Review (and Cocktail Idea): NARS Duo Eyeshadow in Habanera

This month I took an important step toward beauty-blogging legitimacy and bought my first NARS eyeshadow duo: Habanera, an unexpected pairing of mint and plum. I wouldn’t mind that pairing in a cocktail, either; I’m sure I could find artisanal plum bitters somewhere in Brooklyn.

Habanera is part of the NARS permanent collection. Its name is the female demonym for a person from Havana, and has nothing to do with hot peppers. Despite my intensive Googling, I’m not sure when Habanera was released, though the earliest review I could find was from 2008. Of course, that doesn’t tell us much, as there weren’t many makeup blogs before 2008! Suffice to say that this duo has been around for a while, though it is very new and exciting to me. ❤ (Cue Le Tigre.)

My infatuation with Habanera is proof that no matter how many swatches you view online, there’s no substitute for walking into Sephora with an open mind. I mentioned in my recent wishlist post that when I first started deliberating over which NARS duo to buy, Habanera was on my radar, but less so than greeny-bronzey Paramaribo or gold-and-purple Kauai. Habanera’s plum shade was pretty enough, but the mint looked too metallic, and I didn’t know what to do with metallic pastels, and I wasn’t sure that such a pale green would flatter my eyes–and then I saw the duo in person and all my cavils vanished. The bright Sephora lights emphasized the perfect match omg between the mint-green side and the minty sparkles scattered throughout the plum. Direct natural light does that, too:

Fuzzy close-up of sparkles:

So! On the left, we have a frosty pale green that looks alternately like mint, sage, and icy aquamarine. On the right, we have a semi-matte plum shot through with silvery green glitter. The green shade is smooth and rich, blending like a dream; the plum shade is sheerer, more patchy, and harder to blend, though it works fine over a primer.

Indoor hand swatches in shade and direct natural light, respectively:

Poking around the interwebs for Habanera inspiration, I came upon several beautiful looks, my favorites being Carina’s here. My own inaugural look with this duo is, I fear, less impressive. My eyeshadow skills are still developing, and I’m hampered by the deep creases in my eyelids (I seem to have too much eyelid? is that a thing?) and my lack of really good brushes. Still, here goes:

I kept the rest of my makeup simple with CoverGirl LashBlast Length mascara, NARS Mata Hari blush, and Revlon Pink Truffle Lip Butter, which I reviewed yesterday. And because Habanera’s color combination made me feel like a mermaid, I added a nautical-looking blazer.

This color pairing is truly magical–like, Arthurian-enchantress magical. I’ve been thinking about why NARS duos are so very appealing, and I have a theory. You always want one color in the duo more than the other, but because you can’t justify buying a whole duo for just one color, you’re forced to pull the second color into your fantasy. In doing this, you discard your preconceptions of which colors go well together, and this makes you feel creative, and you celebrate your newfound creativity with a little foray into your wallet. The element of surprise is crucial here–as is the element of glitter, at least in Habanera’s case.

I suspect this won’t be my last NARS duo: I already have my eye on Nouveau Monde (frosty lavender and olive green) and, as I mentioned, Paramaribo. For now, though, what I really want is a plum mojito.

13 thoughts on “Review (and Cocktail Idea): NARS Duo Eyeshadow in Habanera

  1. Love your theory on the appeal of NARS duos! I like the no-rules/limitless sentiment of NARS duos and the odd injection of that rebellion into an otherwise orderly makeup stash. And I think this one looks great on you, as would Nouveau Monde. I *think* that I'm over them for the most part, but that might have to do with the fact that I'm over shadows in general now after a torrid affairs with palettes for the past handful of years.


  2. That all makes sense! I fear I'm just getting started on an eyeshadow addiction after two years of using the same three neutrals over and over. I jumped into the world of bright, crazy lipsticks almost immediately, but it's taken me a long time to get used to the idea of wearing color and shimmer on my eyes. That said, Habanera and Nouveau Monde are pretty subdued as NARS duos go…


  3. You know, I think we may actually be twins. I keep reading your reviews, and feeling like I'm in my own head. Because ego is a wonderful thing, It makes me like your blog even more than I originally did for its own (considerable) merits! That was all supposed to be an excited compliment, by the way.High fives for a fellow 'one who lacks eyeshadow brushes,' and for acknowledging things that are 'Arthurian enchantress magical'. 😀


  4. This is how my dad explained the internet to seven-year-old me in 1995: \”Say there's a French boy who likes putting chewing gum in girls' hair. Well, he can go online and find a boy somewhere in Africa who also likes putting chewing gum in girls' hair.\” Twenty years later, I still feel like that's really what the internet is all about. Ego is a wonderful thing, indeed! And excited compliments are the best compliments. ❤ By the way, I can think of yet another way in which we're twins: I did ballet for ten years (though it's been an embarrassingly long time since I set foot in a dance studio).High fives across the equator! 😀


  5. 0_o High fives indeed! :-DYou know, I feel we should pool our transequatorial similarities and do some sort of collaboration. Perhaps some sort of humorous 'makeup tips for grad students' post or something…


  6. Can you email me at my blog address? I may have overlooked something, but I can't find your email here 😛 then we can scheme, plot etc.Also, I meant to put in my original post that if you want a tasty mint/plum cocktail, find yourself some Umeshu (Japanese plum wine, Choya brand is decent), muddle in some mint and lime, and add soda water if you want a taller drink! 😀


  7. Soon after I read this post the first time, I came across Habanera on Trade Me (Ebay equivalent) and put it on my watch list, umming and aahing over it. I bit the bullet and bid and it's hopefully on my way to me now! I mean, it was $15; gotta love people reducing their stash. The trader had three other lightly used duos as well, but I refrained.Just wanted you to know how bad of an influence you are.


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