MAC Cosmetics: Guide For The Newly Addicted, Part 10 — Readers Q&A

MAC Cosmetics: Guide For The Newly Addicted, Part 10

This is the final installment of the guide, and I asked readers to share their questions about what I didn’t cover and should, and here are the answers.  Please feel free to suggest more topics in the comments!

Finish Descriptions — Tekoa

Eyeshadow Finishes

  • Frost | Most frost finishes have high amounts of shimmer, and the majority I have encountered are fairly smooth when a brush goes to pick up color and the pay off is decent most of the time.  MAC has a lot of shadows with this finish, including the coveted Parrot, as well as cult favorites Bronze, Goldmine, and Ricepaper.
  • Lustre | More of a chunky, glittery finish; lots of shimmer and tends to flake off when the brush bristles touch it. This is not the most popular finish, because a lot of people experience too much chunkiness/flaking.  However, several colors are nice (Aquadisiac, Greensmoke, Swimming, etc.).
  • Matte | Flat, no shimmer color with decent color pay off in some cases — they tend to be chalky in some specific shadows.  Some favorites are Chrome Yellow, Passionate, and Soft Brown.
  • Matte2 | An updated version take on matte finishes with a creamier, less chalky texture. Goes on smooth with much better color pay off.  Some favorites are Clarity, Newly Minted, and Prussian.
  • Satin | Similar to a matte, but it has just a slight touch of sheen to it.  Color pay off is good for most satins.  I do find some shades look like they have shimmer (e.g. Fade, Parfait Amour, Juxt) rather than just sheen, but it is a very seamless shimmer, which is why it is considered a sheen.
  • Veluxe | Again, a finish similar to mattes, but much creamier and smoother.  They tend to make think of going on like butter – the pay off tends to be intense.  Very few shadows have this finish–just four permanent colors–Brown Down, Kid, Samoa Silk, and Velvet Moss.
  • Veluxe Pearl | Good amounts of shimmer, but very smooth when applied.  This finish tends to give good color intensity and pay off, making them one of the favorite finishes.  Generally no flaking or chunkiness whatsoever.  Some of my personal favorites are Antiqued, Freshwater, Gorgeous Gold, Shimmermoss, Stars ‘N Rockets, and Woodwinked.  This is my favorite finish as well.
  • Velvet | A low-level shimmer finish that tends to be good in color and smooth when picked up.  Some great shades are Bitter, Contrast, Juiced, and Texture.

Lipstick Finishes

  • Amplified Creme | Very creamy, opaque, and has a high gloss finish.  This is my personal favorite finish, and it includes popular colors such as BLankety, Dubbonet, Girl About Town, and Vegas Volt.
  • Frost | High in shimmer with a glossy sheen, color pay off may vary, but tends to be on the opaque side. Popular favorites are Bombshell, Lame, New York Apple, and Sandy B; it is also a popular finish for many of MAC’s lipsticks.
  • Glaze | Sheerer colors that go on with a nice glossy finish, lipstick feels smooth. This finish is claimed by few permanent lipstick colors, but some to mention are Gleam, Hue, and Pervette.
  • Lustre | Less shimmer than a frost, but still some, and this formula tends to run sheerer than frosts, but with more pay off than galzes.  Usually color is fairly buildable.  Some favorites include Capricious, Hug Me, Plink!, and Sweetie.  This is a fairly popular finish for lipsticks.
  • Matte | Intense color pay off, drier textures (in some cases), no shimmer, no sheen/glossiness.  Popular favorites are Honeylove, Lady Danger, Ruby Woo, and Russian Red.
  • Satin | Kind of like a matte and a glaze–very subtle glossy finish.  Color pay off seems to vary, but usually decent.  Colors to think about include Brave, Cherish, Myth, and Snob.

False Lashes — Tekoa

  • Specific lashes: 20 (half lashes meant to bulk up the outer half of lashes), 30 lash (kind of like individual lashes to fill in where you want), 38 (outer half of lashes)
  • Natural length lashes: 1, 7 (really), 31, 32, 33
  • Full lashes: 3, 4, 7, 36
  • Dramatic lashes: 2, 6, 34, 35, 37
  • Lower lashes: 39, 40
  • Personal favorites: 7s, 36s (also known as “Sultress” lashes)

Keep reading to learn about Store Etiquette and Pigments!

Store Etiquette — Carrie

When you arrive…

If it’s busy, it’s a good idea to scope out the products you’re interested in.  Everything is pretty obvious in terms of what it is (like eyeshadows vs. lipsticks) and arranged in an organized manner, so you should be able to find it.  Feel free to swatch products on your hand while you’re looking, too.  If you find something you like, you can keep it on the side to let an artist know.  Grab an artist by either waiting for one to ask if you need help (passive), or stop one and ask them if they can get you an item or help you try on a particular product (aggressive).  Depending on why I’m there and whether I’m in a rush or not, I’ll opt for either.

If it’s not busy, don’t let any standoffish employees put you off–ask them for help. They are paid to help you and make sales, so don’t feel like you’re intruding or let them intimidate you in any way! In general, though, when it isn’t busy, you shouldn’t have to wait too long to be asked if you need help. As a MAC addict, I tend to tell them politely that I don’t need help at the moment, since I’m mostly there looking at the new stuff anyway, but then I will grab them when I need them to get the products I want to buy.

When you pay…

MAC usually asks you for your address, which is used to track your purchases.  They say this for those who come in telling about this lipstick they loved, but don’t know the name of, and they can cross-reference to your previous purchases.  It is also one way to get certain mailers for upcoming collections (but unfortunately, it is not a guaranteed method, sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t).  You might want to ask about any upcoming events the store has on its calendar, because MAC is often coming out with new launches, they tend to offer events often, too.

