Rant & Rave: MAC

Tell us what you love and hate about...


Rave: They have a huge selection of permanent products, and they’re true mainstays–they don’t have a constant cycle of new-in, old-out when it comes to those ranges, so it can be relied upon. Viva Glam is still one of the best charitable programs in beauty. Rant: They create new formulas for limited edition collections that can be stellar but then never seen again. They also need to update their core range of products as they have discontinued some shades (without replacing) in the last couple of years.

— Christine

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I think you nailed the key points, Christine. I passionately dislike their inconsistency. Quite certain they realize, at this point, the days of hoards stalking their website for each and every one of their mediocre LE releases is entirely over. I think they have some truly fantastic core products and should rethink their overall market placement and strategy. All those retail outlets have to be sucking them dry. Still, I have a fondness. They were Canadian and ubiquitous in the 80’s and 90’s… essentially until they joined the Lauder group.

I think that MAC and other brands, with their constant releases, are just a result of the current make-up eco-system. Products/brands are talked about only when they release new stuff. Media influencers talk 90% of the time of the new PR packages, new releases, new reviews; they rarely talk about old favorites. So in order to get attention and Youtube/Instagram/etc. space, brands need to constantly get something new out. Which is quite easy for new brands, but hard for brands who have a core of good `oldies`; brands like MAC just need to identify a way to re-promote their oldies and goodies.

Some brands squeeze every drop of milk they can from one cow. πŸ˜† NARS Orgasm and Becca Champagne Pop are some examples. Other brands launch something new almost everyday, like Too Faced and Colourpop. Will us, the costumers, rant either way? Sure we will. πŸ˜€

-> MAC is the brand that made me fall in `love` with make-up. I was doing my make-up before, but I start enjoying and experimenting more with make-up after my first MAC make-up session.
-> Wide variety of colors, finishes, products. It can easily be a one-stop for anything you need for make-up.
-> Great quality foundations. I don’t think I tried a MAC foundation I don’t like (and Estee Lauder in general); maybe they’re not my vibe or perfect for my skin (too sheer, too matte, too drying, etc.), but they’re good products. For example MAC Face and Body and Studio Waterweight are good foundations, but they are too sheer and hydrating for my liking; they look amazing for a sheer foundation and they last well although being hydrating… but I’ll stick to the Prolongwear Waterproof and Studio Sculpt.
-> The custom palette system. I try to keep a minimal collection, and with MAC I can have a dual sided custom palette with 15 eyeshadows and 6 blushes/face powders; everything I need in one place.
-> Great quality brushes. They are expensive, but totally worth it, the brushes are very good quality. Not only they make product application better, but they last a long time. I was my brushes quite often… I mean, my 5-6 years old 217 is washed every week; do the math πŸ˜† .
-> MAC Satin and Matte lipsticks. They are the perfect formula for me, with good staying power and without being too drying for my lips. And some colors… some colors are so dear to my heart… there might be a thousands dupes out-there, but Diva is it’s own and nothing beats it.

-> Limited edition. When they do collections, I would prefer for them to launch permanent colors / products, just limited edition packaging.
-> Discontinued shades. I’m so frustrated when I want to replace an old product, and I discover they discontinued that specific shade.
-> Website. It’s maybe just me, but the way they present shades on the website is not that great (well, I come usually to temptalia to check shades). And I don’t like the overall website, the way it’s organised and structured; but it might just be personal preference.

Their website is AWFUL, it’s not just you. It used to be much better but they changed it a few years ago and I have no idea why.

For Raves I definetily have to add also the Back to MAC program. And it’s not only that I get a free lipstick or eyeshadow. It’s also because it promotes recycling.
And further on, you can bring old make-up to MAC for recycling even if those specific products do not count towards Back to MAC (well, at least my local store accepts all MAC products). I think few people realize how make-up and skincare packaging it’s not easily recyclable in standard facilities.

Rave: Great selection of blushes and lipsticks in a variety of undertones and finishes.

Rant: Foundations are in a weirdly limited selection of skintones, which is weird given that they were doing better than many other companies 10-20 years ago… But other foundations have FAR surpassed them in shade availability, especially at the very pale and very dark ends of the spectrum. MAC has very much stagnated in this regard.

They expanded recently the Studio Fix line, with now 63 shades for liquid and 53 for powder. Personally I like that I have the range of NC 16, 18, 20 to explore for my non-summer shade (although I don’t tan in the summer up to NC25 nowadays). I would like that they add more shades to the other foundations. And I find it odd they added NC 16,1 7,1 8, but nothing between NC 20 and 25.

Even their expanded shades are still way too dark and pigmented for me, personally. I can find pretty decent matches in ColourPop, Josie Maran, Too Faced (with their most recent shade expansions), MUFE, and Fenty — and CoverFX is probably best of all (N0 in their cream compact).

