NARS skin Review 裸光保養系列

It’s the 2013 Annual Sale in Taiwan, all the departments are armed with all kinds of discounts and promotions to empty your pockets.

There’s only two major, MAJOR sales in Taiwan, the “Annual Sale” in Fall and Mother’s Day Sale just before Summer. And one of the key discounts is in the beauty department.

As I am waiting for my Market America skincare products to arrive from America (thank you cuz!) and with the arrival of Fall, I was searching for something I can use right now to combat dehydration, plus I ran out of everything I normally use. I think I got the whole NARS skin set…my wallet is severely depleted =.=

Background on current Climate: Fall in Taiwan is a season of constant fluctuations. Humidity, overall, is lower than summer. The temperature is cooler now. So I’m less oily, hooray! But now I have to face daily changes in temperature and humidity. Days can be warm humid, warm less humid, cool less humid, or when it rains, it’s cool and humid.

They say when humidity drops, your skin loses a significant amount of water before it becomes acclimated to the new weather and retain what you would normally have under consistent temperature and humidity. Meaning my skin gets dry in the Fall before it goes back to its less oily self in Winter (less oily compared to Summer).

In Taiwan, many people use hydration masks to combat this problem. But I’m lazy, I only use masks when I realize I’m super dehydrated (when oil or thick cream doesn’t work, you know you need to mask…).

Background on my Skin: Currently, I’m only slightly dehydrated…a little bit sunburned, slightly blotchy.

I’m combination normal (oily forehead, normal elsewhere) and blemish-proned. I’m in my early 30’s, which means I don’t recover as well as I did in my 20’s, damn. I have poor quality of sleep but I drink lots of water.

The Products:

NARS skin Luminous Moisture Travel Set (for dry skin) which includes:

  • NARS skin Gentle Cream Cleanser (30ml)
  • NARS skin Multi-Action Hydrating Toner (50ml)
  • NARS skin Total Replenishing Eye Cream (15ml)
  • NARS skin Optimal Brightening Concentrate (30ml)
  • NARS skin Luminous Moisture Cream (15ml)

and separately,

  • NARS skin Aqua Gel Luminous Oil-Free Moisturizer
  • NARS skin Aqua Gel Luminous Mask
  • NARS skin Double Refining Exfoliator

NARS skin Luminous Travel Set 裸光保養組 US$140 / NT$3861 (Sogo Annual Sale Promotional set)

Travel set is meant for Fall, now, and the Gel Moisturizer is meant for next summer and the occasional warm weather or high humidity when I tend to glisten.

After a little over 2 weeks of use, my face went from slightly blotchy with super-tiny dry spots and only very slightly sunburned to being very hydrated.

NARS skin Gentle Cream Cleanser 絲滑潔顏乳 125ml US$29.00 / NT$1000

Cream Cleanser – Thick and liquidity. A little bit goes a long way. Forms little foams easily which makes it easier to spread around the face. Rinses off pretty easily. Skin feels soft, clean, and hydrated even after toweling off. I like but I won’t purchase since I already use a (less expensive) hydrating soap I’m happy with.

NARS skin Multi-Action Hydrating Toner 晶潤保溼水 200ml US$32.00 / NT$1100

Hydrating Toner – Watery with a hint of thickness. Easy to apply (with fingers only) since it won’t run off that easily. Absorbed quickly. Love it!

There are some hydrating toner that makes you feel dry the minute you stop applying. I can feel it hydrate my skin and makes it sort of plump…prepped for the serum.

NARS skin Optimal Brightening Concentrate 裸光晶萃 30ml US$72.00 / NT$2500

Brightening Concentrate (serum) – Has a light pink-purple iridescent color to it. Gel-cream consistency. Easy to spread and absorbs. Leaves slight stickiness.  I felt stinginess around where I’m sensitive, given my situation at the beginning of use. After 4 days, I no longer feel stinginess. I really like it. I think it hydrates my skin very well too.

Scent….kind of weird. I generally don’t have problems with fragrance unless it smells like car perfume or bathroom cleaners. This one has slight citrus scent along with wooden fishy smell. If you’ve had miso soap with flaky wooden fish garnish, it smells like that garnish. I don’t love it, but I’m fine with it. My guess is the Noni Fruit Extract.

* I used to use Living Nature (100% natural from New Zealand) and one of their main ingredients is Manuka flower extract…not a pretty scent either. But it’s natural and I got used to it. 

As for the brightening aspect, I can’t really say. My face is generally brighter/radiant because it’s now hydrated using this line. I also exfoliate. Neither one will stand on its own for long. My acne scars tend to fade eventually anyway. And I’ve heard that spot fading (unless its prescription-strength) takes time to see the effects.

However, I will repurchase this serum because I’m looking for products with Vitamin C because I do believe it does help lighten up my scars and for its anti-oxidant properties and it has passed my hydration test.

Some reviewers said it made their skin look more radiant under makeup. It does have that slight iridescent effect on your skin. But once I put on my CC cream, I don’t see it. I don’t think it’s strong enough to be a “highlighter”. However, if you have large pores like me, you may not like the iridescent effect. Personally I don’t really care because I’ll get that with any skin care product that’s not mattifying. So I think the serum may have brightened their skin which gives that glow, even with makeup on.

