Friday, September 2, 2011

Mac Eyeshadow Overview + Swatches (Pic Heavy)

Remember my Mac Lipstick Overview? You guys seemed to like it and found it helpful so I figured I'd do another one... on eyeshadows instead!

I have to start off in being quite blunt in saying that part of the reason (a large part) I'm doing this is because in my time of reading blogs, I have come across too many inaccurate swatches. A big culprit seems to be Mac eyeshadows, and I don't know why people feel the need to color adjust and apply the color with a shovel. I wanted to post the shadows I have in honest photos that are concise and accurate as I can get them. That being said, these photos are 100% natural, with only a few of them having minor gamma corrections because of shadowing in the picture (and that was by 1.20 at most). The shadows are swatched over primer and applied with a flat shader brush. I will state if I had to pack on the color to get any payoff (I only did that on a few of them to get SOMETHING to show up).

Mac eyeshadows retail for $15, and you get 1.5g/0.50oz of product. Mac shadows come in a variance of finishes, of which I will explain now:

Matte: This is a finish that contains no shimmer. With Mac's mattes, they are generally a pain to work with. They often have very little color payoff, and I personally only used them for a few eyebrow colors that I purchased and sold on once my hair changed color to something else.

Matte(2): This means matte squared but I can't get a superscript to show up. This is again a formula with no shimmer, but this formula way outdoes their regular matte one. Matte squareds have better payoff and a smoother formula. Unfortunately, Mac currently have only 6 permanent eyeshadows available in this one, and new shadows that they put out are generally the old, crappy formula.

Satin: Like a satin lipstick, this formula is a more matte base with subtle loose shimmer woven through. This is another formula that is tricky because they often have difficulties in the pigmentation department, like mattes.

Lustre: This is by far their most craptastic formula, in my humble opinion. Most of these have a satin eyeshadow base with a load of usually silver glitter strewn throughout. It's chunky glitter as well, so it often results in very little payoff and a whole lot of grittiness.

Frost: This is a heavy shimmer eyeshadow. Some are more shimmery than others (some are downright glitter bombs), like White Frost is less frosty than say, Amber Lights.

Veluxe: These are very smooth and generally pigmented shadows. There are only 3 of this type available in the permanent line. They have very subtle shimmer.

Veluxe Pearls: These are the shimmery versions of veluxes and usually have intense shimmer finish. They aren't frosty like a Frost though. This is my favorite formula, in general, though recently each Veluxe Pearl finish has had a different feel, which I find odd. These have the most pigmentation, for the most part.

Velvet: Velvets are intended to be silky and smooth with a slight shimmer, as their name implies. This formula is so-so (I like Trax and want Sketch) and can be a little difficult to work with. To me, they also feel completely different from shadow to shadow... Trax feels slightly gritty to me while Sketch doesn't.

In the past, they did a formula called Starflash but those have been discontinued. They also do products called Shadesticks, Big Bounce Eyeshadows, Paint Pots, Pigments and Paints that are considered eyeshadows. I will be focusing on the powder eyeshadows today.

Let's go! (Shadows will be described from left to right.)

Goin' Bananas (LE) (Frost): A pale shimmering yellow. I love that this yellow isn't too gold or orange, and I think it would suit all skintones. It's really nice to use on the inner corners when you're doing orange/red/brown looks as it gives that hint of yellow shimmer. Layered on the lid it will be more intense, but blended out will merit more subtle yellow tones.

Rule (Matte): In theory, a matte burnt orange. In reality, a VERY poorly pigmented burnt orange. This is one that I scraped some of the shadow on so you could at least see some of the color. I can't even tell you how many swipes it would take to get this color payoff. It is really not a good shadow.

Firespot (LE) (Veluxe Pearl): A fiery red-orange with gold laced throughout. This is not the softest of veluxe pearls out there, but it is a pretty shadow. I got it off of a blog sale and I like to use it with browns.

Woodwinked (Veluxe Pearl): Probably my favorite Mac shadow EVER. This is a bronzey taupe brown and is fantastically pigmented. I think this would look good on anyone, dark or light skintone. I recommend this to people all the time! It's versatile and even looks good on the lid by itself with black liner.

Woodwinked again.

Amber Lights (Frost): This is a golden brown, very shimmery. I actually thought this was a Veluxe Pearl as it's so soft and pigmented, but it's a frost. It looks great with Woodwinked, and blues.

Glamour Check! (LE) (Starflash): This is a discontinued formula called Starflash. They are soft like Veluxe Pearls and very pigmented as well, but not quite as shimmery. This is a lovely brown, one of my favorites, and is a deep chocolate with purple tones and a bit of gold shimmer.

Cranberry (Frost): This is a reddened burgundy. While it's a frost, it's not crazy over-the-top shimmery. The red tones in this make it difficult to wear as it can make you look tired, and the pigmentation can be a bit of a pain. If you don't get it perfectly opaque, you look sickly. This works well over a black base.

Cranberry again.

