Mar 282014
 

MAC Patentpolish1a

MAC is just releasing a series of limited edition Patentpolish Pencils ($20 each), which are due at counters next week. The line describes the formula as a twist-up pencil that “instantly achieves a luscious shine with a single swipe” that stay “bright and true.” I was hoping that these would be hydrating, sheer colors similar to the MAC Huggables which I fell in love with earlier this year (I’m still using a number of those in my weekly rotation). When these came up online last week, I ordered four–Innocent (nude), Kittenish (a sheer light pink), Spontaneous (a medium pink-mauve) and Hopelessly Devoted (a soft medium pink).

MAC Patentpolish2

These are scented and apply well in a single coat, but I built them up for several swipes. They feel a bit sticky, and need a good minute to warm up on the lips before they look polished. The wear time is short (at least for me). The colors are rather one-note. You won’t find the complexity that we see in other lines in these youth-friendly colors. Although these are advertised as glossy, I found that their texture settled into a satin.

MAC Patentpolish4

Innocent went on frosty at first, but settled down into color that lightened the natural color of my lips a few steps.

MAC Patentpolish6

Kittenish was my favorite of these, which became a pretty light soft pink color.

MAC Patentpolish5

Spontaneous was a deeper version of Kittenish (if you get one, you won’t need the other).

MAC Patentpolish3

Hopelessly Devoted was a slightly bright cool pink. Swatches:

MAC Patentpolish7

Personally, I think that the MAC Patentpolish are a bit of an interesting formula. They are balm-like without being terribly moisturizing. Despite the stickiness, they aren’t very long-lasting. Of course, your mileage may vary on all these points. I found that the colors were universally flattering, but not very unique. The colors are simple in their tones–you don’t have any interest mixes of cools/warms or the like. I can see these being very swipe-and-go for the spring and summer months. Still, at the $20/tube price point, I think I’ll keep looking for my ideal summer shades.

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Jan 152014
 

MAC Huggables Overview1

There are two times every year when MAC attracts my laser focus–once during the summer for their baked collections, and right after the Holiday when a beautiful neutral collection is released. This year, MAC added a new formula lipstick collection–called MAC Huggables ($20 each)–to the post-Holiday excitement. As is typical of MAC’s limited edition releases, mine are arriving in the mail just as these are selling out in stores. So I thought it best to do a quick post in case any of these catch your eye. Some are still available at Nordstrom, Macy’s, and other MAC sources.

MAC Commotion and Red Necessity1

First of all, these are packaged in a re-designed tube that reminds me of Chantecaille’s Lip Chics ($35 each). The MAC Huggables’ formula is  pigmented, sheer, shiny, and very hydrating. They have “creamy emollients to give you a lasting, glossy color that leaves your lips smooth and sculpted.” I found that my winter-dry lip lines disappeared under this very hydrating formula. For those of us who are on the “more experienced” side of the age continuum, you might give these a serious look because they are a pleasure to use.  Their relatively low price point makes them a fun addition to add a pop of color to your winter wardrobe. I found this video from Lena/senoritaxlena quite helpful in choosing my shades.

MAC Huggables Overview2 final

Here’s the other secret of the MAC Huggables–they are far more saturated than I expected. Some of the online swatches do not really show their high-pigment color. These stay glossy for quite some time, their color lasts and lasts. They feel both hydrating and a slightly tacky, although not annoyingly so.

MAC Huggables Overview5

On some, this emollient formula can feather. Although I did not experience this, it may have more to do with my lip shape more than anything. I’ve only had a chance to play with these for 2-3 days, but I did find that using a lip primer seemed to prevent any migration and added to the formula’s wear time (I used the Bite Lip Primer, but others can work). I found that using the primer did not seem to interfere with the formula’s hydrating benefits to a significant degree. Lip lines, be gone! Also, you can sort of use them as their own primer, by laying down a little bit, let it dry and then add a bit more. The lower under-layer seems to create little base of the top layer to grip onto. Another set of swatches:

MAC Huggables Overview4

The colors are really fun–they aren’t terribly complex but they do mix with your natural lip color and give a very pretty, glossy, moisturized look. Rich Marron is quickly becoming my favorite, and the pinks–Feeling Amorous?, Love Beam, and Out for Passion are great grab-and-go shades. Commotion is probably the most unusual, and the reds are a pleasant touch. Rusty is deep and dramatic, but with a sheerness that’s very pleasant. These shades are perfect not only for this moisturizing properties, but also for at least two other purposes. First they’re great for occasions when you want to wear a bright color to work or other conservative event. These don’t go “over the top.” I wore Feeling Amorous? to dinner tonight, and my husband confirmed that (despite the brightly colored swatch) the color wasn’t “too much.” Second, they are a great way to get used to wearing brighter colors and reds. For those that have never left the house in a bight lip, try one of these. A sheer will get you half-way to being a comfortable, confident wearer of any lip color out there (well, maybe not lime green, but you get the picture). One last set of swatches:

MAC Huggables Overview5

Here are the shades that I chose:

MAC Rich Marron Huggable1

Rich Marron is one of my favorites-this is a gorgeous, high-shine nude. It’s a sheerer cousin to NARS Last Tango.

