MAC Illustrated's Smoky Eye Plum Kit Review, Photos, Swatches

MAC Illustrated - Smoky Eye Plum Kit
MAC Illustrated – Smoky Eye Plum Kit

New from MAC – Smoky Eye Plum Kit

MAC Illustrated – Smoky Eye Plum Kit ($49.50) includes three eyeshadows, two travel-sized brushes, Technakohl Eyeliner, and a travel-sized Zoom Lash mascara. It’s a Nordstrom exclusive set and available both in-stores and online. There is another palette available, but it contains all permanent shades, so I only purchased this one for review.

  • Creative Whim is a pale lilac with subtle cool undertones and a soft white frost. It has a satin finish. The color payoff was just so-so–there was obvious sheerness. MAC Dynamic Duo 2 is similar but more metallic in finish, slightly less pink. Tarina Tarantino Diamond Dusk is paler, cooler-toned. MAC Silverwear is lighter.
  • Drawn to Drama is a darkened violet purple with a blue shimmer-sheen. The texture was on the dry side, which you can even see in the swatch, which resulted in decent pigmentation but nothing to get excited over. Urban Decay Ransom is lighter. MAC Pink Union is brighter, more red-toned. MAC Parfait Amour is lighter. Urban Decay Frigid is nearly the same. Estee Lauder Untamed Violet is more subdued.
  • Moody is a brown-tinged medium-dark gray with a satiny sheen. It is a veluxe pearl, and it is also a repromote. The texture of this is not at all like your typical veluxe pearl, because it lacks the buttery, dense feel. The color payoff is lacking, and it’s not usually the case with veluxe pearls that pigmentation is a problem. Instead, Moody feels dry and applies that way, making it difficult to blend out. Shocker of shocks! — it’s from an old nemesis, Evil Eye, where I actually made the same observations then as I did today. MAC Hint of Sapphire and Inglot #434 are most similar to this.
  • Purple Dash is a red-toned plum with subtle shimmer-sheen. This shade is part of the permanent range. Make Up For Ever #4L is just like this shade.  Technakohls tend to wear between six and eight hours on me.

All three eyeshadows are full-sized ($45.00 value), and the eyeliner is also full-sized ($14.50 value). The travel-sized mascara is half the size of a full-sized one ($7.50 value), and it’s hard to put a value on the travel-sized brushes. The brushes were scratchy when I tried using them, and I’m not a huge fan of the 212 as a good multi-purpose/general brush. It’s more of a specific action brush, so I don’t think it makes sense to include it in a set like this (you’d probably one brush to apply eyeshadow and another to blend it out). Though Nordstrom lists the value at $100, I’d put the value around $67 realistically.

While I personally like the collection’s illustrations, this palette is unwieldy. It’s just unnecessarily large, and it really does so in order to hold the brushes, eyeliner, and mascara. This might be something that would have worked better if they had made it a double-decker palette and hidden the brushes and eyeliner underneath the eyeshadow and mascara.  Too bulky to be a great travel palette!

I tried wearing the three shades together, and the nice thing about them is they coordinate well with each other.  The downside is that none of them are good eyeshadows; they’re all disappointing in some way or another.  All three shades suffer from lack of pigmentation, and Drawn to Drama and Moody are very dry and are difficult to blend during application.  Without a primer, they wore seven hours before looking a bit faded. With a primer, they lasted a full eight hours without creasing or fading.

MAC Illustrated's Smoky Eye Plum Kit Review, Photos, Swatches

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MAC Illustrated - Smoky Eye Plum Kit
MAC Illustrated – Smoky Eye Plum Kit

MAC Illustrated - Smoky Eye Plum Kit
MAC Illustrated – Smoky Eye Plum Kit

MAC Illustrated - Smoky Eye Plum Kit
MAC Illustrated – Smoky Eye Plum Kit

MAC Illustrated - Smoky Eye Plum Kit
MAC Illustrated – Smoky Eye Plum Kit

MAC Illustrated - Smoky Eye Plum Kit
MAC Illustrated – Smoky Eye Plum Kit

MAC Illustrated - Smoky Eye Plum Kit
MAC Purple Dash Technakohl Liner

MAC Illustrated - Smoky Eye Plum Kit
MAC Creative Whim Eyeshadow

MAC Illustrated - Smoky Eye Plum Kit
MAC Drawn to Drama Eyeshadow

MAC Illustrated - Smoky Eye Plum Kit
MAC Moody Eyeshadow

MAC Illustrated - Smoky Eye Plum Kit
MAC Purple Dash Technakohl Liner

About Reviewer
Review FAQ

Christine Mielke is the editor-in-chief and has been reviewing products for over 14 years.

She has normal-to-dry skin with occasional dryness on cheeks and nose. She has a light plus skintone with subtle, warmer yellow undertones (view her foundation matches here).

