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NARS Artisan brush collection: Yachiyo brush

Hello! I realised that I haven’t posted anything in a month even though I have a few drafts waiting to be finished so I thought I better get cracking! For my first post for this month I thought I’d talk about one of my favourite makeup brands: NARS!

I love NARS blushes and even though there are so many other great brands on the market that produce really great blushes, in terms of quality and pigmentation, NARS blows them all out of the water. If you have any experience with NARS blushes then you’ll know that their intense pigmentation means that you can end up looking crazy if you don’t use a light hand.

This always ends up being a problem for me because I’m always running late and I find it impossible to apply my NARS blushes without having the time to go slow with them. That was of course until I bought the NARS Yachiyo brush. I can see that this brush is going to reach HG status for me because it makes pigmented blush application a no brainer!

It’s one of four brushes from the NARS Kabuki Artisan brush collection which are all based on traditional Japanese brushes that Geisha and Kabuki actors use. I’ve purchased 3 out of the 4 brushes so far and will be reviewing them all in individual posts.

Here’s a great blog post that explains all the brushes and their uses in traditional Japanese culture and compares the traditional versions with the NARS versions of the brushes.

The NARS Yachiyo’s handle is wrapped in black wisteria and you can see from the pictures below that it’s not your run of the mill blush brush. The second picture is a comparison with my MAC 129 blush brush.

Although the shape of the brush and its handle may look awkward, it’s actually really comfortable to use. It’s a very light brush and feels quite fragile and breakable but I think that’s just because I’m used to big sturdy brushes. I’m fairly certain the bristles are made of ‘super’ goat hair like the rest of the brushes in the Artisan range but I’m not 100% sure. Now I don’t know what differentiates normal goat hair and super goat hair but it’s a very soft brush even though it’s probably not the softest I own.

Here are some pictures comparing the shape of the brush head and the density of the brush to the MAC 129 brush blush which has a shape typical of a standard blush brush.

As you can see, the Yachiyo brush is not as dense as the MAC 129 and the brush head is alot more rounded than the MAC brush. I think these two main differences are what makes this brush ideal for the sheer application of pigmented blushes. The lower density means that the brush doesn’t have as many hairs to pick up colour and it also means it diffuses the colour a lot more. The rounded shape also means that a smaller surface area of the brush is actually touching the product.

I can talk about it all I want but you’ll understand it alot more if you see pictures of it in action. For the swatches below I used my NARS Crazed blush which (as the name suggests) can give you a very crazed look if you don’t go easy with applying it!

My flash bleached out the colour a bit in the swatches but you should still be able to tell that the swatch applied with the NARS Yachiyo brush is alot sheerer and more diffused than those applied with either the Sigma SS188 ( a stippling brush) or the MAC 129 brush. Don’t get me wrong, I still like these other brushes but I just use them for my blushes that aren’t so crazy pigmented!

I find that since I purchased this brush, I have been using my NARS blushes quite alot more even when I’m running late. I’ve also found that this brush is just perfect for cream blush application and I even like the way it applies my MUFE HD blush so this is definitely a keeper! I also ordered the brush by Japonesque that looks very similar to this brush and I’ll be doing a comparison post once I receive it.

If you’re looking for a good blush brush and are willing to fork out a quite a bit of cash, I think this brush is definitely worth getting. I would advise going to your closest NARS counter and getting a feel for the brush first if you can but I honestly don’t think this will be a purchase you’ll regret!

UPDATE 18/01/2011:
I finally did a comparison post between the NARS Yachiyo and the Japonesque version. Just CLICK HERE.

Hunt for the perfect red lip

I’ve always loved the way a bold red lip looks but I gave up on ever being able to wear one myself because I always thought the colour made me look too ethnic for want of a better word. I now realise that this has more to do with the tone of lipstick you wear and the type of makeup you wear with it. I’ve realised that anyone can pull of a bold red lip as long as your eye makeup is absolutely at a minimum and if the tone is one that works with your own skin tone. As I have a warmer skin tone, I’ve been trying to find a lip stick in a warmer toned red. The three red lip colours that I’ve bought so far are the NYX Jumbo lip pencil in deep red, NARS velvet matte lip pencil in Dragon Girl and a Shu Uemura lipstick in RD165.

Here are the swatches:

NYX Jumbo Lip Pencil in Deep Red.
I bought this one on a whim when I was buying the jumbo eye pencils and I have to say that I do really like it. I don’t think it’s my perfect red though. It applies really smoothly though and it is really pigmented and doesn’t dry out your lips. This was a bargain at $4.95.

Shu Uemura Lipstick in RD165
I bought this lip colour as it was touted as being the perfect shade of red that works for everyone. Well, I don’t really agree with that statement. It’s an ok shade of red but it’s just not as vibrant as I was hoping it would be. I’ve tried this on one of my friends with a very light skin colour as well and it wasn’t vibrant enough on her either. I really like the texture though. I haven’t given up on this one yet. I’ve tried it with a red lip gloss on top and that definitely helps the colour.

Nars Dragon Girl Velvet Matte Lip Pencil
I fell in love with this colour when the MA put it on me and have been lusting after it ever since. I don’t think the colour is translating that well on camera but it is a bright orange toned red. I really like this colour and the texture of these NARS pencils are amazing on the lips.

Dragon Girl with the Shu Uemura on top
I tried layering the Shu Uemura colour on top of the NARS pencil and I think the end result was a bit closer to what I’m looking for. It makes a really vibrant red with some depth.

Despite how I feel about these reds, the hunt for the perfect red lip continues!

NARS Orgasm Illuminator

I really want to love this product. I mean it’s from NARS, it’s a beautiful colour and it’s shimmery and pretty. The only problem is that I cannot figure out how to wear it! I went to Mecca and got a sample to see if it was worth buying and I can’t decide. I think I may crack in the end and buy it but I just don’t know. When I read reviews on the product, I noticed that a lot of people seemed upset that the product wasn’t shimmery enough. I get what they mean but it’s an illuminator not a highlighter. I think it gives a really pretty grown up sheen. It doesn’t make you look like a disco ball which is a big plus.

Here a swatch. I’m NC42 by the way.

Like I said, the ‘how to’ is what’s bringing it down. I was told by the MA to apply it as a highlighter on top of my makeup where the light naturally hits my face. I went home and did exactly this but the end result was not pretty. The illuminator made my normally smooth makeup application look blotchy and uneven. I went back and asked another MA about it and he said that he had noticed that this happens when you put it over makeup so he suggested I use it on its own. He said that because I have a darker skin tone, I could use it as a natural blush or I could mix it in to my foundation. If I had perfect skin that didn’t have to be covered in concealer and foundation then I would be all for the natural blush thing. As for mixing it in with my foundation, it was ok but not the greatest.

I did try something different today and I put it on before my foundation on my cheeks, bridge of my nose and forehead. I was liking the effect. The glowiness (yes it’s a made up word but it’s exactly what I mean) of it seemed to show through. I’m going to rock the illuminator this way for a few days and see how it goes.

UPDATE: This last way of using the illuminator has finally made me a NARS illuminator convert after trying it for a few weeks and I’m definitely going to buy it. Now that I’ve figured out where to place it (I love this especially on the top of my cheekbones) and where not to place it (don’t put it anywhere near concealer you’ve used to cover up blemishes because it’ll ruin your hard work), I can’t get enough of this product. This definitely gets a thumbs up from me.