Sushi Flower (Satin): THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. It's such an interesting pink in the pan but on the skin, it is terrible. This swatch is literally 10 swipes across the eyeshadow and then onto my skin, and back in again 10 more times. It's a medium bright pink in the pan but on the skin, it goes baby pink. I honestly hate this shadow.

Coppering (Veluxe Pearl): This is a lovely red copper with intense shimmer. Very pigmented and soft. I use this with Woodwinked, Amber Lights and GlamourCheck! quite often.

Hepcat (Frost): This shade would have benefited from being a veluxe pearl! It's a medium violet purple with strong red tones. Because it's a frost, and a harder texture, it makes pigmentation on the eye a little difficult... you again end up looking like you have pink eye. I usually use it to darken the crease.

Coppering again.

Hepcat again.

Stars and Rockets (Veluxe Pearl): This is a medium pink with strong violet flash. Unfortunately, something is wrong with mine and I've never been able to get good pigmentation out of it. It's not even that good at the counter though, honestly. For a veluxe pearl, it's not pigmented or soft enough. If it was, it'd be a really pretty color! I do use it over black shadow/liner sometimes to get a strong blue violet. It's cool in that it's a duochrome.

Some additional shots of those colors... all together in natural light and flash, and in groups under flash:

Next up... greens and blues! (Mostly)

Trax (Velvet): This is a lovely plum brown with gold shimmer. I really do like this eyeshadow, I just unfortunately have a dupe of it from Wet n Wild that is more pigmented. You'll see that as a running theme... Mac shadows aren't that pigmented in comparison to some other brands.

Beautiful Iris (Veluxe Pearl): Mmmm... lilac. This has a lovely soft pink shimmer and I do really like this eyeshadow. It's one that I'll wear, again, on it's own with some quick black liner. Sorted.

Mink & Sable (LE) (Starflash): This is another discontinued Starflash shadow, I got it from a CCO at some point. Very hard to describe shade... it looks deep olive in the pan but on the skin turns more grey-beige-green-taupe, almost. Decently pigmented, almost slightly sticky in texture so it really adheres to the eye well.

Juxt (Satin): This is a pale grass green with subtle gold shimmer. It's so-so on pigmentation, really only good for blending out green looks as on the lid it looks a bit off.

Swimming (Lustre): Whatever you see from anyone in the future, know that THIS is what Swimming actually looks like. I have seen so many bogus swatches and I am here to show you not only what it looks like, but also how annoyingly poor the pigmentation is. This swatch is another one that I had to scrape the top of the shadow on to get any color out of it. In the pan, it is a murky grey green, but on the skin it barely shows up and more has tons of chunky glitter. I've seen swatches that show it more like the next shadow, and I don't understand how these people are getting that sort of color! Swimming, this is my blog audience, thanks for sucking.

Lucky Green (Veluxe Pearl): This is possibly LE but I think it was added to the permanent line sometime last year. Another one of my favorites, this is a cheery chartreuse green with strong gold shimmer. Very pigmented and a dream to apply.

Sassy Grass (LE) (Matte): This is a matte (obviously) primary green. Surprisingly decent pigmentation for a matte, which is why I was willing to get it! I really love to use this with softer green looks, and put it into the crease for a hit of stronger green.

Tilt (Frost): But a lovely frost it is! This is another duochrome-shifting shade that changes over black. On it's own, it's not that great, but over a purple or black base, it comes to life! The color is a cornflower blue with strong violet tones.

White Frost (Frost): Your basic shimmering white. I've hit pan on this but since hitting it a year ago, it seems to have not moved anywhere. Strange. So-so pigmentation but unless you want a crazy 80's highlight, it works.

Humid (Frost): Blackened forest green, medium shimmer. This eyeshadow annoys me because it's just not that pigmented. It also looks more emerald in the pan and really darkens when you try to use it... I wish it was how it looked in the pan!

Suave Intentions (LE) (Veluxe Pearl): From Love Lace, this is a beautiful shimmering pale blue. I found this at the CCO and was beside myself because I missed Love Lace when it launched.

Again, here is a natural light and flash photos of them all together, and some assorted flash photos of different groups:

Now we move on to my assorted shades that aren't technically in a palette ;-)

Shimmermoss (Veluxe Pearl): This is not the greatest picture but this is a medium teal with little bits of gold and blue. Mermaid type color... this is pretty but I actually thought it was a frost until I looked it up as the texture is a bit hard.

Zingy (assuming matte): This is a brightened primary blue, matte finish. It may be a satin but I am unable to find definite info on it, unfortunately. One thing that irritates me about swatches of this is that many people somehow get it to lean teal, which I don't understand. It's definitely blue and not teal. Decent pigmentation again, much like Sassy Grass.

Deep Truth (Frost): This is a blackened navy blue. This looks so gorgeous and jewel toned in the pan but falls flat when using it and in a swatch, sadly. It is easy to layer so you can get more depth, but it's got a lot of black to it versus how it appears in the pan.

