Thursday, August 30th, 2012

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit

MAC & Carine Roitfeld: Desert Camouflage Face Kit

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit ($44.00 for 0.40 oz.) includes four eyeshadows: Sahara Dust (light neutral beige), Cactus Thorn (mid-tone brown bronze), Desert (shimmering warm taupe), and Carbon (intense black) as well as one Cremeblend Blush, Sand Storm (soft sheer warm caramel).

Sahara Dust is a pale beige with a soft, frosted finish. It has a satin finish, officially. The color payoff is decent, and it works well as a highlighter on the brow bone or inner tear duct. Illamasqua Slink is similar, slightly frostier. MAC Brule is more matte. Giorgio Armani Madreperla has a frostier finish. MAC Baby, It’s Cold is a smidgen yellower. MAC Vanilla is a touch lighter.

Cactus Thorn is a softened bronze-shimmered medium-dark brown. It has a frost finish. The pigmentation is good, though the texture was a bit dry. Dior Golden Savannaha is darker, browner. Giorgio Armani #26 is more shimmery. Urban Decay Chase is warmer and more metallic. theBalm Schitzo is very similar, but more pigmented and slightly more golden-toned. Wet ‘n’ Wild Comfort Zone is richer.

Desert is a gray-tinged brown with a hint of plum. It has a satin finish. It has decent color payoff but had a dry, stiffer texture. Bobbi Brown Slate is softer, more matte. MAC Aurora is lighter, more frosted. Dolce &G abbana Jewels is grayer. Inglot #360 is similar but matte.

Carbon is a matte black, but if you look in the pan, there are a lot of sparkles–just none of them seem to translate. It was the oddest thing. I feel like every time I swatch Carbon, it gets worse. And I’m not swatching the same one! This shade is part of the permanent range, and it’s actually included in both of the face kits in the collection, and they were about equal in their dry, stiff, poor color payoff-yielding textures. Slightly more pigmented when I used it on the eye (with a 222 brush), but boy, it did not want to move or budge, which made blending a pain in the butt! Because I happened to also have a really rich black that I was swatching (completely unplanned!) that was insanely pigmented, I took a comparison photo, just so you can see why Carbon is such a disappointment.

Cremeblend Blushes are supposed to be creamy, easy to blend, have medium coverage, and have a natural finish. Sand Storm is a warm, orange-tan with a soft, barely dewy finish (it read mostly matte when it dried down and set). There’s a yellowy-orange undertone that comes through. MAC Lush-Light is darker, browner. MAC Refined Golden is browner. MAC Tan Tint is a smidgen darker. It can be used sheerly with ease, and it can be built up a bit, though I’m not sure it will show up well on darker complexions–it just barely shows on mine (I’m about NC30 at the moment). It may add warmth without adding noticeable color. Yesterday, when I was testing the wear, my cheeks were slightly dry, and this wasn’t forgiving, unfortunately. I was hoping that the creamy consistency would help and was happy that I was testing a cream blush instead of a powder one, LOL! After six hours, it had separated and faded noticeably.

This palette contains 0.22 oz. of eyeshadows (0.055 oz. each, which is 0.005 oz. more than a regular full-sized MAC eyeshadow), which is a $66 value. There is 0.18 oz. of Cremeblend Blush in here, which normally retails for $20.00/0.19 oz., so there is $18.95 value from that, for a total palette value of $84.95. (Note: Cremeblend blushes and eyeshadows are sold in pan form, depending on the shade, but I went with individual product prices, not pan prices. From a pan perspective, there is $52.80 in eyeshadow value and $16.11 in Cremeblend Blush value, for a total value of $68.91.) From a quantity point of view, this is absolutely a deal, which is great news!

It’s a decent palette, but the inclusion of Carbon is really bringing down the overall quality of it on the whole.  The other three eyeshadows have decent color payoff, with Sahara Dust being the easiest to work with.  Sand Storm didn’t have fantastic wear, but it was blendable and looked good initially.  These eyeshadows were less stellar without a primer–they were less blendable and faded after six hours. Over a primer, I saw some minor fading of Desert and Carbon.  

It’s hard to recommend or feel good about a palette when one shade is such a dud and four shades are decent but not really phenomenal. I keep hoping for a stellar launch from MAC, but they aren’t making it easy at all.

I’ll have my review for the Jungle Camouflage palette up soon, but as a quick note: the two palettes are very, very similar with the major difference between in finish–this palette is more shimmery, while Jungle Camouflage is more matte.