Not sure?

First, MAC has a great return policy.  You are always welcome to return with receipt within thirty days of a purchase, whether or not it has been used.  Second, MAC does provide sampling containers to provide customers with samples of products.  If you’re timid, try saying something like, “Oh, I think I like X product, but I’m not sure if it’ll look good on me at home…” which might get the makeup artist to ask if you’d like a sample.  A safe bet is to ask for a sample of a foundation–I have never been turned down for a foundation sample.  In fact, I even encourage you to get foundation samples before committing to a color/formula–MAC lighting is not the best and not at all like “real life.”  Thus, I suggest you take a sample home and look at the foundation on your face in natural light, your bathroom light, etc.  There are a few “stingy” makeup artists who may not give out samples or simply may not know that they can, but I haven’t encountered anyone that has said no to me, and I know SO many who have gotten samples of various products (foundation to skincare to pigments).

Don’t let one bad experience phase you!

In the past, MAC has been known to have some snobbish employees, but there are definitely many makeup artists who work for the company who are fountains of knowledge and just waiting to help you.  Sometimes even a whole counter/store can give off a very bad vibe, and if you can, just avoid that one and go to another.  You can even send an e-mail to MAC Cosmetics’ customer service online letting them know about it.  My closest freestanding store used to be notorious for its snobby artists, and enough customers complained.  They did a major overhaul of employees and management, and now the store is full of some of the most amazing artists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting!  Don’t feel like you a) need to show up with a full face of makeup (hey, I go in bare faced all the time – you never know if you want to try something!), or b) like you have to buy what an artist is recommending.

At an event…

There are all sorts of events, but most of them are similar.

Master Classes:  Sometimes MAC stores will offer master/PRO classes that are open to the public.  They may be called seminars, too.  There is usually a pre-paid $50 fee (it may have gone up) that is redeemable in product after the seminar.  The routine at these is you show up, head up to a makeshift classroom, and a senior artist will talk to you about the seminar’s topic.  They usually do a demo on someone who has signed up for the seminar, and you can take notes.  Afterwards, they have artists on hand for makeovers and to help you make your purchases.  You are supposed to spend at least $50 on products afterwards, though some stores do not enforce this policy or simply do not keep track.

Typical Events:  These are events held to promote the latest launch at the store.  Higher volume stores will have their events the weekend immediately following the launch (usually on Thursdays), while slower stores and some counters will have them later on in the month (anywhere from a week to three weeks later).  For these events, you typically sign up to get a makeover done, which is where an artist (who is either an actual regular MAC employee or just a freelance makeup artist) will do your makeup using the latest products.  They tend to ask you what kind of look you’d like, and be prepared if you tell them to go wild, they may really go wild.  Like other events, there can be a pre-paid cost ($40-60) or they may simply tell you that you are supposed to purchase a minimum amount after you get your makeover.

Unveiling Events:  Higher volume stores may do unveiling events, which are when a store closes down for the evening to specially invited guests.  For example, for Fafi, it launched on February 13th, but unveiling events went on February 10th.  These special guests were allowed to preview and purchase the Fafi collection prior to its general public release on the 13th.  These do not include makeovers or require you to spend a certain amount.  In fact, they tend to be a bit crazy, as the store is filled to the brim with people.  You usually get a list of products from the launch and you can fill in the quantity and which ones you want, which you hand off to any artist you can locate, who will grab your stuff.  There are usually models representing the launch, as well as waiters serving appetizers and perhaps even a DJ.

Tell me more about employees…

MAC employees do not work on commission, but they do have sales goals.  So it’s definitely great to give your favorite MA your business, because it helps them reach their goals (or surpass them), and at the same time, don’t feel like you can’t ask the questions you want because you’ll waste their time.  Yes, if they’re busy and seem like they are running around without a head, I wouldn’t ask them to write out a novel, but a few questions shouldn’t hurt.

When is the best time to go?

Weekends tend to be busy across the board, but it will depend on your location.  It’s best to just go a few different times, and observe when it is busy yourself.  I know my local freestanding gets busy in the afternoons, weekends, and lunch time, which means I tend to go there in the morning.  My store is particularly high volume, though, which is why they are busy for most of the day all the time.


What are they? They are jars filled with loose particles of color.  It’s almost like a “dust,” with some pigments running chunkier (tend to be from the frost family) with others more finely milled (like mattes).

How do I use them? This would depend on where you use it, but for the eyes, which is what I get asked about a lot, I always use MAC’s water-based mixing medium (okay, homemade version).  I put a droplet or two on my brush, and then I swipe a bit of the pigment off of the top of the lid of the jar and apply to the lid.  Mixing medium helps it adhere to the lid.  I use a homemade version, which is one part [liquid] glycerin (found in most first aid aisles) to there parts water.  Shake it up, and voila.

Where do I use them? Depending on their safety guidelines (usually they come with a paper insert if they are unsafe for either lip, face, or eye), you can use them as you please.  Glitters are not safe to use on the eyes, and the same can be true with more red and dark-pink based products (because red dye tends to cause a lot of irritation amongst test groups).  You can mix them with clear gloss for lips, dust on cheeks to highlight, mix into moisturizer to apply to face or body, use them as shadows… the list is truly endless.  You can even add it to nail polish!

What about samples? If you are interested in samples, you may want to ask your MA for one, if it’s just one you’re looking for.  If you want to buy a lot of samples, I recommend perusing sellers on  They are reputable and will be able to help you out.  I would look to pay between $2-3 per 1/4 tsp sample (which will last you several uses!) for readily available colors, and up to $4-5 for harder to find colors.