Battle of the blush! Comparing highlighter, blush and bronzer trios

Fancy a cheap Orgasm? Or maybe an affordable Albatross?
For years now, high street brands have been making dupes of NARS’ iconic Albatross highlighter, Orgasm blush and Laguna bronzer. If you haven’t heard of these, then a quick Google will verify that these are major cult classics, and with good reason. Albatross is a white-golden shimmery highlighter, Orgasm is a peach blush which shimmers with gold, and Laguna is a satiny bronzer which doesn’t turn everyone into Oompa Loompas. You can see a review of NARS’ palette featuring all three shades here at Makeup and Beauty Blog, but NARS don’t currently have a palette of these three.

NARS do tend to include Orgasm and Laguna in basically every cheek palette they release, but they ain’t cheap (usually about £40-50 and they are not always full sized), and to buy them individually?

Albatross: £23
Orgasm: £23
Laguna: £27.50

These must-haves will set you back £73.50! And it’s rare to find them at a substantial discount, though House of Fraser and the like have the occasional 10% off sale. They may be worth it for you though, because they are amazingly versatile shades and great quality, but before you invest in them all it’s often worth trying out cheaper versions of the shades to see if you’d really wear them. For instance, darker skin tones won’t see much benefit from Laguna, which is most flattering on light to medium skin.

There are individual dupes readily available for all of these shades (ELF’s Gotta Glow is a great alternative to Albatross, and Sleek’s Rose Gold is a dead ringer for Orgasm – Google for more!) but assuming you want them all, which palette should you go with?

So far I’ve tested four. Sadly I don’t have my NARS originals to compare with anymore, after an unfortunate smashing incident, but I will compare as closely as possible.
Remember: when it comes to dupes, if it’s a poor quality product or doesn’t last five minutes, then are you really saving money? And is it more hassle than it’s worth? A great dupe ought to be a great match in terms of product quality, but perhaps not have as fancy packaging or a prestigious name behind it.

Anyway, let’s compare! Here are the contenders:

W7 The Cheeky Trio £4.99, LOOK Beauty Cheeky Trio in Peach Melba £6.99, Makeup Revolution Ultra Sculpt & Contour Kit in Ultra Fair C01 £3.50, Sleek Face Form in Light £9.99

So let’s look at the swatches for them and see how they compare… Here are the highlighter shades:

L-R: W7, LOOK Beauty, Makeup Revolution, Sleek

I’ve tried to build each swatch up so you can compare the shades and finishes, but some were actually sheerer than others. The W7 was very sheer, stiff, powdery, and also matte. It’s a very sheer beige shell kind of tone. The LOOK Beauty was pigmented but difficult to blend out. The shimmer was chunkier sparkle, and it was quite a harsh white. The Makeup Revolution highlighter was a more subtle white-yellow with a fine gold sheen. The Sleek was a warm white with a fine pink sheen with a hint of gold.

Next the blush shades:

L-R: W7, LOOK Beauty, Makeup Revolution, Sleek

The W7 was very sheer and difficult to build up much colour, but better than the highlighter. It kind of disappears when you blend it though. It’s a warm, matte peachy pink. The LOOK Beauty is a pigmented peachy yellow pink with gold sparkle, that soon becomes loose glitter when applied – expect fallout from this shade! The Makeup Revolution is a neutral to cool pink with a fine golden sheen, and is easy to apply and blend. Likewise for the Sleek, which is a neutral to warm pink with a fine golden sheen.

And finally, the bronzers:

L-R: W7, LOOK Beauty, Makeup Revolution, Sleek

The W7 wasn’t so easy to build up, but blends better than the other shades. It’s a really nice neutral to warm bronze, and is shade-wise probably the closest to Laguna. The LOOK Beauty is difficult to apply evenly, but results in a nice darker red-toned bronze which might work well for medium skin tones.The Makeup Revolution bronzer didn’t apply quite as smoothly as their blush and highlighter, but it blends very nicely to a medium pigmented cooler toned bronze which would be a great contouring shade. The Sleek is a warmed toned reddish bronze which applied and blended smoothly. All of the bronzer shades were matte with a subtle satiny sheen.

Overall, the W7 and the LOOK Beauty have a dusty, patchy look and a harsh, heavy-handed look respectively, so I don’t consider them to be great NARS dupes. They could be good to try out the shades, but really I’d recommend trying one of the other two palettes.

I had expected Sleek to far outperform Makeup Revolution, as Sleek have long been known for great budget NARS dupes and good quality blush and bronzer, but actually Makeup Revolution is my palette of choice now that I’ve tested them both together. The MR lasts a couple of hours longer on the face and fades more evenly whereas Sleek eventually gets a bit patchy. Also, the sheen on the MR shades is a little more refined, and more flattering to pores. The Sleek is also great quality though, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. If you can, check out the shades in person (Superdrug carries both brands) to see which you prefer, as there are subtle differences between them. Both carry a few different shade options, so medium and dark skin tones should be able to find a good match too.

Both are excellent alternatives to the NARS offering, and given the huge price difference and minimal to zero quality difference, I’d probably skip the NARS. They have some beautiful blushes, highlighters and bronzers if you feel like splurging, but I’d recommend picking one of their more unique shades.

Thanks for reading my first post, and please check back soon for more!

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