Nars Duo Eyeshadow in Charade - review


This Nars Duo Eyeshadow in Charade was the first Nars duo I bought and it remains my favourite: it's wearable but still interesting, and there isn't a fleck of glitter in sight.

Ever since I started looking into Nars as a brand and picking up a few products, I've been disappointed in the range of matte options available - not only in the shadows but also in the blushes. Shimmery products aren't good everyday choices for many people, and I think there's scope for Nars to release more products with a matte finish.

Anyhoo. That's just my opinion : )

Quite a few reviews and swatches exist of this duo online, and I did look at those before deciding to go and see the product in person. I have to say, I was surprised when I saw and swatched it because many of the online photos depict this product as much brighter and more pigmented than it really is.

Indeed, it took me ages to find this in the display trays at Mecca because I was looking for something much brighter and couldn't see it!

So what I've done with the shots below is made sure the product looks exactly as it does in person: I haven't altered the brightness or saturation in any way, nor have I packed on colour in the swatches to get it to show up any more than it would in real life. Hopefully that will add something to the online bank of pictures of this product.

Nars claims/product details:
  • Charade is described as 'muted mauve and smoky plum'
  • Nars duos are modern and unique, sometimes comprising unexpected colour combinations 
  • Worn alone or together, all duos shades feature micro-fine powders that are highly pigmented, long-wearing and crease resistant
  • Colour glides on smoothly, evenly and blends effortlessly
  • The effects can be subtle or smouldering: the options are endless
  • True colour application
  • Can be applied dry or with a dampened brush for stronger intensity
  • RRP $50 AUD, but do shop around

There's the pan above. Muted mauve is on the left and smoky plum on the right.

Below I've wiped my fingers across the pans: you can see that these aren't particularly pigmented shades and it can take a bit of work to get the colours to show up.

Below I've swatched them in natural light: you can see how muted they are.

There we are in direct sunlight:

And there we are indoors, with flash:

Now for the face swatches. I have to say, these show up a lot more easily on the face than they do on the arm and fingers. I've no idea why!

Below I've applied the pinker shade over the lid and used the purple one in the crease and on the outer edges. I've applied a highlighting powder on the lashline and inner corner, as I often do.

Another one for good measure:


When I first used a Nars eyeshadow, I was expecting a transcendent experience - like my skin had been kissed by the gods or velvet angels from on high.

Unfortunately this has not been my experience of Nars products: not the brand's eyeshadows or blushes or bronzers, or anything else that I've tried to date. Certainly this has been my experience of Hourglass products, for example, but not anything from Nars.

Having said this, I can see why many people love these duos and want to collect them. They're shiny and pretty, well packaged and presented, and they'll shimmer you into the next century if that's what you're after.

With my puffy eye shape, however, I'm somewhat limited in my shadow choices from the Nars range because I can't put anything bright or sparkly on my crease and upper eye area; otherwise I'll accentuate that and it looks ridiculous (believe me, I've tried).

It's no surprise then that I've restricted myself to four Nars duos (there's just not enough in the range that I can wear) and I can't see that amount ever growing anything but smaller. I do like the Nars shadows I own, but I made the mistake of buying those before I discovered what Kevyn Aucoin can do with a matte eyeshadow, and the rest is history.

Anyhoo. Charade. I do like it and it's a product I reach for often when I want a neutral eye that's not brown or grey. The texture is quite hard and powdery, which surprised me because - given the online hype over these shadows - I was expecting something buttery and delicious.

But you can work with this duo easily and the colours wear well, which is all you can really ask for. I think the sheerness/lack of pigment with these duos (or at least, the ones I've tried) contributes to their workability, because there's more room for error and you can build colour without having to worry that you'll end up with too much product on your face or harsh lines that you can't blend out.

Indeed, I think the workability of Nars eyeshadows is why they're so well-loved, and well-loved by makeup artists worldwide (it seems I can't go into Mecca without being pointed towards the Nars counter). And it is this, rather than texture or pigment, that sets them apart - although not so far apart that you would be happy to keep dropping $50 on a duo whenever you want something new.

One thing on Charade: do be aware that the contrast between the two colours isn't as defined as you might think from looking at them in the pan. I've seen a few people mention the lack of contrast between the colours in many Nars duos, and while this issue isn't as bad with Charade (Portobello, I'm looking at you), don't expect these to look as different on your face as they do in the pan. You can see this in the above photos: the contrast is there, but it's subtle. It would of course appear greater if I really packed them on, but that's not how I wear shadows in real-life so it's not what I wanted to do with the photos here.

On the colour, the pinker shade almost looks brown when worn and the purple shade is also a touch more muted when applied. That's a good thing as far as I'm concerned because I prefer a more natural look, but it's something to be aware of if you've got your eye on this product and believe that it's going to be bright. I definitely recommend testing it before committing to the purchase, just to confirm it's exactly what you want.

As for wear: I've found that these shadows can crease and fade throughout the course of the day (particularly the darker hue), so I would recommend using a primer if you need these to last a while. Also, be careful of touching the pan too hard with your brush because you may experience some fall-out, but I haven't experienced fall-out once the shadows are applied, so that's a plus.

In sum, I do like this little duo and I'm glad I own it, but it's not one I would repurchase if I ever do finish it (Nars shadows are huge!) because I would rather explore other options from different brands. While the texture of these shadows doesn't wow me and they're a touch powdery and sheer, I know I can safely reach for them when I'm in a rush and don't have time to blend etc, and that means a lot!

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