I’m a Mac girl, and proud of it. I trained with them at the beginning of my career and as such know their products through and through, and while my kit contains a wide variety of brands, I’ve continued to use a generous dollop of Mac in my freelance work. I’ve worked alongside their teams at fashion week and have the utmost respect for their pro artists, not to mention the work of head honcho Gordon Espinet… What can I say, once you go Mac you never go back.
If you’re building a kit it’s very likely you ‘ll go a bit kid-in-a-candy-store whenever you get to a Mac counter. Everything just looks so sexy you’ll be stocking up on orange eye shadow and ten shades of lip gloss before you know what you need or what you’ll really use. So as a long-time Mac aficionado, allow me to break it down for you. These are the Mac essentials without which I would sack off makeup and go and live on a mountain somewhere. Some are favourites that have stayed with me over the years, some are new finds, some are staples of seemingly every artist’s kit, and not all are the crazy colours people have come to expect from Mac, there may even be some surprises in there. So let’s dive right in;
1. Mixing Medium Shine – £16 . . . I’ve harped on about this in posts before, particularly our article on how to create perfect dewy skin, as well as a great grunge eye makeup, but allow me to harp on about it here some more. Originally released as a mixing medium for their pigment range, Shine has taken on a life of its own and is now the lifeblood of Mac’s backstage teams at fashion week. Apply with fingers as a highlighter to create that ultra-modern, high shine, pristine editorial skin, as seen on the right at Preen.
2. Studio Face And Body Foundation- £29.50 . . . I mean, duh, is there any makeup artist who doesn’t use this stuff religiously? Even kits with little other MAC product will always carry a few of these bottles to every gig. Perfect not only on the face for a sheer tinted veil of healthy, natural looking skin, but you guessed it, perfect for the body. Whenever skin is on show it can benefit from a dose of Face and Body, particularly great for knees and elbows, the dreaded corn beef hands, even cold red ears! This stuff is buildable and can be easily mixed, I just carry C1, N3, C6 and white and can combine them to create almost any shade, although am waiting patiently for the shades for darker skin tones, pretty please Mac?
3. Eye Brows Brow Pencils – £14 . . . I’m not stuttering, the official name of these is “Eye Brows”, but no matter the name these pencils are another staple of many an artists’ kit. They come in a range of ten shades but the stand-outs have always been Fling and Lingering, the perfect ash blonde and taupe brown shades of this self sharpening pencil. A favourite of the likes of Charlotte Tilbury and Lisa Eldridge, it’s hard waxy texture means it provides just the right amount of product for soft definition that can be built up without ever looking painted on.
4. Acrylic Paint – £16 . . . These. Are. Amazing. Not actual acrylic paint obviously but almost as hardcore. Available in a range of ten rainbow shades, I’d always used Chromacakes for all of my more painterly adventures until Mac’s resident bodypainter Carly Utting turned me onto this stuff for the more “testing” scenarios. I saw her using it to paint up the dancers backstage at FKA Twigs‘ London show before they went on to sweat their way through a two-hour performance and her intricate full body designs did not budge. A Pro Store product but can be ordered for delivery, if you need a long-lasting, design, or something seriously sweatproof/waterproof/heatproof/creaseproof… this is it!
5. Retro Matte Lipsticks – £15.50 . . . I love that Mac categorise their lipsticks in store by texture, and while their matte shades are incredible (shout out to Kinda Sexy and Lady Danger, both essentials in my opinion), their Retro Mattes are something else. Originally there was only one Retro Matte, Ruby Woo, the legendary blue-red punch-you-in-the-eyeballs bold shade loved by so many for its super-matte texture and insane staying power. Then at last in 2013 Mac released a range of other bold and ultra-opaque shades in the unique texture.
Most were limited edition, sob, but a few faves have stayed on. Stand out shades are of course Ruby Woo, as well as the orange-red of Dangerous and the plum-fuschia of Flat Out Fabulous, all ideal for a very modern take on the bold lip.
6. Liquidlast Liner in Point Black – £16 . . . This is one product that’s a staple of both my pro kit and my own makeup bag. Another Mac product that does what it says on the tin, in that when this claims to be long-lasting it ain’t lying; THIS DOES NOT BUDGE. As proven by the many walks of shame I did in my “youth” with my cat-eye liner perfectly intact. When the A-bomb drops all that will be left are cockroaches and my two perfect feline flicks. You get the picture, it’s blacker than black and stays like no other. I’ll often paint on a graphic shape with a cream product, before finishing with a layer of this for extra impact, or just run it across the lash line to instill a smokey eye with added depth.
