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One of the most hyped eye palettes to be released in the first quarter of 2014 has to be this one from NARS – the Narsissist Eye Palette. It’s gotten bouquets and brickbats and has such a wide, diverse range of views on it that I naturally had to check it out for myself
For those who are anticipating its arrival, we can expect it in store end-April, early-May (just a week or 2 to go!) but I managed to purchase a palette early during its preview, so you have the benefit of my thoughts, before you decide if this palette is for you
I picked mine up about 2 months ago and since then, I’ve been using it quite a lot. If you head over to my earlier preview post, that was the palette in its pristine glory. The picture above shows it used, after about 2 months. It’s interesting that other than some smudging, it doesn’t look too grubby right? The rubber cover is another matter though. This has always been the downside of NARS signature rubber packaging.
The rubber is a dust and product magnet and I can’t imagine why the people at NARS thought it was a great idea, especially if it’s to be used by makeup artists, who will be working a lot with their fingers.
Bitching about the packaging aside (people have been bitching about the packaging for years but it looks like it’s here to stay) what you really want to know is how well (or not) this eye palette performs. And to this I have to tell you to manage your expectations.
The palette itself is fairly large which you can see here and there are 15 eyeshadow pans in the palette. In the big scheme of things, it sounds pretty much perfect. 15 of NARS’ eyeshadows – singles and duos – in one handy palette you can carry around everywhere to create a myriad of looks from day to night.
Now here’s where I tell you to manage your expectations.
You see, while NARS blushes get top billing for being pigmented and lovely, NARS eyeshadows have always been a bit of a hit or miss for me. I’ve experienced quite a few duos and over the years, I gave away many because the texture wasn’t to my liking. I kept a couple of duos – Tzarine, Dogon and Rajasthan – but other than Dogon, I don’t reach for them very often because I feel that there are better textures out there from other brands.
I have always personally felt that NARS eyeshadows are dry and hard despite all the raves (the new Kauai is a surprising exception and one I’ve been thinking about for a while). So with this background in mind, let me say therefore that I wasn’t too surprised by the texture of the Narsissist Eye Palette.
I do find, as many do, that the texture of the shadows feel a bit dry and hard to the touch. Some colours are softer and stronger than others, and some appear to be quite a wash out. I also find that there is some flyaway powder as you use it so you have to wipe down the sides if you are fussy. If you’ve never used an eyeshadow from NARS then the texture might surprise you. If you have, then the texture would be familiar.
I’ll show you the swatches I made using my fingers, before I tell you how best to get the most out of this palette. It’s actually quite hard to get good swatches and there are many out there but mine are here for the sake of completeness.
Row 1: All about Eve (Left side), Madrague (Right side), Fez, Bali, Coconut Grove
- All about Eve is a shimmery nude that gets panned a lot but I like it! I use a fluffy brush rather like this one and use it as an under brow highlighter and to tie the colours together. It’s subtle and is very nice.
- Madrague is a matte nude shade that does a fairly good job as a base colour or a colour to blend in or tone down deeper shades.
- Fez a bronze shimmer, is one of the better textures in the palette. It’s pigmented and warm and although I never thought it to be a colour I’d wear, I get a lot of wear out of this shade, toned down with Madrague and deepened with Coconut Grove so it doesn’t look too warm on my skin.
- Bali is a matte neutral which again works as a base or as a blending shade, or even to wear on its own and black eyeliner for a natural day look.
- Coconut Grove is a deep brown which you can either use to shade as I do, or as a base for a smokey eye, as you will.
Row 2: Madrague (Left side), Nepal, Ashes to Ashes, Brousse (Right side), Mekong
- Madrague (left) is a matte nude that I use again, as a highlighter or to blend with deeper shadows or to use as a base. It’s fairly nude.
- Nepal is a shimmer peach that works as a highlight shade or for me, I like to use it as an all over lid colour on its own, tempered with a bit of deep colour at the lash line and with black liner, for a fresh look. It’s versatile.
- Ashes to Ashes is a shimmer neutral colour that is pretty much like Nepal. Use it on its own or as a lid shade and dab some deeper shades to define.
- Brousse (right) is a deep shimmer purple shade that is quite pretty to use as an all over lid colour and goes on skin a little darker than it looks.
- Mekong is a deep brown with golden glitter but when I use it on my lids, the glitter sort of disappears so I just get a very deep brown that you can use as a liner or a crease shade. It isn’t my favourite shade but it works.
