Unsung Makeup Heroes: NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation

Published in: Face, Makeup, NARS, Product Reviews, Unsung Heroes

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation. That’s the compact in the center surrounded by refills.

“Feline enthusiast.”

“Beauty addict.”


“Beyonce advocate.”

“Defender of dental floss.”

“Hater of the word, ‘panties.'” (YUCK! I can’t even stand seeing it in print.)

“Advocate of enabling (primarily in the makeup arena).”

“Enemy of under-eye circles.”

Like you, I wear many badges, and I wear them all with pride. 🙂

“Foundation philanderer.” I’m growing quite fond of that one, too.

Interestingly, I’m able to remain committed to the same cat for seven years (I don’t count my dalliances with Charlize and Orangey, my two favorite neighborhood kitties), yet I’m unable to stay with the same foundation for more than a few months.


Just when I think I’ve found THE ONE, I stumble on to something else, and frequently describe it as having, air quotes, “changed my life.”

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation

Loving it: NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation

As of now, that distinction goes to NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation, and yes, it really has “changed my life.” 🙂

At least I think it has… I certainly love it; that’s for sure.

Yeah…I’m kind of on a serious NARS kick right now, and Radiant Cream has something to do with it.

It’s a great little foundation, especially if you like medium-to-full coverage and have combination, or straight-up dry, skin.

I’ve been fiendishly obsessed with MAC Face & Body for the better part of a year, and I still love it…but I’ve temporarily set it aside in favor of this. For now. I mean, I still have mad love for Mac Face & Body, but like I said — I’m on a serious NARS kick.

This stuff handles my combination dry/oily skin like RyGos handles ab work — beautifully. Even the dry parts. It smooths and evens out my skin tone without catching on any flakes or drawing attention to my dry or scaly bits (gross, but true). Great coverage, and it looks natural.

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation in Barcelona

Wearing NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation in Barcelona

And it’s so quick and easy to apply! Much quicker than Face & Body, which usually, for me , requires multiple layers, as well as buffing and dry time.

With Radiant Cream, I usually apply a single layer with the No. 2 Foundation/Blush Brush by Hourglass and gently buff it with a kabuki. A little goes a long way.

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation Swatches from the left: Siberia, Mont Blanc, Gobi, Deauville and Fiji

Swatches from the left: Siberia, Mont Blanc, Gobi, Deauville and Fiji

Granted, Face & Body seems to scoot around less. For example, I was wearing Radiant Cream when I took a nap on the couch last weekend and using my hands and hair as a pillow (you know when you’re so tired that you can’t even bother to reach for a pillow or blanket?). Tabs came along and head-butted me for a bit, because, you know, cats. They’ll ignore you all day long but head butt you right as you’re about to fall asleep. Anywho! — when I woke up, I noticed some patchiness on my cheeks, as some of my foundation moved a little, which never, ever happens with Face & Body.

Sooo, for iron-clad wear, yeah, F&B still rules.

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation Swatches from the left: Ceylan, Punjab, Vallauris, Santa Fe and Stromboli

Swatches from the left: Ceylan, Punjab, Vallauris, Santa Fe and Stromboli

I really do love this, though. Especially the finish! I’d say it’s more matte than anything else, but it has the slightest sheen.

If you prefer flat matte finishes, using a setting powder with a stark matte finish — maybe something like MAC Blot — should work nicely.

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation Swatches from the left: Barcelona, Syracuse, Tahoe and Cadiz

Swatches from the left: Barcelona, Syracuse, Tahoe and Cadiz (I’m missing the shade that’s right after Cadiz Macao…sorry guys!)

I’ve been using Urban Decay’s new Naked Loose Powder lately, which, like the NARS foundation, has the slightest sheen.

I’ll apply the NARS Compact Foundation first, then NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer on the areas around my nose and on my cheeks where I want some extra coverage, and then set with UD’s powder on top.

