NARS Sheer Matte Foundation Review



What is your theory on matte vs. luminous finish foundations…do you like customizing day to day or do you always prefer the same finish?

NARS Sheer Matte Foundation Stromboli Info

Ever have one of those moments where you’ve worn a foundation for over a week, suddenly catch a glance of yourself in just the right lighting, and see that you’re wearing an obviously wrong shade?  That’s what happened to me and my beloved NARS Sheer Matte Foundation.  I picked up a sample in the shade Barcelona and instantly loved it.  I wore it daily for over a week, then purchased a full-size bottle for $44.00.  The first day I wore it from the bottle, I thought the shade looked a little off.  But confident in the fact I tested it for so long, I didn’t concern myself with it.  The next day I wore it (and a white sweater), gasped, and realized it was the wrong shade.  Has this ever happened to you?  Where did you have the misfortune of finding out?

“How on earth did this happen?” you ask.  My original shade match was assisted by a rushed SA who applied entirely too much Stromboli to my chin, making it look like a far cry from an actual match.  Needless to say, when applied in the appropriate amount, and when given five minutes or so to settle in, I am in fact a match from the NARS Sheer Matte shade Stromboli which is NARS Medium 3.  (I am currently a MAC NC37.)

NARS Sheer Matte Foundation Stromboli Swatch

See how nicely that blends in?  It is a very heavily yellow shade and the above swatch was photographed shortly after applying.  The undertones are all sorts of right on.  Check out my bare face and then how a built up layer of foundation does at covering any imperfections.

NARS Sheer Matte Foundation Stromboli Before


NARS Sheer Matte Foundation Stromboli After

I love that this foundation is sheer.  I love that this foundation is matte.  My theory about matte vs. shimmer still stands:  I can add glow.  I can add shimmer.  I can add glitter.  I can’t take any of that out of a product.  So I go with natural looking matte foundations just as I would most likely choose a matte eyeshadow palette over a full shimmer one.  And as far as choosing a sheer formula, NARS Sheer Matte has the ability to build into a medium coverage.  It did a decent job covering the spots on my forehead and the area around my eyes, did it not?

NARS Sheer Matte Foundation Stromboli Packaging

The downside to my new favorite foundation is obviously the packaging.  I am annoyed to no end by foundation that comes without a pump.  I am even more annoyed that I don’t have access to a NARS counter and therefore can not buy a pump without paying shipping.  So a quick shout out to my favorite Sephora SA (you know who you are!) for hooking a girl up with a spare pump.  NARS Sheer Matte Foundation requires one as it is not a very fluid foundation that pours or runs.

Stromboli wears on my skin for around 6 hours without primer or powder.  It breaks down much more quickly on my nose (as does every other foundation under the sun, including Revlon ColorStay) and my day definitely lasts longer than 6 hours (try 16).  So I always apply a primer and set with powder and a spray for the ultimate long-lasting and versatile finish foundation.

I’ve been contemplating a spring foundation routine, but given the number of face products I’ve reviewed lately (I can’t help it, I’m obsessed!), I don’t want to bore you all to death.  Is anyone interested in it?


Price: $44.00

Availability: NARS, Sephora, Nordstrom

Summary: NARS Sheer Matte Foundation is a great mattifying formula with sheer to medium coverage.  It does not dry out skin and has a fairly natural finish.  For the price, the packaging should include a pump.

10am Beauty Approved?: Yes

Disclaimer: I purchased this item with my own money.

  • KaylaBeautyCharade

    This is so perfect on you. I used to be “one and done” with my foundation but lately I’ve been using Laura Mercia Creme Smooth Foundation mixed with Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer to thin it out. I kind of love it because I can easily customize the amount of coverage I get each day by adding more or less tinted moisturizer. Hooray for versatility! I’m obsessed with foundation at the moment so I would love a spring foundation post. :)

    • Alison M

      #Soulsisters! For serious! I got a sample of the LM Radiance Primer and it looks amazing with this foundation. I’m going simple on color products lately, so I’ve been focusing on getting my skin products just right. That definitely takes more than just one product! I’ve been planning to try foundation mixed with TM, but the one I want to use hasn’t made its way to my door step yet :)

  • Patricia Gomes

    The exact same thing happened to me at NARS but it was their loose powder! The SA matched me to Desert, sometime later whenever I applied the powder, it looked like my foundation had changed color and suddenly during the day I found my face a completely different color from my neck! I finally realized that Desert’s pink undertones do not match my skin at all. Sadface.

    • Alison M

      Seriously the worst! That’s why I always test a sample for a week. You just never can be to sure on a shade match in store. I think the real problem was that Stromboli oxidizes (and clearly does it well) to be less yellow and more natural after a few minutes. The store didn’t give me enough time to realize that.

  • Kristi C.

    I do like my NARS Sheer Matte Foundation! And was irritated that it didn’t come with a pump. Seriously – for what I’m paying for the foundation there ought to be a pump included.
    I used to be a single foundation kind of gal. But somehow I’ve ended up with a collection of BB cremes & foundations. Sometime last year I read a blog post where the writer mixed a primer w/foundation or 2 together to get the right color – I don’t remember the exact specifics but that was an eye opener for me.
    I like having options depending on what I’m doing that day. A couple I mix to make the color work so I don’t have to throw money down the drain.
    Sidenote: I’ve also been applying the same principle to my mascaras as well!

