November 1, 2013

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation Review & Swatches

This was provided to me by a brand for review and I receive a small commission if you shop using the links in this post but all opinions are my own.

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation1

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation ($38 plus $10 for the compact) is kinda my new best friend. Scratch that, it’s kinda life changing. I don’t reach for cream foundations often…granted I like BB Creams and I like cream foundations! I just don’t like compact cream foundations because they are often quite heavy and provide a little too much coverage and dare I say even though they promise a matte finish they feel quite oily and greasy. Plus they transfer all crazy-like.

Cream foundations are ever evolving and some brand or another is always trying to improve on the compact cream formula but very few succeed. When I originally heard about the NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation I was skeptical.

After trying it my mind is a little blown.

Take a look!

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation is a available in 15 shades and promises a lightweight, luminous finish with a formula that contains an advanced emulsion that allows for the product to blend easily while remaining weightless, buildable, and moisture rich.

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation2

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation4

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation Swatches

Vallauris Medium 1.5 and Deauville Light 4

You might wish to turn away if you have more oily skin or larger pores. My best friend Jai purchased this (he has larger pores/oily skin) and disliked it. He felt like it accentuated his larger pores and didn’t look as smooth on his skin as it did on mine (remember he’s a dude, he shaves so he’s working with a less than smooth surface) and he also felt it was a bit too moisturizing.

I happen to have drier yet smoother skin and smaller pores. I did scared when he told me too hydrating….hydrating translates as grease to me especially when it comes to cream foundations. After testing it for a few weeks I was very surprised how much I liked the texture, how smooth the product applied, how incredible it made my skin look.

Surprisingly it has a smooth slightly whipped consistency that’s soft, easy to apply, and blends out to a picture perfect finish which doesn’t cling to my drier areas. He wasn’t joking it is indeed moisture rich but it doesn’t feel heavy nor does it create shine or oily on my skin. At one point I found myself applying as a concealer of sorts because the texture reminded me of my beloved and long gone Maybelline Dream Mousse Concealer.

My skin looked brighter after an application more radiant and the smooth, semi-matte finish was quite flattering overall. I really like using my fingers for application but I also enjoyed using the double sided brush for application that came with the recent Tarte Beauty Without Boundaries Set as this gave me a super airbrushed appearance.

You do need to pay special attention when prepping so you’ll get the smoothest, softest appearance when using this. For myself moisturizer in the AM followed up with primer was essential. And remember a little goes a very long way…! It’s quite pigmented so build slowly for the best results.


I dislike two things here. One, can we please get a compact with this? Having to pay ten bucks more because the foundation is sold without a compact is cra…! I calls ’em like I sees ’em sorry NARS. Secondly, the compact is rubber and boy does it get dirty fast. We all know NARS has a packaging that just attracts powder and grime but when you’re working with a formula like Radiant Cream you’re bound to make a mess quickly of this compact! Sadness!

Secondly, wear time….

Unfortunately like most cream compact foundations this wears super short on me and around hour four I feel like I didn’t apply foundation at all. That’s rather sad as I do like my foundation to give me a strong wear for my money especially since I am not interested in reapplying it as the day progresses. It’ll vary for folks I’m sure but when it comes to cream compacts my skin just sucks ’em up and they fade rather fast.

Overall, NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation is one of the best cream compacts I’ve tried in a very long time. Coverage is excellent, the formula is a delightful texture, and it gives my skin a perfect flawless finish. I would wish for more wear time but blame it on my skin’s chemistry I guess! As far the $10 compact that can easily be fixed…are you listening NARS?

It’s available now on counters or at Sephora and

Tried it?

Do share!

This was provided to me by a brand for review and I receive a small commission if you shop using the links in this post but all opinions are my own.

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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    • the Muse

      since a little goes a long way I don’t mind so much at $38 however, throw in the case that’s $48 (which I ranted about) and that’s when it becomes pricy imho!

  • Christina

    Thanks for posting this! I’ve always been curious about cream foundations, but since I hit 30 my skin has decided to flip the cosmetic script on me & has gone combo/oily on me!
    Appreciate the product use & breakdown

    • Maggie

      I’m combo-oily too and I’m loving the Revlon Whipped Creme Foundation. I was a powder foundation girl when I was oily but when I became combo-oily and also had to deal with flakey skin, then tried many liquid formulas. I have been converted to creams.

      Judging from other reviewers, it seems to do well on combo-oily but not so much dry or just oily. I stipple it on with a dense brush like the real techniques expert face brush or the urbay decay optical blurring blush, then blend out by rolling around a beautyblender and then set with powder.

  • ruth

    I like that it’s more eco friendly- instead of purchasing a whole new compact every time the product is emptied, you can just get a refill for it. I’m kinda bummed about the extra moisturizing bit since my skin is like Jai’s, oily in the T zone and larger pores on my cheeks. at least I now know that during the vib sale that I can throw my money at something else.

    • the Muse

      mm I feel like I’ll toss the palette soon because man it collects grease/grime/dirt ugh! 🙁 I think perhaps it might be suitable for aging/drier skin chica!

      • Ruth

        I hears ya about the packaging, most of my Nars blushes have been depotted and put in a z pallet to get rid of the griminess of them,

  • kimkats

    Hey, Muse. What shade color do you wear? I looked at and they don’t list the shades by number, only by name!! (wha???) I played with these the other day and I’m pretty sure Fiji is my color, but since you and I are ’bout the same color, wondered what you wore?

