It feels like NARS is giving sort of a second chance to those of us who hemmed and hawed about their NARS X Steven Klein One Shocking Moment blush palette until it sold out (I think it was the first item from that collection to get out of stock, while most of the other items are still available on the NARS website). Personally, I prefer the all-mirror packaging of the NARSissist line, fingerprints and all, so that's good. On top of that, while NARS is repeating the highlight contour shades from the Steven Klein palette, most of the four blushes in the Cheek Studio Palette are new(ish) and unique to this palette.
The top row of the Cheek Studio Palette is, as mentioned above, the same as in One Shocking moment. You get the Paloma I and Paloma II highlight/contour duo and the inevitable Laguna bronzer. The highlighter, Paloma I, is barely visible on my skin, and appears a bit powdery when swatched so heavily. However, like a great many NARS face product it performs much better on prepped and primed actual parts of the face. Which brings us to the question: what exactly would I highlight (or contour) with these colors? Paloma I is a matte highlighter, which I greatly appreciate as a setting under eye powder (the tiniest amount), under the brow bone, or anywhere on the face that could use a subtle shimmer-free lift.
Paloma II, the contour powder is soft and delicate, but it's also a warmer tone than I'd personally want for contour. Someone called it a "rose taupe", but my imagination doesn't quite go there. Granted, when I do partake in this activity I only sculpt my nose (my sister and her perfect-from-birth delicate nose are having a laugh at my choice of words), where nothing even remotely orange-like will ever do. What Paloma II does well for me is the sort of barely-there crease contour that works for a myriad of eye shadow applications. I've learned to appreciate this color and its versatility over the last few weeks I've had the palette, and I think the NARS people have hit on something there, even if it's hard to define what exactly is Paloma II.
There's a reason Laguna is included in so many NARS palettes. It's not just a classic bronzer, but a great bronzer. How many pans of it does one need in a lifetime is up for debate, But better Laguna than more Orgasm (and that's a sentence that only makeup people can write or say with a straight face).
Now, the blushes. The three left ones are only marked by Roman numerals, while the one on the far right is named Goulue, and is not exactly new. It was first released as a limited edition item in 2013 as part of the NARS X Guy Bourdin collection. Now it is back, but at the moment the single Goulue blush is only available to Sephora Rouge members, and there's a more or less established rumor that it's going to be this year's gift to renewing (or making the cut) one's Rouge membership. That's a lot of makeup politics for one gorgeous blush. This is my favorite item in the palette, as the berry shade with the typical NARS inherent sheen is flattering and somehow also sorta-kinda natural for winter. I'm absolutely crazy about this color.
The other three blushes in the palette require layering for me. Blush I is this icy cool pale pink with dangerous lilac leanings. I'm still trying to find it a perfect layering partner that can benefit from its presence, but it only now came to me: the answer is not plums or berries, but brown and bronze. Some experimenting is in order.
Blush II and III are rather warm and work well together. The dusky warmth and shimmer of II balance out the blatant orange hue of III and make an attractive duo. That's when I can stay away from using Goulue, that is.
Bottom Line: as long as you didn't get the One Shocking Moment palette.
NARS NARSissist Cheek Studio Palette ($65. The contour/highlighter/bronzers are made in USA, while all four blushes are maufactured in Canada) is a Sephora Exclusive, and despite its original release date (February 1st) is available now from sephora.com.
The product for this review was sent to me by the company.