Learn more about her review process here.

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Disappointing! I pictured a really gorgeous smoky reddish plum eye shadow when I saw the title of the post but Drawn to drama with its strong blue tone and murky grey of Moody was such a letdown!

Yikes!  D+?  Why does MAC do this to themselves? They really are watering down their image, their reputation by almost “rushing to market” products that are not up to the standards they seem to want to project or the standards many of us used to associate with the name “MAC”.  Is it really all that much harder to develop a good quality product than a mediocre one, particularly with all MAC’s resources?  This could have been a wonderful trio, complete with liner and instructions. If NYX and Wet n’ Wild can manufacture good quality trios, what’s the problem with MAC doing the same?

How is it that a brand can continuously release subpar collections, and still remain viable? While I *love* all these colors, I can’t justify the purchase. Even if MAC *does* release something amazing, I just can’t justify supporting a brand that puts out so much that is mediocre, at best. I like the liner, but I’ll just give my money to MUFE, a brand that consistently puts out quality product.

 @xamyx Maybe it’s subpar to some, but other love the products/collections. Just because one person thinks these aren’t good quality doesn’t mean they really are. 🙂
Personally I think MAC has come out with great collections this year and stepped up their game.

@N Just because *some* products are good (and some are even *amazing*), doesn’t mean that they are consistent, which is something I look for in a brand. I am a huge fan of NArS, MUFE, & UD, but I’m the first to admit they release some complete “duds” on occasion, but for the most part I can expect the same level of quality from 99%+ of their products. In my experience, MAC has consistently released subpar products beginning some time in 2010, while the prices have steadily increased. Maybe I just expect more from products I spend my hard earned money on, but I simply choose to go with brands that are *consistently* good.

 @xamyx , I totally agree with you. Christine has named plenty of things ‘sub-par’ that I have totally loved. It’s not fair for all Temptalia readers to just brand something as sub-par without trying it because Christine says so.

@Daphne I don’t rely on *solely* on Christine’s opinions; I not only read other reviews, I also swatch products at a MAC counter. As I stated, there are several great products in the brand, but honestly, I’ve lost a lot of respect for MAC. I feel by releasing so many duds, they don’t respect the consumer. This downward spiral has been going on for a few years now, and I haven’t seen a marked improvement. I will continue to buy from brands that consistently put out quality product, regardless of LE status.

 @xamyx I still like to check for myself, no question. One example was Groundcover eye shadow. It looked fine in the swatches here and I was dying to get it (hey, it’s a neutral…I love neutrals). When I went to buy it and swatched it at the counter, NO colour came off – absolutely NONE.  I thought it was like the plastic 4-seasons bronzer that they currently have in the display for Guerlain…just a plastic “dummy product”. There will always be differences in taste, expectations, what sorts of results individuals want but my own experiences have shown me that MAC most notably (maybe because I buy a lot of MAC products) has not kept up their quality control at all. Far better for them (IMO) to bring back some past favourites and make them permanent – I think that’s what a lot of MAC users might really want (rather than paying way over the odds for a much sought after LE product from 2 or 3 years ago).

@Mariella I bought Delineate on ebay shortly after it was released, and I paid over 3X the retail price (it was worth it due to the unique color), but with the extra money I spent on it, I could have bought 2 additional items directly from MAC, and *they* would have made the profit, if they would make more items at least semi-permanent, or release more product. Sometimes I wonder if they really just don’t care about the quality of the LEs, since they figure so many will just jump on their site and order without knowing anything about the product.

 @xamyx I do check for myself if it’s something I’m intensely interested in. I have found that Christine and I are usually in agreement with the exception of a few brands that she loves and I dislike. In this case, I’m totally grooving on the design and the colors and am really hoping that they perform in a way I find appealing. They should be here either Monday or Tuesday — can’t wait! 

 @18thCenturyFox  Oh dear….I feel for you. It “should” have been a terrific eyeshadow.  The SA tried to convince me that it was “fine” but it was NOT fine and I’m glad I checked it in-store rather than ordering it right away. That’s what I mean, though – doesn’t MAC know how to make consistently well-pigmented shadows? Perhaps it’s much harder than it sounds (and Christine has been part of the process, so she’s seen it first hand and it probably IS harder than it sounds). Weirdly, the Bows and Curtseys in that Fashion Flower collection was very good – way better than when it came out in a palette in the Tartan Tale collection. 

 @xamyx Excellent point. Look at all the people who were paying 2, 3, 4 times the retail price for Salsa Rose (I think that’s the one). Why wouldn’t MAC want that in their own coffers? If they have a real winner, why not follow up and keep it around?

