REVIEW | NARS Matte Bronzer in Vallarta

Bronzers are staples in my every day routine. I can’t remember the last time I went without it, but I can’t imagine ever doing so again. It’s one of those steps that really makes all the difference when you feel like your face needs a little somethin-somethin. While preparing for this review, I took some before-and-after pictures with a full face of makeup on sans bronzer; getting ready and looking at the photos really solidified how important bronzer was, in my opinion! So today, I wanted to discuss a new bronzer which NARS came out with, the NARS Vallarta bronzer. So without further ado, let’s get into my thoughts!

nars vallarta bronzer review swatch

Overview

The NARS bronzer in Vallarta is a new release in the newest range of matte bronzers recently released by the brand. It is described as a “matte light tan”, and is the lightest shade of the new bronzer line. I have a couple of bronzers in my collection by NARS, so I noticed a few differences upon initial inspection:

  • the packaging is different from the other bronzers I own. It has the same smooth, slightly rubbery texture that NARS products usually have, but the packaging is a bit more bulkier than usual.
  • The texture of the bronzer itself is very soft and truly matte. It feels buttery and smooth, sort of like velvet.
  • The shade is a bit cooler than I expected. In the pan, it almost looked like it had a pink undertone. That worried me a bit.

Application

I used a natural-haired brush (MAC 135) to apply the bronzer in the following images. When I dipped the brush into the pan, I didn’t notice any kick-up from the bronzer. The brush picked up a good amount of powder without me having to dig it in. Full disclosure: I’m usually heavy-handed with bronzer, and I wasn’t expecting this bronzer to be as pigmented as it was. It’s not that is is an extremely pigmented product, but since it is described as a lightweight, buildable formula, I thought it would be one of those products that would tolerate heavy-handed applications. The bronzer applied a bit patchy on my dry areas. I will mention, however, that my skin has been unusually dry lately, almost unruly, so that could be a reason, however I’d take this as a sign that this formula doesn’t play well on drier, more textured skin types. I also noticed that NARS Vallarta looked slightly darker when applied on my skin compared to what it looks like in the pan. It’s still subtle enough that I don’t see it as a significant issue, however those with lighter skin tones may want to consider this if they want to try any of the darker shades in the line. I find this is a common issue with very matte powder formulas. Why? I’m not sure, but it’s something I’d like to explore if anyone is interested.

nars vallarta bronzer medium skin swatch
NARS Vallarta on medium skin. For reference, foundation used is Urban Decay Naked Foundation in shade 4.0

Swatches

NARS Vallarta is definitely more of a cool-toned bronzer. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it would be suitable as a contour shade, but I’d say it falls in between the two categories. As I mentioned earlier, in the pan NARS Vallarta appears to have a slightly pink undertone to it. Compared to NARS Laguna (in the OG formula) and NARS Casino (in the Sunwashed formula), it definitely pulls more pink/cool, and is ultra matte. I thought the shade in the pan looked quite similar to the Marc Jacobs Tan-Tastic! bronzer and the Maybelline City Bronzer in 200, since these are also lighter, cooler-toned bronzers. However, the latter of the two shades appear to be more warm in comparison to NARS Vallarta.

nars vallarta nars laguna nars casino marc jacobs tantastic maybelline city bronzer 200 swatch on medium skin

Final Thoughts

Despite the finicky application on my dry spots, I enjoy this bronzer. I like how it’s lighter and more cool-neutral for days when I don’t want to look too bronzed up, and I like the matte formula for low-key makeup days. I don’t think people with extremely dry skin would enjoy this formula, however, given the fact that it emphasizes dry patches. In addition, because of how matte the formula is, it can make the skin look quite flat. I don’t mind this since I have an oilier skin texture, so by the end of the day anything matte on my face will have a glow to it. I’m not sure if I’d try the other shades in the line since I don’t like to go too dark with my bronzer, but I think NARS Vallarta is a great option for those with a similar skin tone to mine or lighter.

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