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making faces :: product review [mac "surf baby" collection]

surfer girl wants your brains...
if you've ever been listlessly flipping through the channels on a saturday afternoon, chances are you've come across one of those d-list movies from the sixties or seventies that tends to crop up when cable thinks nobody's looking. you immediately know when these films were made because they're all mounted against the stunning backdrop of california and because they all have this strangely "burnt" look, at once muddied and faded. [that's not just in your imagination, either. my resident film expert explains that in the post-techinicolour era, it took a while for people to get the hang of preserving films from oxidisation.] looking at mac's summer collection "surf baby", i'm reminded very much of that era. the colours, from the "zombie surfer" promo image to the products themselves, look like full-on summer brights that have been dirtied and muted just a little.

this isn't to say that the colours aren't bright- some of them very much are and i think that those who wait for summer to be able to pull out the colour stops will like what's on offer. but personally, i find that what works best about this collection is that the shades have a bit more dimension. i feel like this year's mac collections [especially in comparison with 2010] have left me wanting. none of them have inspired that childlike sense of wanting to play with the new crayons, but in this case, they really seemed to have returned to form.

i should mention that, as is generally the case with mac's summer collections, this one has a "colour" half and a "bronzing" half. the latter includes powder and cream bronzers and barely tinted lip balms, none of which are of any use to me. so there's a whole section that i'm not even going to touch on in this recap. i also didn't include reviews of the two eye liners and two nail polishes that are included, because i didn't really take the time to look at them. [that's not a negative review, either. in fact, they look very nice.] for my part, what i'm interested in is the colour part, which is in itself pretty massive. there are eye shadows, pigments [loose powders], a blush, lipsticks, glosses... all the usual staples represented and i think that there's something here to satisfy just about everybody. here's my rundown...

l to r :: bust out, hibiscus, swell baby, sun blonde, surf usa, saffron, my paradise

eye shadows
these are absolutely the standout of the collection. there seriously isn't a bad choice you could make, so whatever shade tickles your fancy, you won't be disappointed. eye shadows don't tend to sell out as fast as other limited items, but i have a feeling that these will move fairly quickly, particularly surf usa.

short shorts is a highlight shade, very similar to manila paper [spring colour forecast 2010, wonder woman 2011]. it's a warmed white colour that would look good on anyone and, while perhaps not unique, it's also the sort of shade that you're likely to reach for almost every day.

l to r :: ochre style [le], sun blonde, gorgeous gold, bright sunshine [pro]
sun blonde is a dirty mustard yellow. i don't think i've ever seen a shade like this, from mac or anyone else and i've heard several people describe it as being "so ugly it's beautiful". there's something to that description, because it's not the sort of shade that pops into anyone's mind when they're thinking of favourite colours and yellow as an eye shade is still something that gives most people a little trepidation, but i promise, it's surprisingly versatile. on warm complexions, it tends to emphasise golden tones, it really creates a nice contrast with blue eyes... it might not be everyone's first choice, but i actually think it's my favourite item in the collection.

surf usa is a teal colour that pulls very green. this is actually a nice break, because most teal shades lean more blue. the texture is super-satiny and it gives and incredible pop of colour. despite the incredible number of teal shades mac has released, this one really stands alone. as mentioned, i think this is going to be the biggest seller of the shadows.

l to r :: electric eel, blue calm [pro], surf usa, blue absinthe [l.e.], freshwater

l to r :: print, swell baby, copperplate
swell baby is a medium warm grey with a pearly sheen. one of the few areas where i find mac's colour selection has been lacking is in greys, so this one is really welcome. it's lighter than either print [cooler dark grey that i find applies unevenly and blends poorly] or copperplate [gorgeous warm matte grey with a very slight plum undertone], both of which are permanent shades. greys are popular for a reason- you can do virtually anything with them. this one is no exception and after a few serious misfires from mac in the grey department, this is really welcome.

