Review: NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation

BY JENNY JUNG

New foundation alert! NARS swears that the Soft Matte Complete Foundation is “matte but not flat” and I have a few things I want to say about that.

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04 OCT - 2021

In classic Jenny fashion, this is a detailed overview of the new Soft Matte Complete Foundation from NARS and my favourite tips on maintaining a matte complexion.

The NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation has to be one of the most anticipated foundation releases of 2021. In a way, they've set the bar pretty high for themselves with the success of their previous foundation launches with Sheer Glow and Natural Radiance.

In today's edit, I will be going over the Soft Matte Complete Foundation and include some comparisons with other NARS foundations.

For reference, I have relatively normal skin with the tendency to get shiny throughout the day. My foundation preference is matte, and I barely ever opt for a dewy foundation look. In terms of other complexion products I enjoy, I love the Hourglass Vanish Stick Foundation, Kevyn Aucoin Etherealist Skin Illuminating Foundation, NARS Natural Radiance Long Wear Foundation, Tarte Shape Tape Concealer, NARS Soft Matte Concealer, and the Anastasia Banana Loose Setting Powder.

Do you enjoy similar products to me? You may find this review especially applicable to yourself, so I hope this is helpful!

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@Narsissist Soft Matte Complete Foundation, NZD$64.

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@Narsissist Foundation Wardrobe.

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What Does “Soft Matte” Mean?

NARS describes their "Soft Matte" formula as "matte but not flat." It's a pretty bold claim for a 16-hour wear, matte finish, complete coverage foundation.

NARS has formulated this foundation with micro-algae, hyaluronic acid, oil-absorbing powders, optimal diffusing powders and antioxidants to achieve this effect. Plus, it’s oil-free!

Essentially, this is a matte foundation that ensures hydration from the inside out. As we know, hyaluronic acid is a skincare ingredient that traps moisture in our skin, and so, being paired with oil-absorbing and diffusing powders will counteract oil production throughout the day. It’s a balanced formula that won't leave us dry and crepey.

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@Narsissist Soft Matte Complete Range.

Skin Prep and Application

This is a matte foundation, so you need to prep it accordingly. You can take advantage of the hyaluronic acid and make sure your skin is well hydrated before application. Usually, matte foundations don't sit well on the skin when layered with creams and serums. However, the Soft Matte sits beautifully accompanied with skincare - great news for drier guys and gals!

I recommend using a damp sponge for this foundation. This way, the foundation will blend easier, resulting in a seamless and smooth application.

Why sponge? Brushes have lots of bristles as opposed to a sponge that has a dense surface. Using a brush may enhance the look of pores and texture as the bristles work on top of the skin. On the other hand, sponges work the product into your skin and apply foundation smoothly over texture while picking up the excess product into the sponge.

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@Narsissist Soft Matte Complete Foundation in the shade 'Salzburg.'

Performance

Honestly, I had really low expectations for this foundation. On my hand, it felt dry, powdery, and heavy. On application, however, I was pleasantly surprised.

Usually, matte/long-wearing foundations tend to apply shiny and set super matte. e.g., Estee Lauder Double Wear and MAC Studio Fix. The Soft Matte, however, is velvety from the get-go. I have also noticed that I don't need as much concealer or powder when I use the Soft Matte, which helps with cakiness throughout the day.

This foundation diminishes the look of pores and texture. I have noticed that people tend to rely on primers for pore coverage, but I believe that foundations, concealers, and powders do a heck of a lot more for pores than primers. The Soft Matte has a velvety and powdery quality that envelops uneven skin texture like a blanket. Keep in mind, however, this is not a liquid to powder formula at all, which I highly appreciate.

Don't expect miracles from makeup. Makeup means compromise, which means that matte formulas may settle in fine lines over time. There are lots of little tricks that you can implement into your routine to mitigate foundation settling, which I will cover next.

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@Narsissist Soft Matte Complete Foundation.

Matte Maintenance

Use your eyeshadow primer in the areas of your face that tend to crease with wear. This foolproof trick works under the eyes, smile lines, and forehead - make sure to use the tiniest amount.

What do you carry around in your makeup bag? Include a little eyeshadow brush or concealer buffing brush to diffuse the creases that appear throughout the day. I love that it buffs out the creases without having to use additional products.

However, the Soft Matte doesn't settle into my lines nearly as much as other foundations. In fact, I've found that dewier foundations tend to settle more than matte formulas as the dewy finish compromises the longevity of a product. So, remember that matte doesn't always mean cakey.

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@Narsissist Soft Matte Complete Foundation.

How Does it Compare to the OGs?

NARS is well-known for their foundations, and I'm sure many of you will already own a foundation from NARS. So, I thought it would be helpful to include a segment where I compare the Soft Matte to other NARS products.

Below is an image from @Narsissist of the Natural Radiant Long Wear Foundation. This foundation also claims to have a 16 hour-long wear with a buildable and oil-controlling formula.

Soft Matte has oil-absorbing powders, which results in that velvety blurry finish. In contrast, the NRLW has a "thinner" gel-like formula. This doesn't necessarily mean that Soft Matte is "thick" by any means. Instead, Soft Matte has a pillowy plush effect that self-sets and blurs texture beautifully. I have also found that Soft Matte is much longer wearing than the NRLW foundation.

The foundation won't be much of a surprise if you are familiar with the NARS Soft Matte Concealer. The formulas are similar - silky smooth to the touch and non-drying.

PS: My best friend has recently transitioned out of NRLW into Soft Matte, and she has reported back to me! She has noticed that Soft Matte lasts a lot longer for her oily complexion, provides better coverage than NRLW, and she won't be looking back.

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@Narsissist Natural Radiant Long Wear Foundation, NZD$79.

Will It Work For Dry Skin?

If you have very dry skin, you are in the wrong place. It just doesn’t make sense to expect a foundation like this to work for you!

If you are looking for a long wearing, full coverage foundation that is dry skin friendly, try the NRLW or Sheer Glow from NARS.

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Left to Right: Soft Matte, NRLW, Sheer Glow Foundation.

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The Verdict

I honestly thought I would hate the Soft Matte because matte foundations are incredibly difficult to perfect, but I love it. I really do.

I find myself admiring my skin whenever I use this foundation, and I have been reaching for it every day. Even for lazy days, it’s perfect to sheer out. I don't even need to use powder and it still looks super smooth. The best part is, I’ve experienced no breakouts and it hasn't dried out my skin with continued use!

I highly recommend you try this foundation out and give it a whirl!

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