Review: NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Powder

Monday, June 17, 2013

I was pretty excited when a few months ago NARS came out with this Light Reflecting Powder. At first, it seemed that only Sephora carried the Pressed version, so I waited until Nordstrom had it as well so that I could finish off one of my Christmas gift cards (does anyone else keep gift cards for a ridiculously long time before using them? You'd think they'd be burning a hole through my pocket!) because I sure as heck was not getting the loose version. So many of my powders have gone to an early grave because I'm quite clumsy.

With so many of the "HD" and other supposedly photograph enhancing powders out there being just silica, I was initially skeptical that I was paying for a quarter of an once of pressed cheap silica. Luckily that's not the case. While silica is an ingredient, I much prefer how the NARS Light Reflecting Powder works on my skin. When I first swatched the powder on my skin, I did a double take. It's so translucent (dare I say crystal clear) that at first I thought I wasn't swatching it hard enough, it looked like nothing was showing up on my skin! I think that's a promising sign for those with darker skin tones who may find that a lot of "translucent" powders still have a white cast. Though there is a pearly shimmer in the pan and if you swatch it fairly thickly on your hand, but it does not show up on the face at all (unlike say a product like the Guerlain Meteorites which definitely can look a bit sparkly on the skin if overdone).

Here's the ingredients in case you were curious (taken from a review on Sephora's website as I lost the box before I could type it out):

Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Silica, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Glycerin, Squalane, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Polysorbate 80, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum, 1,2-Hexanediol, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Maris Aqua (Sea Water), Ascophyllum Nodosum Extract, Magnesium Silicate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Tin Oxide, Mica, CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 77491 (Iron Oxides)

It's fantastic. Just phenomenal! Here's the break down; it mattifies my greasy areas, it doesn't dry out my dry areas and it photographs just beautifully. My nose gets ridiculously oily in the summer (actually, pretty much year round) and I usually can't go out without having to stop in the restroom to blot at least once. I rarely blot now. In fact, I think I've used my blotting sheets just one time since I started to use this powder. Crazy, right? Considering how well it mattifies my nose, I thought for sure that it would make my dry chin and mouth region look disgustingly scaly or make my foundation pill as silica often times does for me. No! The rest of my skin stays moisturized and smooth.
Photographed with flash. Vacant expression not included with product.
Originally I had wanted to buy one of those Hourglass Ambient Light Powders but when I tried them in store, I only thought they were so-so. I tried on Dim and Diffused which looked pretty good in some lighting situations but I could definitely see a cast of color in others. I'm glad I went with the NARS Light Reflecting Powder because it looks good in all situations. 

I think that application is key with this powder. The first few times I wore I used a fluffy brush to dab some on my skin, the lightly brush outwards to whisk away any trace of excess powder. That worked ok, I was somewhat pleased with the results. The Pressed version comes with a thin velour sponge which to my surprise made for exceptional application. I found that by pressing the powder into my skin, my skin looked ridiculously good. Smooth, super even, pores smaller than they've ever looked. Fantastic right?

Well, the sponge also causes a bit of a problem. First, though it is really thin (funny thing, this super thin little sponge sells for $6 on the NARS site) you can't put it in the compact and close it, it won't fit. In the little pouch included with the powder, there is a separate little compartment for the sponge (at first when I bought it, I completely overlooked it and couldn't for the life of me find the sponge!). Also I find that reusing the sponge can track oil and traces of foundation from your face onto the surface of the powder and cause that dreaded hard layer.

It's not a convenient solution, but I use these sponges I bought last year at a small Japanese store, a clean sponge for every application. After I've accumulated a few, I simply toss them in a small lingerie laundry bag and send them through the wash and let them air dry. 

I wanted to add, I did in fact try the Loose version of this powder a few times but was only "meh" about the results. I think I wasn't a huge fan for the same reason I didn't like using a fluffy brush to apply this powder. With the Loose version, I think brushing it on disrupts the fine vellus hair (you know, that nearly invisible hair that everyone has all over their face) and my foundation a bit, despite my best efforts to use a gentle sweeping motion. I much, much prefer pressing the product onto my skin. 

In short, I really love this powder. I was surprised by how well suited it was for my combination dry and oily skin and how flattering it looks when photographed with flash. I think that the pouch it comes with is a nice touch because I definitely take it everywhere with me, though I really don't need to since it controls oil so well. I can safely say that as my new favorite setting powder, I will for sure be rebuying once I run out!

NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder is $34 for .24 oz of product (the Loose version contains more, .34 oz). Available on the NARS website and at Nordstrom and Sephora. 

What's your current favorite setting powder?

Products featured were purchased by me for my own use. For additional information, please refer to my Disclosure Policy.

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