saffron is a deep reddish orange that was originally released as part of the online only "mickey contractor" collection earlier this year. other than surf usa, i think that this will be the top selling shadow, because there were already a lot of people disappointed they missed it earlier in the year. it's another shade that just has no equal, either in mac's line [red brick is kind of similar but definitely redder and without the lovely satin sheen that saffron has] or anywhere else.

my paradise: base color, mixed
last year, mac released a lovely pink and coral-red blush with a seahorse embossed called "marine life" with their summer collection and the resultant feeding frenzy was enough to frighten some well-trained navy seals. this year, they are evidently aiming for a repeat by offering a deep orange-peach blush with a thick, shimmery gold overlay [it doesn't go all the way through, but it's going to be part of the product for a good ten to fifteen uses at least] called "my paradise.

i don't think it's going to be quite the success of marine life, because the colour is less universally flattering, but i have no doubt that the blush will be a quick sell-through for them.

the base colour is decidedly warm, but on cooler skin [like mine], the peachier tones will tend to come out more. i did not find that it ran too warm for me at all and i like the fact that the shimmer, when you swirl everything together, appears more as a sheen than as gold flakes. it's a pretty shade that i think goes well with some of the other colours in the collection. is it a must have? probably not. but is it a distinctive shade that is worth owning? absolutely.

l to r :: marine life [l.e.- coral side], devil [pro], my paradise [base], my paradise [mixed], joie de vivre, bite of an apple [l.e.]
i'm not quite sure why mac chose to repromote "mocha" which is a permanent shade that was also included in the "mickey contractor" collection. someone seems to have decided that this is the year that mocha gets lots of love. on the other hand, you can get it all the time anywhere you buy mac. editorial shrug.

there are three new[ish] lipsticks being promoted with the collection, though.


l to r :: vegas volt, hibiscus, toxic tale [l.e.]
hibiscus is a bright red-toned coral that is going to be gone in the blink of an eye. it has a cremesheen finish, which gives it a nice blend of opaque coverage and satiny shine. it lasts pretty well, being a bright colour, but like most cremesheens, i find it has a bad tendency to bleed around the edges of the lips. it's been compared to cult favourite toxic tale, which is apt, but the two are very distinct. this shade is much more summery- not has dense/ opaque, softer overall- and it runs a little redder. i think it's a good shade for people who might have found toxic tale a little scary. because it's not totally opaque, your own lip colour is going to have more of an
effect on what it looks like. it pulled very red on me, whereas i've seen photos where the orange tones were a lot more pronounced.

bust out
bust out is this collection's medium purple. it seems like mac needs to include a purple shade in this range with every launch now. that doesn't really bother me, but i'm sort of hoping that this is the last take we'll have on this shade for a little while. and it would make a nice end point. it's a berry-toned purple with a slightly "dirty" grey-brown undertone to it. it doesn't turn magenta on my lips like some [style curve, quite the thing, spitfire], but it's not a blue-purple at all. i've heard it compared to the permanent shade "up the amp", which is a super-opaque deep mauve. although they look somewhat similar on the arm, on the lips they're very different. bust out is a lustre formula, which means that it isn't nearly as opaque and the colour of my lips has a pronounced effect on the appearance of the lipstick. definitely a good choice for purple-lovers, but passable for everyone else.

l to r :: style curve [l.e.], spitfire [l.e.], up the amp, bust out, quite the thing, play time [l.e.], rebel

naturally eccentric is a super-pale neutral colour that's strangely sheer. i say strangely because natural shades that are this pale tend to look very uneven if you can see the natural lip peeking through. the first time that i tried this, it looked awful and actually felt gritty. ew. i gave it a second shot and was careful to apply it lightly and i was surprised to find that it looked much nicer. i think it's a shade that will only work on cooler skin tones, but it's not bad for what it is. it's lighter than any of the permanent neutrals i've seen from mac.

lip glosses
i have to admit i gave these a pass, because i think they're the weak spot of the collection.

girl on board is a light, warm neutral that looks a lot like other shades mac has done in the last year [almondine, a quiet roar]- it's worth having if you don't have anything similar.

