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Under normal circumstances, I'd have run a mile from any foundation billed as 'matte', however the concealer from this line is my all-time favourite so I was willing to give the Nars Soft Matte Complete Foundation* | £28 | a go...
This foundation is actually really great value for a high-end product; it's £28 and you're getting 45ml here as opposed to 30ml, which I consider to be 'standard' for a foundation (in comparison Sheer Glow is £33.50 for 30ml). It looks like this is exclusive to Nars' own ecommerce site at the moment, but I'm sure it'll crop up in the usual places soon. I've mentioned many times on this blog that I love a squeezy tube for complexion products; it just feels more practical and travel-friendly, as well as being that bit more satisfying to use!
There are 34 shades to choose from in the range, which I think is about right for a 'proper' foundation. I can accept fewer shades in a light coverage base, as long as the gradient is right, but if you're wearing a foundation that's not quite right, it's much more apparent so a perfect match is necessary. I've always found Nars to be one of the better brands out there when it comes to this; there's a wide range of shades on the 'light to dark' spectrum, as well as a variety of undertones. Here I have Stromboli (described as 'for medium skin with olive undertones'), Vanuatu ('for medium to medium-dark skin tones with neutral undertones') and Barcelona ('for medium to medium-dark skin tones with subtle peach undertones'). In Sheer Glow I've alternated between Stromboli in the winter and Barcelona for the rest of the year and I find the shades in Soft Matte to be pretty accurate to my experience with Sheer Glow, which is helpful (especially given various places are under various rules at any given time that could mean you can't just nip into town and look at the shade for yourself). I honestly haven't been shopping for fun since before the first lockdown, so I have no idea if testers are still a thing right now, in any event.
I personally like to apply my complexion makeup with a damp sponge; that's just my personal preference, and this foundation isn't an exception. This can definitely give a full-to-medium coverage if that's what you want and to achieve this you can easily apply it with something like a dense synthetic brush. Personally, I like that the sponge really blends this in and meshes it with my skin to give a smooth, non-cakey finish. I usually go for a medium coverage with this foundation but it's one of those buildable, customisable formulas that can really flex to look you're going for.
Once applied, I actually really love the finish! I don't powder this foundation, I just apply a little over my under eye concealer, because it really doesn't need it. This gives a velvety finish that's not dewy but doesn't have that dry, flat look I personally associate with traditional matte foundations. I did suspect it could work for me given the concealer is such a staple in my routine and I didn't find that overly mattifying (there's a review of it here, by the way). This is very similar; the finish is free from shine but it lets through a degree of radiance. Also if I put a glow-y primer on underneath it or use a luminous cream designed to be mixed with foundation, that increases the radiance. What I really like about this product is that it's long-wearing and - unlike many 'matte' foundations I've tried - it doesn't sink into fine lines, cling to dry patches or settle into pores.
Overall, I'm loving this foundation and it's totally the sort of thing I'd wear for Christmas Party makeup. It's just a shame there'll be none of that this year! Whilst it hasn't de-throned Sheer Glow as my absolute favourite foundation, I honestly wasn't expecting it to. Alongside my Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser (which I love and have purchased many times over the years), these three cover off my main makeup bases. If you want to dial up the glam a bit over the festive period, this is well worth checking out.
Have you tried the new Soft Matte foundation formula or anything else from the Nars complexion line?