NARS Audacious and the Neutral Lip

I’ve spent the last week focused on an office special event and helping both my older daughters relocate.  The weather is juuuuust on the cusp of changing to actual spring here, at which point I will feel the insatiable urge to bust out my brightest lipsticks – everything from cheerful peony to a blinding fuchsia.

But the past couple of months have seen the daily wearing of a single lipstick, one of those subtle, your-natural-lips-but-better shades…. been awhile since we’ve done one of those posts, right?

The so-called “universally flattering” shades of nude are all too brown or gray for me (looking at you, Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk!)  I’m better with a pinky nude (nude-y pink?) that hits the apparently minuscule sweet spot between too warm (which makes me look red) and not warm enough (which makes me look dead.)

As I was messing around in Sephora, I realized NARS had something like 18 nudes named after various famous women – and google tells me they came out in a set of 40 Audacious shades in the summer of 2014.  I have no idea how I’ve failed to notice them before; maybe my lackluster experience with their original nude shades?  Because collectively, the newer, softer Audacious shades are gorgeous.

I mean, look at these beauties.  Yeah, they’re not cheap, but compared to other fancy-pants brands, at $34 they’re not all that expensive either. The formulas of the ones I tried were mostly lovely – creamy and opaque, although a few felt drier.  (I hate to judge based on an unboxed Sephora tester anyway; who knows what horrors it’s been through?)  And the all-black case with black-on-black lettering and its magnetic lid that snaps shut is a subtle, luxurious delight.

I’m lucky enough to have a Sephora with natural outdoor light, and Itried all of the nudes and soft pinks that looked remotely plausible as you-but-better lipcolor.  I was stunned at the number that looked pretty good on me, and that is Not A Thing that happens when I try on that natural lip-tone type of lipstick. Really, I probably could have worn three or four as a flattering, subtle lipcolor, and it was only by trying them successively that I settled on the One.

The others looked good, but you know you’ve found the one when it makes your whole face light up, and my daughters (who I’d dragged with me) immediately said, “that one!” For me, that one is NARS Apoline, which in the NARS line is a “pink rose” but on me is an almost-indiscernible but highly flattering pinky nude, in large part because it cancels out my lips’ slightly blue tinge (which is why lipsticks pull crazy cool on me.)

Who’s Apoline?  Well, I don’t know.  I can guess at a lot of them, from Anita to Gloria to Claudia to Audrey, but my googling hasn’t produced a definitive list of the women these shades honor. If you have that information, enlighten me, please.

So, what lipstick, pencil etc. are you wearing these days if any?  Do you switch them out seasonally?

  • cinnamon says:

    It’s been such a mad week I forgot to look at Tuesday’s Posse post. So, what a treat to read this today. I’m with you on the natural lip colour pulling most things towards pink/fuschia due to the blue in my lips. It’s annoying — and most apparent with red lippies — I just want a red that looks red, but to get that I need to line and fill, thereby cancelling out my natural colour. Any-hoo, I’m no where near any place that stocks Nars (we got a MAC shop about a year ago — I was ridiculously excited, though I really don’t like the SAs), so, next time I make it out of la la land to somewhere with decent shopping I’ll have to check these out.

  • Karen says:

    I rarely wear nudes. They often look chalky on me, or too brown. (I’m a redhead, by coloration still if no longer by the stuff on my head) If I need nude, my own lips are quite nude enough. Alas, not in a good way. I chew my lips like some people chew their nails. And my habit laughs at lip balms – they can’t stop me. The only thing that can stop it is lipstick, and one that is bright enough to notice if it’s gone, is the way to go for me. But finding the sweet spot of something that is colorful enough yet not bright enough to make me look silly, is the challenge.

    I love reds but they are tough. However, I finally found one that I can actually slap on without a liner and have it look good and not bleed. That is Dior Rialto 988 – a plum-tinged red that doesn’t scream. I love it and need to get a backup before they discontinue it like they all do whenever I find some color I like.

