Powder Surge! Retro Lips Go to the Matte With the NARS Fall 2013 Velvet Matte Lip Pencils

Published in: Lips, Makeup, NARS, Product Reviews

NARS Mysterious Red

NARS Mysterious Red…

This morning I had a Channing Tatum revelation.

In 1990, Chan-Tate — master of abdominal gyrations and star of many of my favorite daydreams — was 10 years old.


That same year, I was 15, and my younger brother was 11. So, technically, Channing could have been my lil’ brother’s homeboy, which by default means I could have been Channing Tatum’s babysitter.

Cue sad unicorn face!

Hmm… There’s something very weird about that. At approximately the same time I discovered the wonders of matte lipsticks (more on this in a sec), I could also have been preparing Channing Tatum a Hot Pocket for lunch, reading him a story, or scolding him for jumping on the couch.

Yup, matte, powdery-lookin’ lips were all the rage back then. For a period of about 10 years, while young Channing Tatum was probably pretending to be a Thundercat in the backyard, the world faced a severe shortage of glossed and glittery lips.

But, as they say, what’s old is new again. πŸ™‚ It’s time for us to talk about lips and NARS Fall 2013.

Take my hand, friend, as the waves of ’90s nostalgia crash over us…

In a collection heavy on matte eyes and lips, with the Velvet Matte Lip Pencils, there isn’t a single sparkle to be found between pale pink Paimpol and brick-like Mysterious Red.

Mysterious Red

NARS Mysterious Red Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, a crimson red ($25, limited edition)

Mysterious Red Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, a crimson red ($25, limited edition)

Of the two, Mysterious Red is the showstopper for me, albeit one that isn’t entirely unique. While striking and bold, I’ve seen the color and shades like it before (NARS Forbidden Red, MAC RiRi Woo and MAC Red come to mind).

Beautiful and classic, this warmish opaque brick red is the exact lip color I longed for in the summer of 1990, when I desperately wanted to look like Madonna in her Express Yourself video, yet despite its stark, flat matte finish, it feels surprisingly smooth on my lips.

For comparison, you know that dramatic, powdery effect you get with MAC RiRi Woo? Well, Mysterious Red has it, too, but without the tugging or skipping.

And being a pencil, it’s a cinch to use. Just line and fill in your lips.

From the left, for comparison: NARS Mysterious Red, NARS Forbidden Red, MAC Red, MAC RiRi Woo and MAC Dubonnet

From the left for comparison: NARS Mysterious Red, NARS Forbidden Red, MAC Red, MAC RiRi Woo and MAC Dubonnet

If you compulsively collect reds and want to freshen your collection for fall, Mysterious Red would be a solid choice. It may not be the most groundbreaking shade, but at least you know it won’t go out of style before you’ve worn it down to a stub.


NARS Paimpol Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, a pink chiffon ($25, limited edition)

Paimpol Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, a pink chiffon ($25, limited edition)

Under close examination, I do see some sparkles on pink chiffon Paimpol’s tip, but there isn’t a twinkle in sight when it’s on my lips, where it’s more of a straight-up flat matte.

NARS Fall 2013 Swatches from the left: La Paz Pure Matte Lipstick, Peloponnese Pure Matte Lipstick, Paimpol Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, Mysterious Red Velvet Matte Lip Pencil

From the left: La Paz Pure Matte Lipstick, Peloponnese Pure Matte Lipstick, Paimpol Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, Mysterious Red Velvet Matte Lip Pencil

Can’t say I’m in love with this one. I had my heart set on a soft baby pink, but I get more of a purplish pink on my pigmented lips.

A little too CSI for me…

NARS Paimpol


It’s also patchy and latches on to even the finest stray flakes, basically making me look bloodless, like I was a hungry vampire’s dinner.

If you look good in pale, purplish pinks like MAC’s Viva Glam Nicky 2, you can probably pull it off, but I gotta give this one a Kanye shrug.

PRICE: $25 each
AVAILABILITY: Coming July 15 to NARS counters, boutiques and online

Drakkar Noir

Remember that stuff? Every guy in my class had Drakkar Noir cologne emanating from his pores…

It reminds me of dances, sweaty palms and boys stepping on my toes. I’m only remembering it now because one of my favorite bands, Phoenix, has a song called Drakkar Noir.


It’s pretty catchy, too.

Big Phoenix fan over here. πŸ™‚

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 32 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Dovey says:

    Hi Karen,

    Mysterious Red looks amazing on you! Especially with that semi-matte finish πŸ™‚

  2. Teresa says:

    Just think though — you would have been the cool babysitter that Channing had a crush on.

    From the swatches I’m actually liking La Paz! Must look into it.

