January 27, 2010

NARS Orgasm Illuminator Review and Swatches

After the Muse seen everyone and their mama in the celeb world sporting NARS Orgasm Illuminator, she wanted herself some.

I’m a big lover of NARS Orgasm. I love the blush, I love the gloss, and I love the nail polish. Personally I think they need to expand more on this line and start releasing a lipstick and other fabulously great NARS Orgasm themed things. Let’s go full speed ahead here and get Orgasm crazed!

Now much to my delight everyone that had on Orgasm Illuminator was looking all flushed and pretty, delightful really. From the NARS promo images to Nicole Kidman, this looked exactly like a product I must have.

Jump ahead for my thoughts on the new NARS Orgasm Illuminator.

I was reading a few reviews about people ranting they didn’t love NARS Orgasm Illuminator because it wasn’t pigmented enough. In turn a few people stepped up to the bat and ranted that it wasn’t supposed to be pigmented because it was marketed as a highlighter.


I do understand that it’s a highlighter but I must say it was utterly disappointing.

After seeing the promo images from NARS and as I said many a celeb sporting the shade I somehow thought after use I’d be sporting the same warm pinky peach color on my cheeks as them. No luck.

In it’s defense I will say it’s not supposed to offer pigmentation nor is it supposed to act as a blush, this was just my hidden hope that somehow it would give me a flush of delicious peach. But the fact is it actually lacks little to no pigmentation on my skin. I mean I can’t illuminate or highlight anything with this, never mind use it as a blush which was my hidden yearning.

Actually I don’t even think someone with milky white skin could take advantage of it. It just lacks pigmentation on all levels.

The formula is a gel that blends nicely, absorbs easily, and doesn’t have a tacky, sticky feel. It’s a tiny tube for $29 but fact is I wouldn’t feel an ounce of guilt indulging if the product sported good pigmentation. I admit I am shocked as most all NARS cosmetics are heavily pigmented, sometimes too much in some cases.

My first test out I used a smidge of the product as I was under the impression it would be overdone because hey as I mentioned NARS is known for damn fine color pay off. Needless to say I didn’t see much going on so I proceeded to take little over a pea size amount and went to town. Again, nothing.

So I dunno.

Kinda disappointed.

I know it’s a highlighter but honestly I’m just getting no results from it. It could possible work on way cooler skin but I’m somewhat doubtful?

I’m going to lean towards no likey. I actually gave it to my friend Nicks this morning as I have no use for it and thought she might like to give it a whirl.

Sadly, NARS Orgasm Illuminator was a bit of a disappointment for this Muse.

Anyone try yet?

Wanting to?

Do share!

Disclosure: The following item was purchased by me for review purposes (and because I like flinging my money at makeup products of any kind) on Musings of a Muse. For further information please see my FTC Guidelines or my Disclosure/Disclaimer posts.

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • Alexa

    This review makes me want to buy this and see if I can get it to show on my skin. That’s always the test for me lol!

    • the Muse

      do it alexa! or go in store and have a swatch fest! Different strokes for different folks. For me it was really sheer, couldn’t get much going on with it but you never know could be incredible on your skin hun!

  • Jennifer

    Oh thats sad! It looked promising, do you think it would be any good mixed in with foundation for a glowy look?


    • the Muse

      yea sure jennifer that might work beautifully hun! It really did. I guess I shouldn’t rant as NARS doesn’t promise or market it as a blusher. I just assumed with all the lovely celebs look all peach-lish that I’d get that beautiful golden peach gleam but on me it just absorbs right into the skin and leaves nothing behind aside from a very faint gleam 🙁

      but sure why not a little foundation might make the formula better 😀

  • Angie Twe

    Not that nice… Doesn’t look suitable for fair skin girls likw what you’ve said. 🙂

  • Ashley

    Haa! Sephora sent me an email the other day with a coupon for a free sample of the Nars Orgasm Illuminator. I never tried the original so I won’t be able to compare. I don’t believe in the hype =(

    • the Muse

      oh awesome ashley grab the sample greay way to test 😀 The original is HG (holy grail) for me, love Super Orgasm best 😀 incredible blush!

  • Alexzandra

    During fashion week this kept appearing on face charts as having been applied on foreheads and on male models so I figured that it couldn’t be nearly as pigmented as the tube color, but it is beginning to seem like a product that can’t hold its own. I think mixed in with foundation might be the way to go with this. Perhaps it can make Sheer Glow actually look glowy.

    • the Muse

      hey alexzandra forehead sounds so weird! but I guess on a guy that make work. mixed with foundation may be a good go but I really wanted a bit of pigment damn!

