Thursday, March 9, 2017

In Pursuit of Pastel Pink, Part 1: NARS Blush in Threesome

For at least two years now, I've been searching for the perfect cool-toned pale pink blush, something that will give me that fresh-faced but slightly artificial k-beauty look. Here's Jiwon of Spica for BNT International, back in March 2014:

Source: Omona They Didn't. Spica disbanded last month. :(

And here's Irene of Red Velvet for Instyle Korea, March 2016:

Source: Omona They Didn't

Now, needless to say, these photos have been smoothed and blurred and color-altered to hell. Because every irregularity of color and texture has been airbrushed away, there's a sharp contrast between skin and blush, a contrast that I'm not sure is achievable in real life. But that hasn't stopped me from searching for a blush that can deliver a subtle, yet not quite natural, cotton-candy flush. By the time I began my quest, the NARS Final Cut collection had come and gone, and with it my platonic pink blush, Sex Fantasy (lol). I thought about buying NARS Gaiety instead, but it seemed just a hair too dark. So you can imagine my elation when I heard about a new NARS spring collection containing a blush described as "lavender pink." It looked very similar to Sex Fantasy, and even had a similarly raunchy name: Threesome.

The collection in question is the pastelicious Pop Goes the Easel. Confusingly, this is not the official NARS Spring 2017 collection. Even more confusingly, it launched in Asia and Europe first, but landed just last week in the US, where it's a Nordstrom exclusive. Pop Goes the Easel comprises three blushes, three Sheer Pop Multiples (a new formula), and four Velvet Lip Glides, all limited edition. François Nars previously drew inspiration from Pop Art with his Warhol collection for Holiday 2012, but the product names in this collection ("Threesome," "Peep Show," and "Suck," among others) don't have much to do with any particular art movement. I'm all for cheeky allusive names like "Goodbye Emmanuelle" (my favorite lipstick name ever), but the names in Pop Goes the Easel don't really cohere with the collection's overall vibe. I just don't find over-the-top sexual names interesting unless they're placed in an aesthetic or narrative context, and these aren't. To confuse things further, the Sheer Pop Multiples are named for beaches and islands: Motu Tane (an island in French Polynesia owned by Mr. Nars himself), Cote Basque, and Navagio Beach. So...okay. Let's have a look at the blush.



The first thing I noticed about Threesome was its dusty, muted quality. It was very pale, but not as bright or white-based as Gaiety or Sex Fantasy. It was a slightly warmer pink than Instagram swatches had led me to believe, and I was reminded for the nth time how stupid it is to rely on Instagram for product shots.



When I finger-swatched the blush, I felt some trepidation: the pigmentation I expected from NARS blushes simply wasn't there, and I couldn't imagine that the color would show up well on my cheeks. From left to right, we have two finger-swipes of NARS Mata Hari, FIVE of Threesome, and one of Illamasqua cream blush in Zygomatic:



See how peachy Threesome looks next to Mata Hari? It's a cool pink for sure, but I wouldn't call it "lavender pink."

Generally, arm swatches done with a fingertip make blushes look more pigmented than they do on the cheeks. However, Threesome is odd: it looks pinker and darker on my face than it does on my paper-white inner arm. I definitely need more product than I do with Mata Hari, but two dips in the pan suffice for one cheek. I like concentrating the color on the apples for that vaguely k-beauty vibe. Threesome also wears quite well: I can still see it on my face several hours after application. I will say here that if you're not very pale, like too-light-for-most-foundations pale, this blush will probably not work for you. Pop Goes the Easel's other blushes, a dusty peach and a pinky coral, seem better suited to darker skin tones: here's the peach, Misconduct, on my beautiful Instagram pal tremblelikeaflower.

Yesterday was National Women's Day, so I paired Threesome with my favorite red lipstick, NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red. The combination of pink blush and red lipstick felt very retro, so I did a messy '50s/'60s-style eye as well, using the Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette and my Kiko black pencil liner. I used Stark all over the lid and Frisk in the crease, lined my upper lashlines with the Kiko pencil, smudged that out with Undone, and added a bit more Undone to the lower lashlines. Mysterious Red looks shinier than usual here because my winter-dry lips demanded that I apply it over lip balm.


It's hard for me to review blush because it usually looks less pronounced in photos than it does in real life, but the photo below gives a pretty good idea of how Threesome looks on my face. It's understated, but it's definitely there and definitely pink.


Possibly too close:


During my four-hour minimum-wage shift at a library desk yesterday, I realized that my Women's Day lips matched the red Loeb editions pretty hard. For those of you who aren't hardcore humanities nerds, Loeb is a Harvard University Press imprint that specializes in scholarly editions of Greek and Latin classics. The Greek editions are green and the Latin ones are red (for Rome). I sent my boyfriend (who, you'll remember, picked up Threesome from Selfridges) a photo that pretty much epitomized "gradcore"...


