For the holiday season, NARS has released two limited edition Narsissist Unfiltered Cheek Palettes. Immediately, Unfiltered I caught my attention, and I found myself seriously wanting it.
But, I'm not going to buy it.
The Unfiltered I and II palettes are both currently sold out on Sephora's website (where they are exclusively sold), but I wanted to get my thoughts out there since there will be a restock coming soon.
I saw this palette when it was advertised as part of Sephora's Black Friday or Cyber Monday offerings. I recognized the bottom right shade immediately as Exhibit A, and my attention was perked. Then I looked at the other colors in this palette, and they are gorgeous. And I had a moment where I really thought I was going to pull the trigger and get this cheek palette. I thought I would probably really enjoy all the colors in it and would use the palette quite frequently.
And that's probably true. But I don't need it, which is why I passed on it.
Let's talk about the pros of this palette. I think the palette is curated very well and the colors are cohesive and gorgeous. I think this would flatter many skin tones, and it doesn't look as through it was made with only light skin tones in mind, which is a huge plus. What I think is unique about the Unfiltered I over other blush palettes released this season is that the colors all appear to be discernibly different. I believe that all colors would look distinct on the skin, which is rare in a blush palette.
As I mentioned, I was initially drawn to Exhibit A. And I would just like to take a moment and talk about that blush.
I first heard of this blush when I was just becoming interested in makeup about seven years ago. I was subscribed to this beautiful woman with dark skin on YouTube, and she mentioned Exhibit A and Taj Mahal as her all-time favorite blushes. I didn't take her skin tone or mine into consideration when I went into Selfridges in London months later looking for them. I'll never forget applying Taj Mahal onto my cheeks and being so disappointed that it didn't flatter me. I had looked at pictures of Taj Mahal applied onto dark skinned women for months and drooled over the results, never taking into account what it might look like on my skin tone. Taj Mahal was incredibly unflattering on me, to put it lightly. I remember it being very orange and thinking that there was no way I could pull it off. I still think about that blush sometimes (which is admittedly pathetic), and every time one of my friends with a darker skin tone asks for a blush recommendation, that's always my go-to.
Exhibit A, on the other hand, went home with me. If I applied it like I would apply any other blush, it would look crazy on me. But when I lightly dabbed my brush into it and lightly applied it to my cheeks, Exhibit A was the prettiest blush on me. For years this was my favorite blush, especially as I started realizing that the majority of my blushes were cool-toned and didn't flatter my skin. When I first moved to New York, I didn't wear much makeup for the better part of a year and a half, especially to work. I wore a light powder foundation, a tiny bit of concealer under my eyes, mascara, and Exhibit A. And no one ever knew that I was wearing makeup.
When I finally left that job and started my terminal graduate program, I did a major declutter of all of my makeup since I hadn't been wearing most of it. I decluttered most of my blushes without hesitation and then stopped at Exhibit A. Despite the fact that I had Exhibit A for at least four years, and it was easily my most worn blush, it honestly looked like I had never even touched it. The faint lines across the top of the blush looked untouched and undisturbed. Added to that, I had recently purchased Hourglass Mood Exposure at the time and couldn't stop using it. I think my final reasoning was that Exhibit A was old and there was no way I was ever going to hit pan on it, let alone use it up. So I decluttered it.
I haven't had Exhibit A for a little over two years now, and I have to admit that I miss it from time to time. But the main thing that keeps me from buying it again is the idea that it's impossible for me to make a dent in it. So seeing it in a smaller size in the Unfiltered I palette was exciting, and I realized how much I want it back in my collection.
But then I started thinking rationally. As I've said many times, I'm really happy with my blush collection. I have seven blushes, which is a really manageable number for me. And I feel like I have the color families that most flatter me covered, so I don't have much desire to add to it. And that is the biggest deterrent for me in buying the Unfiltered I palette. I just don't need to have that many blushes.
Let's look at the colors again:
The first shade is a golden highlight. I have Becca Moonstone:
Next is a peachy shimmer shade. I have Laura Geller Cantaloupe:
Next is a bronze rose shade. I have theBalm Balm Desert:
On the bottom row is a true rose shade. I have Milani Romantic Rose:
And next to that is a mauve shade. I have Hourglass Mood Exposure:
While the blushes in my collection aren't necessarily exact duplicates of the shades in the Unfiltered I palette, they are close enough that I really don't need the entire palette and to add six blushes to my collection just because I want Exhibit A. The blushes in my collection are also those that I have personally and carefully chosen because they flatter my skin. Getting a palette of similar shades is therefore silly because I already have the exact colors that I want.
On the whole, I think Narsissist palettes are not a smart purchase. I think people easily get sucked into the idea of them: Six NARS blushes for the price of two! But I don't think people really consider if they would actually purchase those six blushes without the "value" or "sale." I think most times people might see one or two blushes that they actually want (like me) and then assume that they will find use for the other colors. And that's not a smart way to shop. But what's so funny is that we convince ourselves that it actually is an incredibly smart way to shop. So we buy it.
When I look objectively at this palette, I don't want the highlight shade. I already have a ton of highlighters that I love and rotate, and I am just not interested in adding any more to my collection unless they are incredibly unique. I also don't want the shimmery peach or shimmery rose bronze shades. I have visible pores on my cheeks, and I have to be very careful about shimmery blushes since so many of them emphasize my pores. I like the way the bottom row of the palette looks, but as I've said, I already have staple rose and mauve blushes that I love.
I also see Narsissist palettes frequently end up on people people's "regret" lists a year or more after they were purchased. Thing is, NARS banks on people needing/wanting to get these palettes every year. Because, really, when you have one Narsissist palette, you probably don't need another for a few years, especially if you are only using it on yourself. But the shine and value and "specialness" wear off within a few months of purchase, and then people see the Narsissist palettes for what they are: a collection of blushes they might not have necessarily picked out for themselves. I've also seen Narsissist palettes end up in declutter videos quite often, so I'm led to think either the quality is not as great as full-sized NARS blushes or people don't get much use out out them since they are palettes and it's easier to grab for blush singles.
The Unfiltered I palette is $59, and NARS claims that it is a $150 value. To put this into perspective, each blush in the palette is 0.12 ounces and a full-sized NARS blush is 0.16 ounces. However, my NARS blush in Goulue, which is eyeshadow-sized, has 0.14 ounces of product. That means the blushes in this palette are 0.02 ounces less than a deluxe-size blush.
I think on the whole people get drawn into the idea of a value and end up spending more money than they ever would have, which doesn't make the product a value at all. For example, the only reason I really wanted this palette was for Exhibit A. If I just purchased Exhibit A, it would cost $30. But I was willing to spend an additional $30 to get five more colors that I don't even necessarily want. It would be much more of a value to me to save the $30 and just buy the one blush that I want.
I will likely repurchase Exhibit A in the future and will just have to be okay with the fact that it is a never-ending blush. As for the Unfiltered I palette, I'm glad that I was able to resist the reckless urge to buy it. Even if I really enjoyed all the blushes in it, I would have essentially doubled my entire blush collection with one purchase. And I have worked hard to refine my blushes to a manageable number filled with the best colors that work for my skin. The Narsissist Unfiltered I palette is pretty and disguises itself as a product with great value, but it is actually an expensive and unnecessary purchase for most people. And I won't be buying.