Trying new foundations is my favourite part of being a beauty editor. I’ve got oily-combination skin that’s prone to acne, so I’ve always viewed new formulas – especially those purported to be perfect for my tricky skin type – through a very optimistic lens, even though I’m usually let down. It’s tough to strike the balance between a matte and radiant finish. Too matte and my skin looks 2D-level flat, whereas too much shine just makes my oily areas even more apparent.
But a new breed of foundation has proven to be a solid contender for my complexion – soft matte. As a hybrid between natural and fully ‘done’, the formulas tend to provide enough coverage to pacify shine without sucking all the luminosity out of the skin. A recent favourite is Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation ($53), which has been my go-to for when I need a base that will last. So I was extremely excited when NARS, creator of some of the world’s most iconic complexion products, announced the launch of its new Soft Matte Complete Foundation.
As soon as I got the sample, I immediately knew I had to review it – so here goes. Here’s me with bare skin (aside from SPF, of course – today I chose Ultra Violette’s Supreme Screen SPF50+ Hydrating Skinscreen, $49). I’ve got some UV damage and pigmentation, with a few fading spots.
I applied the product – which feels a little creamier than other NARS foundations – with a beauty sponge, delicately pushing it into my skin. I noticed that the coverage was buildable; I used about two squeezes in total, which gave me the medium-to-full coverage I was after.
I was impressed with the initial results – my pores were less visible, the product looked pretty on my skin and my pigmentation and spots were subtly veiled without looking too obvious. It also felt comfortable on my skin and not drying, which can be an issue with matte foundation. This is likely due to the bio hyaluronic acid in the formula, which helps to maintain a smooth complexion. This is what it looked like on its own.
I continued with the rest of my makeup and was happy to discover that it played really well with the rest of my products. It didn’t rub off or disappear when I applied bronzer, blush and illuminator, yet it still felt ‘set’ enough that I didn’t need to put on setting powder or spray over the top. Impressed!
I’m still yet to wear it for a full day so can’t speak to the longevity, but it’s been 5 hours already and my base hasn’t moved or evaporated. It still looks like my skin, only subtly improved, and it doesn’t feel suffocating or look ‘sweaty’. The shade range is also solid, with 34 hues on offer. Here’s the before and after, with no filter or editing and natural light (and not directly in front of the window – we all know that belies how products look in person).
All in all, I’m very, very into it and will subbing this in over my other foundations for the foreseeable future. Is it better than the brand’s best-selling Sheer Glow? I’d argue it is for oily-combination skin, but I think long-time devotees of the original’s glowy finish won’t want to trade it in just yet.
NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation, $61 SHOP NOW