      • Melissa

        I actually love sheer highlighters over my base make up before blush and sometimes powder. (usually its after powder depends on the powder) anyways – I might try this, I dab on the center of my cheeks a tiny bit above the brow on my forehead and some just above my lips. I find this draws the eye away from eyes or any dry patches i’m trying to deter you from.

        • the Muse

          melissa you’ll adore this than! it’s very subtle and sheer 🙂 you’ll like it if you do a more natural finish!

          I like your idea to deter from dry spots! interesting tip!

  • Jodie

    Personally I would think that if you want pigmentation I would stick to a NARS blusher. I would think this kind of product would be on the same line as Benefit’s Highbeam – kinda like a subtle glow, nothing crazy

    • the Muse

      hey jodie yup def but after seeing many celebs sporting it with a pretty peachy glow I was kinda hopeful it would work as a gleaming blusher/highlighter. def highbeamish 🙂

  • sonia

    I’m so happy that you are so honest…I was going to buy this hoping for a glow, faboulous movie star skin…but now…Im going to try at the story just for curiosity…I so trust in your reviews…and we have kind same color, so I think its not gonna work for me as well….lol!
    Tks…I’m saving some with that!!!

    • the Muse

      aw thanks sonia! Honestly if you want subtle it’s great but if you want to look like the celebs who sported it don’t go there b/c seriously they looked so pretty and peach but this isn’t pigmented enough to get that kinda flair unless you layer with a bit of orgasm blush (powder) on top perhaps. I’d go to sephora and have a swatch anyway if I were you! But overall it was a bust for me sadly 🙁

  • Gia

    I think i’m alone in the makeup world that I dislike NARS Orgasm blush and lipgloss. I kept hearing about it over and over how wonderful it was and last Valentine’s day they had a “Safe Orgasm Kit” and it had the blush, lip pencil, and lip gloss in it. After hearing such amazing things about the color I bought it. And I HATED the color. The blush, lipgloss, it just did not work with me at all. I went out to the mall while wearing it and kept rubbing at my checks to get it off. I have only worn it once.

    Sadly I spent I think, $60 on a kit I only wore once. I love Nars though! Just Orgasm did not work! Luxor, which i think was only a holiday special, and Copacabana are amazing colors though!!

    • the Muse

      nope gia not at all doll! LOTS of people hate orgasm 😀 It’s kinda a thing you REALLY love or you really hate 😀 awww that stinks 🙁 I’m so sorry! how about Super Orgasm!? It’s really pretty and way more peachy compared to the pink/peach of Orgasm! 🙂

  • Virginia

    Actually I’m really interested in this product, as I’m always looking for a subtle highlighter. I also thought Julianna Margulies’ make-up at the Golden Globes looked so natural and pretty, and the description said that they used the Orgasm Illuminator mixed with her foundation and as a highlighter.
    Does the product actually have any scent?
    And could you compare the original Orgasm powder blush to MAC Dainty Mineralize Blush? I own Dainty and while it’s a lovely colour, it’s just a little too peach/warm for me, so I’ve always wondered if Orgasm is pinker and might suit me better, but unfortunately I don’t have a NARS counter near me to test it.
    Thanks in advance!

    • the Muse

      hey virginia if you want subtle this is your girl! 🙂 no scent at all. I don’t think I have dainty Virginia. Will have to look through my stash but I don’t believe I own it. If I do I’ll swatch 🙂

  • Marina

    Hi Muse!
    ” Orgasm crazed ” LOL
    I dunno, I have only the blush and I can’t say that I am super in love with it. I am very surprised about this Illuminator and I am sorry that I didn’t work out for you.

    • the Muse

      haha marina! how are you!? aw it’s ok! Just another drop in the beauty bucket 🙂

  • mochamishmash

    Glad to hear your honest review. If it didn’t show up on your fair skintone, then it’s definitely not going to show up on my medium skintone. Thanks for saving me 29 buckaroos!

    • the Muse

      your most welcome mocha 🙂 If I were you I’d head in store and have a little swatch anyway but it’s REALLY sheer 🙁

  • Marina

    Thank you. I’m great! And yourself? I want to get some items from the US and because you are such a guru when it comes to sending products to other countries I thought that you may give me an advice:) I sent you an email. Thank you x

    • the Muse

      im super thanks maria just been busy 😀 sure! I didn’t get your email though!?

  • stacy

    I love this product. It works perfectly on me. The peachy-pink glow that you hope for. I am very pale, though. With medium brown hair. When I want a little more oomph – more pigmentation – I add the Orgasm Blush.

    • the Muse

      fantastic stacy 😀 glad it’s working good for you! Sadly not much pigmentation for me but def a good idea to add a bit of the blush on top!

  • lingnang

    I kind of like this product. I usually mix it with my foundation, and it can create the beautiful and soft glow which is perfect for spring. It also can be apply as a base for the super orgasm blush because it can catch these chunky glitters well.

