September 4, 2009

Mac Basics

There's a question that gets asked all the time on all makeup forums I visit: I will be shopping at Mac for the first time, what should I get?
And this question often comes from students with a limited budget, so the recomendation list should be short.

I have quite a standard answer to this question: 4 basic eyeshadows and/or 3 brushes, depending on what you are looking for and how much money you have.

The eyeshadows.
Everyone has different features and look good in different colors, but there are some staples that the majority will like and that will suit everybody. If you get them in pro pans and put them in a 4-slot palette, it will be cheaper than buying 4 shadows in full packaging, and it's much more convenient to use.

I think a very good start with Mac eyeshadows is a quad containing:
- Satin Taupe : looks good on everyone, really a must have. It's great on the lid for smokey looks or in the crease with a light lid color.
- Woodwinked: a gorgeous bronzy color, wearable in Summer or Winter.
- Vanilla: beacause you need a highlighter, and satin one will suit the other eyeshadows of the quad better. If you have a darker skintone, pick Brulé.
- Carbon: because everybody needs a black matte eyeshadow. You'll use it on the outer crease, as a liner, for a smokey eye...

These 4 colors combine perfectly with each other so you can create a large variety of looks with them. I really think they make the perfect starter kit.

The brushes.
Brushes are an investment. If you take good care of them (which is really easy - just wash them regularly with not too warm water and marseille soap and that's it), they will last years.
They also do a huge difference in makeup application, I don't think you can live without brushes.

There are some good inexpensive brushes out there, so I am not saying you must get them from Mac. But they have some very unique ones, and personnaly I think the Mac ones are the best on the market (and not always the most expensive!) so if you want to invest, I think they are the best choice.

To start out, I would recommend:

- 217: blending, crease brush. This is a fluffy dome shaped brush, I have never seen anything like this one from any other brand. It's very versatile, you can use it to apply a subtle was of color all over the lid, to apply cream shadows and especially for crease work and blending. I can't live without this one anymore, I even have 2 of these!
- 239: a flat, dense shadow brush to pack on color on the lid. Also great for applying pigments, dry or foiled.
- 187 or its baby sister 188 : a dual fiber brush or stippling brush. A lot of companies offer one but most of them just die the end of the bristles in a different color, while the Mac one has 2 different type of bristles, and that makes all the difference. This is a great brush for a lot of things: applying liquid foundation, cream blush, powder blush, highlighter, bronzer.

I hope this is helpful for those of you who are overwhelmed by the large Mac assortment!


  1. I'm excited to tryout Vanilla pigment :P It'll probably arrive to me at next week *g* I would also like to try Satin Taupe :D

  2. I never even considered asking this the first time I went. I went, got served by a lovely guy who asked me everything I wanted, and I gave him a list - foundation, finishing powder, everyday lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, brushes - and he sat me in a chair, rushed about getting everything, tried it all on me, picked shades for me to choose from, gave me his opinion, etc. When I mentioned I'd heard the 188/187 was good for applying liquid foundation, he used that to apply it so I could see.

    He was great, and I ended up being really happy with what I left with. The only thing I didn't defer to his opinion on was the eyeshadows, because I knew I wanted Teal pigment, Basic Red and some lime green eyeshadow.

  3. @ Jangsara: oh I think you'd love it!

    @ Anastasia: well you were quite well documented already, that's great! But a lot of people (me included) feel overwhelmed when they go to Mac for the first time and this question gets asked a lot.


I love getting comments, thanks for sharing your thoughts!