Row 3: Bellissima (Left side), Lhasa, Bad Behaviour, Dogon (Right side), Pandora (Right side)
Row 3 has the coolest shades in the palette and it’s interesting how when you mix the cool and warm shades, you get some very interesting eye looks.
- Bellissima (left) barely shows up on skin. Do you see the bits of glitter on the left? That’s it. Not a colour I use often.
- Lhasa is a light purple that goes on my skin a little more taupe and is one of my favourite shades. I can see why Lhasa is so popular because I reach for the colour a lot! I like using it as an all over lid shade, tempered with some deeper colours and it’s very pretty.
- Bad Behaviour looks like a steel grey in pan but swatches on my skin a darker grey. I like wearing gray on my eyes so this is a colour I use a lot too.
- Dogon (right) is a fascinating colour. I have the limited edition duo and this colour which looks like a blackened green in the pan and which goes on skin quite dark is quite magical once you layer a lighter shade like Lhasa or Nepal or Ashes to Ashes over it. It really brings out the colour and it looks very pretty.
- Pandora (right) is your requisite matte black perfect for shading, smoking out colour and lining. I like to use this to tightline when I’m using this palette, using the Wayne Goss No. 8 brush. It gives that nice blackness of colour that I like.
As I’ve noted above, the textures are mostly dry and hard to the touch barring a few shades like Lhasa or Fez that show up better. Most of the lighter shades barely show up at all and I know that puts off people.
However, I do also find that the secret to using this palette is to use a brush, specifically a natural hair eyeshadow brush that isn’t too soft or floppy. I like using the MAC 239 brush with this palette because it’s designed to pick up and pack on eye colour on skin and it’s what this palette needs.
I like to use the MAC239 brush to pick up colour and then use a dabbing motion to pack the colour on the lid. Then, I use another brush to blend in a deeper shade and tie it all in with a highlight shade. It works for me. However, if you want stronger colour then an eyelid primer does come in handy. Used with an eyelid primer and an expert makeup artist’s hands, you get a look approximating this.
She used Fez as an all over lid shade, Coconut Grove to shade and Pandora to darken. That’s it!
If you have an inexpert hand like mine and no lid primer, you get a look that approximates this
I think I used Lhasa which I tempered with Coconut Grove and Pandora and no eyelid primer. Don’t think I did too bad a job there right? Haha
Another example of a look I did using this palette can be seen in this post where I used mostly grey shades for a cool eye look. A close up is this, again with no primer and an inexpert hand.
So basically what I’m trying to say is that the Narsissist Eye palette isn’t for everyone because we all have different expectations and preferences. For me, knowing how to work with the product is important and while I wouldn’t be jumping up and down, squealing with glee at this palette, I wouldn’t pan it either.
I was surprised that I actually like it and use it quite a lot in the 2 months I’ve owned it. I wouldn’t tell you to buy it outright sight unseen, but I’d suggest that you test it out and see if the colours and textures appeal to you. It isn’t a palette that appeals to all, but it does to me.
In a nutshell
The Narsissist Eye Palette is a palette of 15 shadows from the singles and duos released by Nars over the years. The texture of the shadows are hard and dry to the touch which I feel won’t appeal to many people. However, I find that the best way to get the most out of this palette is to use a natural hair dense eyeshadow brush and the colours come into their own then. I like the variety of fairly neutral colours available in the palette and I like how the colours can be used alone or blended together. I think there’s a good mix of light, medium and dark shades to suit most people’s preferences and while this isn’t a palette that will appeal to everyone, I do like it and use it often. Don’t take my word for it though, I’d suggest you test it out in person before you decide. If you already have a ton of Nars shadows though, then you could easily pass on this one.
Pros: Handy sized packaging, Large mirror, Good selection of light medium and dark shades, Easy to blend, Colours are easy to use for most people
Cons: Pricey, Texture of shadows are hard and dry, Light shades hardly show up on skin, Needs a brush for best application
Who will like this: Anyone who is familiar with NARS eyeshadow textures, Anyone who wants a fairly portable eyeshadow palette that can take you from day to night with ease
Are you planning to pick up the Narsissist Eye Palette when it’s available? Do you already have it and if so, what are your thoughts on this?
I know that people are really divided in their opinions on this palette. At first glance I’d say I wasn’t too impressed but having played around for a while, I have to say it’s grown on me and I like how it just sort of creeps up on you like that haha If you already own it, please share your thoughts too – you don’t have to like it!
NARS NARSissist Eye Palette Price: RM290 Availability: NARS store at Pavilion KL from end April-May 2014