Brown Down (Veluxe): This is described by Mac as a "teddy bear brown" and I'd say it's accurate. It's got a smooth finish and slight red undertones. I used to use this on my brows but one day, I realized that it was too red toned! I mostly use it for darkening the crease every once in a while (or if I change my hair back to red)

Fashion (LE) (Starflash): This is a blue tinged grey, medium shimmer. I like this shade more on the skin than I do in the pan, weirdly enough. It's great for a smokey eye!

Freshwater (Veluxe Pearl): This is a shimmery primary blue. Think Zingy in shimmer form. It's got a high metallic finish and looks beautiful with darker blues for a blue smokey eye.

Expensive Pink (Veluxe Pearl): This is a bronzey pink, very smooth and soft finish and very pigmented. I hesitated to get this for a long time but I'm glad to report that it doesn't make your eyes tired as you would expect it to.

Love Lace (LE) (Veluxe Pearl): Another shade from Love Lace. This has more grey in it but is similar to Freshwater in terms of brightness/tone of blue. The two actually pair well together.

Steamy (Frost): This is similar to Shimmermoss but has a stronger teal base. I actually use the two together for a gradient effect. This is quite frosty but decently pigmented.

Motif (Frost): This is an awesome color and my picture does NOT do it justice. It's a gold-peach-pink shifting shade. Lots of frost so it takes a little work to build up the color on this. I love doing this with black winged liner and peach cheeks, SO pretty. (I will try and get a better photo of this)

Sumptuous Olive (Veluxe Pearl): This is as the name states, a brown olive. Very soft and smooth, pigmented. Great color for any basic collection.

Vex (Frost): Be sure to see the flash photo below. This is a beige/dirty champage with strong pink and green duochrome. Seriously amazing and pretty, and nicely pigmented. It's almost like a veluxe pearl.

Sun Blonde (LE) (Frost): This is a slightly dirty yellow, nearly mustard. For a frost, it looks more like a satin with the pigmentation of a veluxe. Interesting. I almost didn't get it because I thought it would look awful on me. It is a little hard to pull off but I do like it.

Jealousy Wakes (LE) (Veluxe Pearl): Very pigmented emerald green with slight blue hints. I wouldn't call this a true emerald, it's got a bit too much blue. You can see how similar it is to the one next to it, which is a teal. This has a lot of shimmer.

Surf USA (LE) (Frost): Medium teal blue, not super frosty. Again, I thought this was a satin. Lovely color and very pigmented.

Hocus Pocus (LE) (Satin): This is a brownish green taupe, pretty dark in tone. I was hoping it'd be a little lighter so I mostly use this to darken my crease. It has some loose silver sparkle. Texture is a little hard and could have been softer.

Flash photo:

Last but not least!


Gorgeous Gold (Veluxe Pearl): Pale gold with strong reflective green flash. I find that if I use a pale green base, the green REALLY comes out. It also depends on what you pair it with.

Patina (Frost): Bronzey taupe with pink reflects. Really fascinating color and a little bit hard to work with, but once you get the initial layer put down, it's quite pigmented after that. Love love love.

Aquavert (LE) (Veluxe Pearl): Another find from the CCO and such a beautiful color. It's a minty green with slight hints of pink, but turns blue in some lights as well. VERY smooth and pigmented, typical veluxe pearl.

PFEW. Everyone still there and breathing? That was a lot of info coming at once. I hope you enjoyed and I hope this is helpful to anyone looking to purchase from Mac! I got really tired of seeing inaccurate swatches and wanted to do my best to put decent ones up.

What colors are you currently after?


  1. Bloody hell, you're a trooper! Very informative!

  2. "I don't know why people feel the need to color adjust and apply the color with a shovel."

    hahaha! & this is why I <3 you Wendy!!

    I have 1 Mac eyeshadow from last year's summer collection that I bought at a CC this year. However I bought it after I was already into indie make up. I don't know if the matte shadow was just not a good shade to start, or if indie make up just has me very spoiled, but I was disappointed in my shadow and wondered what all the MAC fuss was about.

  3. Damn you have a lotta MAC e/s!! Love the post very very I know what to get =)

  4. Very helpful! I did place a small MAC order and got Vex, Woodwinked, and Jealousy Wakes. I love Vex! Still not sure if I will be buying any more MAC. A little expensive for me!

  5. Wanna know something that's always bugged me? Matte "squared". I feel like that's redundant. It's either matte or it's not. It can't be *EXTRA* matte. xP I love the formula, don't get me wrong, it's the name that gets me! Anyway, let me get off the tangent and thank you for the swatches. I love MAC shadows and always love to see them swatched so I know what to get next!

  6. Holy shit SO COMPREHENSIVE :D I want Firespot, Coppering and Expensive Pink. Also, not cool that Vex, Gorgeous Gold and Patina look so nice on you and poo on me :(

  7. Wow so many Mac shadows! Ok I need Woodwinked.

  8. Great post! I totally agree with you about swatches being inaccurate. I DO NOT like EDITED and PHOTOSHOPPED stuff. Sure, it looks super pretty but it is useless. I also hate swatches over PE or a crapload of primer as this is misleading too. Also, thanks for being honest about how crap some of the finishes are. I hear people rave on and on about MAC shadows, but I find most of them to be crap and I have very few.

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