 MAC Rich Marron2a

Red Necessity is a cool, sheer, high-shine red. Commotion is a fuchsia that leans violet–it can go maroon on my lips. It’s quite a dramatic, cool-toned stained glass wonder.

MAC Rich Marron Huggable two1

Feeling Amorous? is a bold (yet sheer) pink:

MAC Feeling Amorous?2

Out for Passion is a warm pink with a hint of peach:

MAC Out for Passion3

Cherry Glaze a pigmented, warm red:

MAC Cherry Glaze2

Rusty is a warm cognac-burgundy:

MAC Rusty2

Love Beam is a soft, light, sheer pink:

MAC Love Beam1

Overall, I’m really having fun with these colors. My lips looks moisturized, pretty, and always appropriate despite the brightness of these shades (although I have to be careful with MAC Commotion). Because this is a MAC limited edition collection, they are in the “get them before they’re gone” territory.

Available at NordstromMacy’s, and other MAC sources.

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Jan 082014
 

_8584820

I’ve always had an affinity for the rebellious spirit of the punk movement. I was around to see some of the ending phases of it in California, and enjoyed the Punk:  Chaos to Couture show last spring at the Met in New York City. I could go on (oh, could I!), but let’s move on to the makeup instead.

met

When MAC recently released the Punk Couture collection that included several deep toned lipstick, I couldn’t resist picking up MAC Instigator and Studded Kiss ($15) to add to my vamp colored lip collection.

Dark Lips Review04

But first, let’s start at the beginning.

Chanel noir 3 color lipstick

To do this post properly, I reached into the vault to see three Chanel near-black lipsticks released in a very limited production in 2009. These three colors–Hysteria, Obscure, and Maniac–have not seen a lot of use. Perhaps I needed Punk to experience a re-awakening to really appreciate their edgy beauty.

Chanel Noir Lipsticks

Here are the three colors:

Chanel 3 dark lipsticks

More recent additions to my vamp collection include Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet La Provocante from a Fashion’s Night Out release, the comparatively sheer Rouge Allure Envoutante, and Rouge Allure Rouge Noir (#109).

Vampy lips1a

Here is a lip swatch of La Provocante:

Dark Lips Review swatches2

And Chanel Rouge Allure Rouge Noir:

Dark Lips Review swatches1

Currently, MAC has released four deep colors as part of Punk Couture. I picked up MAC Studded Kiss and Instigator, which have a matte formula. These melt pretty well on the lips, and look incredible under a gloss.

Vampy lips3

MAC Studded Kiss reminds me of Chanel Rouge Noir–it is a deep red black jewel. The pigmentation is incredible. I wore it for most of the day today, and it’s vibrant color wore for hours without drying out my lips or fading until at least four hours had gone by.

Vampy lips4

MAC Instigator leans deep black purple, and reminds me of Chanel La Provocante:

Dark Lips Review02

I haven’t played with MAC Instigator extensively yet, but as this collection is selling out so quickly I thought it best to get some images up as soon as possible.

Dark Lips Review03

Here are swatches of MAC Studded Kiss and Instigator:

Dark Lips Review06

Here are more swatches that include the Chanel deep colors, Hysteria, Obscure and Maniac:

Dark Lips Review07

Here are my modern Chanel acquisitions, Chanel La Provocante, Envoutante, and Rouge Noir:

Dark Lips Review08

Here is the entire group (click to enlarge):
Dark Lips Review11

You can see that the original 2009 set is the deepest and darkest of the group. Here is one more set of the entire group:

Dark Lips Review12

I hope you enjoyed this little overview of some of my deep, dark lipsticks. Although these aren’t always in my comfort zone, I’ve always found it fun to use these on days when they feel right. If you’d like to get the MAC, do not wait a moment longer. Nordstrom has MAC Instigator and Studded Kiss up for order (they’re back-ordered for February delivery) and I do not know whether they will last the night.

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Aug 232013
 

Mac Volcanic Ash Exfoliator1

This is a quick skincare review for a cleanser–MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator ($28).  I love a good exfoliator-it helps my skin feeling clear and fresh. Formerly, I was using Philosophy’s The Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash. This Philosophy cleanser does work really, really well. There are a few things to think about with the Philosophy–first, it uses little microbeads which melt when wet. Some do not recommend using products that depend on physical exfoliation components (like beads, shell, or anything too rough), so I was becoming a little nervous about that. Also, there’s a minor issue that the top gets clogged on the Philosophy with some regularity. It’s not a big problem, but it does happen.

Mac Volcanic Ash Exfoliant 121

Recently, I was on a trip where I had forgotten to bring along my cleanser (I usually decant a bit, but this time that didn’t happen). I stopped into a MAC store to get the legendary MAC Mineralize Volcanic Ash Exfoliator. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It was formerly a limited edition product that would sell out immediately because it was so popular. There was much rejoicing when it was made a permanent part of MAC’s skincare line.