MAC’s Face and Body formulation sounds like a better fit for me than Studio Fix, but those shades run even darker. The “lightest” colors are about the same color as my freckles, which are noticeably darker than my skin’s base tone! It’s totally absurd. Get with it, MAC!

I know a lot of brands have this issue, but a company like MAC that built its reputation on inclusivity should really not be rating “mediocre” here.

Rave: I really love so many of their permanent core products! Pro pan eyeshadows, lipsticks, Lipglasses, foundation, Prep & Prime Lips, Lip Conditioner, Strobe Cream, are my favorites. Many of their LE collections do turn out to be quite lovely, especially over the past few years.

Rant: Why are so many mainstay shades being DC’D in recent years??? VG VI and IV? VG V Lipglass? Almost ALL the purple e/s’s, Aquadisiac, Typographic, Handwritten, Folie, to many to name! This is CRAY.
Also, some of the fanciest, most bombastic of packaged LE collections wind up being utter rubble when it comes to the actual product within, ie; Jeremy Scott, anyone?

RANT: Some of the name labels on the bottom of the lipstick are done in a way that makes them nearly impossible to read. Some have nice black letters, but others have very thin lettering that’s almost the same color as the background. I wish they’d match the color of the metal ring to the shade inside. Also, the price of the lipsticks has been rising ridiculously fast. I don’t buy them anymore unless I have some kind of discount. And how about an easier way to depot their single eyeshadows? And finally, I think they need to give their employees better customer service training.

RAVE: So many shades and formulas! The Back-to-MAC program! And, like Christine mentioned, the Viva Glam charity!

I nowadays won’t purchase anything from MAC outside the 20% off deal they regularly have (once a quarter, I think). It doesn’t get the lipstick and eyeshadow refills prices that low, but it starts adding up if I want new brushes.

I wrote a play once that included a character ranting about MAC. How everybody says MAC is ~it~ it’s the ~best~ the only truly excellent makeup brand (this was written in the late 90s) but every compliment came with a whispered admission:
“Oh, Sushi Flower is the BEST pink eyeshadow *cough* itsreallysheersoyouhavetopackiton.”
“Oh I looooove Ruby Woo *cough* itsdryingsouseabalmunderneath.”
“The only mascara I would ever use is by MAC *cough* itwaslimitededitionandyoucantgetitanymore.”

Rave: I use so many of their tried-and-true products, like their foundations, brushes, face powders, blushes (their ED blush line is my favorite of all brands), and their eye shadow primer is by far the best one I’ve ever used (and I’m so sad I only discovered it within the past year).

Rant: all of the LE releases. Maybe I’m old and tired, but I don’t actually buy them any more. I stick to the MAC favorites. And their website is THE WORST. Can I actually get a swatch of a product anywhere without having to go on Temptalia or google??

Rant: lack of ingredient lists on their websites and on other websites that sell their products.

Rave: Pro Longwear Concealer continues to be made and comes in colors that work for me. That’s it. Still have to check the ingredient list on the box every single time I purchase it.

RAVES: Most of the permanent products are great. I love the Viva Glam charity and Back to MAC Program. I love most of their lipsticks, the dazzleglasses and lipglasses, and their blushes. The Shiny Pretty Shadows and Extra Dimension Shadows are glorious.

RANTS: Too many LE collections, and too many of those are sub-par. I still think they need to reformulate their eyeshadows. They can be hit or miss, especially when they come in a LE palette. They seriously need to stop putting Carbon in so many palettes. It’s crap. I wish they’d stop discontinuing so many popular, and good quality, products. They often shy away from truly cool-looking, alternative colors by making them very sheer. I wish they’d show a little more guts and make them pigmented and opaque. Give us a great yellow, chartreuse, or silver!

I think Christine got most of it!

-vast permanent collection that is consistent in quality (for better or worse), with mid-level price range.
-It’s easily one of the most accessible mid-end custom-kit artistry brands for swatching in-person in the USA.
– as a well-established artistry brand, I can easily name a shade as a point of reference and find dupes or reviews
-I can almost always say “MAC” aloud (bc it stands for Makeup Art Cosmetics) whereas sometimes I feel silly saying “too faced” or “urban decay” with my curious not-that-into-makeup friends.
-I love the pan-only collections and it was the brand that introduced me to putting together my own color story and being selective with my colors and finishes.
-It’s a brand I’d easily recommend to anyone starting out BC it seems to have great products for every category.

Rant: their LE releases are annoying. I’m allergic to their lipsticks which makes me mad BC it’s the one brand that has permanent versions of my favorite textures and colors for lipsticks at a mid level price point. I’m upset that they discontinued certain lines without replacing..

Rave: The brand has produced a lot of excellent staples – foundations, blushes, lippies etc over the years that have worked for diverse skintones. I think their foundation schema was the first of its kind.

Rant: Their eyeshadows can be a bit hit and miss at times. The constant flow of releases, some of them very good, others awful left beauty lovers a bit fatigued.

