This product and shade matching experience was offered to me as part of MAC Cosmetics’s Lipstick campaign. I was not paid for this post and affiliate links are not used in this post.
MAC Cosmetics is so well known for their lipstick formulas that – to be honest – I don’t think there are any beauty junkies out there that haven’t tried them at least once; or if there are, there’s very few. When I was younger and just starting to experiment with make up, mostly using it for singing performances, MAC Cosmetics was a brand that I really idolised. I loved the colours and their professional, ‘cool girl’ image.
So, I’m pretty over the moon about the fact that they’ve given me the opportunity to work with them again. This will be my second time already, with the first being their Studio Fix Fluid Foundation Campaign, and this is actually even more perfect for me. I got my first high end lipstick to MAC Cosmetics (#Dubonnet) and, after all these years, I still have that same sense of excitement when I explore their massive range. I’ve since found a bunch of shades that I love from their range and also retired some old favourites of mine (why did I ever wear a bright pink lipstick?), but the one thing that I haven’t found yet is my perfect nude lipstick.
I never actually wear nude lipsticks (only somewhat neutral shades) because I haven’t been able to find anything that doesn’t fully wash me out. But, when it comes to MAC, there is legit something for everyone, so it’s impossible to be disappointed.
So, let’s get into some photos of the Paddington MAC Pro Store store, which is where I went to find my perfect lipstick shade, as well as some things that I’ve learnt about their range and offerings.
Shade Range & Formula
The best thing about the lipstick range at MAC Cosmetics, and the reason why I often recommend people go to them when they’re after something specific, is that they have an intensely huge range that spans multiple finishes and formulas. It can be a little overwhelming at times, especially if you’re going in blind, but here’s a brief overview which will help:
- Retro Matte: Long wearing, full coverage and completely matte finish
- Matte: Creamy and full coverage, with a comfortable matte finish
- Lustre: Lightweight with a sheer, buildable coverage and a lustrous finish
- Satin: Creamy with a medium buildable coverage and a satin finish
- Cremesheen: Creamy with a medium buildable coverage and a semi-glossy finish
- Amplified: Ultra creamy with full coverage and a semi-lustrous finish
- Frost: A high pearl with medium, buildable coverage and a semi-lustrous finish
- Liptensity: Extreme colour and highly pigmented, with a satin finish
- Powder Kiss: A new formula from them and one of my favourites, this one has a weightless soft matte finish, is hydrating on the lips and also blurs and smooths lips
All of these formulas have around 20-28 shades each, except for the Retro Matte (which has 7), the Matte (which I assume is their most popular with a crazy 45 shades) and the new Powder Kiss (with 16 shades from their initial launch). Out of all of them, the Powder Kiss and the Matte finish are easily my favourites though I have also worn and loved many of the others too. It really comes down to personal preferences and I would highly recommend going in store to swatch and try everything out beforehand because you never know.
They also carry three different types of lip liners, all with a wide variety of shades to match any lipstick that you could be using. They all have their own uses but, naturally, their most popular would be the traditional lip pencil. See the brief descriptions here:
- Lip Pencil: A pencil with a smooth, creamy texture that has the largest shade range (sharpenable pencil that is suitable for professional use)
- Liptensity Lip Pencil: A twist up liner with a slanted tip and a creamy, high-frequency colour – designed to match the Liptensity lipsticks
- Pro Longwear Lip Pencil: A newer formula, this is a long wearing and transfer proof lip pencil that can prolong the wear of your lipstick
For professional makeup artists, they usually prefer sharpenable pencils (as it means you have full sanitation between clients) but for personal use, I think that twist ups are easier to use. It will, once again, depend on what lipstick you’re using though so once you’ve got your lip colour, it’s best to talk to the MAC makeup artist to find a match.
The Store & Holiday Collection
This was my first visit to the Paddington MAC Pro Store (I had previously only visited the regular commercial stores and their Myer stands) and I was amazed by everything they had. Aside from the usual products, they also carry the lines that are considered professional products (such as the Chromaline, as well as a bigger selection of their loose pigments).
In addition to these, I also managed to finally see their full Holiday Collection! This was last year so it’s actually now being discontinued and is on sale but, at the time, most of the stores that I had visited were partly out of stock and it was my first time seeing things all together like this. I took a few photos just to show off how darn beautiful the collection is.