...which led to the following exchange:


My Glossier Puff should arrive today (it's somehow taken five days to travel just over 200 miles), so that will be my next review. I'm thinking that my ideal flush can best be achieved with a cream blush, and we'll see if I'm right. As for NARS Threesome, I like it and think it fills a gap in my blush wardrobe, but it's not quite what I expected. Come to think of it, Threesome resembles the activity for which it's named: alluring in theory, it can easily go wrong in practice, and it's certainly not for everyone.

17 comments:

  1. Ah, I have a couple of pink blushes, one of them from Sleek (and I depotted it and forgot the name). Unfortunately, I almost never touch it, as I feel thank cooler toned pinks bring up Every. Tiny. Bit. of redness in my skin, so I can only use it with some base and concealing. I find that bronzers and warmer blushes (especially very warm ones, like Mellow Wine by WnW) are much more forgiving to the skin blotchiness and imperfections, so I wear those more often.

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    1. I'm pretty lucky where pink blushes are concerned: I'm pale and cool-toned but don't actually have much pink in my skin. I don't wear a large quantity of blush, but it's an important part of my beauty routine, since I can look pretty sickly without it.

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  2. I've cut my blush collection down to three (three! that's it!) but did end up keeping a pink, but a much more saturated one. I like the look of Threesome on you, but it is a blush for a very specific skintone, which is kind of a shame.

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    1. Three! That's amazing! I own 11 now, and I wear six of them regularly enough that I couldn't justify destashing them. And yeah, I don't expect every shade to work on every skintone, but it's crazy that people darker than I am probably couldn't wear Threesome. I am pale AF.

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  3. Oh, I see what you mean now. It does look significantly more saturated in the pan than in your swatch/on your face. That's a disappointment! When you posted it on Instagram I almost wanted it, but now that desire is completely gone. I agree re: NARS' names, as well. Some of their naming schemes are cool, but the sexual ones just seem edgy for the sake of being edgy. Ugh, I would hate to have to tell someone that I was wearing "Super Orgasm" or "Deep Throat".

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    1. I'd probably return it if I'd bought it at a store in the US (yet another reason not to buy things sight unseen from Selfridges). I do think I'll wear it, and I may find a use for it that I haven't even thought of yet, but I do wish it popped more.

      What I dislike most about a lot of ~sexy makeup names is that they're so heteronormative (Deep Throat is a good example). I don't wear makeup for dudes, and neither do most women, whether or not they're straight.

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    2. Haha, yeah, I definitely don't wear makeup for men. I wish men just wouldn't look at me, to be honest.

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  4. I thought I was a hardcore humanity nerd, but I didn't know they're called Loebs...and I've worked in a library for 3 years so I really have no excuse.

    I'm mildly angry at myself because I want one of the Cloud Puffs so badly when I've resisted interest in everything Glossier this far. And I don't like cream blushes! Hoping once midterms pass my irrational makeup desires will go away.

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    1. There's something about the Cloud Paints that's especially tempting, isn't there? Good luck with midterms, and with resisting temptation! My university library is currently overflowing with undergrads studying for their exams...

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  5. I have NARS Sex Fantasy and it is the easiest blush on earth. I have yet to swatch Threesome in person but it seems similar to Impassioned? Ah, you never know. I'm not buying NARS blushes any more (except that I still want Sin) or any blush really. I got Puff for myself(?!) a few days ago when I went to the Glossier showroom with a friend. You probably have found out as well, but it deepens as soon as it touches the skin. It seems be the type that looks different on everybody. Will look forward to your review!

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    1. Yeah, I think Threesome is between Sex Fantasy and Impassioned in temperature, though all three probably look similar when worn. I just read your review of Puff and am currently working on mine! I'm pleased with it so far, even though it's not as cool or pastel as I wanted it to be.

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  6. Ooh I'm excited to see what you think about the Glossier blushes. If they don't end up being the right shade, I'd recommend looking at Sephora's Cheek Gel in the shade Peony. It's a bit sheer but it looks like it's a close match to the blush in your reference pics.

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    1. Ooh, Peony does look extremely promising! I'll give it a swatch next time I'm in Sephora. If I've learned one thing from this ridiculous quest, it's that buying something sight unseen when you're looking for an EXTREMELY SPECIFIC shade is almost always a bad idea.

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  7. I think Threesome looks very natural on you! Definitely not that k-pop ideal, but sitll nice... despite how terribly it swatches. Also, I totally agree that Nars' sexual names are boring if they're just there for.... shock value? I don't know.

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    1. It's weird that it swatches so badly but looks so nice on! Usually it's the other way around (not that I'm complaining). I have yet to be truly disappointed in a NARS blush.

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  8. It definitely looks cool pastel pink on Christine of Temptalia, probably because she's so warm! I like how it looks on you, a very nice subtle warm pink! I wish I could get a blush to look like that on me :P

    Hope the glossier paints are working out for you and you get your preferred pastel-ness!

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    1. Yeah, I saw Temptalia's photos yesterday and couldn't believe how much cooler it looked on her! I agree, though, it's a beautiful blush.

      Spoiler: Glossier Puff is an even warmer pink than Threesome. WTFFFFF.

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