Mac Volcanic Ash Exfoliator5

This product is made with a combination of volcanic ash and fine sugar crystals. It comes out of the tube black, then seems to lighten and soften as you use it. It makes a wonderful cleanser that does leaves my skin soft and cleansed. It is just as effective as Philosophy for me, but doesn’t leave my skin feeling quite so raw. I like it better, quite frankly.

Mac Volcanic Ash Exfoliator4

I like the flip-top (no losing that!) and the big open top looks pretty impervious to clogging. It works well on it’s own, or on a Clarisonic. So far, I’m beginning to think that MAC Mineralize Volcanic Ash Exfoliator is worthy of the hype.

As background, I probably own more skincare than the average woman. Is this my only cleanser? Oh, no. But I thought it was worth a quick review because I really do like it. I usually use some pretty heavy sunscreens and they really need to be removed at the end of the day, so I have cleansers galore. My routine is that I start with an oil cleanser, then I use a second cleanser (currently, this MAC) on a Clarisonic, followed by toner (more about that later).  I hope this quick little review is helpful.

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Jun 272013
 

MAC 159 brush1

MAC has recently released the Tropical Taboo Collection, which is all about color and texture.  The one product which really stood out to me, however, is a newly-introduced brush. Specifically, the Mac 159 brush ($35) is the most interesting new brush that’s wonderful for highlighting, and also for precise placement of baked face products. The brush is a fairly short (roughly 6 1/2″) brush with a “cats paw” shape.

Mac 159 brush

From the side:

MAC 159 brush3

This brush is pleasant to use–imaging being petted by a very soft kitten.  Also, it makes unwearably rough-textured baked products meld nicely into the skin, knocking off the powder bits as it goes. If I had not tried it in person, I would not have understood its value.  If you are near a MAC counter/store, it’s really worth trying one of their baked products on with this particular brush.  You’ll fall in love with it–or at least, I did.  I believe that this brush is now part of their permanent line (but don’t quote me, there’s conflicting buzz).

Mac tropical taboo MSF01

While I was at the store, I looked at the new MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes from the MAC Tropical Taboo collection–Adored, Rio and Lust. I’m a highlighter fan (can  you tell?) and so I couldn’t resist picking these up. See, that’s the thing about MAC.  There’s something so fun about their “fabulous-today, gone-tomorrow” speed that’s both dizzying, intriguing and sometimes aesthetically successful.  Perhaps you’re read the same studies that I have–sometimes those who produce the greatest number of creative variations have the highest numbers of “hits”–sure, some misses too.  I try to wait on the sidelines and wait for the hits (and try to skip the misses, although I’m not always successful).

Mac tropical taboo MSF02

Of these, and for my fair warm coloring, Adored was the biggest hit.  It’s an unusual highlighter that looks almost transparent.  It adds just a touch of “glow” with peach-pink highlight where the light hits.  I’m not sure I’ve seen a skinfinish quite like Adored ever before.  It really adds something special over blushes–a healthy glow. You can use it in a “C” shape around the eye and on upper cheek, or lightly all over the blush area to add a little soft shimmer glow to the blush. Even better–when using the MAC 159 brush, I got no noticeable glitter from Adored.

Mac tropical taboo MSF03a

Rio is a cool pink highlighter. The color might be enough for a soft blush if you are very pale (but it’s too soft for me unless I’m going for a very nude-blush look).  The finish goes almost metallic in bright light.

Mac tropical taboo MSF07a

Lust is a soft pink (it’s close enough to Rio that you don’t need both in my opinion). I detected slight glitter particles in direct sunlight with Lust.  Like Rio, the highlight is quite obvious/metallic in direct bright light.

Mac tropical taboo MSF11

As you can see, the color from these is not very strong (these are two swipes each). They’re sheer.

One final note about all three–these really, really look best applied with the MAC 159 brush in my opinion.  They look much rougher  in texture when they are not. But with the 159, they are smooth and meld to the skin. Walking around in different light, I was glad that I splurged on the brush and can’t wait to try it with my other baked products (especially those non-US Chanel blushes–I’m very curious to see what the 159 will do with those!).

MAC 159 brush2

Also, all of the MAC Tropical Taboo colors seem designed for warmer skin tones. I’m not saying that a cooler toned person could never make them work, but it would seem more challenging to me.

Some other random thoughts:  Of these, Adored Mineralizes Skinfinish and the 159 brush were my favorites.  MAC Simmer blush is worth a peek if you’re in a blushy mood (I love it with Adored over it). Applied with the 159 brush, Simmer was like a red-gold stain. I didn’t look at the eyeshadows or the lip products from this collection, but Temptalia has done thorough reviews of the entire range. Also, there are some really knowledgable people on the Specktra Collection Board who post swatches, reviews and thoughts about all of them (with lots of different opinions, skin tones and preferences).

Regardless of how you feel about these metal-reflective baked skinfinishes, you might look at the MAC “cat’s paw” 159.

The MAC 159 brush is available at Nordstrom.com (the skinfinishes are here), MAC Cosmetics.com, and other MAC sources.

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