Even if you missed this one, just know that MAC Cosmetics is consistently killing it with the limited edition collections and that they’re almost always worth checking out.
In the Makeup Studio
When I was at the MAC Cosmetics store, I first had a discussion with the make up artist – we had established that I wear dusty-roses, reds and mauves most of the time, and that they’re the colours that I gravitate to the most. I talked about my current favourite MAC lipstick (#Captive – which is a Satin shade) and also established that I’m a fan of matte formulas, and like bolder pigmentation.
For this shade matching session, I personally feel like I really gave the artist a challenge – Find my perfect nude lipstick. As I previously mentioned, every nude that I’ve tried in the past has looked horrible on me – they’ve been too pale or too nude and have washed me out. As the artist told me, “Everyone’s idea of what a nude lipstick is is different,” and so she suggested a bunch of different shades that would work well with my skintone.
In addition, I also tried out the MAC Cosmetics Prep + Primer Lip Primer, which is a clear lipstick base that hydrates, smooths and also helps to refine lips, and a MAC Cosmetics Lip Pencil (in the shade #Soar). Although it is a bit darker than most of the lip colours I tried on, this is still a very neutral shade that would work for most of the lip colours I wear. This means that I can match it with not only this specific lipstick, but many of the others in my collection.
The Full Lip Routine
In the full recommended lip routine that the MAC Cosmetics artist took me through, there are three steps/three different products. Of course, this is just a recommendation and to showcase all of their products – depending on your personal style and preference, this can all change. I know that I usually skip lining my lips because I prefer to blur out the edges but, for the sake of this review, I wanted to try everything out.
- Lip colour
I feel like prepping the lips is mostly important if you have dry lips or if you tend to wear a lot of matte formulas (from which I fall into the latter category), and lining lips would be a good step for either those who want to overline (and therefore create the illusion of fuller lips), prevent feathering around the edges or lengthening the time between touch ups.
Swatches & Selections
Since we had decided that I liked the matte finish, I mostly tried out shades from that range. The first round of colours were too pale for me but I soon found a very comfortable place between being both a nude shade and not too nude. From the swatches above, you can see:
- Runway Hit (Retro Matte)
- Kinda Sexy (Matte)
- Diva (Matte) (Note: I’m not 100% sure about this one as I forgot the name of it, since we quickly decided that it’s too similar to everything else I already own and to continue looking for a nude)
Out of the two, I decided to go with Kinda Sexy in the Matte formula – which I do prefer over the Retro Matte. It is also a little bit more rosy and is less pale on my lips, though the two are very similar.
Below, you can see Runway Hit next to Soar, the lip liner, which I quickly did in store. This isn’t the most accurate though so I would instead scroll down where I did a proper swatch of both lipsticks (and all of the products) on my lips.
My Lucky Haul
With a case of Freaky Friday, where the MAC Artist (who, in her defence, had taken me through over ten lipstick shades and was super busy with the sudden influx of people in the store) accidentally gave me the shade Runway Hit (the Retro Matte) instead of Kinda Sexy (the Matte). In the usual situation, it would be an easy return but since these were gifted to me as part of PR, the agency ended up sending me the correct shade instead. As a result, I now have both of the lipsticks to swatch and review for you!
So after this shade matching session, I’ve come home with the Prep + Prime Lips, the Lip Pencil and two of their lipsticks in the Retro Matte and Matte formula. The latter is a better match for me personally but, since they’re also very similar shades, I find that I can either either of them depending on the look I’m working on.
Prep + Prime Lip | AUD$34
According to the website, this is “[a] colour-free base to wear under lipstick. Adds light moisture, smoothes and refines the lips. Improves the appearance of applied lip products.” Prepping your lips with something smooth and hydrating can be really important, especially if you’re like me and love to wear matte formulas.
If you are choosing to wear either the Matte or the Retro Matte, I would recommend trying this out underneath. It gives a smoother and easier application, as well as minimises drying of the lips later on.
In addition to this, this product is fragrance-free, oil-free and dermatologist tested. The clear base means that it will suit all skin tones and that you can be quite generous when using it (don’t worry around going over the edges). To be honest, it is similar to using a clear balm. However, as it is made to sit underneath lip colours, it has better grip. In comparison to a standard lip balm, this hydrates without giving your lips any slick – it does not compromise on lipstick longevity or pigmentation.