  • springpansy says:

    Yay – great post and well-timed. I’m in the market for a pinky nude. But my main and huge issue is that many lipsticks dry my lips out badly. And I don’t mean the next day. I mean, like an hour after I put them on, it feels like my lips peel right off. I don’t know if it’s an allergy, but seems like glosses are okay.

    Anyway, the next one I was planning to try out was Too Faced La Creme Lipstick in Spice Spice Baby, Sweet Maple or Pink Chocolate. Several of the Nars colors above look good – at least on my computer. I’ll have to make a trip to Sephora soon and see how they look on me and act on my lips. Crossing my fingers!

    • March says:

      I’ll cross my fingers for you! They didn’t seem particularly drying to me, but I’m not you…. and yeah, something that makes your lips peel and feel terribly dry is kind of defeating the purpose. Good luck!

  • Jennifer S says:

    I have never been a lipstick person or eye makeup wearer (other than mascara and liner) because at some point they’d probably be smeared all over my face and yeah….don’t particularly want to do clown! So lip balms and glosses AND March, my absolute new favorite gloss IS the ‘Oh Sugar’ balm which goes on and stays on in just the right way with just a hint of color.

  • Ann says:

    Hi, dear!! So lovely to see (read?) you today! I practically refuse to leave the house without lipstick (my college pals didn’t call me Lipstick Annie for nothing!), but it’s gotta be color, color, color. Any kind of beige-brown-pink-y nude just washes me out. The best YLBB I’ve ever found was Laura Mercier’s Sexy Lips, and even that was a decent amount of color. Love those NARS you’ve pictured in principle though. In fact, out and about yesterday, I popped into a JCP Sephora and tried on NARS Funny Face, a pretty pink fuchsia that could be Hot Wired’s more demure sister. Hugs to you…

  • maggiecat says:

    Following for suggestions here. As a younger natural redhead, I could wear nude and brownish-red shades easily, and they flattered. Now my attempts to cover gray result in mostly blonde hair, and these darker shades no longer work (although a deep berry for special occasions can). For everyday, I like a rosy nude or nude pink – some color is necessary to give life to my face. My lips are uneven and thinning, so I need something that moisturizers and plumps as well. Today I’m wearing a Beautycounter lip sheer in Rose, which is flattering and comfortable. I can’t stand the feeling of bare lips – even if I’m not going anywhere, I need a balm or something, and a hint of color.

  • hczerwiec says:

    I’m really getting a lot of wear out of Maybelline’s matte (but not drying) Nude Nuance and Toasted Truffle — they’re supposedly nudes? But the former is pretty raisin on me, and the latter a brownish red. On the higher end, I’m loving the Bite line at Sephora — they have a lip crayon in Glacé that’s a pretty nude brownish-rose. I also really like their Chai and Nori — not nudes, but gorgeous.

  • Dina C. says:

    March, I remember years ago when you recommended Nars lip lacquers in Chelsea Girls (beige)and Hot Wired (fuchsia) to me. Now that my hair is silver, I can’t really do the nude lips thing anymore. I look too washed out, like death warmed over. Red and fuchsia are much better. The closest I can get is a subdued mauvey-pink-nude lippie by Urban Decay Comfort Matte in Hideaway.

    • March says:

      I still slap on those lacquers periodically! I use them more as glosses to tone down (or punch up) some other shade I’ve already got on….. those UD Comfort Mattes are THE BOMB, I think I’ve got every shade I could plausibly wear, including Hideaway! I wear Exhibition a lot in the spring.

  • Tara C says:

    Plum is pretty much always the best on me. Because I’m lazy, I wear Fresh Index tinted lip balms most of the time. I also don’t like a lot of intense colour, but I love purple, so I put on a layer of balm and then tap on a darker purple lipstick.

    • March says:

      I love purple! But not dark purple (too goth on me) but those crazy lighter pink-purple shades. Urban Decay has one that I adore.

      • Tara C says:

        Ooh, which one? I love Venom.

        • March says:

          UD Exhibition! Had to find the tube…. I dunno, it looks more normal 😀 in online photos, but it is LOUD on me like a fuchsia, and a little …. unusual? I had to ask myself if it was work appropriate, although I loved the color. (I decided yes, lol)

  • Musette says:

    THEY NAMED A LIPPIE AFTER ME???? Wow. Whyn’t nobody tell me???? 😉

    I wear YLLB all the time (which drives you crazy, I know!) but with a slightly dark liner, so my lips don’t fall into the rest of my face. I have SO much going on with my face and the glasses and the hurr – yllb with a liner and a swipe of tinted powdery stuff keeps everything in balance. Otherwise I end up looking like Krusty the Clown.

    I have too many to count but I usually end up using Sephora lipstick pencil (like a giant crayon) in some brown sugarish shade.

    Can you tell I have NO idea?


  • Peggy says:

    I like the discontinued Mac’s Intensity lipstick in Smoked Almond. It is a rosy tan that is sort of nude. But I am on my way today to check out these NARS colors and texture!

    • March says:

      Really, I thought the formula was very, very nice, and I own a LOT of lipstick. Satin finish — opaque but not too matte, and very comfortable.

  • Kathleen says:

    Ooohhh! I’m checking out these NARS lipsticks pronto! I don’t feel dressed without lipstick and I need the color. I’m like you; I look best in pink nude. Super excited! Thank you for the post!

    • March says:

      You’re welcome! It sounds as if you (like me) will be drawn to the ones they loosely classify as “pinks” but really, it’s all one extensive set of more subtle shades. And I think the formula is lovely.

  • MMKinPA says:

    I have a love hate relationship with lipstick I love the idea and putting it on in the morning, I hate having to remember to reapply (I mostly forget). My current favorite is Flower Beuty petal pout in Spiced Petal. Nice formula for a drugstore price (carried at Walmart and Ulta). Although i have heard this shade is a dupe for Pillowtalk do probably not your cup of tea. I’m pretty cheap when it comes to buying lipstick because I enjoy trying them but don’t remember to use them! If I had just one I’d probably buy a Tom Ford, I have a mini that I got with points at Sephora and I love the formula.

    • March says:

      Hehe, I wear lipstick pretty much every time I leave the house — even to run to the grocery, lol — because it makes me feel pulled together! And it’s my only real makeup weakness. I have them stashed everywhere!

  • Brigitte says:

    In my youth I always wore lipstick. Now that I am older I don’t wear it at all. I stick with lip balms, chapsticks or lipgloss because those are the most flattering for me. I would love to find a lipstick and lip shade that would look good on my aged thin lips. Any suggestions?

    • March says:

      Well….. your current solution seems good, right? Balms and glosses? If you feel like a stronger or matte color makes your lips look too thin, that makes sense! If you’re wanting to try a lipstick, I’d recommend going to a beauty counter like Laura Mercier (more mature target demographic) and asking them to show you a nice everyday lipcolor. I use a subtle pencil to even out my slightly lopsided lips. I also know a number of folks who swear by those Fresh Sugar lip balms.

      • Brigitte says:

        Thanks March! A subtle pencil might be good advice for me to thicken and prevent the spreading of the lipstick into the cracks and crevices (a/k/a wrinkles)

    • ScentSpirit says:

      Brigitte, try Look Fabulous Forever. It does ship from the UK, but it meant for an “old face” (which I know in your case is not old at all). Their shades are divided into “warms” and “cools”.

      • Brigitte says:

        Hello, ScentSpirit! Good to see you here! I will look into Look Fabulous Forever…you already know that I am indeed an “old face” and I think I would need to shop for makeup designed for mature 50+ skin (and thank you for the compliment!)

  • Matty says:

    I don’t like nude shades on me either. My old face needs a bit more colour. Rosy pink or a light fuschia suit me better. Anything with a brownish tint makes me look dead.

    • March says:

      I almost never solicit assistance any more because they’re constantly sticking some tan thing on me that makes me look like a zombie!

  • Rina (NOT in CAN) says:

    I really don’t like nudes on me, but if pressed, UD Amulette and Fenty Uncuffed are the MLBB I have/love.

    • March says:

      I wish I could settle on a better word than “nude” — which always makes me think of something tan/brown. I tried tinkering around with “natural” as well. I LOVE Urban Decay lippies and have several.