although there was much buzz about declining quality as a result of the mac's blitzkrieg launch schedule, 2012 sees no retreat. in fact, mac are already a half dozen launches in, with more popping up pretty much every thursday. but this week is truly their first big test, because it's the first major launch of the year.
the shop mac/ cook mac collection has already garnered quite a bit of buzz not just because of its products, but because reaction to the name and imagery was at times contentious. the brightly coloured images of anorexic, heavily painted, more heavily photoshopped barbies going shopping or dimly going through the motions of domesticity caused tempers to flare both from those who thought that the images and the theme were fundamentally anti-feminist, reducing women's lives to cycles of shopping and cooking, essentially equating them with the vacant-eyed dolls in the ads, or as insulting to women who do choose to be homemakers, implying that what they did was vapid or unimportant.
although i can see both arguments, i'll give mac the benefit of the doubt, because i find that their marketing collateral is generally cartoonish, in this case channeling elements of the ideal 50s housewife, retro 60s and 70s backgrounds and the harsh power-looks of the 80s at once. i believe that it's intended to be viewed and taken humourously. more to the point, i think that it's meant simply to be an eye-catching burst of bright colour to stand out against the traditional soft pastels and muted earth tones of spring.
the collection is pretty massive, including three of mac's eye shadow quads, regular lipsticks, a return of their liquid lipsticks [originally released last january] and their cult favourite lip tendertone tinted lip balms, bright cream blushes, cream eyeliners in limited shades, nail polishes... it's enough to make one a little dizzy. so it becomes necessary to pick and choose where one's money can go. in my case, i stuck to the basics- eyes and lips- which is enough of a handful on its own.
|as much as i can lift|
part one :: the lips
|runaway red, dish it up|
besides, there are a couple of really stunning colours that are getting ignored because they aren't part of the bright pink bandwagon.
it really doesn't look like too many other reds, either, since most lean brighter or darker. about the closest shade i have is too faced's "drop dead red", which is darker and bluer.
|drop dead red, runaway red|
|dish it up|
about the only thing that i didn't like about this shade was that i found it a bit drying. i don't usually have that problem with mac lustre lipsticks, but i definitely noticed it here. now, keep in mind that my lips are exceptionally dry right now, so it might not be an issue for you, but i figured i should let you know. other than that, it has all the qualities that normally makes lustres a favourite of mine among mac finishes- buildable colour, gradual, even fading that leaves a nice stain behind, a glossy finish that lasts pretty well.
|l to right :: mac blood red [l.e.], dish it up, london life, radicchio [l.e.]|
so harrumph to you, sold out bright pinks. i'm very happy with the shades i got.
|scandelicious, so vain|
for the rest of us who get annoyed, withering looks when we leave a big stain on someone's face [or fur] when giving them a kiss, these are only slightly less problematic than a gloss. even when they're settled, they transfer pretty easily.
another sad thing about this launch is that every single colour was part of the program last year [leading me to believe that what we're seeing is a list of the best-selling shades from the original launch]. so if you were a mac shopper last year, there may well be nothing new here for you. on the other hand, what is here is pretty nice.
although i don't often go for peach shades [mostly because they make me look like something you'd find in a desert three days after it's collapsed from dehydration], beige-peach "so vain" won me over, because it's a neutral that actually works on me. i'm not sure quite how i figured that out, but somehow, without alerting my conscious brain, i was able to figure out that this was one of those shades that would work on me because it was soft and not overly
mac describes this one as a "muted dirty coral" and while i think it's a bit too muted to really qualify as coral in my estimation [containing very little red or pink tones], there is something about it that does seem a bit dirty. in a good way. [this is usually one of those terms that gets thrown around but which people have difficulty explaining. i generally think of it as applying to colours that have a tinge of grey-brown in them, enough to make them look a little dulled and
although the logic behind neutral shades is that they can be worn by people with any skin tone, i think that this one might be less desirable on those who are quite cool. although they're muted, there are yellow tones in the shade which would start to look more pronounced against pink/ blue toned skin. i haven't had the opportunity to test that theory out, but it's a somewhat educated guess.
because of the texture of the so-called kissable lip colours, i didn't really know whether to compare them to lipsticks or glosses. so i decided to look at both and find something fairly close from both realms. the truth is that the finish alone makes these look different from either, so even if you have comparable colours, that doesn't mean they'll look the same.
