NARS Tonkin Pure Matte Lipstick: Up Close and Reviewed

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Last time I featured NARS, I swatched all the Pure Matte Lipsticks, so this time I'm focusing on the colour I ended up with - Tonkin, since I figured some of you would want to see what the matte texture looks like on the lips.

First of all, let me stress the teensy size of these things. If you're ordering online and can't check out the size of these things IRL (in real life), these things are tiny. They're the size of a slim lipbalm tube, and you get all of 2g of product.

NARS Tonkin

I guess the tiny size is okay though, because when you apply these, you ideally shouldn't use too much. Actually, when the lipsticks were demonstrated on me, there were quite a few steps before the lipstick was actually applied. First they removed whatever I was wearing, then they put some moisturizer/exfoliater, then they applied a primer to my lips, and then they applied the lipstick. I think that in real life at home, that's way too many steps for me to take before I even whip out my lipstick, but I have to say that it did look good with all those preparatory steps.

So, I'm sure most of you are thinking at this point - I know I can get the model look by cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing, and priming, but what would the lipstick look like on if I just swiped it onto bare lips, like I usually do? Well, fortunately I have no aversion to showing it like it is, so here is NARS Tonkin on my bare lips:

nars tonkin swatch

It does accentuate fine lines and any dry spots (as you can see from how gross my lips look), so I'd definitely recommend that you engage in some form of preparatory work as opposed to just slapping it on. Also, when applying the lipstick, remember to dab lightly instead of swipe heavily, to prevent the lipstick from looking cakey. The great thing about this is that it's so heavily pigmented that just dabbing on the lipstick will give you pretty good coverage. NARS definitely didn't stinge on the pigment!

I'm not too sure why all the bloggers out there are saying this is so moisturizing despite being matte, because while it isn't as drying as it could potentially be, it definitely isn't moisturizing. It just sat on top of my lips but didn't do anything, if you know what I mean. I guess that's good enough for a matte lipstick.

That said, I do love the colour of Tonkin, although it's texture makes it hard to work with. It's a gorgeous neutral pinky-brown, and although it looked brown in the swatches, it's actually very universally pretty on. I know everyone's all hyped up about Bangkok and Vesuvio, but seriously, Tonkin is the underrated winner of the bunch for me.

I know most of us, in our daily routine, wouldn't be able to spend all that time cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing and priming before putting on lipstick. But we would be able to slap on some lipbalm before our lipstick. So this is how Tonkin looks with balm:

nars tonkin and balm

It does look better, but at the same time, it's no surprise that the balm detracted from the "pure matte" finish of the lipstick. I do think it's still wearable as a matte this way though. It's matte with a bit of a sheen, methinks, although of course opinion will be divided - some will think it's matte enough for them, while matte purists will scream that there's no way this can be considered matte. Ultimately, it all boils down to a matter of preference - some love the matte-matte look, some prefer it a little less harsh.

Wear time was pretty great on this one. It stayed on for as long as I didn't eat or drink, but unfortunately once food went into my stomach, so did this lipstick. I know a lot of people have been touting matte lipsticks as longer lasting than glossy lipsticks, but to be brutally honest, I'm not sure if that's the case. To me it's excellent, but it's not going to last past a meal. It was definitely better than a gloss, but I'm not sure if it functions like a stain.

So if you're reading yet another beauty magazine that has their pockets lined by NARS claiming how moisturizing this lipstick is, don't listen to them - they're obviously lying LOL. However, what I can tell you is that this lipstick has excellent staying power (as long as you don't eat), and that it is richly pigmented, and that Tonkin is a gorgeous, beautifully wearable shade. So if you're willing to try the matte lipstick trend, this is a great one to start with.

(This product was sent to me for review. As you can tell, this review is my honest opinion and I'm obviously not paid or compensated by the company.)


  1. that's a pretty color. glad you told me the actual size because i wouldn't know just by looking at them here. good review.

  2. i think it looks great on your lips when it's matte with no balm! and the colour is gorgeous... :)


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