    • the Muse

      i actually mixed these two and I need to get to the counter to see a closer match for myself Kim so not sure! mixing the two produced fairly good results though 😀

      • the Muse

        oh ps sorry I’ll update post but the shades are deauville and vallauris

  • Cj

    Ugh don’t even get me started with shaving. I got an ingrown hair on my chin that looks horrible no matter what concealer I try to use. I swear one of these days I’m gonna get laser

    • the Muse

      aw hugs…I still loves ya my pretty boy ingrown hairs and all! don’t worry hubby we’ll use the kid’s college fund to get that laser for you!

  • Libby

    Hey Muse! So glad to hear that you liked it as I’ve been wanting to try it out myself. I think I might pop in on the 7th to see how it shows on my skin, if not, I’m probably going to opt for the Sheer Glow!

    I heard that the foundation has a habit of drying out so NARS recommends that you keep the plastic packaging that comes with the refill and not rip it out/tear it off so that you can shut your cream foundation properly. That and the actual $10 case helps but as I read this I thought WHY NOT JUST MAKE IT HARDER TO DRY OUT IN THE FIRST PLACE AND PUT IT IN A PROPER CASE T____T

    • the Muse

      absolutely great advice…I kept mine due to this! It def helps to keep that little piece to keep it fresh 😀 I agree…the case first off should come with the cream and secondly make the case friendly enough that it won’t dry out when popped into the case.

  • Rachael G.

    I’ve managed to get some pretty good wear time put of this foundation. I think by itself this foundation doesn’t wear as long since cream products always seem to have the tendency to transfer onto other things all the time. I tried this foundation with the nars light reflecting loose powder but for some reason only an hour or two later my nose would be all shiny (totally unacceptable!! That didnt even happen when I wore the foundation alone) and I have very very dry skin, so I was very perplexed. Then I set it with the Sonia kashuk brightening powder and it looked perfect and I haven’t had any unwanted shininess. With the SK powder I’ve been able to wear the nars foundation for 8+ hours and have it still look perfect!

    • the Muse

      you’re lucky! My skin seems to hate cream compacts it just sucks them in and they fade in a snap!

  • laurengoodnight

    Muse, darlin, do the foundation cakes fit into the Majolica Majorca compacts? That might make things much more interesting, because then they fit into all the Shiseido compacts!

    • the Muse

      they don’t because you’d have to remove the cover and that would try the product out so unfortunately no 🙁

  • Lisa

    I also think it’s great that NARS sells the compact separately, so you don’t have to throw it away every time–especially since foundation is something you use up on a regular basis, unlike color products. But I do feel like, since it doesn’t include packaging, the price of the product is pretty darn high. $30 would be more appropriate.

  • Lacy

    Thanks for the review. I’ve been wanting to try this. I use to love cream compact foundation and was so disappointed when they continued the one I used by Revlon or Loreal, it’s been a few years I can’t remember.

    @ MUSE i saw the side note of your beloved maybelline mousse concealer and I too love it and missed it and happened to find it on amazon for $6.60 and free 2 day ship with my prime!!!! So all hope is not lost, I just ordered some about 2 months ago 🙂 I just checked the price and it’s gone up a few bucks but thought maybe still worth it for you to check it out if you cant still get your hands on it 🙂 here’s the link

    • the Muse

      OMG thank YOU! 😀 I’m always trying to stock up 😀 it’s a bit more ($10) but I don’t care I’d pay fifty for it ;D

      • Lacy

        You’re welcome! I forget how I randomly stumbled upon it but was so glad when I did, even a $10 it’s a steal!!! Were you able to get your hands on some?!

  • Christine

    Sounds great! Unfortunatelly, I have oily skin, so it won’t fit my needs =((

  • Luiza

    I was really curious about this foundation, but now I know I can skip it! I have oily skin and I like my foundation to last all day…so it’s a no for me. Thanks for the review

  • Samantha

    Thanks for this review! You’ve just tempted me to go shopping! I’ve been looking for a moisturizing foundation for winter that still offers great coverage.

  • Lacy

    So I went to the store and tried this out, I liked the texture but it didn’t look great in my t zone, made my pores look bigger 🙁 I wanted to love it… on the upside I did get color matched with that new IQ thing sephora has and I would just like to say that’s the coolest freaking thing ever!

    • the Muse

      couldn’t agree more the iq thing is amazing! Sorry it didn’t work out 🙁

  • Lacy

    Not your fault it didn’t work out! Just not for me! And yes the IQ is amazing. So amazing that I got colored matched and emailed the results to myself for future reference and was colored matched about 15 things one of which was for Guerlain’s Parure De Lumiere Light Diffusing Foundation SPF 25 31 Ambre Pale, I never swatched it in store but ordered it the first day of the VIB sale, and my shipment came 2 days later (super fast, i know!) and I put it on and it was seriously an exact match! And I LOVE IT! I really do think it difusses light and helps blur lines and pores with a satin like finish to it and gives medium coverage but still lets my freckles peak through which I prefer.

    Also, totally random but have you seen or heard anything about Dr. Brandt Xtend your youth Dual Fusion Water? If not I highly recommend you check it out. Hands down the best makeup remover/toner in one. Absolutely amazing. I get lazy and tend to sleep in my makeup more often then I should and this stuff is one and done, I put it on a cotton pad and wipe my face down and done! No need to rinse (per directions), it’s so refreshing and does not dry my skin out nor does it feel like it leaves a film like some do.

    • the Muse

      that is too awesome 😀 Happy to hear it 😀 I have not but adding it to my try list now ;-D thanks!!!!!!!

  • Lacy

    Oh, I will say while it does a good job of removing eye make up, there’s still residue left if I use it by itself. (for me anyway wearing mascara top and bottom and eyeliner) but I generally wash my eye makeup off first anyway. And let’s face it, nothing ever really completely removes all eye makeup in one fail swoop 🙂