NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation – swatches & review

When I heard news that NARS was releasing a new foundation, the ‘Radiant Cream Compact Foundation’, I went into bit of a tizzy. An all time favorite base of mine is the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer from NARS. The idea that this product might contain some of that ‘radiant magic’ as found in the Tinted Moisturizer, along with heavier coverage was a very exciting thought.

The NARS Radiant Cream Compact brilliantly evens skin with a lightweight, luminous finish“, as quoted by the NARS website. The foundation can be used both wet and dry for “artistic versatility.” Said to have medium buildable coverage, it increases moisture levels by 80% in 12 hours. The foundation is sold in a refill, separately from the compact and is sold in an impressive selection of 20 shades.


The Radiant Cream Foundation has a surprising amount of coverage for a cream foundation. I would say it is about medium to full coverage, depending on your application. The foundation covers my dark under-eye circles and blemishes so well that I can skip my concealer. I found a damp Beauty Blender as the best way to apply the foundation, rather than the use of my fingertips or the available sponge. It also has a surprisingly excellent amount of wear-time for a cream foundation.


The finish is dewy, though not so much radiant. The familiar radiant finish, like that of the NARS TM is not similar to this Cream Foundation. Actually, on me, rather than adding an amount of radiance it took some away. After dusting on the slightest amount of my favorite finishing powder, the dewy finish disappears completely. The Cream Compact Foundation clung to any dry patches and peach fuzz making it very visible on the skin. The foundation also sunk into the larger pores on the sides of my nose, even after applying a pore-minimizing primer.


(applied to arm)

Punjab is a medium shade with golden, peachy undertones and a perfect match for my slightly tanned-skin.


(blended into skin)

After blending the foundation into skin, you can see how the drier skin on my arm becomes more pronounced.


(wearing NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation in Punjab, mascara, and lip balm only, please excuse my glum expression)

In the image above I am wearing the Radiant Cream Foundation alone, without powder or concealer to show its natural finish. I applied the Cream Foundation using a damp Beauty Blender. You can see, only slightly, the areas in which the foundation has clung to my dry bits and where it has sunk into pores.

Ultimately the Radiant Cream Foundation was not compatible with my skin type. Despite the negatives I mentioned, I can imagine that the cream foundation might have potential to work for other’s. So, while it doesn’t work for me, it might work for you.

NARS Cream Compact Foundation refill $38, compact $10 at


17 thoughts on “NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation – swatches & review

  1. Hey Taylor, thanks for the review! I’m so sorry to hear this didn’t work that well for you. Have you tried to apply it differently? Maybe that will give you different results!

  2. It’s nice to hear different opinions and perspectives! I really like the glow that the TM gives me, too, so I’m not sure how this will go for me.

  3. I’m surprised by how dark Punjab looks in the compact! That was my match in one of the liquid foundations (Sheer Glow I think). It looks a lot lighter swatched. It’s too bad this didn’t work for you. I’m glad you still posted about it though, good to know

    1. i think they look darker in the pan for some reason. I got Stromboli, and the pan is WAY darker than when it is on – there is a big difference from the untouched portion and the part that i’ve used on mine!

  4. Thank you so much for the review, Taylor! When I swatched this in store I was a bit nervous about the same thing happening as it just didn’t sit right on my arm/hand. Looks like this will be a miss for me also 😦

    ♥ Jessica

  5. I’m glad to finally read a review that isn’t all positive! It only makes sense that a product isn’t for every single person on the planet. LOL! It’s strange how dark these look in the pan, but changes once you apply it. I have to see and try this in person… NARS will be available here year end, so that makes things much easier 🙂

  6. Thanks for the review!! Glad I don’t need to waste time trying this, as I have large pores and combination skin. The last thing I need is to accentuate my pores!!

  7. LOL ‘please excuse my glum expression.’ Disappointed to hear this one didn’t quite work out, I always have such high expectations for NARS products. Thanks for the review though! At least I’ll know to give this a pass at the beauty counter; I have combo skin but I do get some pretty bad dry patches on my cheeks when winter rolls around.

  8. i just used this for the first time today, and so far so good. However, i didn’t apply very much (and probably not very evenly) as it took forever with my fingers and i was in a rush, haha! I do have dehydrated skin, but right now i’m ok on the dry patches. It seems to be working for me so far! Fingers crossed

  9. Hi Taylor,
    thanks for the honest review. I’m sorry that this does not work for you. I have combination skin and I don’t think I will try this too as I am quite happy with my current foundation routine 🙂

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