One of the pitfalls of my job is that it has made me fickle about beauty products. Sure, I have the staples I always come back to, but I love trying the latest skincare innovations and makeup launches, which means I'm constantly switching up the contents of my beauty bag. Yes, testing products is part of being a beauty editor—I want to try as much as possible firsthand so I can provide genuinely useful recommendations—but there's definitely something addictive about the allure of a freshly packed product landing on my desk. However, in the same vein as being asked what one thing you'd take with you to a desert island or what your last meal would be, someone recently questioned what makeup brand I'd use for the rest of my life if I could use only one. And surprisingly the answer came to me fairly swiftly: Nars.
Launched in 1994, Nars is the brainchild of makeup artist François Nars, who became disillusioned by the offering of professional makeup on the market and decided to create his own. His brand started with a collection of just 12 lipsticks and was an instant hit—proving there was an appetite for high-performing formulations amongst the average consumer. This month sees the brand celebrating its 25th anniversary with a re-release of its original lipstick lineup in special red packaging alongside the launch of its most extensive range of lipsticks to date—60 colours in matte, satin and sheer finishes. As a lipstick lover, I couldn't be more excited.
But Nars is about way more than just lipstick. In the quarter of a century since the brand first launched, it has birthed an array of iconic makeup products, beauty best sellers and celebrity fans to boot. I can honestly say they're one of the few brands that sell products I reach for across every makeup category, from foundations and mascaras to blushers and highlighters. And it's this versatility that makes Nars the one makeup brand I'm pretty confident I could use for the rest of my life if all of my other products died and went to beauty heaven. So without further ado, here are my picks of the best Nars products I just couldn't live without. Keep scrolling to shop them all.
Both Bella and Gigi Hadid are fans of this cult Nars foundation, with Bella's makeup artist revealing to W that it's what she reaches for when she wants to create a "no makeup" makeup look. Well, I guess that makes me a Hadid sister, because I also love this foundation for days when I want a luminous, natural finish.
This foundation was the first-ever Nars product I purchased, and I always come back to it thanks to its versatility. You can apply a sheer layer that almost mimics the finish of tinted moisturiser or build it up if you want to cover redness or blemishes, but it always looks like skin. It's not uncommon to spot this in makeup artist's kits backstage either—that's how good it is.
If there's one thing Nars does exceptionally well, it's lipsticks (not surprising when it's the product that started it all for the brand). Enriched with passionfruit and moringa-seed oils, its lipsticks are amongst the smoothest, creamiest and most comfortable to wear. Plus they come in innovative shades, and matte, satin and sheer finishes (it's the mattes that do it for me). The shade Red Lizard is one of my all-time-favourite red lipsticks—it's completely matte, rich in pigment and was one of the shades from the original 12 lipstick lineup, so it's a total classic.
Yes, the Duchess of Sussex and I share a favourite blusher along with probably every other celebrity, makeup artist and beauty fanatic on the planet. Possibly the most iconic blusher in the world, Orgasm was launched in 1999 with the aim of creating a universally flattering shade that mimics flushed cheeks. (Success!) It's a beautiful peachy-pink shade with a golden shimmer I love wearing just as much to the office as I do to weddings. As for Markle herself, she told Allure she likes to "use it on and off camera because it gives you a nice glow from within."
I was late to the party on discovering this Nars best seller. In fact, it wasn't until I spotted London girls constantly using it on the tube that I decided to get my hands on one. Effectively, it's a creamy stick highlighter that comes in a ton of beautiful shades, but its multipurpose nature means that you can use it everywhere—on the eyes, cheeks and even lips, depending on the shade you go for. My favourite has to be Copacabana, a sheer pearly pink that looks beautiful on cheekbones and eyelids, but there are plenty of brighter options if you're looking for something with more colour payoff. It's easy to use, great for on-the-go application and basically makes my skin look way healthier than it actually is.
Almost as famous as its blusher, Nars Laguna is another best seller and one of the most iconic bronzers on the market. In fact, celebrities like Brie Larson swear by it for the red carpet, and even people like me, who just aren't that fussed about bronzer, have fallen for its charm. I think its success lies in the fact that it isn't completely matte. The finely milled powder actually contains a subtle golden shimmer that imparts a healthy glow onto your skin without making it look glittery.
Concealer is probably my favourite makeup product of all time (in fact, I've sung its praises in depth here), so I've tried a lot of them. This one manages to feel like nothing on the skin, looks incredibly natural but still does an incredible job of diminishing blemishes and brightening under-eye circles. In fact, it's so good that it's actually the number one concealer in America.
I always have one of these mini Nars eye shadow palettes in my bag when I'm travelling and find they're particularly good for creating a special-occasion makeup look when you don't have your full beauty bag with you. Hibiscus is my favourite right now—a mix of matte browns, soft peaches and shimmery pinks à la Naomi Campbell's eye shadow look—but there are lots of other palette options to choose from depending on your colour preferences.
One of the biggest launches in the beauty industry last year, Nars was never a brand I came to for mascara before the launch of Climax. In fact, the brand only sells one other formula—the lash-lengthening Audacious mascara. Climax, on the other hand, is all about volume. It has a large bristle brush (generally I do prefer bristles to plastic wands) and layers up well without flaking off. Trust me—my oily eyelids have dissolved even the longest-wearing of mascara formulas, and this one really stands up to the task.
Created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nars Orgasm, this six-shade cream face palette has quickly become a staple in my makeup bag. Sadly, it's limited-edition, but you can still get your hands on it at the moment. Inside, you'll find the classic peachy-pink Orgasm shade along with rose golds, burnt oranges and a pearlescent opal so you can create sheeny eyelids, cheeks and lips. They're surprisingly subtle, which I love, as you can really go to town with building up the glow.
I don't wear eyeliner every day, but when I do, I tend to opt for coloured formulations that can either add natural definition (if you're opting for brown or copper tones) or create a bold eye look (I'm currently into blues and pinks). This pencil eyeliner from Nars is one of my favourites down to the fact that it's so damn creamy. It glides effortlessly onto eyelids, imparting intense colour payoff and can be worn as a sharp line or smudged out with a finger for a smokey finish. Via Appia—a sultry, coppery brown—is my favourite.