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making faces :: product review [mac "quite cute" collection]

welcome to the cult of cute. actually, more like the cult of kawaii, really, that particularly japanese-inspired version of cute that's like cute on a lot of meth and steroids. this is cute's cousin who's hot in that way that all completely insane chicks are. it's really a perfect idea for a spring collection that's both girly and freaky and it's particularly perfect for mac, who are a company in a very feminine industry that always keeps a bit of bite.

mac's collections almost always have interesting imagery associated with them, although it's sometimes a little difficult to make the connection between the inspiration and the end products. (one of the worst examples of this was 2010's "fabulous felines", which did not have colours that i associate with any of my cats, but which was phenomenal nonetheless.) in this case, the links are pretty strong, since the imagery is seriously cutesy, laced with bright pinks, pastel purples, hint of light green and peach. although i'm not a huge fan of pastels as a rule, but these colours did kind of draw me in. purple products? now that's a spring fling i can get behind.

unfortunately, while i was excited when i read about what was included, the collection overall is lacking a little in the not-so-cute light of day. i love mac for keeping a busy schedule of collection launches, since it's nice to have something new to look at, but i'm starting to wonder if that schedule isn't causing some burnout. it's not that what's coming out is bad; i think of it the way i think of a lot of lengthy albums that i own- great stuff but padded with a lot of filler.


i apologise for the fact that i didn't do proper swatches, but i do have some pics of products "in action" later on.

first up, we have the "cutie" eye shadow quad. mac has these quads with many of their collections and i normally gobble them up. they're a great deal- $43cad for four full-sized shadows in a palette, compared to $14 per shadow plus about $7 for the palette if you bought everything separately (assuming you could, since most of the colours are limited edition anyway). these quads are usually conceived as complementary, so that all four shades can be worn together in various ways and this one is no different. i think that the mix of a bright white-green, light pink, violet with silver sparkle and rich, deep violet could make an interesting combination. unfortunately, only the last of those colours- named azuki bean- gives much colour. that one is just gorgeous and i wish they'd bring it back on its own, but the others are frustrating. there's pastel and there's colours that just don't show up. i know others who have made this work, so maybe their skin is more forgiving, but i got a combination of poor colour payoff and flakiness. no one looks cute with eye shadow crud sprinkled over their face.

there are four lip glosses with the collection, which i'll deal with all at once. they are mac's "plush glass" formula, which is supposed to plump lips. while they do tingle, i've never noticed any plumping effect from the ones that i've tried. these glosses are always sheer and the ones in this collection are all pastels- two pinks, a nude and a lavender shade. i could barely see them on my hand, let alone my lips. plus, the colours are very flat. if you want a sheer pastel effect, mac released a collection of glosses under the name "lightfully bright" earlier this year. they're also subtle, but they're far more interesting in my opinion.
it doesn't have to be like this

there are also three lip liners, something i've always approached with caution because i associate it with some very bad moments in fashion. the ones in this collection are quite nice- in synch (a peachy-pink), naked (a light flesh tone which lets you line without worrying about matching colour) and boldly bare (a brick red). used properly, liners are your friends. trust me on this. all that nasty feathering and smudging you can get from lipsticks? that's what lip liners are for. practical products, but not terribly exciting.

now, we get into the cutesy pastel meat of the collection. there are five lipsticks. i'm a lipstick fiend, so this is usually where i do some damage and, true to form, this is where i found what happy place i could in the collection. honestly, reading descriptions of the colours, there isn't a single one of them that i would have ruled out.

"playing koi" :: described as a white peach. peach colours are very tricky on me, because they can easily turn into a very bad light orange that looks like poorly matched concealer. it's a satin finish lipstick, which means the end product can be a bit unpredictable. if you have dry lips, this one could go very wrong on you. it's fairly thick and, if your lips are patchy, it's going to show. the nice part is that it's quite opaque when it does go on evenly. i find really light colours are more challenging than really dark ones (other than black) because any sheerness translates to your natural lip colour poking through and that always looks awful. i like that the colour has a real peachiness to it, rather than just being flesh-toned, like other colours in the mac line.

