eyeshadows, Catrice's It's Toffeeful, a shimmery beige/golden neutral (in the photo next to some other Catrice eyeshadows).

I swatched the same eyeshadow on my arm twice. On the left I used a little bit of NARS primer and on the right I didn't use any base. As you can see, where I used the primer underneath, the eyeshadow seems definitely more opaque.

You are bound to think "Well done, mr. NARS".

Well, a strange thing happens when I actually apply the primer on my eyes and layer eyeshadow over it. It seems like the primer makes eyeshadows more muted (almost muddy!) than they really are. 

Unfortunately I have no proof for you, so you need to trust me:( 

b) Eyeshadow blending

NARS primer definitely fails on the vibrancy front. However, it makes blending eyeshadows easy and effortless, as if we were working with air rather than with powders. 

c) Eyeshadow longevity

With this primer, I get 4 to 5 hours of decent looking eyeshadow and after this time (half way through the working day), the eyeshadow starts to fade and crease. I was told that in order for this product to perform well, you only need a tiny bit smoothed over the eyelids. But I've tried it all. The amount I use doesn't make a difference in terms of extending the wear of eyeshadows. It looks like Art Deco base, Urban Decay Primer Potion and Too Faced Shadow Insurance just work better for me. 

Final thoughts

I've been using this eyeshadow base for a few months now. I've had enough time to find out that it unfortunately doesn't live up to the hype it gets, but I will keep on using it until I find something better. 


  1. oh dear, thank you for this review. A while ago I was hesitating between NARS & Edward Bess and since I think Bess' is the bomb on vibrancy & longevity, I guess I took the right choice

    1. Oh, I'm so glad you thought this review was useful. It seems weird to write a meh/almost negative review on something that gets a lot of love, but I needed to throw in my two cents:)

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  3. Too bad it didn't work for you. I've tried it and it did extend the wear of my eyeshadows, especially it avoided creasing. Non of the other primers I've tried did that, well TFSI did it for 2 years and then stopped working. The bad thing about this one, is that it extremely dries my lids, so they get irritated :(

    The best primer I've found at the moment, is just using Bobbi Brown cream eyeshadow (shade Bone) as a primer, and that works :D

  4. Very much agree with your review!