 @xamyx  You make an excellent point. Why, when people are willing to pay 3, even 4 times the price for a coveted LE item, wouldn’t MAC want those profits for themselves? It doesn’t make sense. We all know of items that were huge hits (I think it’s Salsa Rose that was another). Sometimes, they do repromote but not before hundreds of people have spent way more on ebay than the actual retail price. (I typed this message out already and think I accidentally deleted it – too early in the morning for me!)

 @xamyx I guess because they’re riding on their laurels.  A lot of people (me included) have bought MAC based on its past good quality but over time, and with a few costly “lemons” here and there, people become disillusioned.  Now, I almost always wait to see what Christine has to say in her reviews as I really trust her knowledge and professionalism (she doesn’t just go “ga-ga” over every single item that even a favourite company releases).  Mac has had some good LE products come out in the past year – don’t get me wrong – and their Pro longwear shadows are wonderful (and permanent) but, honestly, some of their stuff has been so disappointing that I am far more cautious now than, say, 2 or 3 years ago.

@Mariella I bought MAC for the first time about 15 years ago, and wasn’t a big fan, and didn’t buy anything else until Style Black, which was *very* impressive. I started buying primarily from the perm line, most of which is good, but after Venomous Villains, I found the quality to begin a downward spiral. I just don’t think there’s any valid excuse for that, and unless they get it together, I’d rather support consistently good brands.

 @xamyx  I remember when most of the department store/luxury lines came out with maybe 5 collections a year, tops (one each season and perhaps one for the Holiday Season). They could put the work into developing collections that sort of “made sense” and were pretty good quality because they weren’t constantly developing hundreds of products for releases what seems like every 2 weeks!  I’ve like a few collections since Venomous Villains (Mega Metal and Semi Precious come to mind) and obviously I’ve liked individual LE items here and there since but, as so many of us seem to feel, the large number of mediocre or downright crummy product is not good for their image. 

@Mariella I have a couple of those, as well, and I *do* love their pigments & Paint Pots, but with so many other brands producing those (or similar enough), I just find myself not stopping by the MAC counter, anymore, which I literally walk by every time I go to the mall.

@Mariella @xamyx I am still kicking myself or not buying ten back ups of EVERYTHING from MAC’s Snake Eyes collection. To die for. And when the lipglasses were introduced and they did the Seven Sins
Of Lipglass? That was the MAC I fell in love with..

Oh look, *another* sub-par MAC product… It’s getting ridiculous now, what happened to them?! They used to be so good and now they just don’t give a damn. It’s a real shame; MAC is the reason why I fell in love with makeup in the first place.

 @radiofireworks I smiled (in frustration, not in happiness) as I read your comment because that’s exactly it. Used to be that I’d be more than bit excited with a new MAC launch but with most of the recent ones, it’s more “let’s wait to see if any of it isn’t crap”.  

 @Mariella That’s exactly it! It’s got to the point where I’m now genuinely shocked when a new MAC product performs well, it’s completely ridiculous. Sigh.

Creative whim is very similar to crystal and my drawn to drama was very smooth….I had no trouble blending or applying. I will say the size of the set defeats the purpose of travel! And I loath zoom lash so I basically got this set because they were not colors you can buy.

This is unrelated to this review.  Just discovered your site a month ago while researching some makeup (wow, I had no idea how many beauty blogs there are!).  Who am I to say this… but just want to say that I’m very impressed with everything about your site — your writing style, photos, layout, and in particular your candidness about the products.  Really fantastic work.  Will bookmark this for future reference (and for whenever I need to surf the Internet for fun …)  Wishing you continued success in this endeavor!

MAC, what are you doing! /smh. 
I love the packaging of these (and the shades, too), but a bad product is pretty much the biggest dealbreaker out there. No matter how much you dress up a bad formula, it’s still distinctly sub-par at the end of the day! 

Swatches can tell a whole different story than actual application. You can almost always get a good swatch of an eyeshadow, no matter how bad it really is, but then we it comes down to actual wear the products are terrible. Dry textures that don’t blend can look beautiful in swatches, but applying them can be a total disaster.

All three are super gorgeous and you’re right–they do coordinate well together. Also seems like great vaule–too bad about the quality though. I guess I can see where there might be some pigmentation issues based on your swatches. Will probably pass

Dammit! This makes me so mad. Mine is on its way. I’ll try it out, but if it’s as bad as what I read and see here, it’s going back. A damn shame because I love Julie Verhoeven’s designs.  🙁 🙁 🙁

I think these palettes are a nice idea but they never seem to go over well.  I might consider one if MAC would skip the SE brushes and just put in one brush from the normal line.  I love the design on the front of these but not enough to drop $50.  I’m surprised you hate Moody so much.  I have the Evil Eye palette and I love it but I suppose it’s personal preference.  I probably like it because I’m ghostly pale (srsly like NC 5 if not lighter), so I don’t need dark shades to be super pigmented for a smoky eye and sometimes I even avoid really buttery shadow formulas because when they blend out too easily I end up with a hot mess on my pasty self.