good lovin' is a light peachy shade that is even more ubiquitous and it's not a particularly great version of the shade- the permanent gloss "prrr" is much nicer.

strange potion is a bright peachy-coral that was a huge success with last year's "venomous villains" collection. i've heard it touted as universally flattering and it's the sort of shade that can go anywhere, so i'm not surprised at its popularity. it looks like a bad set of wax lips on me, which just goes to show that "universally flattering" is a term that just doesn't belong in discussions of colour.

krazy kahuna is a glossy, creamy reddish brown and is, to my mind, the lone standout. i passed, because it's incredibly similar to "temper tantra" released earlier this year [tt is a bit more red], but that's not a knock against the colour. if you missed temper tantra, or if you wear this shade often, this is a real winner.

i'll once again raise the eyebrow of ire in mac's direction for promoting two pigments from their permanent collection here. since they're charging more for items in limited edition packaging now, using permanently available shades has gone from being a bit lazy to unforgivable.

pigment-wise, though, this collection does feature two new "crushed metal stacks", a concept that mac first introduced with their spring colour forecast last year. basically, these are sets of four complementary shades [one with pinks, plum and taupe, the other with silver, mint, gold and navy] that interlock to form a nice little stack of loose powder fun.

the finishes for all shades are super-metallic and although the product appears chunky, it smoothes out very well, particularly when used with a little moisture. i didn't pick up either of the stacks, but they're definitely worthy of a look. i did get a sample of the gold shade [i wanted to try it out, since some pigments irritate my eyes] and i found it very easy to work with. this is the sort of cult favourite item that mac should be promoting with its special collections. so it kind of makes up for the permanent pigment shades.

as i said, i think that "surf baby" plays to a lot of mac's strengths, while moving away from the weaknesses that have been evident in a few of the recent launches. they've chosen to focus on what's worked for them before- a broad range of colours, returning some cult favourites and introducing a few sure-fire hits. they've chosen to steer clear of introducing new formulas [something which has been hit and miss for them this year] and it pays off.

the collection is available currently at all mac pro locations. it will be available for sale on line starting may 24th it is available now on line at and will be at all mac stores and counters starting may 26th in north america [international dates vary]. 

and finally, here's a couple of quick looks at the products in action. [you might have noticed that i haven't updated my "colour by letters" feature in a few days and this [well, this and guerlain] is why.

i started off by using the warmer shades from the collection, although these are normally a little outside my comfort range. i found, though, that the gold and orange tones really worked as a contrast with my blue eyes. such is the magic of the colour wheel. these shots are a little "odd" since two of them were taken with my phone [thanks dom!] and the other was in less-than-ideal morning light. it was sort of a busy day and sometimes a girl just doesn't have time to take photos of herself...

face ::
nars sheer glow foundation in mont blanc
christian dior hydrating concealer

eyes ::
manila paper e/s
sun blonde e/s
gorgeous gold e/s
saffron e/s
stacked crushed metal pigment gold
blacktrack fluidline eye liner
i get no kick eye liner 
false lashes mascara

cheeks ::
my paradise blush

lips ::
hibiscus l/s

"bust out"
this was my cool-toned take on the same collection, which i think shows the versatility of the products available. i will reiterate that these eye shadows are a dream to work with, even if you're working very quickly because you want to get a photo, finish your swatches, do your blog post and move on so that you can have a nap. it's a hard life being a blogger, let me tell you.

face ::

nars sheer glow foundation in mont blanc
christian dior hydrating concealer

eyes ::
inglot #351
surf usa e/s
swell baby e/s
blacktrack fluidline
i get no kick eye liner
ysl faux cils mascara

cheeks ::
overdyed blush

lips ::
bust out l/s


Laurence said…
Hey i really like your blog ! I live in Montreal too :) i was wondering , do you work at mac or ?!
morelikespace said…
Thanks! Glad you enjoy it! I'm not a Mac employee (I wish), just someone who spends too much time and money on makeup... There are worse addictions :-)
Laurence said…
Haha don't worry I would too if I had the money !! Everything makeup related is so expensive here compared to USA !

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