The Glossover


Desert Camouflage

It's a decent palette, but the inclusion of Carbon is really bringing down the overall quality of it on the whole. The other three eyeshadows have decent color payoff, with Sahara Dust being the easiest to work with. Sand Storm didn't have fantastic wear, but it was blendable and looked good initially. It's hard to recommend or feel good about a palette when one shade is such a dud and four shades are decent but not really phenomenal.











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See more photos & swatches!

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Sand Storm Cremeblend Blush

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Sand Storm Cremeblend Blush

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Sand Storm Cremeblend Blush

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Sand Storm Cremeblend Blush

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Sahara Dust Eyeshadow

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Cactus Thorn Eyeshadow

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Desert Eyeshadow

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Carbon Eyeshadow (this is *layered*)

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
Le Metier de Beaute Fin Eyeshadow vs. MAC Carbon Eyeshadow (One pass)

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Sahara Dust Eyeshadow (brow bone), MAC Cactus Thorn Eyeshadow (inner lid),
MAC Desert Eyeshadow (outer lid), MAC Carbon Eyeshadow (crease),
Tarina Tarantino Puppeteer Eyeliner, and Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill
Lengthening Mascara

MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit
MAC Sahara Dust Eyeshadow (brow bone), MAC Cactus Thorn Eyeshadow (inner lid),
MAC Desert Eyeshadow (outer lid), MAC Carbon Eyeshadow (crease),
Tarina Tarantino Puppeteer Eyeliner, and Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill
Lengthening Mascara

Product & Review FAQ

Where can I purchase it? How much is it?

MAC Cosmetics, $44.00.

Is it limited edition?


Any dupes?

See individual shade review! :)

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54 thoughts on “MAC Desert Camouflage Face Kit Review, Photos, Swatches

  1. Jennifer

    I thought I remember hearing that Carbon is a good black shade! Yikes. I definitely won’t be getting that.

    • That’s what my memories say, but when I used Carbon more regularly, MAC was really the only brand I had known… and this was more like 4-6 years ago. I think the ones in the palettes seem a little extra stiff to me – almost like they’re pressed too firmly.

      • Min

        I have Carbon from six years ago, it really isn’t the same as the swatch. Matte, smooth, rather pigmented and easily blended. What a let down to see that. I am rethinking my love for MAC. Might be time to move on to brands that see price as a promise of quality.

        • My pan of Carbon is probably around the same age, though it is a regular single pan and a lot of the recent ones I’ve swatched have been in these pre-made palettes, which have tended to be lower in quality overall. Hard to say without having a brand new pan from a more recent run to say, but it’s definitely not quite the same. Even my old pan of Carbon won’t hold up to a lot of the newer black eyeshadows on the market (it’s nowhere near the “intense black” of the blackest blacks, e.g. UD Perversion), but it didn’t have this crazy stiff texture.

          • Vitória

            Agreed, the original Carbon is nothing to write home about, but version in this palette is ridiculous, especially at this price point!

            • Michelle

              If you compare a Carbon from 4 years with one from today, it’s insane! It’s a total diferent shadow with no more the 1/4 of pigmentation from the original formula…however the price is going up every year! It shows a big lack of respect with the customer…

  2. beth

    This is what im looking forward too! Although MAC has seriously gone down hill and is just getting worse I can actually see myself using this on a daily basis :)

  3. Eileen

    Well…isn’t that awfully disappointing :( I hope the other products in this collection turn out good!

  4. KK

    I love all of the shades except for Carbon–the comparison with the other black eyeshadow is a real eye-opener! (no pun intended)! I like the other shades and the blush so much, though, I’ll probably still buy this.

    • It was eye-opening for me, too. Not that we haven’t seen some really fantastic black eyeshadows roll onto the market in the past few years, but just seeing them side-by-side… yeah. Even the process of swatching, where one is like, “WHOA!” in very little product while the other I had to really scrape out and layer just to get decent color to show up!

  5. Nicoco Chanel

    Gosh, I’m really loving Sand Storm as a colour, but the sound of it application-wise is making me reconsider!

  6. Elise

    Seriously MAC?!?! Do they not look around on the net and read what we have to say? Your eyeshadows are getting worse! Look at what you did to Carbon! That’s heresy! There’s no way I’m paying for any of their makeup anymore (and haven’t for a couple of years FOR THIS REASON) because of how bad it’s been getting.

