As someone with oily skin, I love a good matte foundation. Nars does some of the best complexion products, I use the radiant longwear foundation in my client kit as well as their radiant creamy concealers. These are perfect for every skin type, depending on how you prep and set the skin you can make it matte or dewy. So when I saw Nars had released a new matte foundation I knew I had to try it.

Shade

Influencers were sent it and it was being sold in America, long before it to became available in the U.K.

When it finally did become available, it was only available at Boots, during Black Friday they had a sale and I thought it would be a great time to try it. I’m normally in the shade ‘Barcelona’ across the other Nars foundations so I had a look at their shade swatches (see below) and ordered Barcelona.

For reference I’m the shade NC40 in MAC studio fix fluid and Cashew in Estée Lauder double wear foundation.

I applied it to my face and loved the coverage and the finish unfortunately the colour wasn’t quite right! Barcelona was too light and left a white cast over my face it made me look ashy. I tried making it work with bronzers and all sorts but nothing worked. So I ended up giving it away to a relative. Annoyed that I didn’t take proper swatch pictures before I gave it away.

Nars Soft Matte ‘Barcelona’ swatch in flash. Blended out on hand, finger swatch on wrist

I still really wanted to give this foundation another go so I spent hours looking online for swatches. Being in a pandemic, searching for swatches online was the only hope I had to find my shade. I looked at Anchal’s video on YouTube and Aysha Begum’s tutorials on Instagram as they’re both around my skin tone and I tend to use them for shade reference. Turns out they both use the shade ‘Valencia’ in this foundation, which is weird because it’s described as a rich peach shade on the nars website and Anchal & Aysha are both more warm/golden undertoned like me. The model in the swatch pictures for the shade Barcelona looked more like my skin tone than the model for Valencia.

It’s not the most expensive foundation, but it’s not the cheapest, because it’s only available at boots (who don’t have nars counters) I contacted Nars to see if I can get samples, they directed me to an online virtual shade match (which was actually useless because it was so unclear and inaccurate) but you can have a go here (Nars Matchmaker). One thing I realised after all this is Nars are super unhelpful when it comes to customer service.

I ended up ordering ‘Valencia’ during the Boxing Day sales. I opened it up and swatched it on my hand and it was very warm/orange and slightly darker than my skin tone. (The hand swatches aren’t accurate because my hands are a lot lighter than my face).

Nars Valencia wet swatch
Nars soft matte in Valencia on top compared to ELDW Cashew underneath

After applying to my whole face I realised I could make it work. It will probably be a better summer foundation for me when I’m slightly more tan, but it didn’t look ashy even with flash and I could use a light/more yellow concealer in the centre of my face to brighten it up. I think Valencia is the best match I can get away with. I wish there was a more yellow/golden/olive shade between Stromboli and Aruba or Syracuse because they are too dark (judging from people I’ve seen use it online, who were all NC42/44).

It doesn’t oxidise as such, but like other matte foundations it does look a bit darker when it dries, it’s not oxidisation because it doesn’t continue to get darker or change colour as time goes on.

Nars Valencia (with concealer & bronzer)

Application, Coverage & Finish

Let’s forget about the shade for now (that was my biggest annoyance) and move on to the foundation itself. I don’t think it’s suitable for people with dry skin because it will cling on to every dry patch, flakey skin, pores etc. I used my fingers to apply it because I found it works well when warmed up in your fingers and also how Nars suggest you apply it. I don’t usually like applying things with my fingers and when doing my makeup properly for a full day I would apply this foundation with a beauty blender, I don’t think it would apply well with a brush because of it may look a bit streaky.
When you look at it reeeally close up you’ll see it settles into pores and fine lines but from a normal distance from the mirror it looks flawless, gives a beautiful soft matte finish, not dewy but not dry matte. It looks really lovely in pictures as well. The foundation is medium/full coverage, one thin layer covered pretty well but you could still see blemish marks. It layers really well so you can build the coverage without it looking cakey. I used concealer, contour, bronzer, blush, highlight on top and it didn’t disrupt the foundation.

One light layer covered up my acne scars

Longevity

I applied the foundation on its own, without primers and without setting powder or setting spray just to see how it lasts on its own. I personally wouldn’t bake because like I said it can cling to dry patches and settle into lines so baking would be over kill and it would look worse. On it’s own it lasted a good 4-5 hours before becoming slightly oily and separating in my t-zone, it would last much longer if I had set it lightly with powder and used a good setting spray. For dryer skin using setting spray will help it melt into your skin and less likely to look dry.

Summary

Overall I’m really impressed with this foundation bar the problem with not having a perfect shade.
It may not be suitable for all skin types and you do need to exfoliate and moisturise well for it to look flawless close up but it does give a beautiful flawless finish when skin it prepped properly and set lightly with powder or setting spray.
Still haven’t found a matte foundation that matches up to my Estée Lauder double wear in terms of colour and “mattness” but I think this is better for everyday wear as it’s more lightweight and doesn’t look cakey like the Estée Lauder double wear can.

I don’t think it’s the best matte foundation on the market but it is pretty good.