Nars Heat Wave (semi matte).
I took advantage of a relatively dull day in spring to capture this shade's infamously elusive essence and think these images are quite close to its perplexing reality. There's something really odd, almost off, about Heat Wave. Some tout it as a gateway red but I just cannot imagine timid types embracing it and am pretty sure the genuinely red-averse would sooner fire it across the room than put it on their lips. More on that in a moment.
Less mystifying is the talk of its objective omni-suitability as far as tonal leanings are concerned. Heat Wave looks like a bright and fairly simple orange-leaning red in the tube but this is misleading. Swipe some across your hand in natural light and you will probably discover the secret coral element that is the key to its diverse applicability. A deep ruby/blood pink lurks beneath the warmer tangerine, the latter floating on top when viewed from an angle.
On the hand, anyway. On the lip that tricksy counterpoint tends to slide back into obscurity, leaving us with something unexpectedly wearable. Far more so in my humble opinion than one-note wonders like MAC Lady Danger, which lacks that subtle Nars complexity and ends up looking shrill on so many unwary aspirants.
I want to call Heat Wave an all-ages situation; a youthful face will definitely emphasise its juicy extrovert qualities, but I just feel this shade reaches peak expression against the DGAF assurance of maturity. Disclaimer: I am old and possibly- okay, definitely- biased.
There's that DGAF thing I was talking about.
Situational lighting doesn't seem to have too much effect on Heat Wave, which should recommend it to those forced to labour in unflattering conditions. Wear time is great for something non-stodgy and the fade is slow and even. Its opacity is really peculiar, the Nars formula going on like dilute velvet, incredibly smooth and virtually sheenless, building and altering slowly with every micron's worth of thickness. You can definitely achieve full opacity and reproduce the colour in the swatches, but that's almost missing the point of this shade; its delightfully mutable translucence is something worth playing with.
Below: the swatches. Heat Wave isn't as close to Lady Danger as a first glance might imply. Let your gaze settle on them for a while and the differences become clear, particularly in the top half of these swatches. LD is flatter, more explicitly orange and a lot less flattering; the effect is quite different so don't be put off trying HW if you just can't with the notorious Lady. Tenor Voice is a really clean pin-up red with a fractional blue lean, for contrast.