Sunday, June 5, 2011

Quelling that Lemming (again): Sephora Brand instead of NARS

I had a serious hard-on for the NARS Body Illuminator for the last month or so. While I've always loved NARS, lately it's become almost a disease. Maybe it's the effect of blogging and seeing so many great reviews, or NARS is just doing a stellar job in marketing lately... I don't know. But without even the experience of body illuminators or anything of the sort, I just really really wanted the new limited edition NARS Body Illuminator.

I was pretty pasty during April/May when we began having to show skin again after a brutal winter. While I didn't want to sport a faux tan, I didn't want to look like a ghost either. Luckily I was reminded of a similar product in my stash. As of March, I hadn't even tried one squirt of it. But within the past few weeks, I've been slathering my arms and legs with it as it's turned out to be a pretty good dupe for the NARS product.

It is the Sephora Collection "Beach Glow Melted Body Butter." I purchased this in a set along with the matching dry shimmer oil at the end of last summer and they've been waiting for me to pull them out of the vault to finally review.

I'm not crazy about glitter and shimmer, but both the NARS and this Sephora illuminator are packed with gold shimmer. I would say that the individual shimmer flecks in NARS are perhaps much smaller and more subtle than the Sephora, but the quantity of shimmer in both are about the same.

They both come in the form of cream in a big squeeze tube.

They're both a deep bronze colour. If there is a difference, I'd say that the NARS looks a little more brown (to mimic the shade of their Laguna bronzer) while the Sephora looks more bronze. (I tested the NARS product at a Sephora counter to compare.)

You can see the golden flecks reflecting immediately under any sort of light.

I piled on quite a bit on my arm to make it more visible. Um... don't put this much on yourself when you're actually applying it.

Starting to blend it in:

Not being a user of self-tanners or self-bronzers, at first I was a little nervous about the colour and how much it was going to stain my skin. I didn't have to be afraid because the effect is actually very natural.

You're left with the merest hint of bronze and much more than a hint of shimmer. Like I said earlier, I'm not a shimmery person at all, but I quite like how it glints off the sun when outside.

It basically looks the same as when I tested the NARS. The difference is miniscule to me. With how popular the NARS body illuminator is, I'd be surprised if they didn't bring it back every summer. So I suppressed the panicky part of me that wants to grab every limited edition product out there in the world. Also, the price difference between these two is crazy. I got the Sephora package for about CAD$15-20 and the NARS illuminator alone is CAD$58. Shopping my own stash felt really good!

Now, the Sephora illuminator has a rather striking scent. According to the tube, it's a "flirty combination of lily of the valley and gold coast jasmine, with nuances of kiwi and pear." It's definitely much more than a nuance as the smell is both powerfully fruity and floral, but it's not unpleasant and I've come to associate going outside with this smell since I've been using it so much lately. The NARS illuminator has a perfumed scent as well but it's much more subtle - I couldn't really tell what it smelled like based on a quick whiff in the store.

You're also left with quite a lot of shimmer on your hands afterwards, so I would advise a good handwashing afterwards. It also comes off easily with wet wipes, but I noticed that the scent lingers.

I don't know whether the melted body butter transfers on to white clothing, because I just can't take the risk. I apply this when I wear colourful sundresses or plain t-shirts and shorts. I'm sure some of the shimmery bits transfer on to clothing but take precaution and pair with clothing you don't want to ruin. I just know that as soon as I put on something clean and white, I'm going to stain it horribly with these illuminators no matter how careful I try to be. It's the law of the universe. The last time I wore white pants, I spilled coffee on my lap within the hour. Truth.

And of course, after going on and on about how great this melted body butter is, I do believe Sephora no longer carries it! However they do have a new illuminating bronzing oil which does the same thing, and The Body Shop also has a new Honey Bronze Shimmering Dry Oil which I was super tempted by.

And this one's only $14! The moral of the story is that they all do the same freakin' thing. As a body illuminator newbie, I can't discern a crucial difference between any of them. If I didn't have last year's body butter, I would have opted for The Body Shop version. Personally I just don't see the need to shell out $40+ for the NARS illuminator. But for those who are adamantly pro-NARS, Eugenia of Ommorphia Beauty Bar meticulously reviewed each of the new limited edition NARS products including the body illuminator. Do check it out!

So, that's another lemming successfully squashed. (For those who missed it, the first squash happened like this.) Pretty soon I'm going to wipe out the lemming colony. Who's with me?!


  1. I really fancy the Body Shop one. I can't really justify the NARS price tag for a dupe! Great post :)

  2. Thank you! Yes, the entire Honey Bronze collection is such a great bargain! I wanted everything from there too but don't *need* any of it. :)

  3. Thanks for the shout-out Liz! I didn't even know that there were so many options out there to the Body Illuminator....and I love how they're so much cheaper but just as effective! (I only picked up a sample of the Body Illuminator as the $58.00 price tag was enough to scare me away...especially for something I wasn't sure I'd be able to use), but now having heard your experience, I'm thinking I may want to try me some glow too! :)

  4. No problem, Eugenia! Your review was so nice and thorough. :) And I'm sure you'd look even lovelier with a touch of glow. I've been trying to get a natural one on and off all day today but I just feel dirty and sweaty now. I like this illuminating business quite a bit!

  5. Great review! Nice to find cheaper alternatives.

  6. Thank you! I don't mind spending extra for facial products but not so much for the rest of the body.

  7. I totally agree with you! I was thinking of getting the Laura Mercier Body Bronze stuff, but after swatching it, changed my mind. They all do look the same to me, and that one had a hefty price tag to it too. Nice lemming quash! Love how you added the comic captions too! :)

  8. Oh yeah, that's another good one. I love how the LM facial one is just a tiny mini version of the body one. So cute! I was so tempted last year just cuz I liked the packaging. Anyway, yes! Squash, squash, squash!

  9. Eek, I love that comic strip image! So cute. I am not one to use bronzers (except as a blush and facial contour), I am terminally pale and prefer to keep it that way for aesthetic reasons. That said, there is a product from Smashbox I really like that is large enough to be used on face and body, it's in powder form though, not a liquid/cream like these. I got it in a kit from QVC last year, it's the Face & Body Highlighter in Enchanting. It's less of a highlighter and much more of a bronzer with an interesting multidimensional shimmer. I prefer it over regular bronzing powders because it goes on very sheer, which to me, is great.

  10. I think that's a good plan. If I were super pale, I'd just keep it that way. But I have yellow/olive undertone and can look sallow when I get pasty. I never really understood bronzers until a few years ago!

  11. Holy heck that NARS is expensive..great comparison post Liz. I'm not a fan of the shimmer but otherwise it looks beautiful. I'm going to see if I can test the Body Shop one next time I'm there :)

  12. I know, right??? I just noticed that a St. Tropez face/body illuminator is only USD$20-something from! I might be tempted to try that one before NARS as well.

  13. I didn't even know they made stuff like this! What a great post and even better idea for my fish-belly-white legs.

  14. LOL @ fish belly! I'm sure the fish would disagree. But get on this quickly! The Body Shop illuminators are already sold out in multiple locations!

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  16. I've been lemming the NARS Illuminator too. Really glad to see there are quite a few cheaper alternatives out there which look the same! The Body Shop Honey Bronze looks and sounds nice, will be checking that one out. Thanks for the post!

  17. I hope you find it! :) I don't think The Body Shop expected it to become as popular and can't seem to restock their shelves while the NARS keep popping back up.


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