This product has a smooth, satin finish to it (which is not tacky at all) and feels lightweight on the lips. The twist up top makes it easy to apply and the packaging has a sleek, trendy look. I use it when ever I know that I’m using a particularly harsh (and long wearing) product – not necessarily only MAC Cosmetics products. They can also be used under liquid lipsticks.
SO WHAT IS IT?
A clear, hydrating lip base
- PRICE POINT | 3/5
- PACKAGING | 4/5
- HYDRATION | 5/5
- FINISH | 5/5
OVERALL RATING? 8.5/10
THOUGHTS? This is a good lip primer and I definitely prefer to use this instead of a lip balm (which will usually make my lipstick look glossier and wear off quickly). However, I wouldn’t consider this a make up essential, as I don’t find myself reaching for this every day. The price point is a bit high but, if you love matte finishes and have issues with dry lips, then this is a good product to look into.
Lip Pencil (Soar) | AUD$30
The website states that “Lip Pencils have a smooth, creamy texture that is perfect for outlining lips or colouring them in. They are available in a wide selection of colours that each work well with many different lipstick shades.”
They have three main selling points:
- Features a smooth and creamy formula
- Features a texture that won’t skip or drag
- Applies quickly and precisely
As their original lip pencil formula, this product comes in 28 shades (with great variety between nudes, reds, pinks and purples. The application is very smooth and creamy, with great pigmentation on the first swatch. It isn’t as soft as using a crayon but the product is still relatively soft and easy to apply. It has a slightly waxy texture which feels light on the lips and can minimize feathering of lipsticks.
The shade Soar is described as a mid-tone pinkish brown and, in my opinion, is a very beautiful neutral shade. It is a bit too dark in comparison to the two nude lipsticks that I have, but can still work as a base. If anything, this perfectly suits my usual mauve-undertone lipsticks.
Lip pencils are great if you like to wear liquid lipsticks (which often feather around the edges) or if you like very sharp edged full lips. I only own a few of them as I usually blend out my edges (to create a slight gradient lip) but I also like to use this when I want to lipstick to last longer.
A tip that I learnt when I was heaps young: lip liners work well if you use them to also fill out your entire lip. They tend to last longer than your standard lipstick so, if you do this, you won’t end up with that awkward ring when it starts to fade off. For gradient lips, I will generally fill in the inside of my lip to help the colour wear better but avoid my outer lip line.
In comparison to other lip pencils that I’ve used, I find that this is very smooth and highly pigmented. It applies easily and doesn’t scratch the lips. However, it isn’t remarkably better than any other high end lip pencil so I would only recommend this over others if you’re after a specific shade (and they have many).
SO WHAT IS IT?
A creamy and smooth sharpenable lip pencil in 28 shades
- PRICE POINT | 3/5
- PACKAGING | 3/5 (I like the colour coded top but I’m personally not a fan of sharpenable lip pencils for personal use)
- PIGMENTATION | 5/5
- APPLICATION | 5/5
OVERALL RATING? 8/10
THOUGHTS? This is a pretty good lip pencil and I’m happy with the product. It works well and I think the colour is really beautiful. However, it is a high end lip pencil with a more high end price point and there are more affordable alternatives out there.
I would choose to buy this from MAC Cosmetics over other brands if there was a specific shade that I wanted. I would recommend this if you are looking to match a specific shade as they really have a great shade range that wouldn’t be so widely available at a drug store.
Matte Lipstick (Kinda Sexy) | AUD$36
Their Matte Lipstick formula is, honestly, my favourite in their entire range and I’m not at all surprised that it has the biggest shade variety (it’s pretty popular, after all). It’s a great choice for people who love a matte finish but want something that’s still creamy on application and not overly dry. It is also highly pigmented and doesn’t apply patchy at all – regardless of how deep or bright the colour is.
Out of their entire range, I selected the colour Kinda Sexy as my perfect nude (and that is very difficult for me to find). It is described as a neutral pinky-rose, which is a very accurate description of the shade. It is also a little bit muted, which works well on my skin type and is also a little more familiar to me (I’m used to wearing dusty rose and mauve shades).
This lipstick has a decent wear-time, but it doesn’t fully withstand the day (since it is still a more hydrating bullet lipstick). As long as you aren’t eating or drinking, it will stay. It is also easy to reapply since this product doesn’t dry out the lips at all and also fades without any patchiness.
Out of all of the MAC Cosmetics formulas, this is the specific lipstick that I would recommend. The incredible shade range is also a plus.