  3. Monica P says:

    I sure like La Paz .. the red is .. wow, red. I’d feel too vampy, I guess πŸ˜‰

    Monica P recently posted … Baseball jacket by INC International Concepts for Macy’s

  4. Teresa says:

    Ooof, you’re right. Mattes are always a bit of a gamble huh?!
    My Tuesday was great, thanks for asking. Now it’s Wednesday, and more of the same — writing my thesis, or more like procrastinating on writing my thesis and reading beauty blogs!
    Teresa recently posted … It took me a while to find a replacement for my day bag. In my…

  5. Teresa says:

    I’m writing up my research on cancer biology — a gene which was known as being involved in brain development, but we’ve found that it promotes cancer growth too. Nooooooo!

  6. Agata says:

    Underwhelmed by these two but the red sure looks pretty on you (is there any lipstick color that doesn’t look good on you???) And btw, I love your scarf!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Agata,

      Thank you! The scarf is from Anthropologie. They’re having some really great sales on summer stuff right now. This particular one doesn’t seem to be online anymore, but here’s something similar in case you’re interested:

      Spring garden infinity scarf

      • Agata says:

        Ohh thanks, this one is beautiful too! And it’s an infinity scarf which I love! A cute scarf is my kinda to go accessory for spring and fall. It’s such a great way to accessorize your outfit!

  7. Anonne says:

    Not feeling either of these. Paimpol is a lot like Sex Machine – pretty flat purplish pink and disappears on my lips. I bought it more for the name, and it kinda works but I have to layer a gloss over it for me to get the right effect.

  8. gio says:

    Mysterious Red looks beautiful on you!
    gio recently posted … How To Make Your Lipstick Last Longer

  9. Lancy says:

    I loved MAC RiRi woo.. Great swatches πŸ™‚ Happy day!
    Lancy recently posted … 9 Different Essential Oils and Their Uses

  10. I really love that red on you!
    Marina(Makeup4all) recently posted … Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner Review. Rave

  11. Swagata says:

    that red looks nice on you…I am very scared of trying red lippies…still stuck to pinks and corals πŸ™‚
    Swagata recently posted … My JUNE 2013 Favorites!!!

  12. Chantelle says:

    Matte lipsticks are my favourite, can’t wait to try out some of the deeper reds. The pencils are so easy to use too no mess and no need for a lip liner…LOVE! πŸ™‚

    Chantelle x

    The Girl In The Tartan Scarf

  13. Shreya says:

    Oh wow Mysterious red is sooo lovely color… Looks great on you . Can’t wait to try this one !

  14. sarahc says:

    Mysterious Red is interesting and retro. You have it styled very prettily in the top pic.

    I’ll pass on Paimpol.

  15. Danielle says:

    Mysterious Red is the one product I am really looking forward to in this collection. I am already predicting that I’m going to wear a lot of red lipstick this autumn.
    Danielle recently posted … Weleda Skin Food

  16. Laneski says:

    Ha! Drakkor Noir was the fragrance my husband wore when we first met and were dating. Then we were visiting his parents house and I found out his dad wore the same fragrance. Needless to say, my now husband didn’t wear the fragrance anymore. I told him that was to weird. lol

  17. Melissa says:

    I’m wearing a matte red lip just now, but I’m seriously tempted by Mysterious Red!!

    And I’m a big Phoenix fan too and when I scrolled down and saw “Drakkar Noir” I had the song in my head instantly! How good is “Too Young” or “Trying to be Cool”? πŸ™‚

  18. Allison says:

    I love a good matte red lip! I have never tried anything from Nars but their fall collection has been looking so good it just might be the right time to start trying some out!


  19. Barbara says:

    Don’t know that I’ve ever smelled Drakkar Noir but I do like the song!

  20. Angel says:

    My name is Angel, and I have a red lipstick addiction. I can’t stop. Even when I know I have one at home that probably looks just like it, I must buy it. I have enough red lippies to last me at least 5-7 years if I wore them every day straight. This post doesn’t help Karen. Not. One. Bit. !!!!! πŸ˜‰

  21. Kim says:

    Oh, my. Realizing that the 90s are retro definitely makes me feel ancient. πŸ™‚ Ah, Drakkar Noir. I don’t know if it was strong enough to smell from the next county or if teenage boys just poured it on but I totally agree that it was all we could smell in the late 80s and 90s.

    On a side note about songs and fragrances, the line from Before He Cheats “… he’s probably splashing on three dollars worth of that bathroom Polo…” always makes me laugh.

  22. It looks a lot like Ruby Woo! Stunning color, looks amazing on you!
    Ankita@corallista recently posted … If you could have your own TV show inspired Beauty collection, what would it be?

  23. Arianna says:

    I’m loving the velvet matte lip pencils!

  24. Arianna says:

    I need to get my hands on mysterious red!

  25. Shelly says:

    Hey! πŸ™‚
    How do you think Nars Mysterious Red compares to Nars Forbidden Red tone wise? Is one more blue than the other?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge