Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Official Lipstick of Fall 2015: NARS 413 BLKR

All right, technically the NARS Semi-Matte Lipstick in 413 BLKR has been around since Fall 2013. But it's my standout lipstick acquisition of this fall, so there. I've had it for two weeks and have worn it on almost half those days. I can't stop. It's just too good.


I forget how exactly I became fixated on this lipstick. Maybe it was when I was planning my birthday visit to New York and I remembered that the NARS flagship store was close to our hotel. Or maybe I just happened upon 413 BLKR during one of my many stress-relieving swatch explorations in October. Nothing soothes me more than emptying my mind, opening my browser, and clicking through image after image of cherry red, coral, plum, deep brown. I tell myself that I can sink into the swirling depths of material desire and emerge just as I was, but that rarely happens. More often I surface with a particular lipstick name clinging to my brain like a barnacle. In the spirit of my current no-buy, I'm going to give up this particular kind of meditation, but at least I don't have any regret about buying 413 BLKR.


The 413 BLKR collection was created two years ago, in honor of the global flagship store's relocation to 413 Bleecker Street in the West Village. The collection started with the semi-matte lipstick and an indigo nail polish, and has since expanded to include one of almost every kind of NARS product. (Luckily, the 413 products are available in more places than 413 Bleecker: you can buy them on the NARS website and at freestanding NARS stores.) It's hard to say what unifies the collection apart from the name. In addition to the semi-matte lipstick, there's a Pure Matte lipstick in warm medium brown, a Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in shimmery fuchsia (featured by Teresa here), a cool pink blush similar to Mata Hari...Like, what? I suppose most of the colors can be described as "deep yet subdued," but then there's the fuchsia lip pencil and the cherry-red lip gloss. Perhaps there's something quintessentially "New York" or "West Village" about these shades, but your guess is as good as mine.

When you hear "NARS flagship store," you might think of a cavernous gallery overflowing with every variety of Orgasm, but 413 Bleecker is quite small: space is at a premium in downtown Manhattan. Just for fun, I've included a few photos of the store. I took them not on my birthday but last weekend, when a dear college friend (that's her in the red plaid coat) visited NYC and asked me to help her buy a new lipstick. She has a warm-toned complexion and likes wearing tomato-red lipsticks, so I suggested a berry-toned red for fall. She settled on the Audacious lipstick in Audrey, which was smashing on her: much brighter and pinker than it looked on me a year ago. I love helping people choose makeup! I might love it more than buying makeup for myself, honestly. Sometimes I wonder if I missed my true calling as a Sephora SA, but I think I prefer doing my work pro bono.





On my birthday, I didn't linger long enough to take photos. I find that the size of a store is inversely proportional to the pressure to buy, especially when I come in alone. So I made a beeline for the 413 BLKR table, swatched the semi-matte lipstick, marveled at its exact resemblance to the color of dried blood, decided that it wasn't a dupe or near-dupe for anything in my collection, paid up, and got the F O.

The "413 BLKR" name is significant to me in more ways than one. Yes, I bought this lipstick at the 413 Bleecker store, but 413 was also the area code of my first cell phone, which I got just before starting college in Western Massachusetts. (I'm really dating myself here: my first year of college was 2005.) I kept the 413 number until I switched providers last year, so this lipstick's name is a nice reminder of my alma mater's area code. Also nice: the name is right there on the tube!


I can't help wishing NARS had released an entire collection in the same color as the semi-matte lipstick. It would make a beautiful blush and eyeshadow, don't you think?


NARS describes 413 BLKR as "warm rose brown," which doesn't seem quite right. I'd say the color is about 45% red, 35% brown, and 10% plum. It's more earthy than the usual brick-red, yet much redder and cooler than a true brown like MAC Whirl or Urban Decay 1993. Remember Marsala? It verges on that, but it's a little deeper and redder. Autumn distilled, basically.


This is the sort of lipstick color I've associated with NARS since I first got interested in the brand. Of course NARS makes some iconic fuchsias, nudes, and corals, but a "NARS color" to me is a dark off-red mixed with brown and/or plumsomething like Trans Siberian, Scarlet Empress, or Transeurope Express. It's no coincidence that the lipstick named for Charlotte Rampling, the face of the Audacious campaign, is a similarly complicated red (see Kate's review of Charlotte here). These are grown-up colors. I imagine them worn by intimidatingly sophisticated Russian ladies on their casual days: ladies like Nabokov's Ada Veen in her thirties, I'm thinking. Yr. humble narrator can never be more than a part-Russian lady and her name has never appeared in the same sentence as the phrase "intimidatingly sophisticated," but this is why we love makeup: it helps us embody our fantasies (or just conceals the fact that we haven't gotten a good night's sleep in ages).

Even as I swiped my card to buy 413 BLKR, I worried that I might have a couple of near-dupes at home: Revlon Sultry, maybe, or NYX Alabama. So imagine my surprise when I did comparison swatches for this post and found nothing even close to a match in my collection of 75-ish lipsticks. Here, I'll prove it. L-R: Maybelline Crazy for Coffee, NYX Matte Lipstick in Alabama, 413 BLKR, Topshop Matte Lip Bullet in Get Me Bodied, Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry, NYX Simply Vamp Lip Cream in Enamored.


There's not even a theme here, really: it looks like I swatched six different lipsticks at random. After photographing these swatches, I thought of two more lipsticks that might resemble 413 BLKR: Milani Matte Fearless (left) and Revlon Coy (right). But as before, no dice:


I thought I was good with color (I took this test a while ago and got an almost perfect score), but 413 BLKR has stymied all my attempts to find a match. François Nars is still the master of creating colors that look familiar but resist all comparisons. I don't normally develop attachments to beauty brands, but NARS is the brand that has come closest to making a fangirl of me.

413 BLKR, like most of NARS' non-Audacious lipsticks, comes in a "semi-matte" formula. But don't be fooled: NARS semi-mattes are mattes by another name. I suspect that NARS adopted the "semi-matte" label in the post-'90s era when people were afraid that matte lips would look dated, and now they're stuck. If they were a new company in 2015, they would almost certainly advertise their semi-matte lipsticks as matte, because that's what everyone is doing in 2015. Yes, 413 BLKR has a hint of sheen, but so do MAC's matte lipsticks and Topshop's Matte Lip Bullets. A photo of 413 BLKR in direct sunlight is revealing:


With the exception of Maybelline Crazy for Coffee (far left) and NYX Enamored (far right), all of the lipsticks I've swatched for comparison are advertised as "matte." And yet 413 BLKR is the matte-est of the six! It doesn't look much shinier on my lips, either. It has a dry (though not drying) formula, and it tends to drag if applied straight to the lips, so I like to put it on over a thin layer of lip balm. Over balm, it gets sheered out a bit to reveal the red tones; on its own, it pulls darker and more brown. Here are some lip swatches in two different lighting situations (both natural light, but different times of day):



Like most matte lipsticks, 413 BLKR doesn't really budge when I'm drinking, but it does need to be reapplied after eating. It also doesn't dry out my lips, which is more than I can say for the NARS Matte Lip Pencils, much as I love Mysterious Red.

I've worn 413 BLKR at least half a dozen times since buying it, but I've paired it with roughly the same makeup every time (my current schedule and mental state don't exactly enable creativity). I like to do a neutral taupey color on the eyes and either Sleek Flushed (red berry) or Urban Decay Rapture (mauve-plum) on the cheeks. Here's 413 with NARS Lhasa eyeshadow, some dark purple theBalm eyeshadow on my lashlines, and Sleek Flushed blush (I wore this look to teach and felt perfectly professional):


Not sure what eye makeup I'm wearing here, but I know my blush is Urban Decay Rapture:


Today, with a matte taupe theBalm shadow and Rapture blush:


UGH THIS LIPSTICK IS SO GOOD. I haven't even felt tempted to break my no-buy with any other lipsticks, because I just want to keep wearing this one. It's too deep to be considered a neutral, but I don't feel at all uncomfortable wearing it in professional situations. I have a Skype interview in two weeks and might actually wear 413 BLKR for it (please tell me if this is a terrible idea).