"scandelicious" is more pink and noticeably brighter than guerlain's "l'heure bleue" and lacks its ruby shimmer. it's more similar in terms of colour to the limited edition mac gloss "just add colour", but again, the latter has colour and [even though it's very pigmented for a gloss] packs less of a punch.
|l to r :: guerlain l'heure bleue, scandelicious, mac just add colour|
"so vain" is in the same vein as two limited edition mac products, probably because they have that similar elusive "dirty" quality to them. "made to order" lipstick is more sheer and subdued, while "fold & tuck" lipglass is brighter and has more shimmer.
|l to r :: made to order, so vain, fold and tuck|
again, for both, the difference in terms of the colour on the lips is actually a lot more noticeable that when you see them swatched side by side.
part two :: the eyes
since i saw that mac was coming out with three new eye shadow quads for this launch, i've been doing my best to dampen my own enthusiasm. after all, as much as i love these little pre-packaged slabs of goodness for their efficiency and ease of use, virtually every example released in the last year has been a disappointment. part of me isn't complaining because, hey, it's money saved, but at the same time, the photos of the quads really did make them look quite enticing...
part of their charm, i think, was that mac returned to a formula that's been successful for them in the past- offering one variation each of cooler colours, warmer colours and more neutral colours. this is something that they've done to great effect in past launches, notably "cult of cherry" and fabulous felines", two of their best and best thought out collections. you can line up the quads from all three [assuming you're like me and collected them all] to see what i mean. or you can look at these photos.
|the warm :: leopard luxe, call me bubbles, spiced chocolate|
|the cool :: palace pedigreed, shop & drop, shadowy lady|
|the neutral :: burmese beauty, colour added, tempting|
the good news is that not only is the concept good, but the execution is good. in all three cases, the shades harmonise well and, with one little exception, the quality is back up to the standard we'd previously been conditioned to expect from mac.
"shop & drop" is a collection of pinks and purples, very cool-toned and definitely the most subdued of the three palettes. the colours here are uniformly excellent, even the matte and satin shades, which have recently been a problem. of the four, only mauve-grey "hypnotising" has been released before, which makes it all the more interesting. about my only quibble with this group of colours is that it lacks a shade that can be used as a highlight, at least on my pale face.
|l to r :: sugar snack, hypnotizing, power boosted, shop & drop|
"hypnotising" is a very shimmery lavender shade with a healthy does of taupe. when it was originally released, i heard it compared to the permanent colour "shale", but in fact "shale" is a lot darker and browner. i actually think they'd look quite nice together. there's a reason that mac brought this shade back. it's well-done and it was a favourite with both neutral and purple lovers.
"power boosted" looks like a bright purple in the pan, but swatches more sheerly and looks more like a violet-tinged pink when used. it adds a pop of colour to the set without overwhelming it. i thought it might be fairly close to the regular mac shade "stars & rockets", but the latter is cooler, lighter, pinker and has a distinctive blue sheen. urban decay's "asphyxia", by comparison, is much more purple.
finally, there's the eponymous "shop & drop", a deep grey with blue shimmer. i like the fact that this is very well pigmented and that the other shades in the palette really serve to pull the blue tones when you see them alongside each other. it provides an excellent anchor for the set- not so dark as to make the effect too heavy, but dark enough to add some depth. the limited edition shade "waft" is also a grey with blue shimmer, but it's quite a bit lighter.
here is a shot comparing the quad colours to the closest dupes i could find, but i want to mention one thing- which applies to all the comparison shots. although i played around a lot with lighting, trying to capture on the camera what i could see with my eyes, i don't feel entirely comfortable with the end results. i'll include these pictures to give you a look, but in every case, the differences in the shades were considerably more pronounced in person than they look in these shots. i've tried my best to describe the differences, so when you're looking at these comparison shots, remember that the effect is greater than what you're seeing. sorry about that.
|l to r [top/ bottom] :: sugar snack/ mink pink, hypnotizing/ shale, power boosted/ stars & rockets, shop & drop/ waft|
the warmest of the three quads "call me bubbles" is the one that's been the most buzzed about on line. it's definitely the brightest combination of colours and, with orange being proclaimed as the colour of 2012's spring season, it's the most on-trend. quality-wise, it's probably the best palette of the three on offer, as the colour payoff and ease of use is excellent on every shade. ironically, i think that the only real problem with this palette is that it lacks a darker shade to give a more finished look. with three of the colours being very bright, you're left wanting something to give definition. used without other shades, i feel like the combination here could be a little overwhelming on its own, but i'd say it's still a worthwhile investment for the quality of what you're getting.
|l to r :: call me bubbles, fresh daisy, full of flavour, brash|
"fresh daisy" is a somewhat frosty medium orange, very spring-like and warm. [i don't know that you could have a "cool" orange, but this one has more yellow in it than the other shades.] although i thought this would be the easiest shade to match, i was totally wrong. i compared it to mac's "straw harvest" and chanel's "tiger lily" and both were noticeably lighter. "style predator" from mac's "leopard luxe" quad is a bit closer, but it's darker and browner.
