Deep red will always have a place in my heart. Obviously. And on my face. I don't care if I'm ninety eight years old and just one giant wrinkle- that wrinkle will be rocking shit like this. A negative fucks-given balance sheet is just one of the pleasures of advancing age.
Nars Charlotte (Audacious) and Nars Majella Satin Pencil seemed like a couple of those generic median darkish reds that we all know and love and um, probably already own. The price ($50NZ for the former) was a bit of a roadblock and the online pics just weren't really screaming love me in my ear.
That didn't stop me picking them both up when a special rolled around, though.
Let's do Charlotte first. The tube shots could easily mislead you into bricky red assumptions but the swatches are the real business; it's a clean dark nocturnal raspberry or haute black cherry + a dash of currant, with very little dirt to speak of and a short lean into cool blue.
Charlotte offers around 85% opacity- enough to allow quite considerable lip influence- and is buildable into a deep beetrooty shiraz reduction. Chromatic composition is something Nars does better than almost anyone and while Charlotte is a stunning and typically superior rendition of this classic shade, it isn't totally issue-free
In its favour, Charlotte doesn't bleed much (on me) and it is pretty darn comfortable on the lip, even in the sort of dry, windy winter conditions that can really crack shit up. I seriously adore Charlotte's clean black cherry goodness- it really is the best version of this shade that I've encountered and can be built to a traffic-stopping midnight intensity. For that reason I'm willing to overlook a few minor technical difficulties that are anyway pretty intrinsic to this colour. She brightens your teeth like nobody's business, too, something most of us can be grateful for.
MAC Red, Nars Terre de Feu, Nars Mascate
Nars Majella is a whole nother thing. I'm tempted to call it true blood red, but everyone seems to have a different idea of what blood looks like, so that isn't very specifically informative. How about... Snow White red, if Snow White smoked Camels, had a thing with a drummer and a bass player, left pizza out on the bench for a week and never paid rent?
It's a (very slightly) dirty rock n roll red, medium-dark with a teeny soupçon of warmishness in an otherwise neutral base. Majella is strong and satisfying, deep and rich like a good sauce without being super-vibrant, in contrast to a firecracker showstopper like F-Bomb. It suits a wide range of complexions and is neither too garish for daytime nor too casual for dress-ups.
I don't say this often, but if you're the sort of person who was only looking to own one red lipstick, you could do a lot worse than Majella. (Five reds is the minimum required to escape Level 00: Basic, but whatever.)
Like the other Nars Satin Pencils, Majella slides on with an almost nightmarish ease, depositing 90% opacity and an initially slick finish that persists for an hour or so and then dries down to low-satin. For a non-matte, it's very resilient, fading slowly and evenly and readily accepting reapplication without clumping or funkiness.
Drawbacks? With the texture being so darn silky it's easy to pile on too much product, which can result in a bit of slippy blotchiness, but that's the only drama I've encountered.
UD F Bomb, MAC Brick pencil strong winter daylight, no flash