7. Pro Conceal And Correct Palettes – £35 . . . These little beauties come in four colour families, Light, Medium, Medium Deep and Dark, and between them cover pretty much the entire range of skin tones you could ever need. Filled with a variety of six Studio Finish concealers each, these are great for mixing the perfect shade, are the ideal size for a set-bag and can be easily refilled as necessary (purely out of interest my most used and refilled shade is NC30). Studio Finish is a high coverage concealer so use sparingly on well prepped skin! I use these mostly for spot correcting any blemishes on the face and they blend and last beautifully.
8. Pencils – Just pencils. I’m cheating here because this really should be four separate points but I’m trying to keep the numbers down! Firstly Mac’s lip pencils (from £12.50)… the range of shades is second to none, from classics, to cartoon brights, to nudes, to deep vamp shades, across all skin tones, you just cant beat ’em. Secondly, Chromagraphic Pencils (£14), to be used anywhere you fancy from lips to body to waterline in a range of rainbow and concealer colours that feel very unique, very Mac and dangerously covetable to makeup artists. Be warned you will want them all.
Then there’s the sole Kohl Power pencil in Feline (£14), the softest, smudgiest, smokiest most intense black pencil I know and go back to time and time again. And last but not least, a slightly specialist choice but I LOVE Technakohl pencil in Auto-De-Blu (£14, as seen on the right). I just haven’t ever found another shade like it, a chic, modern and intense deep aqua blue that blends out to an amazing jewel like intensity. Technakohl pencils set to a long-lasting finish whilst being super creamy and blendable in application, and for a seemingly dark shade this one really pops! I love it as part of a blue eye makeup for intensity, or simply smudged into the lash line in place of black to give classic looks a modern twist.
9. 224 Tapered Blending Brush – £23 . . . Technically an eye shadow brush, while I love so many Mac brushes, I find this one to be so versatile that I have five in my kit just to save me from constant cleaning. Great for building up perfectly blended shadow and lovely for applying soft metallic pigments, I also use this for buffing on powder highlights to the high points of the face and perhaps more than anything for applying and blending concealer to an ultra-natural finish.
10. Prep And Prime Lip – £13.50 . . . I may have raved about their amazing range of shades above but believe it or not, I’m not a lip liner girl. I find it quite harsh for a lot of looks but appreciate many clients will want it, and it does come into its own for a perfectly defined bold lip, so I often have to use it regardless. Either way I certainly never enjoyed the application of it, I found it frankly to always be a pain in the ass. But then this stuff appeared in my life like manna from heaven and saved the day. A quick slick of this around the lip line before going in with your pencil makes for the smoothest, most gliding lip liner application possible, a total Godsend!
11. Lip Mix – £14.50 . . . I love OCC’s well-known Lip Tars, particularly for their vast range of colours, but Mac’s Lip Mix range were there first with their highly pigmented mixable lip shades, and in a far less liquid, more matte formula that saves any crazy bleeding along the lip line. These are mega-versatile; I love to pat a little orange in to the centre of a red lip for added oopmh, or mix a dot of black into red for deep vampish blood-red tones, add a touch of the nudes into more natural shades to get the tone just right… Or just get the primary colours and black and white to mix your own shades as you please, the possibilities are endless.
12. Cream Colour Base – £16 . . . A very makeup artist friendly product, as Lord knows we all love our versatile high-pigment cream products. You can do all sorts with these, use the brown shades to contour, the bright shades for cheeks and lips, blend them across the eyes for a modern creamy shadow, or use their highlighter shades for a gorgeous contemporary sheen to the skin. Hush is a particular favourite seen in makeup artist kits on the regular, apply with the fingers for ethereal creamy, dreamy highlights to die for.
Ahem… *Honourable mentions must go to; Strobe Cream, Pigments, Blot Films, Gently Off Eye And Lip Makeup Remover, Sculpting Powder Pro Palette, Matte (an essential for male grooming, I feel a whole other post coming on!), Clear Lip Glass, the 205 Mascara Fan Brush… Shall I stop now? Well at least I tried to reign myself in. What can I say there’s a lot of good stuff on those Mac counters. I’d love to hear about your Mac essentials, are there any I’ve missed?! Fill me in below!
Featured Image By Miles Aldridge
To Follow Mascara Wars, click here!