although it's probably the least unique shade of the four, "full of flavour" is a really pretty pink-coral that packs a punch. it's less orange than inglot's shade "368", which is the closest that i have, but i believe it's fairly close to mac's "free to be", which is a permanent colour. from what i remember, though, "free ot be" isn't nearly this nice to work with.
the only repromoted shade in the quad is "brash", which originally came out in the "spiced chocolate" quad with cult of cherry. i can't believe that this hasn't been around since 2008, because the colour is almost unbelievable. it's a glowing molten copper with a metallic sheen so luminous that it really does seem to glow from within. a little goes a long way with this shade [you can see it used in a look here] because it's so pigmented and so eye-catching. in addition to being a very viable shade for the lids, it looks incredible used in conjunction with a dark pencil to line blue eyes.
in fact, although orange tends to be a colour that works across a lot of skin tones and complexions, i think that this palette is really a must-have for blue-eyed beauties. since orange is the opposite of blue on the colour wheel, the contrast will make your baby blues pop like nothing else.
although mac has a pretty good selection of copper and bronze shades, none of them look like "brash". "coppering" is the closest, but it's much redder and doesn't have the radiant quality that makes brash so outstanding.
|l to r [top/ bottom] :: call me bubbles/ dazzlelight, fresh daisy/ style predator, full of flavour/ inglot 368, brash/ coppering|
third and final, we have the "colour added" quad. i feel like this one has the best selection of colours to be used on their own and the mix of different yellows with teal and grey makes for a very modern looking palette. unfortunately, it also contains the weakest shade of any of the palettes, which is a disappointment, especially given the liveliness and great pigmentation of its neighbours.
"laundry daze" is a super-light lemon chiffon highlighter with a very cool edge. it's a bright shade that brightens the face without being too pronounced. "manila paper", another yellowed highlight, is a lot warmer and more subdued.
|l to r :: laundry daze, colour added, pre-packaged, self-serve|
i fell in love with "pre-packaged" the second i saw it. although the texture feels a little rough, the colour payoff is good and teal will definitely show against the yellow tones of the first two shades, this is a really rich jewel-tone with a little bit of "dirtiness" [our word of the day] to it that keeps it from being too flashy. the overall effect of the combination is kind of "pop art", actually. it reminded me a bit of "birds & berries" from 2010, but it's significantly brighter and a bit bluer.
unfortunately, dark grey "self-serve" lets down the side. when i first swatched it with my finger, it seemed fine, but getting it to show on my arm was a different story. it's super dry, stiff and unpredictable to work with because it's so uneven. i think that it's main [only] use would be to deepen "pre-packaged" a little. there's no way i can see this working on its own. it's too bad, because when i first saw it, it looked like a nice blue-charcoal smoke, a nice alternative to "print", its closest analogue in the mac lineup and also a colour i find very difficult to work with.
the problem that i mentioned earlier about the inadequacy of the comparison photos is particularly acute here.
|l to r [top/ bottom] :: laundry daze/ manila paper, colour added/ going bananas, pre-packaged/ birds & berries, self-serve/ print|
with the exception of that last colour, though, these palettes are a great relief. they're much more in line with what made me like mac's quads to begin with and, at $45cad each, they're equivalent to buying the shadows for about $11 each [as opposed to $17.50, which is what individual shades cost]. "call me bubbles" has the highest quality and the most pigmented shades, "shop & drop" is the most wearable day-to-day and "colour added" has the best balance and most original mix of tones.
yes, 2011 was a sub-par year for mac, but if this is any indication of what we're likely to see, then it seems like 2012 may see them regaining their footing.
all items are available on www.maccosmetics.ca and at pro store locations. the collection launches to all mac stores and counters in north america tomorrow, february 9th.
and finally, because i do love to show products in use, here's a look i did with some of the products from my haul. as i suggested above, i used "self-serve" chiefly to add a slightly darker edge to "pre-packaged" in the outer crease and the outer edge of my lower lid. it is there and it is visible [if you look carefully], but this is about the best i think you could do. on its own, i think it would look dingy and dirty. not in a good way.
mac prolongwear foundation "nc15"
dr. hauschka concealer "01"
mac e/s "laundry daze" [light white-yellow]
mac e/s "colour added" [bright citron]
mac e/s "pre-packaged" [dirty teal]
mac e/s "self-serve" [cool charcoal]
mac fluidline "blacktrack" [black]
chanel inimitable intense mascara
mac blush "overdyed"* [very cool magenta]
mac l/s "dish it up" [cool, bright berry pink]
*suggested alternates :: all the eye shadows and the lipsticks are limited edition but currently available with this collection. overdyed = mac florida cremeblend brush, also limited, but also part of the shop mac/ cook mac collection.