Speaking of professional situations, I lied: it turns out that I don't actually have the time to return to a regular blogging schedule this semester. I'll do my best to check in occasionally, though! I really wonder how people with full-time jobs find the energy to blog. Oh, and a quick administrative note: I've made the photos larger in this post. Is that better, or is it visually overwhelming? I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the hugeness of my face in the new format. D:

15 comments:

  1. Being the color nut that I am, as soon as I read "it would make a beautiful blush and eyeshadow" I dove into my collection to find a match. I don't have any blush in this family, but I have a hunch that Nightingale by Becca might be close. I was CONVINCED I had an eyeshadow this shade but Clinique Black Honey is too brown and I think Chocolate Covered Cherry is too dark. Tourmaline by Laura Geller is too cool. Now I'm really annoyed by how unique this color is! It makes me think of Japanese maple leaves.

    I keep holding off on officially declaring that I don't have time to blog like I want to because I'm in denial. My neglected blog makes me so sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The first blush I thought of was Clinique Cola Pop, and theBalm's Nude 'tude eyeshadow palette has a matte brownish burgundy that's quite similar. It's funny, I walked past some Japanese maple leaves just recently and thought of 413 BLKR too! I'm glad you're as willing as I am to geek out over minute differences in color.

      I really miss blogging regularly. I do find, though, that announcing a semi-hiatus has made me feel a lot less guilty about not posting every few days. It's only temporary, after all!

      Delete
  2. I'll let you know how juggling blogging with my full-time job works out. So far I'm really tired when I get home from work, but I think that's more being overwhelmed with information + I haven't actually done anything at all in two months and it's hard to get back into any kind of routine at all. On the upside, I work in a hospital, so it's going to be very hard to bring my work home with me.

    This lipstick looks amazing on you. I love the colour. I kind of want it. Semi-matte is a selling point for me, since I don't like true mattes. NO SELF STOP NO LIPSTICKS

    I *do* like the larger photos. You get my visually impaired stamp of approval!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, the problem with academic work is that it's *always* with you, physically and mentally. I fell asleep under a pile of books and papers last night. Not healthy. Good luck with your new job!

      At least 413 BLKR isn't limited edition, so it will always be there if you decide that you really do need a new lipstick after all. And glad you approve of the larger photos! I'm toying with the idea of making all the photos larger except the ones of my face, because I just can't get used to my image filling the entire screen. Which is odd, considering how vain I am...

      Delete
    2. I too had that problem! I'm also abominably vain, so it's kind of weird how I don't want large images of my face kicking around or people looking at me too much.

      I did go look up how much it would be to order it off the NARS website. The shipping fees were astronomical to Canada. I sighed and closed the page.

      Yes, since I finished with academia ~six months ago, I feel healthier. More rested or something. I'm technically an adjunct faculty member in my new job too, since we're affiliated with a university, but I'm an employee of the hospital so haha, no one can find me at home! Because restrictive IT things. I'm prone to answering work/school/other important e-mails at all hours, so this is probably good for me to have hard limits.

      Delete
  3. That looks lovely on you! And definitely professional. It's great timing that you're enjoying it so much right now when you don't want to buy anything else anyway. I really enjoy reading your lipstick stories.

    As for regular blogging with a full time job, I've been able to do that this year because my full time job is actually that - 40 hours a week. It's not like when I was teaching last year and was actually working 60+ hours a week and was far too drained during the rest of them to do something as intellectually involved (ha!) as blogging. Mind you, I should be doing research/writing in my off hours now, but . . . anyway, don't feel like you're doing less than most people working full time, because you are probably doing more.

    I also like the larger photos. They're not huge, but it's easier to see details (like the relative sheen in the swatches, etc.).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I enjoy telling lipstick stories! I don't find any other kind of makeup as interesting as lipstick, and I doubt I ever will. I'm not sure whether this lipstick is making me happy with my no-buy or the no-buy is making me happy with the lipstick, but I'm feeling totally content at the prospect of buying no makeup until January.

      You're right about the invisible labor of academic work. Pretty much everything I do in the course of a day involves producing intellectual content of some kind--applying for jobs, writing comments on student essays, working on my dissertation--and my work is always present in my mind (my dreams included). Sometimes blogging is a nice break, but sometimes I want to consume something instead of produce even more, you know? (In particular, I want to consume the new Adventure Time episodes that have come out over the last week.)