SO WHAT IS IT?
A creamy and highly pigmented lipstick with a matte finish and a wide range of 45 shades
- PRICE POINT | 4/5
- PACKAGING | 4/5
- FINISH | 5/5
- HYDRATION | 5/5
- LONGEVITY | 3/5
OVERALL RATING? 8.4/10
THOUGHTS? Absolutely and so highly! This is a beautiful nude shade for me but, regardless of the colour, I just love this Matte Lipstick formula and I would always be highly recommending this to people. It’s perfect for people who want a matte finish but don’t want anything too drying. I honestly believe that there would be a shade to suit anyone too so definitely check this out! It’s not super affordable but, for a high end brand, the price point is decent.
Retro Matte (Runway Hit) | AUD$36R
The Retro Matte formula is a little bit more of a niche than the standard matte. It has a complete matte finish and intense pigmentation, as well as the best longevity for a bullet lipstick. However, it can also be very drying and even difficult to apply with the tugging.
Once you put the Prime + Prep Lip underneath it though, it is definitely easier to apply.
It has a significantly smaller shade range (with only 7 shades) but I assume that this is because their Retro Matte line is specifically retro-themed and so they’re choosing colours that were more popular a few decades ago – the most popular being Ruby Woo, a true blue-red (which I have owned and loved twice already).
Personally, I find the standard Matte formula easier to wear than this but I do still like the Retro Matte formula – it is just a bit harder to apply. It has great longevity throughout the day (it can withstand some food and drink, but probably not a greasy meal) and the pigmentation is absolutely vibrant. It’s a favourite for those who love the bright, pin-up girl red look.
For this event, I tested out Runway Hit which is described as a light nude matte (and is probably the only nude in the formula). I find the colour a bit bright, almost like a nude-coral, so it can look a little pale on my skin tone. It is quite similar to Kinda Sexy when you put them side by side, so I don’t think it’s necessary to own both.
SO WHAT IS IT?
A super matte, highly pigmented lipstick in 7 shades
- PRICE POINT | 4/5
- PACKAGING | 4/5
- FINISH | 4/5
- HYDRATION | 1/5
- LONGEVITY | 5/5
OVERALL RATING? 7.2/10
THOUGHTS? This formula is not going to be everyone’s favourite but some people (like me) will like it. Once again, I do highly recommend wearing the Prep + Prime Lip underneath it (a balm will interfere with the matte finish of the lip colour) and definitely try this out in-store first to see how you feel about it. I also think that this formula is better in the darker colours (like the reds and purples), as lighter shades tend to make dry lips look drier.
Personal Experiences & Thoughts
And above I have swatches of all of the products on my lips. Looking at the first one, you can see how my bare lips look – they’re actually quite pale so, generally, I can get a pretty true to product look on application. For this swatch, I also filled out my entire lip in the Lip Pencil, which actually looks lighter applied on the lips than it does swatched on hand (probably because the primer would have sheered it a bit).
The two lipsticks actually look very similar once they’re applied but you can noticably see that one is more bright and the other is more of a ‘muted’ rosy tone. The differences are very subtle and difficult to pick out on camera, so it would be best to try it out in store so you can see which undertone works best for your skin.
For myself, Kinda Sexy (the matte lipstick) is definitely my favourite nude lipstick and I’m really excited to have finally found one that works for me! I’ve been on the search for long enough and haven’t been successful until now. The trick for me, which is what the MAC Artist determined, is that I’m more comfortable with rosy undertones and slightly warmer lip colours, rather than beige nude shades. To me, a nude shade needs to be a little bit darker (otherwise it will fully wash me out).
I really want to thank MAC Cosmetics again for giving me this opportunity to work with them! I love their brand and have so such a long time, so nothing makes me more excited than feeling like /squeal senpai noticed me! This is honestly the most rewarding this from my beauty blogging journey and I’m also glad that I can share all of this things with you guys.
Let me know what your favourite MAC Cosmetics lip products are and, if you’re wanting to check out any of the products that I mentioned, I would highly recommend going in-store rather than just shopping online. Their artists are highly trained and their goal is to get you your perfect match – whether it is in lipstick or your Perfect Foundation.
Talk to your artist and also don’t be afraid to tell them if you don’t like what ever it is they selected for you, and you can determine why – after all, make up is personal preference in the end and everyone will like something different.