For a growing number of people, primers are becoming an essential part of their makeup routine—but not all are created equally. NARS' Radiance Primer SPF 35 has several aspects (save one!) to admire, making it one of the better options you'll find.
What we like most about this primer is that is provides broad-spectrum SPF 35. Many people don't like the texture that sunscreen has under their makeup, so primers containing SPF are a good way for people to get their sun protection while still having the benefits of a skin-smoothing formula. The catch: If this will be your sole source of sun protection, you must apply it liberally. If you don't like how this feels from liberal application, follow with a foundation rated SPF 30 or greater or you won't be getting adequate protection.
Radiance Primer SPF 35 comes in a plastic squeeze tube with a flip-top cap. It has a lightweight lotion texture with salmon pink microbeads dispersed throughout. Not to worry, the beads (containing encapsulated sunscreen) pop when you spread the formula across skin, with the pink color sheering out to a pearlescent coppery-pink sheen (nice effect but there's no special benefit for skin).
The soothing agent-spiked formula feels smooth and evens out skin, and does help foundation apply more smoothly. Under makeup, the pearlescent sheen appears as a soft glow that makes skin appear radiant instead of sparkly or shiny. Our in-house testing revealed that this primer helps foundation last about an hour or so longer than it would if it was applied on bare skin, so not exciting but better than nothing.
The one drawback is that this primer contains fragrance, which can irritate skin. It's not here in the largest amount, but any fragrance has the potential to lead to irritation, especially if several products in your routine are fragranced (see More Info for details).
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
Energizing. Revitalizing. Oil free. Radiance Boosting Complex instantly revives dull, fatigued skin and helps add long-term vitality to the complexion. Prolongs and enhances the look of makeup. Encapsulated sunscreen beads release on contact for luxuriously fresh broad spectrum protection.
Active: Avobenzone 2%, Homosalate 6%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 1.6%. Inactive: Water, Caprylyl Methicone, Dipropylene Glycol, Propanediol, Dimethicone, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Lactobacillus Ferment, Isododecane, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Trisiloxane, Polysorbate 60, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Dextrin Palmitate, Phenoxyethanol, C14-22 Alcohols, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein/PVP Crosspolymer, Panthenol, Fragrance, Evodia Rutaecarpa Fruit Extract, Dibutyl Ethylhexanoyl Glutamide, Dibutyl Lauroyl Glutamide, Disodium EDTA, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Tin Oxide, Potassium Sorbate, Hydroxyphenyl Propamidobenzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Mica, Red 4, Yellow 5.
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 risqué shade names.
As an overview, NARS makeup has many strengths—it reaches its zenith with blushes, tinted moisturizer, foundations, brushes, and lipsticks. If you’re a fan of bold colors, you’ll 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 don’t 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.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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