  7. lilly04

    The Face kit look so pretty, especially sand storm. But have already similar eyeshadow colors and carbon. I never notice that carbon is so bad. I walked in my bathroom and try it out. You are right. I only use it as a eyeliner when i´m in a hurry, it works as this. I always have trouble when i try to use black shadows on my total eyes, so i never wonder about that.

  8. Even though I do not like the palette as a whole, I love the look you’ve done with it. Carbon is such a disappointing black!

  9. Rafaela

    That’s a shame, I have really liked this collection, and the kit looked awesome :(
    Hope they won’t spoil the Marilyn collection

  10. Wow–that Carbon shadow has pretty pathetic pigmentation. The other 3 shades I really like–but overall, with that horrid orangey blush, the palette is not worth it to me

  11. Veronica

    That is a shame. I would have been all over this collection, too, since I really liked the look of these palettes. :( I’m sad to see my concerns about Carbon being in the palette were justified.

  12. That blush colour looks a bit scary to me, and the pigmentation of the eyeshadows is a bit disappointing, especially Carbon.

  13. This blush is really too yellow for me. It would make me look as if I had liver problems!

  14. Kafka

    No way I would pay $44 for this. Is the blush textured with little extrusions? The photos of the palette from afar make it look like it has water drops all over it! Visually, I’m not a fan. As for the Carbon, one doesn’t even have to resort to Metier de Beauté to find an amazing black: you gave Milani’s $4.99 black a great rating, if I recall correctly. An A, I think. Comparing that one to this…. sad. But I kinda like the look of the blush on you. Perhaps because it looks a bit matte?

    • The blush is sweating because it was sitting on a truck for 8+ hours in 90 degree heat – happens to lipsticks/cream blushes across all brands :)

    • xamyx

      OT- I actually found the “elusive” Milani shadows today! Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of my cards on me, so I couldn’t buy them, but in the next few days I plan to go back.

      • Veronica

        This post makes me happy. While I was at CVS the other day, I almost felt it necessary to take a photograph of the display so people didn’t think I was trolling the forum. 😛

        • Kafka

          I never thought you were trolling, Veronica, but I’ll admit, there was some faint gnashing of the teeth (along with softly muttered imprecations) every Friday at the Free For Haul thread when you would mention picking another one up. *grin* I believe I wear the colour of envy quite nicely, thank you. ;P

          • Veronica

            If it makes you feel any better, when I was clicking through swatches on the Internet, I realized that we’re missing four of the shades (Brown Stone, Tickled Pink, White Lie, and French Vanilla). Granted, I’ve only looked around the downtown stores and not any of the ones in the surrounding areas, but that could mean you’re luck has finally surpassed mine. 😉

      • Kafka

        My reactions in the order I had them:
        1) “SERIOUSLY??! They’re finally in stores??!”
        2) “Dammit! I was just in CVS today and there was nothing!”
        3) “I wonder if she’s Punking me?” ;P
        4) ” I wonder how is that Ashton Kutcher expression is spelled anyway?”; and
        5) “YAY! Finally!!” *grin*

        Did they have the full range, Amy? Did you see the purple in Shock?

        • xamyx

          There were 8 or 10 shades, and the only one that was sold out was Brown Stone, which is one I want. The purple was there, and from what I could see, there was a faint blue duo-chrome to it. The blue one is really pretty IRL, so I may end up caving and getting *all* of them, LOL.

          As far as I know, none of the CVS locations in L.A. have them. I’m technically in a different city now, which is much smaller, and I’m seeming to find *more*!

  15. The blush looks like puppy poo. {shudder}

  16. Michelle

    I’m so disapointed with this swatches! Carbon has been released with less and less pigment for the last 2 years! It’s so awful, it’s a joke when compared to blackout by urban decay! The other 3 colors look pretty but far from anything special and the pigmentation looks no more than ok… In this days when we have drugstore products like maybelline color tattoos and wet’n wild color icons with excellent pigmentation and staying power, MAC should be more careful before selling a single pan of black eyeshadow for 15 bucks…
    But the worst for me is the blush! I think it is the worst color I’ve ever seen…I’m pretty fair and at least on my skin this would look just like mud! I’m a big fan of Carine and her work, so sad….

  17. Laura

    Thank you for all your reviews. They’ve just confirmed that this whole collection is a skip for me!

  18. Leticia

    I would have loved to get this palette if it wasn´t for the blush…it would just look horrible on me. Too bad the quality of Carbon is disappointing because the other three shades are lovely!