Pros: They make my go to brushes – the 217 and the 242. As well as my favorite nude lipstick, The Right Note.

Cons: They discontinued all of them. Drat!

Rant: I never really got into MAC because their sales associates were SO obnoxious, pushy, overbearing and rude.
Rave: I bought foundation, concealer, lipstick, and primer for my niece last year for her wedding in India – I was very impressed with the quality except for the pan concealer.

Raves: Some of my favorite lip sticks are from Mac. I love the smell, the packaging (of the core range) and the simplicity of the range. It’s extensive without being overwhelming and it feels more curated compared to some brands that pump out new lines constantly with no real cohesiveness to the range.

Rants: Why is it still not cruelty free? It’s time, come on Mac. Their colab packaging is often really ugly and resembles children’s makeup sometimes. Their core range has such sleek and sophisticated packaging but their colabs and LE packaging is just no.

I really agree with everything that has been commented before me but will go ahead and list the things that are important to me. Back in the 70’s and living in S. California I had access to a lot of makeup brands. I moved to Sacramento in 1980 and the selection was not good. Finally, Nordstrom’s came to Sacramento and with them MAC. Frankly, I was working night shift at the time and must have been under a giant rock also, since I knew nothing about MAC. I had never actually even heard the brand name. When I went into Nordstrom’s to see what the hype was about I was blown away. It appeared so professional. The SA’s all dressed in black with impeccable makeup application and so ready to help. The range of products even then, was staggering. I was like a kid in a candy store. The things I tried and liked were like instant holy grail for me. Over the years my interest has fluctuated wildly and I think that is because their ability to remain fresh and on trend has faltered. I love many of their products. I love the Back To Mac program, the ability to get pans from their website so that I don’t have to de-pot them, their Viva Glam Program and their brushes. MAC lipsticks in all formulas are still one of my favorite lipstick brands and accounts for a lot of my purchases from them. In my local Nordstrom’s which is 3 hours away and located in Spokane, WA I have developed a rapport with the SA’s. I think they remember me because of my gray hair and having a biracial daughter. In any event, they are very helpful and leave me alone until I am ready. They are not constantly trying to push product on me. Because they are so far away, it is difficult for me to actually get to see their products in person so I am forced to order on-line. I have more than once, received a limited edition collection to end up being very disappointed. Now I frequently skip their LE launches unless it is reviewed here on the blog and is something that I think I would enjoy. Their LE releases are frequently a letdown. Either the product is poor performing or the packaging doesn’t reflect the inspiration or sadly, both. They will always hold a special place in my heart but except for some OG e/s pans, I don’t buy as much as I use to from the brand.

Rave: the permanent range of all their products, unfortunately they discontinue favourite products at times, still they have an impressive range of colours and finishes. I have bought a lot from different brands, but I seem to always go back to MAC after some time.
Most of their core products are quite good, I love their lip glosses and lipsticks, favourite right now out of all my +200 lipsticks (not all from MAC) is Red Rock.
I really love the Viva Glam charity.
I like their range of foundations.
Rant: I agree with all who mentioned their web site.
The inconsistency of their LE’s and the amount of LE’s they produce.
Carbon still pops up in LE palettes, why, oh why?! πŸ™‚

I hope this makes sense, it’s really very late, or very early and I should sleep, not try to write at all. πŸ˜€

It’s taken me a while to get to this Rant & Rave because MAC was my first really serious makeup love so the feelings are complex (sounds a bit silly but I’m sure others here understand).

I love them for the huge variety of wonderful products they’ve made over the years. I love them for the exciting and creative new collections they come out with from time to time (sadly, these days, not nearly as exciting to me as they used to be) and I love them because, well, they’re MAC. Viva Glam’s charitable impact and Back to MAC are 2 programs not to be sneezed at!

My rants are along the lines of those Christine listed – too many collections coming out every 5 minutes, often at the expense of both quality and real creativity. Also, the fact that there are many really wonderful LE products that they’ve failed to make permanent even though many people really want them (Moth Brown eyeshadow is one that comes to mind but there are many). Pulling the Matte2 line (with one exception) just like that – without any warning – and Matte2 had some of their very best and most popular eyeshadows (seriously, d/c’ing Copperplate? ) The same can be said about several of their really good eyeshadow finishes – Starflash, the original Pro Longwear shadows – and also some of the Mineralize blushes and highlighters of the past – they were very good and hugely popular, but are no longer available while far inferior products (hello, CARBON!) stick around in the permanent line FOREVER. Another rant is that some of their really good shadows are only available in pre-made palettes that contain several shades I already own and then several others (oh, look – CARBON again! quelle surprise!) I really don’t want!

Rave: they do BEAUTIFUL nude lipsticks, and lots of them

Rant: Their LE is really LE…no re-release, not large quanties. Their shadows are hit and miss. I LOVE the underrated Mac Girls palettes, which I’m pretty sure are discontinued, but some of their palettes are meh.

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