I think all three look great together (both in pics and real life) and feel great, too. I almost forget I’m wearing makeup.

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation Swatches from the left: New Guinea, Trinidad, New Orleans, Benares and Khartoum

Swatches from the left: New Guinea, Trinidad, New Orleans, Benares and Khartoum

As for selection, well, Radiant Cream Compact comes in 20 shades. The single refill pans are $38 each, and an empty compact case to store them in costs $10 (you also get a sponge applicator), for a total of $48.


Kind of expensive, I know.

To save a few bucks, you could probably ditch the compact case and be just fine. I’ve been keeping a refill in my makeup bag of Barcelona, which is the shade I wear, without a case, and it’s hanging in there. I think it’ll be fine as long as I always make sure it’s closed.

All in all, highly recommended! — and enthusiastically so if your skin has been (like mine) less than perfect lately.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 14 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Ashleigh says:

    Mont Blanc… hmm, they cut straight to the chase with those names, don’t they? It’s fitting for me for sure though, heh. Although my dry skin could use a nice foundation this time of year. I can never pull off full coverage in the winter because of it, although the clarisonic is doing its duty overtime lately!

  2. Jay says:

    You look stunning in that picture! Now that I’ve discovered my poor skin is not oily but combo/dry (and pouring out oil because it was dehydrated. Go figure) I’m definitely looking more into cream foundations. The color range is phenomenal as usual. I’ll have to check this one out!

  3. Rads says:

    I think Syracuse would be perfect for me..I have been swatching it and hemming and hawwwwing about it everrrry single time I go to Sephora 😀

  4. hanna says:

    I love that picture of you!
    hanna recently posted … Outfit: Lace Back Yoke Tank

  5. Natalie says:

    Hi Karen, quick question. Do you have trouble with this getting oily in your combination areas? PS- I love your hair in that pic 🙂

    I have oily skin and I got the general feeling from reviews that this foundation would not sit well on me, but I love me some NARS, so I was just wondering.
    Natalie recently posted … NARS Final Cut Collection Brings Springtime to your Face

  6. Sylirael says:

    The shade selection looks really good! Especially since I’m a ghost and there is more than one shade of ‘super pale’ here! 🙂

    I might have to go and do some swatching…
    Sylirael recently posted … An Ode to Pink: Chanel Rose Insolent, OPI Pink Yet Lavender and Iambic Pentameter

  7. Cindy says:

    I haven’t tried these out and will have to soon <3

  8. Bella says:

    This is my current Holy Grail foundation; I am also the shade barcelona (which is much yellower than Sheer Glow Barcelona, fortunately!). I set it with Nars Beach pressed powder.
    I also think that the compact is unfortunate. The sponge is utterly useless, I threw mine away because it actually smelled even after being washed and dried, so it’s a pity the compact is so huge to accommodate it.

  9. Danielle says:

    This is a product that has been on my mental wishlist for quite a while. Now I may have to get it soon!
    Danielle recently posted … Top Body Products for Winter

  10. Casey says:

    Off topic, but I HATE the word “panties” too! God, it is so gross. So glad it’s not just me!

  11. Alison M says:

    I hit pan on my Radiant Cream last week. P-A-N. This stuff is gold for that flawless glow-without-glitter-bombing look. I don’t have too much shiftniness as long as I prime, powder, and spray – especially in comparison to other cream foundations. But I also don’t ever get the chance to nap (when will my kids get old enough for me to do that again?!) so there’s always the possibility I’d have the same result.
    Alison M recently posted … theBalm Time Balm Concealer in Medium Review and Swatches

  12. Abby says:

    I love how many shades Nars offers. I have this and love how much coverage it gives. I would definitely agree that you only need the tiniest amount.

  13. Kim says:

    This looks beautiful. And thanks for the reminder about Orangey – I was sure I had commented on that (Orangey and Stripey go hand in hand!). HAHA!

  14. Erin says:

    How does this foundation perform with large pores?

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