"quite cute" :: i wanted to love this. the eponymous colour of the collection is described as a light white-lavender. lavender shades are fairly rare, because it's a challenging colour. it's very cool-toned, which limits its appeal and even on people who can get away with it, there's often a "freshly asphyxiated" look that some people find off-putting. not me. i'm always happy to see one of these chilly tones from mac and i wear them with pride. since this one was supposedly lighter and chillier than the others, it seemed like even more of a challenge. unfortunately, i could not get it to apply properly. even a couple of passes left it terribly splotchy and, the horror, you could see lots of my natural lip colour. so sad. they would have been far better off re-releasing cult favourite lavender whip, which is a little darker. if you do want a very pale shade that's similar to quite cute but works, try inglot 151.

"saint germain" :: a very cool light pink that mac has available as part of its permanent collection. i have this one already. it's the kind of colour you have to be a bit careful with- it ain't your grandma's pink lipstick for sure.

"candy yum yum" :: seriously, that's the name. i'm actually quite fond of hot pinks, but this one just didn't work. although i'd heard it was a cooler pink, it looked exactly like a bright barbie pink on my lips, which is not my preference. on top of that, it's a matte shade, which means it has no dimension. there are two shades in mac's permanent collection- fusion pink (warm coral pink) and show orchid (incredibly bright cool pink) that are way better. nonetheless, this is likely to be the superstar of the collection from what i've seen, so if you are interested, hop to it. i do think that this shade would look incredible on women of colour.

"play time" :: every time mac comes out with a new collection, it seems, they like to tease me with a new purple lipstick. too often, these turn out to be pink colours with a slightly magenta cast, which is not the same thing as purple. there have been at least three of them in recent months. but this one is actually pretty purple, i have to admit. it's a medium violet colour that's very cool and that does take a little bit of work to build up (or you can just leave it sheer, if that's your thing).

overall, there is a nice mix of shades here, a bold colour like candy yum yum makes an excellent "star", but it seems like a medicore actor trying to play hamlet. playing koi and saint germain are cool because they're pastel, but surprisingly bold. play time is a great wearable purple that adds a dash of eccentricity. quite cute just falls flat.

[not clear on all the lipstick finishes and what they mean? you can always look at the lexicon.]

the final part of the collection is the blushes. as seems to happen a lot with mac collections in the last little while, these are the real superstars. they are all mineral blushes, which means that they have a lot of sheen and shimmer to them and can be used a little damp for more intense pigmentation. on the down side, they have a tendency to turn a little powdery or ashy, particularly on darker skin. i've also found that they can emphasise pores more than regular face powders.

each one of the three blushes exclusive to the collection has a base colour plus an "extra" colour in a little heart in the centre. quite cute indeed. of course, the size of the blushes means that it's pretty much impossible to use either colour on its own, so the end result is going to be a mix.

"miss behave" :: a very soft peach with a mint green heart. green blush? well yes. and no. the blend makes a colour that's very difficult to photograph, because it's very pale. on very pale ladies, it gives just a hint of colour, but a very nice highlight. trust me, it really brightens your cheeks, which is a look i love. (just what i need, something to make me whiter.) i can't imagine this looking good on medium to dark complexions, though. i think it would look like you smudged the contents of an ashtray on your face.

"giggly" :: a sweetheart pink blush with a plum-coloured heart. it comes out a bright candy pink, which is nice, but hardly unique. dainty (part of the permanent line-up) is similar, but a little warmer and more toned down. dollymix, another permanent product, is also similar, but it's a regular blush, not a mineral one. if you want a nice pink blush that can be layered for more colour pretty easily, you could do worse than this one.

"sakura" :: a delicious shade of medium lavender with a magenta heart. there is nothing not to love. and it is a really nice colour, it's just that i wanted a lavender blush. do you know how difficult it is to find a nice purple blush? harder than it is to find the lipsticks. in this case, the magenta heart makes the colour a cool pink and there are already a lot of cool pinks. granted, this is one of the bluest pinks i've seen, but chances are you have something like it. it does have the nice sheen, so that may be a factor. i thought about it long and hard, but finally decided it just wasn't special enough. sorry sakura.