      Delete
  4. "I find that the size of a store is inversely proportional to the pressure to buy, especially when I come in alone." Your blog is incredibly unique to me (my world is so far from that of an academic) and I love each and every post but at the same time I can relate so hard to at least one thing you say. Today it's that line. ^^ I love this shade... I like how the brown incorporated into looks like it could be the same intensity/tone as your natural hair color! Btw I think as much as I like this one, I'm falling for the Topshop Get Me Bodied one too right next to it. Thx for the update! And congrats on all your life wins lately!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you enjoy my blog! One of my reasons for starting it was a desire to practice my non-academic writing and reach out to readers beyond the academy. It's easy to get used to writing for a small, specialized audience, but I don't want that ever to be the only kind of writing I do.

      Get Me Bodied is one of my very favorite lipsticks! Perfect color, perfect formula (better formula than 413 BLKR, if we're being honest).

      Delete
  5. That first picture is perfect. So pristine! I always feel that it's kind of a shame when I have to ruin the perfection of a new lipstick bullet...

    Helping people buy makeup is really fun. It's my favourite part of my job. I enjoy the skincare side of things too, but it's just not as exciting as helping someone choose out a lipstick.

    I'm with you that this colour would make a great blush or eyeshadow too. There aren't many colours that are that versatile, I don't think. If you paired them all up I think it would be a really neat monochromatic, slightly 90s look. Now I kind of want to hunt down a blush and an eyeshadow that would work for this...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marring the smoothness of a new lipstick causes me pain, too. Even before I had a beauty blog, I used to photograph my new lipsticks in their pristine form. And I think there are few sights uglier than a heavily used Sephora lipstick tester, all mangled and smeary with bits of dust sticking out...*shudder*

      I guess you could just buy the 413 BLKR lipstick and smear it all over your face, though that probably wouldn't be eye-safe! NARS actually does make a 413 BLKR Multiple in a very similar color.

      Delete
  6. The colour is beautiful and really makes your green eyes pop. Finding the right lipstick shade of you is a kind of alchemy ... and you can only know when it's on your face and you get that "this actually looks good" feeling. Kind of like trying on clothes. I loved this write up about 413 BLKR - personal, thoughtful and super informative. I love NARS (it's probably my favourite makeup brand) but I don't have any of their lipsticks, only a couple of their lip crayons and one lip gloss. This shade seems genuinely unique in that your swatches with products you thought would be similar yielded no dupes. I don't think I have anything quite like it in my current stash either. Your comparison swatch did put Revlon Sultry on my radar though so of course I had to swiftly go out and buy it after seeing it on a fellow blogger as well :p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, there's a real difference between liking a lipstick color for itself and liking it for what it does for you! And I don't have many NARS lip products either: just a velvet matte lip pencil, two sheer lipsticks, one Audacious lipstick, and 413 BLKR (okay, that's actually more than a few). I thought for ages that I couldn't wear NARS' semi-matte lipsticks, because I'd tried a few testers and my lips had gotten horribly dry. I see now that my lips must have been reacting to the alcohol I'd used to sterilize the lipsticks, because 413 BLKR is actually quite gentle! This is a dangerous epiphany, because it means I can wear all the beautiful NARS lipsticks I thought I couldn't tolerate...

      I'm glad I helped sway you toward Revlon Sultry! :D It's one of my all-time favorites for fall and winter, though I've been neglecting it recently in favor of 413 BLKR.

      Delete
  7. It's deeply satisfying to read that you have found "the lipstick" for the season. 413 BLKR looks beautiful on you. No wonder you love it so much!
    I have the blush and I like it quite a bit although I love Mata Hari more (You can skip it if you already have Mata Hari). From the BLKR range, the fuchsia pencil and the eyeshadow duo have been on my "want" list for a while.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lena! I just looked up your review of the blush, and you're right, it's almost identical to Mata Hari. (I think I'd prefer Mata Hari if I owned both, too, since it's a cooler pink.) That eyeshadow duo is gorgeous as well--you know me, I find it very hard to resist a good plum eyeshadow!

      Delete