  • Cat

    I actually dab and smooth this out on top of my Urban Decay blush and it looks fabulous! You should definitely try dabbing bits of this on TOP of your blush. It really does enhance that orgasm flushed look. Good luck on experimenting!

    • the Muse

      hey cat will do thanks for the rec hun 😀 I actually gave it to a friend but I can always get a sample back from her to try this 🙂

  • Gina

    I am glad I didn’t go purchase NARS Orgasm Illuminator.
    Thanks for the review!!! 😉

  • Shannon

    Pretty sure my BonneBell Gel Bronze from childhood could dupe for that… Glad I didn’t purchase it.

    • the Muse

      shannon really was a little disappointed le sigh! no color pay off at all for me!


    Do you think nars orgasm illumintor can be pretty on the eyes (like an eyeshadow) ?

    • the Muse

      hi emilie it barely shows up on my cheeks so I doubt it’ll be any good as a shadow sadly 🙁

  • Anita

    Hi there!!!

    The best Illumintor I have used is in the Revlon range. I have one that is really peachy looking. It looks fantastic mixed in with foundation or sometimes I will wear it over my blush or when i have no make up on just to give me that real glow. Thank you for the reviews about he Nars Illumintor as I wanted to buy it as I use the orgasm blush and absoultely love it. If you would like to know which revlon one I use let me know and i will have a look ( I am not to sure what it is actually called). It is honestly fantastic 🙂 x x

    • the Muse

      sounds great anita you’ll have to tell me the color 😀 Sadly this was too subtle/sheer for me to love. I love orgasm blush but this just didn’t cut it for me le sigh!

  • Gillian

    As a Nars representative I thought I would add my two cents. The Illuminator is a sheer, irredescent fluid that provides a radiant, refreshed finish to the skin. It can be mixed with either your foundation or favourite moisturiser to deliver a glow to the skin. For a dewy highlight, dab on top of your favourite blush, high on the cheek bone. The result it amazing! I am very fair and it works best for me applied over my blush. It looks amazing mixed with your favourite lip product too. It contains raspberry and blackberry oil so some might find that there is a subtle fruit of the forest scent. This is not for fragrance purposes. It’s too provide a natural dewy finish using natural products. I would always encourage people to try the products before purchasing especially with the Orgasm powder blush. You might find the Deep Throat works better if you’re fair, like me.

  • Aquaria2291

    Lol, I tried it too, and it didn’t do jack!
    I was too disappointed. When I was looking at this online, I was having mental snapshots of myself walking down the street in the summertime…the Orgasm stuff lighting up my face and making my skin glow….people stopping in their tracks to stare….the wind gently blowing my hair…..Who’s That Lady by the Isley Bros playing in the background….the whole nine.

    None of that stuff happened…no one even noticed I had it on. I didn’t even notice I had it on. Boo!

    • the Muse

      hey aquaria same here sigh. I really wanted to love it. LOL!!!!!!!!!! I like your description 😀 I couldn’t either sadly, the promo images gave the model a subtle glow of peach but I def didn’t get that 🙁

  • DivineMsN

    I’m a little late to the party but here is my two cents..

    I mixed mine with the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer and it looked really good. It gave me a subtle sheen and did look dewy. I applied it to my cheeks and dabbed it on my forehead. So it was a win for me 🙂

  • sarah mathianas

    just received this as a free sample from Sephora. It’s nice and I like the shimmer on my medium-tan skin, but it doesn’t really do anything for me BUT add shimmer. I wouldn’t pay full price for this but it’s not bad

  • Swapna

    So, I’m a dark-skinned Indian woman & when I was offered the Orgasm Illuminator as a 100-point perk at Sephora, I was very skeptical. But the rep told me how to use it as a highlighter & also that I could mix a drop in with my foundation.

    Yes, as a highlighter, it doesn’t even show up on me. But mixed in with my MAC studio liquid foundation, something WONDERFUL happens. I can’t see shimmer. I’m not sure what it does, but it lights up my whole face. It kinda brightens it – not dewy or glowing – it’s still matte, but I just look waaay better. I add a generous drop & so that might be it

    • MissV in NYC

      Thanks for your review Swapna! I also am a woman of color, with medium brown skin and have been debating whether to purchase this product since it didn’t really show up on my skin when I tested it at Sephora. But perhaps mixing it ith my TM would give me the dewy glow I’m looking for.

    • MissV in NYC

      Thanks for your review Swapna! I also am a woman of color, with medium brown skin and have been debating whether to purchase this product since it didn’t really show up on my skin when I tested it at Sephora. But perhaps mixing it with my TM would give me the dewy glow I’m looking for.

  • The Truth Fairy

    Illuminators aren’t supposed to be heavily pigmented.