  19. blueraccoon

    Wow, that swatch of the two black eyeshadows is amazing. I’m not sure what’s up with the colors in this colleciton, either, but I’m not seeing anything that appeals to me. Usually I see something I like, even if I don’t buy it, but not this time.

  20. niche

    I’m so confused. I have carbon and its nothing like that. Is this some sort of new formula? So weird. And I am so disappointed. It’s not great. I guess I won’t get it even with CR on the box.

  21. xamyx

    Carbon was among my first “batch” of MAC shadows I bought, and it was probably my biggest disappointment. I was so taken in by the hype of MAC shadows that I really expected more. I bought it about 5 years ago, and it’s not much better than it is in these palettes. For a few dollars more, I’d go with UD Blackout or MUFE. Even L’Oreal Raven is much better.

  22. Amanda

    I actually really wanted this seeing the colors before you swatched them. I still want the other 3 colors. I have carbon (and never use it), so for me if it’s not gonna work, its not a big deal. The Desert shadow is winning me over here.

  23. Cindy

    Colors look too normal to me, and it’s quite a mundane palette IMO. To be honest, I don’t understand why MAC has so many new products/launaches – as if every week there is something coming out! I’d rather much prefer if they spend time coming up with a full collection and is stunning rather than stuff that we’ve seen already!

  24. Nic

    I don’t know what year my Carbon is from, but it’s been a staple for me as long as I’ve had it. There are blacker eyeshadows out there, of course, but the quality on the old one I have is so much better than this crap that MAC is putting out now. I don’t find the other shadows in this quad very impressive anyway, but even if I really liked them, I wouldn’t buy this. There is no excuse for MAC screwing up something as basic as a matte black, especially since Carbon originally had a decent formula. Really disappointing.

    • It’s like I remember using Carbon and not loathing it. I’m pretty sure there’s a dip in mine. I’m wondering if maybe it’s getting pressed too much – like too much pressure?

    • sophie

      Yeah, I’ve had Carbon before (I bought mine about four years ago and lost it about three years ago, boo) and it was nowhere near this bad. It wasn’t amazing, but definitely better than this!

      • Michelle

        I had a Carbon from 4 years ago and I bought a new one last year and they are completly different! I don’t think it is the texture or the pressing process because when applying it, it feels actually the same. I 100% sure is the amount of pigment in the formula the main issue here! It doesn’t have 30% of the original pigmentation…it’s all about giving less and charging more!

  25. I actually like the eye shadows and how Carbon comes out here. It is a nice soft black for darkening, like you have used it in your look but it is not the ‘intense black’ that is is described to be. I think the cremeblend is nasty though, it just looks like a bad orange fake tan/too dark a foundation rubbed into the cheeks – probably due to it’s dryness. On my skin tone, I’d look like an Oompa Loompa! Will not be buying this kit!

    • I don’t mind a soft black (every color has its place!), but I wish it was more blendable! Typographic would work for a softer black/dark gray color with a way better texture!

  26. Quinctia

    Huh, I like Cactus Thorn. Would never buy this whole palette just for that shade, though.

    That swatch of Carbon is crazy, I think that’s worse than every black in my stash.

  27. Wow, that Carbon swatch is even worse than I’d expected… I’m also not too sure about the cream blush. It’s a very strange color.

  28. Amy

    What a disappointment! The blush is far too warm yellow-orange. And why the problem with a black shadow of all things! I was so tempted by the promo photos–these palettes had the promise of being so universal. I wonder why Carine Roitfield went ahead–seriously, if I were she’d I’d have them pulled. Honestly, Milani (or someone) should dupe this idea but do decent quality–they’d make a killing.

  29. Mariella

    I echo others’ comments regarding Carbon. There are so many better blacks out there and if a dark, dark grey verging on black is what you want, MAC has Typographic, which is excellent in every respect. And, again, while I love the look of these shadows (not the blush – just not for me at all), I have so many dupes that seem to be of better quality so it’s pointless to drop 52 bucks (what they’re charging for this in Canada) for this kit.

  30. I can’t find that Metier black shadow anywhere…. is it available now?? Seriously I might die if I don’t get it XD

  31. Lisa J

    I was excited for these, but I think I’ll pass. I’m sure I can find similar colors in my collection….multiples of similar colors actually…LOL 😛

  32. from the look you did the palette worth buying it! amazing makeup look… but after reading your review I think I’ll pass… thanks!