    • Alison M

      I don’t enjoy mixing foundations to get the right color. I’m too much of a perfectionist to not have *exactly* the right amount of each shade every time. That being said, I do enjoy using two products to get the finish I’m looking for or as a means to contour with foundation. NARS Sheer Matte ftw! I have a bunch of primer/foundation combos I love, but I’m still working on the one that’s absolutely perfect :)

  • Kiss & Make-up

    I was almost sold on this, until I saw the packaging :-( Why do they do that? Otherwise it looks good though.

    • Alison M

      As much as I hate to admit it, I think this one is worth it despite its packaging flaw. You can buy a pump from the NARS website and apparently from counters (though I don’t have one nearby). I think it’s worth mentioning to the company. Maybe if enough people ask for it, they’ll re-do the bottle to include a pump.

  • Kristen / Glambunctious

    LOL! Ya know, you just don’t hear this too often: “who applied entirely
    too much Stromboli to my chin”! Hate that you got the wrong color! I really want to try a NARS foundation, but I want at least medium coverage and like you, I like matte/natural finish. Any suggestions? I’m an NW 20, in case that helps. I fully agree, btw – I prefer to add sparkle (like Tierra from The Bachelor…) rather than have it built-in to my foundation where I can’t remove it. The one exception is Lancome Tient Miracle – it has luminosity in the bottle but I don’t see it on my face. I love that stuff. Since I’ve talked for 45 mins about foundation, you should know that I would be interested i a spring foundation routine post, lol! Have a great weekend, lady!

    • Alison M

      I really like NARS Sheer Matte or Urban Decay Naked Skin for medium coverage. I know that both are supposed to be “sheer” but I’d qualify them as sheer-to-medium. Both can use two thin layers to create fuller coverage. Plus, when color cosmetics are added, the coverage looks even fuller. Check out some of my latest “Get the Look” posts to see what I mean. I most often trust Temptalia’s Foundation Matrix for shade matching. I’ll narrow it down to one or two shades, then swatch both, get a sample of the “better” one, try it for a week, then pick my shade. I know that sounds extensive, lol. I just really hate wasting the company’s money by returning the wrong shade. Glad someone appreciated the “stromboli on my chin” phrase. I had a good laugh while writing it :D

      • Kristen / Glambunctious

        I love some humor thrown into beauty posts! Stromboli on your chin was giggle-worthy, lol! Thank you for the foundation advice! Temptalia’s Foundation Matrix is amazing, as is her Swatch Gallery! So helpful! I like your method of getting a sample of the better match and trying it out for a week. It’s definitely nice not to have to return something, both for the company and for the consumer. Win! :)

  • Das

    Same thing happened to me! except they went too light, to the color called Punjab. I wore it sheer enough that it wasn’t obvious, but when I went to Sephora in a few months to look for something else, the SA and I realized it was too light and I should’ve been up one or two. Oh well :). It was the same situation: I didn’t get a sample before I bought it and the lights in Nordstrom are so dim and unnatural, it was hard to see that it wasn’t a perfect match.
    As for the missing pump, I jumped on a ‘free shipping, no minimum’ deal that NARS had shortly after and got my $6 pump sent to me.

    • Alison M

      Getting the pump with a free shipping deal is a great idea! I still hope Sephora will start selling them though. So much more convenient :)

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  • brigidbeauty

    I loved Sheer Glow for such a long time. Oh how I loved it! That heavy yellow base… so fantastic! And then… it just seemed too “glowy” there for a while. But now, living in winter months, I’m seeing the benefit of the “dew” again! It may just not be good for hotter climates.

    • Alison M

      That’s something I love about matte formulas. Blush, eyeshadow, foundation, you name it. I can use mattes all year round and simply customize the level of dewiness by adding illuminating primers or highlighters :)

  • Joyce

    i loved this foundation one year when i was in college, but the lack of pump really annoyed me :( i would have totally bought a pump had those existed back then! it looks great on you, anyway!

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  • Michelle @LipstickRules

    I love that we’re foundation twins. I know who to go to check which shade to get. I was also led to the wrong colour by the SA — they gave me Punjab as a Sheer Matte, which is way too light. I got Sante Fe as a Sheer Glow later on which is ok but again not perfect. Seeing this, it looks like I need Stromboli!

    • Alison M

      I’ve been contemplating Punjab, which is too light. But I feel like Stromboli is ever so slightly dark right now. And Sante Fe is certainly too pink for me. Stromboli Sheer Glow/Matte is *very* olive so if you need something a touch more neutral, check out the Radiant Cream Compact. I just hit pan on mine!

  • Victoria

    I have been meaning to try this foundation for the longest time but bought the Benefit Hello Flawless Foundation instead (kind of a mistake). I’ll probably get this next month. And thank you so much for existing! I have been reading your blog for quite a while now but only commented for the first time today. I like that we’re a close shade match (I’m MAC NC40) and that I can learn a lot from your reviews! Keep it up xx

    • Alison M

      You’re so sweet, thank you Victoria! I LOVE finding out that other people are similar skin tone to me. I’ve had a rather difficult time finding others online with a similar match.

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