Pore & Shine Control Primer
The tube-packaged Pore & Shine Control Primer from NARS promises to minimize the look of pores and control shine, but it doesn't do either very well (or for very long) and it exposes skin to a potentially irritating amount of alcohol and fragrance—see More Info for details.
This dispenses as a somewhat thick but silky cream that thins out to a lotion when dabbed over skin. Applying to shine-prone areas provides a soft, powder-like matte finish that blurs the look of large pores; however, if your skin is very oily, the effect lasts mere minutes. What's worse, the irritation from the alcohol can end up stimulating more oil, which is the opposite of what you'd expect after using a shine control product!
As a primer, this allows makeup to apply smoothly and "hold" better to the oily areas, but because this doesn't do a stellar job of keeping oil at bay, you can still end up with "makeup breakup" over oily areas.
NARS's claim about the plant extracts in the formula being able to balance skin and control oil aren't supported by published research. Even if those claims were true, this primer's other issues keep it from being worthy of strong consideration. See our list of Best Foundation Primers for our preferred picks.
- Silky lotion texture sets to a powdery matte finish.
- Diminishes the look of large pores.
- The amount of alcohol poses a risk of irritating skin.
- Fragrant formula can sensitize skin.
- Brief shine control and priming results.
- The called-out plant extracts cannot balance skin or control oil.
Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Research has made it clear that alcohol as a main ingredient in any skincare product you use repeatedly is a problem.
When we express concern about the presence of alcohol in skincare or makeup products, we're referring to denatured ethanol, which you'll most often see listed as SD alcohol, alcohol denat, denatured alcohol, or (less often) isopropyl alcohol.
When you see these names of this type of alcohol listed among the first six ingredients on an ingredient label, without question they irritate and cause other issues for skin. No way around that, these types of alcohol are simply bad for all skin types.
These types of volatile alcohols give products a quick-drying finish, immediately degrease skin, and feel weightless, so it's easy to see their appeal, especially for those with oily skin. If only those short term benefits didn't lead to negative long term outcomes!
Consequences include dryness, erosion of skin's protective barrier, and a strain on how skin replenishes, renews, and rejuvenates itself. Alcohol just weakens everything about skin.
The irony of using alcohol-based products to control oily skin is that the damage from alcohol can lead to an increase in breakouts and enlarged pores. Alcohol can increase oiliness because of the irritating feeling it creates, so the immediate de-greasing effect is eventually counteracted, prompting your oily skin to look even shinier.
We are often challenged on this information based on a study in the British Journal of Dermatology, July 2007, pages 74-81 that concluded "alcohol-based hand rubs cause less irritation than hand washing…" The only thing this study showed is that alcohol was not as irritating as an even more irritating hand wash containing sodium lauryl sulfate. Think about it this way: If you test to see whether or not you'll get burnt by a flame or slowly boiling hot water, you will quickly get damaged by the fire. You will eventually be damaged by the slowly boiling hot water, it will just take longer, but burned you will be.
There are other types of alcohols, known as fatty alcohols, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be exceptionally beneficial for skin. Examples you'll see on ingredient labels include cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol. All of these are good ingredients for skin. It's important to discern these skin-friendly forms of alcohol from the problematic types of alcohol.
References for this information:
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77-80
Aging, March 2012, pages 166-175
Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, November 2008, pages 1-16
Dermato-Endocrinology, January 2011, pages 41-49
Experimental Dermatology, June 2008, pages 542-551
Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360-366
Alcohol Journal, April 2002, pages 179-190
Why Fragrance Is a Problem for Skin: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes a chronic sensitizing reaction on skin.
This reaction in turn leads to all kinds of problems, including disrupting skin's barrier, worsening dryness, increasing or triggering redness, depleting vital substances in skin's surface, and generally preventing skin from looking healthy, smooth, and hydrated. Fragrance free is always the best way to go for all skin types.
A surprising fact: Even though you can't always see or feel the negative effects of fragrant ingredients on skin, the damage will still be taking place, even if it's not evident on the surface. Research has demonstrated that you don't need to see or feel the effects of irritation for your skin to be suffering. Much like the effects from cumulative sun damage, the negative impact and the visible damage from fragrance may not become apparent for a long time.
References for this information:
Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821–832
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, pages 191–202
International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement, pages 1–43
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798
Frenchman Francois Nars has been painting the faces of New York's top models since arriving in the United States in 1984. Their images and his handiwork have been seen on the covers of countless fashion magazines, most notably Vogue and Elle. As the story often goes for the talented makeup artists who have become celebrities in their own right, Nars became frustrated with the state of available makeup and, surprise, another cosmetic line was born.
Beginning (as Bobbi Brown did) by launching a small collection of lipsticks in 1994, the clamor for the colors was incredible, and demand for more NARS products from the artist grew. Shortly thereafter an entire product line followed, gaining attention with vibrant, deeply pigmented colors, sleek, tactile-enhanced packaging and risqu shade names.
As an overview, NARS makeup has many strengthsit reaches its zenith with blushes, tinted moisturizer, foundations, brushes, and lipsticks. If youre a fan of bold colors, youll find them here, and the brand offers consistently impressive foundations and concealers. NARS consistently impresses when it comes to offering a wide range of shades to suit nearly any skin tone.
Where NARS often falls short is in the amount of fragrance added to many of their skincare formulas. In some cases, the amount and specific fragrance ingredients chosen outweigh the potential benefits, so be sure to double check their review before buying. Overall, NARS offers a lot to love, and if you dont mind splurging a bit (as their prices can be on the spendy side) there are quite a few makeup picks that come with our highest recommendations.
Strengths: Superior foundations and foundation shade options; excellent blushes; splurge-worthy lipsticks; beautiful bronzers and consistently impressive color products.
Weaknesses: Can be expensive; a few skincare formulas contain high amounts of fragrance.
For more information about NARS, owned by Shiseido, call (888) 788-6277 or visit www.narscosmetics.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.