REVIEW | NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation and Concealer

NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation Stromboli NARS Soft Matte Concealer Praline swatch

Ever since NARS discontinued their Sheer Matte foundation, I haven’t been too interested or impressed with their matte products. I have a post about a matte foundation that NARS replaced the Sheet Matte foundation with, which I REALLY did not get on with. I actually tried the Soft Matte Complete Concealer when they first released it in late 2017, however I was ultimately not a huge fan. I chalked it up to the fact that I picked the wrong shade. When NARS released their Soft Matte Complete Foundation, I decided to give the foundation a go along with the concealer once again despite my overall disappointment with their matte base products. This time I picked my go-to shade in the foundation (Stromboli), and a newer shade in the concealer (Praline). Were these any better than what they’ve since released? Keep reading to find out!


A quick summary of what the NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation and Concealer claim to do:

  • Foundation: A full coverage, natural-looking matte foundation that resists shifting shades throughout the day due to oxidation, and features comfortable 16-hour wear.
  • Concealer: A full-coverage, oil-free concealer that conceals and blurs imperfections with a soft-matte, natural-looking finish.

The foundation line appears to have their standard shades along with some newer ones with different undertones. However, for the medium olive shade range, the only option is Stromboli. I noticed NARS included some good medium-deep shades for olive skin, such as Aruba and Moorea, however they wouldn’t be a great match for my skin tone. As for the concealer, normally I go for Ginger, however I noticed that NARS added a medium olive option, Praline. I was a little apprehensive since Praline appeared to be deeper than Ginger, however I went for it anyway since I couldn’t find any good swatches for the shade.

Formula & Wear

The texture of the foundation is runny but not too liquidy. It has some thickness to it so I thought it would be easier to spread around, however each time I felt that the foundation dried very quickly and was a bit difficult to blend out. I applied the foundation with a brush, a damp sponge, and my fingers. I found it was easiest to work with the foundation using my fingers since the warmth of my hands helped to spread the foundation better. The first few times I wore the foundation, I used a light moisturizer since the weather was still warm at the time. Even though I knew it was supposed to be matte, I figured it would be enough since my skin typically gets more oily in the summer. However, even with my oily skin, I noticed the foundation was quite drying. While the product didn’t sink into my laugh lines, it definitely clung to any imperfections I had. It emphasized all my fine lines in a way that I don’t typically experience with other foundations, even the matte ones. I didn’t really have any significant dry patches while I tested the foundation, however I would imagine that it would not be a great product to use over them.

In terms of coverage, I’d say this definitely provides full coverage with two light layers. I only used one layer each time I tried the foundation, but sometimes I’d go over small areas with a second layer just to see how well it could build up. It was easy to cover up specific spots that needed more coverage, but I wouldn’t advise using more than one layer all over the face because of how drying it is. It can look a little cakey and unnatural. Because of how matte the foundation is, I never had to set my face to apply other products. My bronzer, blush, and highlight applied with no issues over the foundation, and I didn’t notice any oxidation.

NARS soft matte foundation swatch
Bare skin
NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation Stromboli review
NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation in Stromboli on medium olive skin: one layer
NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation Stromboli medium tan skin NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation Stromboli olive skin
NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation in Stromboli on medium olive skin: finished look, one layer

In terms of wear and longevity, if you don’t moisturize properly, the foundation can look really bad after a few hours. While it doesn’t fade away, it really settles into the skin in an unflattering way. It clings to any dip and line on the skin, and I really didn’t like how I could feel the dryness of my skin after wearing this foundation for more than 5 hours. In the images below, you can see how my oils do come through a little. On that day, I used a heavier moisturizer which explains why my skin looks a little more glowy. While my skin does not look great in those images, I can’t really blame the foundation because it was actually the result of me watching a sad video on Youtube which made me cry and wiping away the tears and snot (LOL gotta keep it real). Besides that, I’d say the foundation held up well on the other parts of my face where I didn’t use my shirt to vigorously wipe.

NARS matte foundation
NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation in Stromboli: 6 hours of wear

Overall, I’d say the foundation lasts pretty well, gives good coverage and is lightweight, however it requires some heavy moisturizer underneath otherwise it can be too drying, and it is not the easiest product to work with.

NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer in Praline

This is my second go with this concealer. Unfortunately, my initial thoughts still stand: I really don’t like this product. For me, it is just way too drying. I also don’t get as much coverage with this concealer as I would with the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. No matter how well I prep my skin and under eyes, this concealer always looks so dry and crusty. If anything, it works better on my cheeks or forehead than it does for my under eyes, however it still doesn’t hold a candle to the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. My under eyes aren’t even dry, but for some reason this concealer looks awful no matter what. The only positive thing that came from this was the discovery of the shade Praline. I was worried it would be too dark for me, however it actually turned out to be a perfect shade match.

NARS Soft Matte Concealer Praline swatch medium tan skin olive skin
NARS Soft Matte Concealer in Praline on medium olive skin


NARS radiant creamy concealer ginger swatch nars soft matte concealer praline swatch nars soft matte complete foundation stromboli swatch nars radiant luminous foundation stromboli swatch
NARS swatches on medium olive skin: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Ginger vs. NARS Soft Matte Concealer in Praline vs. NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation in Stromboli vs. NARS Radiant Luminous Foundation in Stromboli

This section is always self-explanatory. Just a few things to point out…It’s interesting to see how the ‘Stromboli’ shade for the Soft Matte Complete Foundation is more peachy and warm compared to the Radiant Luminous version of ‘Stromboli’. This just highlights that the shades, while seemingly uniform across the NARS lines, are not actually consistent. As for Praline vs. Ginger, neither of them seem to reflect their shade descriptions, especially when compared to the other ‘olive’ shades in the NARS universe. Although Ginger is described as having a golden undertone, there isn’t much about it that screams ‘golden’ to me.

Final Thoughts

The NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation is one I have mixed feelings about. However when I compare it to other matte foundations I enjoy, it isn’t one that would outrank any of them. Ultimately, it is too drying and doesn’t feel comfortable on the skin. I don’t like having to worry about what my skin looks like to other people when I’m having a conversation with them, which is how I often felt when I wore this foundation. With that said, it does live up to some of its claims (e.g. long-wearing, full coverage, no oxidation, matte finish). As for the concealer, I gave it a second chance but it still did not live up to the hype. The coverage was mediocre at best, it always looks too dry on my skin, and I didn’t experience any of the blurring effects it claims to have.

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