NARS skin Total Replenishing Eye Cream 緊緻無痕眼霜 15ml US$55.00 / NT$2000

Eye Cream – Gel-cream texture. Can hold its own shape when squeezed out. Spreads easily, leaves slight stickiness. I like it. But I don’t have problems where an eye cream would make a difference. As long as it’s not too heavy or clog my pores, I’m happy. I’ve used SebaMed Augen Creme and La Mer Eye Concentrate; both are light and easily absorbed like the Nars one. So for now I’ll only buy less expensive ones.

NARS skin Luminous Moisture Cream 晶潤保溼霜 50ml US$62.00 / NT$2150

Moisture Cream – Kind of thick. Easily spreads once it’s been warmed up. Feels a little greasy but doesn’t make your skin look oily. But you do have a light sheen or dewy look. After 10 min, I noticed it absorbed even more. It’s not oily greasy! (Only used on my cheeks, chin and nose.)

NARS skin Aqua Gel Luminous Oil-Free Moisturizer 瞬效補水水凝凍 50ml US$58.00 / NT$2050

Gel Moisturizer – Soft gel, feels light when applied. (Applied only to forehead.) Although the weather changes all the time, the temperature and humidity still isn’t low enough, so the gel is better for my forehead (oil zone) than the cream. Little goes a long way. Did use on the whole face lately due to period, hydrates well.

I was hoping that the gel would be perfect for summer. But it looks like I’ll need an oil-controller. I’m planning to buy Philosophy’s Total Matteness Pore Refiner and Pore Eraser and seal it with the Nars Gel Moisturizer.

NARS skin Aqua Gel Luminous Mask 瞬效補水水面膜 75ml US$39.00 / NT$1350

Mask – Thick gel-like; texture is between Gel Moisturizer and Moisture Cream. Absorbs well, leaves skin sticky/tacky. I tried it on the 2nd night (overnight) because I realized I was slightly sunburned, so I need that extra boost in hydration. Only used it once. Like I said, on the 4th night, the serum didn’t sting, so I know the whole line has been working and perhaps the mask sped it up.

It’s too expensive for me to use it like a regular mask, wiping off after 5 – 10 minutes. But you can leave it on overnight, so I’m saving the Mask for summer at night and Gel Moisturizer for summer during the day.

NARS skin Double Refining Exfoliator 雙效煥白去角質 75ml US$34.00 / NT$1200

Exfoliator – The past few days, my period arrived and I noticed I’ll wake up to the smell of oil on my face. I used the exfoliator which is gentle with little round beads that is in between micro-sized beads and St. Ives Apricot Scrub. The beads are sporatic so you won’t get that grindingly feel like the apricot scrub.

To combat the extra oiliness of late, I’ve been alternating between the exfoliator and my favorite Market America’s Timeless Prescription Facial Exfoliating Cleanser with Enzymes – the most gentle and hydrating cleanser with salicylic acid I’ve ever used.

Both are expensive, but I’ll consider restocking since I won’t need them that often.

Overall Verdict:

I really like the NARS skin line. It hydrates my skin very well without other side effects. My complexion looks even and I have that glow even when I’m oily.

When products don’t hydrate my skin or even if they may but they have other ingredients that doesn’t work well with my skin, I look oily AND SICK. My complexion is terrible. The oiliness highlights EVERY sallowness and puffiness and dark circles.

However, I don’t have dry skin or at least not yet and it’s not winter yet, so I can’t say too much about the effectiveness of these products under those conditions. If I get a chance to, like temperature hits 20C/68F or lower before I run out, I’ll definitely update this blog.

Temperature at Time of Use: HIGH 24C (75F) ~ 28C (82F) / LOW 20C (68F)

Summer Temperature: 33C (93F)

Humidity at Time of Use: 40% ~ 80%

Summer Humidity: 90%

Promotion: For 2013 at Sogo, in additional to promotional sets, there’s a 10% off discount for all regular priced items. There’s also additional promotional sets that’s not listed in Sogo Dept or Nar’s DM such as 2 serums for NT$4500 (regular NT$5000) and a free 15ml eye cream, etc. That’s like an additional savings of NT$500 (US$15) and a free eye cream valued at NT$2000 (US$60)! Overall, as long as the exchange rate isn’t off the scale, some skincare is cheaper here than the US.

Also be sure to check out the official Sogo DM because sometimes they’ll tack on additional promotions at the last minute. For example, there’s one set I bought, which was one month before the actual annual sale, it’s a pre-order sort of thing in which I get to take home the products with full cash deposits but only now did they decide to give away a free sample of Nars Tinted Moisturizer 15ml! I called my sales at the counter and he said he already saved one for me :D. He’s awesome and explained that the department store decided to give that away. So my guess is the dept store and Nars both contribute to different promotions and at different times.

AND there’s a NT$600 (~US$18) cash certificate (that you can deduct right away) if you spend over NT$6000 (~US$200) and an additional NT$100 (US$3) if you swipe the Sogo Cathay Bank credit card. There’s so many other promotions offered by various parties, makes me wonder what beauty sales are like in the US. I’ve been shopping at Sephora since it opened….don’t think I ever really paid attention to what Macy’s and etc are doing…

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