even though i like these blushes, i think that they could have been better. mac has been super-sizing so many products lately, i can't believe no one in their marketing team ever floated the idea of making these big enough so that you could comfortably using both colours. i think with miss behave in particular, being able to play with the colours separately could have made a nice product into a must-have.

there are also three nail polishes- mint green, bubblegum pink and lavender- but i did not have a chance to test these. 

my haul :: playing koi, play time, in synch (looks awesome with playing koi), miss behave

for me, that's a surprising peach bender, but i'm happy to see variants of the colour that aren't as warm as usual.

overall, the collection is, appropriately enough, quite cute. it has some nice highs, some forgettable lows, but it's far from something that i'm going to remember as a standout. products are available at mac stores and counters and online.

here are a few things i've done with the products i've picked up. have fun creating your own cuteness. [all products are mac unless otherwise noted.]

"saint germain"

saint germain
this is a bit of a cheat, because i've had saint germain for a while. (no, i don't know why mac put regular products in with the limited collections, but my guess is that it helps call attention to them, which boosts sales- and saint germain is actually a good fit here.) this look was something i was playing around with for a post i was planning on doing on bright, colourful makeup and where it evolved from (a piece which may still happen). this was fun to try out, but it's not exactly an everyday look for me. i do think it illustrates that, especially where saint germain is concerned, there is such a thing as a challenging pink.

products used ::

face ::
saint germain
nars sheer glow foundation mont blanc
prolongwear concealer nw20
nars copacobana illuminator (i'm still playing, but i should have a review of this one next week)
prep & prime finishing powder

eyes ::
painterly paint pot as base
electric eel e/s
blue calm e/s
suave intentions e/s
crystal avalanche e/s
saint germain
love lace e/s
blacktrack fluidline eye liner
fascinating eye kohl
ysl faux cils mascara

cheeks ::
pink power mineralise skinfinish [blush + bronzer + highlighter in one]

saint germain l/s

"play time"
play time
although the colour is pretty playful, i wanted to try to incorporate it in such a way that it wouldn't seem odd or out of place, even in an office. i think that the main thing anyone would notice is that i actually matched my lipstick to my shirt, because the look itself is pretty tame. still, i love finding new ways to wear purple.

face ::
nars sheer glow foundation mont blanc
prolongwear concealer nw20

eyes ::
painterly paint pot as base 
silverwear e/s
courtly e/s
chanel fauve e/s
play time
vile violet e/s
smoky heir liquid liner
ysl faux cils mascara [for some reason my lashes were really sticky on this day, so the application is pretty terrible. i stand by the product.]

cheeks ::
hang loose blush [note: if you have this, you really don't need sakura]

lips ::
play time l/s

"playing koi"
playing koi
what's cuter than a beatnik? lots of things, but i just really love doing this sort of look with pale lips. it's so completely out of the ordinary that i find it's quite arresting- more so than dark lips. this was actually incredibly quick to do, considering that it looks quite dramatic. as an aside, the fluidline eye liner was used as a base over my eyelid. it looked very sharp and intense, applied precisely and lasted all day. in fact, when i removed it, i found that my lids were stained blue for some time. whoops. these are the hidden dangers of experimenting. could have been worse. a friend of mine painted her face green for a halloween costume with much the same results. green faces are never work-safe.

face ::
playing koi
nars sheer glow foundation mont blanc
prolongwear concealer nw20
nars copacobana illuminator

eyes ::
painterly paint pot as base
siahi fluidline eye liner [all over lid]
moonlight night loose pigment [over siahi]
black swan pearlglide eyeliner [oh, and speaking of things you're not supposed to do, i put this on my lower water line, which isn't safe... don't do as i do...]
false lashes mascara
playing koi

cheeks ::
miss behave
golden lariat

lips ::
in synch lip pencil
playing koi l/s


Siv Maria said…
I would love to be able to call you up and say, "come over, lets play dress-up" Very fun post to read! But you gotta get rid of that srupid word verification....Geeez, I am not a robot and if I were how hard do you think it would be to copy those letters. It is harder for me with my clumsy fingers and half blind eyes!
flora_mundi said…
I'd love to make that play date! The captcha is something I unfortunately had to start adding because of a preponderance of spam comments at one point... since I have other methods in place, your wish is my command... Going to remove the word verification now.

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