Iconic beauty brand NARS finally in South Africa

We find out from Charly Barbier, Paris-based Education & Artistry Director for NARS Cosmetics and Marco Louis Ackers, National Senior Artist & Trainer (SA) what makes NARS so desirable.

By Ingrid Wood

Founded by makeup artist and photographer François Nars, global makeup brand NARS Cosmetics is known for shifting boundaries, audacious names, uncompromising colour pigments and iconic beauty essentials revered by dedicated ‘NARSissists’, such as Light Reflecting Foundation, Radiant Creamy Concealer, Orgasm Blush, Afterglow Liquid Blush,Climax Liquid Eyeliner and Powermatte Lipstick. It is also famed for its unrivalled offering in the complexion category in terms of shades. Charly and Marco tell us what makes NARS the brand all beauty addicts need to try.

What three words would you use to describe the brand?

Charly: Iconic, individual and unexpected.

What makes NARS unique?

Marco: When doing makeovers, we are often asked: “Is it going to look like this when I do it at home?” And the truth is yes it will – visually the products do exactly what they say they will do because of the incredible textures of the powders and creams, as well as the NARS application techniques. The attention to skincare is special; if you start with the skincare and move all the way through to complexion, it really does make all the difference. The African market is finally moving towards skin that looks like skin and NARS is perfect for that.


Charly: There is definitely a wow effect in each product that I just haven’t seen in other brands. The textures are unique, and you only need one or two products to create a look. The foundations, blush and eyeshadows blend like butter. And the products treat the skin – even the blush is infused with collagen and hyaluronic acid. I love the fact that it’s timeless and edgy at the same time. You have the experience of luxurious packaging, sublime textures, a high level of efficiency, a full range of colours and modernity. The brand accommodates every age, every gender, every skin tone and type.

Is there truly a foundation for every South African?

Marco: Yes! When I trained in Paris and saw the shade range I knew we had nailed it. The great thing is we have the opportunity if there is a gap to do something about it as the brand invites make-up artists to give feedback.

Charly: We’re adding new shades of Light Protecting Foundation now in response to customer requests.

What products are you most excited about?

Marco: Light Reflecting Foundation for its texture and skincare benefits. I am very excited about Orgasm X Blush for deeper skin tones. The entire skincare line is in a league of its own and works really well with the makeup.

Charly: Soft Matte Complete Foundation is so practical, it’s a handbag essential. It gives high coverage and contains collagen so has a flexible texture that blends seamlessly – it’s like Photoshop for the face. Radiance Primer is completely universal. It reflects light really well and gives an instant glow. I also love Laguna Bronzing Cream, a creamy bronzer which mimics the skin and has no orange pigment. It smells divine and the molecular complex is great for hydration and antioxidation. And then Afterglow Liquid Blush is so versatile; I love to use it on eyes, cheeks and lips for a luminous finish.


What are the trends you love right now?

Charly: Less is more and blush. I love plump and luminous cheeks, which is not necessarily a NARS technique, but my obsession. And there are lots of new blushes launching with new formulations, textures and colours…

Marco, Ingrid, Charly

How much is your approach influenced by Francois Nars?

Charly: There are things that I learned from Francois like applying foundation with fingers – it makes the make-up look seamless – and how to be aware of how the make-up looks in real life and on camera. It’s important to find the balance between brand and self. When I do a makeup application, it has to be on brand, but it also needs to reflect my personality and style because people are going to follow me and need to trust me.

Marco: The most special thing for me is the freedom to question every rule. The Multiple [a versatile makeup stick] is a perfect example of the alchemy of Francois Nars’ work – the idea of using lipstick on eyes and cheeks too and then turning that into a product. I saw Charly mix an eyeshadow with the Radiance primer to create a liquid blush – that’s what the products can do. To think of ourselves as alchemists as we grow in our makeup journey is very special.

— NARS is available at the NARS store in Sandton City and ARC stores in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town

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