@Melody If you don’t mind me asking, what foundation line do you find fits your complexion? It’s absolutely maddening for me to try and find Spectral Phantom shade 01.

One of the fashion blogs I follow is run by a girl with extremely pale skin, and she suggested Beauty is Life for women with similar skin tones.  The down side is that the brand is pricey and can be a little hard to get a hold of, as it is a German brand and mostly available at very high end stores.  (Barney’s is the only one that carries it in the US.)  She also recommended Bobbi Brown’s line, which is a little more available.

Even at decent product quality, I would consider a kit like this worth $30 at the most.  They seriously want you to pay $50 for this?

 @Quinctia Julie Verhoeven’s art illustrations have been chosen for collaboration  with haute couture lines such as Versace, Louis Vuitton, Jaeger Boutique and more. She worked as John Galliano’s assistant prior to establishing her own business — an amazing illustrator/artist in her own right. She isn’t ubiquitous in the world of fashion, but what she does create is beautiful (to my eye). I couldn’t get a purse with her illustrations for under $1,500, so I’m happy to have a MAC palette or makeup bag.

 @divinem1 I get the argument more with the makeup bag.  This isn’t even a reusable palette.  I mean…yeah, I like the packaging of some of my nonreusable palettes, but I definitely didn’t consider that as part of the product’s worth, aside from its necessary function.
It’d be cool if it were more like a regular Mac palette, that you could potentially carry around for ages and fill full of refill pans.  Those are slim and good for travel/storage, too.

That Purple Dash is so…red for that set. Makes me sing my Sesame Street “One of these things is not like the other” I just don’t like that pencil/ shadow combo atall!

 @18thCenturyFox I agree about the Purple Dash. Odd choice. I’m praying the palette performs in an acceptable way for me. If not, I’ll send it back with a piece of my broken heart. 🙁

What is up with MAC? I haven’t seen a single thing that I would shell out good money for in a long time. Revlon has gotten me more excited over products than MAC, and MAC used to be my go to guilty pleasure. 🙁

 @misscheriamor  @MeganBowen I agree. Revlon has really stepped up their game. They saved me a lot of money with those fabulous lip butters they released!

I confess to being a total sucker for Revlon’s lip products.  I have a pretty hefty number of Revlon lipsticks mixed in with my higher end items.

 @MeganBowen I completely agree with you. Just when I became a devout MAC lover, all the collections they’ve brought out have been disappointment after disappointment. I’ve now moved on to their sister-brand, Estee Lauder and have given up on MACs seasonal ‘fashionable’ collections. 

 @MiettaReynolds  @MeganBowen I’ve mostly moved on to MAKE UP FOR EVER and am beginning to fall in love with Tarina Tarantino, which I find very surprising. The quality of her makeup and packaging is outstanding but, of course, it doesn’t have the range MAC or MAKE UP FOR EVER. 

Is it true the eyeshadows are removable? I might go pick up the one with the permanent shadows if it means I can interchange them with some of my favourites sometimes. I really like the illustration!

 @joannejpeg I hadn’t heard about that, so I just went to go and see, and I don’t think so.  I couldn’t figure out how you would do it short of destroying the eyeshadow itself by gouging out a huge chunk!  I took tweezers with me to try and get them out, but there’s no room along the edge of the pan at all. Maybe a pin or needle? But it seems odd that they’d be removable and yet no easy way to do so.  The bottom of the palette is solid, so there weren’t any holes to push them out either.

I recently was gifted quite similar thing..and the truth is the eye shadow is not pigmented at all..I have to scrape it off and still no colour was visible..luckily I didn’t bought it myself …it was a disappointment pallet for me

I came very close to grabbing this when it went up on the Nordstrom’s site.  Glad I passed it up on a hunch and waited for your review.  Thank you for saving me money so that I can blow it on worthy products, Christine.  😛  (And as always, thank you for putting these up so fast!  I didn’t even realize you were going to review the exclusives.)

I wish MAC would up their quality, Drawn to Drama is such a gorgeous colour but I’m not going to buy things that I know haven’t got the quality I’m looking for 🙁

I did purchase this set instead of waiting and really do like the colors.  Personally I didn’t have a problem with application although I do not consider MAC the smoothest and easiest to apply eye shadow to begin with.  Honestly I just swiped some old Smashbox from ’06 and it was much silkier.   The box is  very unwieldy.  Never mind~ I don’t carry eye shadow with me during the day and am more likely to carry a handful of pots or a neutral palette if I were traveling.  

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so subjective.  I have an olive complexion and I love it.  I also purchased the black smokey eye .. that one is nice as well.  I think a D+ is a bit harsh.

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