When someone mentions NARS, what springs to your mind? We’re willing to bet it’s the iconic make-up range that is packed with cult favourites, not their skincare. It’s rare to hear anybody talk about this branch of the company but we Beauty Geeks are curious – do the skincare products deserve the same kind of hype as the cosmetics? NARS Luminous Moisture Cream, we’re looking at you!

The claims

According to NARS, this moisturiser will give a hit of luminosity to skin that has lost some of its natural radiance, whilst offering anti-oxidant protection against free radical damage. There is also a very bold claim that the product will boost collagen production – this we’re really keen to investigate!

Moisturising ingredients

There are different ways of injecting moisture back into dry skin. One is to apply humectants: molecules that bind water. Glycerin (a BBTG fave!) is a humectant found in this cream, which smoothes and softens the skin and increases hydration levels, by helping the skin to hold onto moisture it already has. Sodium acetylated hyaluronate works in a similar way and adds even more hydration. Another moisturising technique is to try and reduce the amount of water that escapes through the skin (transepidermal water loss or TEWL). Compounds that do this are called occlusives and coconut oil is a star example in this product. Coconut oil coats the upper layers of skin to slow down water’s sneaky escape, so that skin can stay moisturised for longer, all while having an anti-inflammatory effect too!

Light Reflecting Complex

In addition to well-hydrated skin giving a healthy glow, NARs have included what they call a “light reflecting complex” for luminosity. From what we can tell by looking at the ingredients list, this is made up of the light reflecting ingredients iron oxides and mica. These reflect light in a similar way to a highlighter would and aren’t anything revolutionary (despite the name implying something spectacular!) and can be found in many other products.

Plant extracts

When we see a list of plant extracts on a label, we have our fingers crossed for lots of anti-oxidant activity. In this case, NARS have done fairly well. Aside from the tiare flower extract (Gardenia tahitensis), which is likely just to add a bit of fragrance to the product, extracts from Thymus serpyllum (wild thyme) and Sophora japonica (Japanese pagoda) have been shown to scavenge those damaging free radicals that cause oxidative stress, linked to premature ageing. Sophora japonica root extract is not only capable of fighting free radicals, but it could potentially improve skin-tone too. Some research has shown that the extract to inhibit tyrosinase: the enzyme responsible for the production of the skin pigment melanin. This could reduce the appearance of age spots, hyperpigmentation and have an overall brightening effect. However, if hyperpigmentation is your main concern there are better products out there containing more effective/more proven ingredients (read our article on hyperpigmentation here).

Algae and Plankton

Yes, you read that correctly – we are talking about those strange little organisms that grow in the sea and lakes. Algae and plankton (also known as microalgae) have many different applications in skincare: they can increase moisture levels, improve skin tone and even slow down the natural degradation of collagen, which is responsible for our skin losing its springiness with age. Sadly, we can’t say exactly what effect they will have in this cream because their functions are depend on the algae type – something NARS hasn’t disclosed! We do have high hopes based on the general research surrounding them, but without knowing the specifics we can’t make a concrete judgement.

So can it boost collagen production?

NARS says that the beech bud extract (Fagus sylvatica) can do this, but makes a little note to say it has only been shown in in vitro tests. Sure enough, the patent gives evidence of this: when applied to artificial skin, beech bud extract helped to increase the production of type IV and VII collagen. While these lab-based results are fairly impressive and leave us with some confidence in the claims, we’d much prefer to see some independent evidence of its effects on real humans too!

The Verdict

As the moisturising ingredients are reliable favourites, we’re happy that this cream could give dry skin a boost as we head into winter. Although the Light Reflecting Complex isn’t exactly revolutionary, these ingredients combined with good skin hydration will help improve skin luminosity. The product does contain anti-oxidants but so do most moisturisers these days! We’re also not convinced by its collagen-producing prowess. For anti-ageing skincare, you’re much better off looking elsewhere but if you’re looking for a hydrating, good base to apply make up, we’d give this one a try!

To try NARS Luminous Moisture Cream for yourself, click here!

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