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making faces :: product review [mac "semi-precious" collection]

meet the minereal shadows, 2011
last week, i posted about mineral makeup in honour of the impending release of mac's summer mineral collection. as of today, it's officially in all mac locations [pro locations have had it for a week and it went on line earlier this week]. despite the fact that following mac's constant new collections is starting to feel a lot less like something fun and exciting and a lot more like a chore, since popular items are selling out the day of release, i did make my way down to meet the new collection and see what i thought about it first hand. and yes, a couple of items were already sold out by the time i got to my local mac store, approximately two and a half hours after opening time.

once again, mac have gone way overboard with what's available- a dozen eye shadows, three blushes, four highlighters, four new brushes, five glosses and four lipsticks is a lot to take in. [it's even worse if you go to nordstrom's or the bay, because those locations have their own new collections plus this one launching today.] strangely, with all that to offer, i came away with five items- three lipsticks [which i have to say, i got chiefly because i had a lot of empties, so i was able to trade in and get them for free] and two of the new mineral eye shadows.

meet the extended mineral family, 2011
the blushes, although they have a nice texture, are an orange-peach, a bright pink and a golden brown. nothing that hasn't been done before. if you don't have something similar, they're worth a look. if you already have a fair collection, keep this in mind when fawning over how lovely and smooth they are: you're really only going to notice this when you're applying them. there's nothing in the product once its on your face that is going to stand out as being particularly marvelous.

the highlighters are, in my mind, the very essence of overkill. each one has an outer ring of a shimmery solid colour and an inner "splat" made up of a mix of colours. kind of interesting to look at, but it seems like a lot of work went into coming up with a whole selection of shades that work out to something that gives the skin a bit of a glow and not a whole lot else. some are more glittery than others, which may put some people off and which may appeal to others. my reaction was that i was kind of exhausted just looking at them. there's so much going on for a relatively neutral product. it seemed like a large part of the $33.50cad price tag is probably paying off a team of engineers for figuring out how to execute these.

l to right :: gem of roses, musky amethyst, one of a kind
the glosses are all mac's "cremesheen gloss" formula, which i know many people like because it's light and sheer and non-sticky. i dislike it because it's light and sheer and non-sticky. such is the nature of subjectivity. i like a gloss that has a bit of impact and hangs around and frankly, if it's sticky enough that i have trouble opening my mouth, it's probably just stopping me from saying something stupid anyway. these are easily a skip for me, but i suspect that a couple of the colours [particularly shimmer pink-coral "geo pink", since anything associated with coral is stupid hot right now] will be "fan favourites".

moving on to those parts of the collection i actually purchased from, there are four lipsticks with this collection. three are in mac's lustre formula and the fourth is a frost, but it's so soft and sheer that even the girl who helped me at the mac store referred to it as a lustre. i can understand this, because it's a great formula for summer- not too heavy or clingy.

"lush amber" [a.k.a., the one i didn't get] is a very sheer warm peach colour. it's certainly not suited to my cooler-toned skin and i think people with pigmented lips would have trouble getting it to show up. so it's a colour with a fairly specific target audience. strangely, this one seems to be sold out almost everywhere in montreal...

gem of roses
gem of roses
"gem of roses" [already sold out on the canadian and american web sites, apparently] is a lovely warm "strawberry ice cream" pink. this one, i think, has a very wide potential audience [hence being sold out], because it's fairly pigmented and is balanced enough in tone to suit either cooler or warmer skin. it's a little pinker, a little deeper and more pigmented than nars' "mayflower", a little warmer than the old mac l.e. colour "rue d'bois", but they're all in the same family. i'm actually surprised at how tricky it was to find a close match for this shade, considering that it doesn't seem like an earth-shattering concept for a colour, but there you have it. sometimes, people just don't notice the obvious things that are missing and someone at mac apparently did.

l to r :: mac rue d'bois, gem of roses, nars mayflower

one of a kind
"one of a kind" just screams out to be worn to the office, or to court, or to any occasion where you have to pass for a classy, upstanding citizen. it's what most people would call a "neutral plum", although i'm continuously flummoxed by what people call plum in the cosmetic industry... basically anything that has red, purple and brown in any type of mix is a candidate to be called plum. in this case, i'd say that the colour has a light reddish-purple cast with brown added to make it more neutral. so i guess that fits the industry definition of plum, but i don't think i'd eat a fruit that colour.
one of a kind
if "gem of roses" is "my lips but sweeter" [and it is], this one would be "my lips but more elegant". the closest i could come up with in terms of a comparison with other mac shades was a limited one from several years back called "tempt me". "one of a kind" is sheerer and slightly browner. i think this shade will end up getting lost in the avalanche of products with this release, which is too bad, because, of the three shades i picked up, this one is probably my favourite.

l to r :: mac tempt me, one of a kind

musky amethyst
musky amethyst
last up, there's "musky amethyst" a deep, smoky red-purple berry shade the type of which always follows me home. it's a little bit vampy, but the fact that it's quite sheer means that it works as a summer variant of the dark lip. it's a close cousin of "cunning", another mac limited shade from last year and a sheer version of "hipster" from a couple of years back. if you're like me and love these sorts of shades, it's worth a look. if you have either of the comparisons i mentioned- particularly cunning, which is just a shade redder and less sheer- and don't wear them often, you can easily skip "musky amethyst".

l to r :: mac hipster, musky amethyst, cunning

i picked up three colours because i was able to get them for the price of some empties i had around home. would i have paid full price for any? quite possibly "one of a kind", but probably not the others. they're nice shades, but they aren't special enough to allow my heart to overcome my wallet.

the real headliners of this collection, though, are the eye shadows. they seem to fall into two broad categories: rich jewel tones against a black base, which apply pretty much the same wet or dry and shades that are a mix of several colours and metallic sparkle that apply fairly sheerly when dry and more intensely when wet. i ended up picking up one of each.

smoked ruby
smoked ruby wet/ dry
"smoked ruby" is a burgundy-brown over a black base. the result is a very dark warm brown, which looks a little like a metallic shade when it catches the light. similar to this one are a deep blue, blackened green and a dirty gold, all of which have this same metallic shimmer in a rich black base appearance. it's a rich shade and i love the fact that the base gives it depth while the shimmer allows it to shift slightly in the light. the lady who served me was wearing this shade and you can definitely catch the subtleties when you see it in person. the colour is incredibly even and blends quite easily. to me, this was the absolute stand-out of the collection, there are other warm, dark browns, but none quite have its edge. that said, any of the black-based shades are probably worth the $24cad purchase price if you're interested. i found that "smoked ruby" appealed to me personally because mac really hasn't done a burgundy variation of this sort, whereas there are golds, blues and greens kicking around that are similar.

l to right :: mac twinks, smoked ruby, armani eyes to kill lust red

"unsurpassable" is more typical of mac's past mineral shadows. described by mac as a mix of "green, teal, purple and copper", it has a predominantly green base with threads of the other shades drizzled through it. each one is different, which can make you a little leery about making a purchase even after swatching. some of the mixed shades in this collection vary hugely from one unit to another, so even once you've tried one on your arm, there's no guarantee that the one you end up with is going to look the same. basically the only way to achieve certainty is to make the poor mac employees pull out all the units they have and go through them to find one that is as similar to the tester as possible. please, if you're going to do that, don't tell anyone that you read the idea here.

unsurpassable wet/ dry
in use, unsurpassable is a celadon green with a lot of gold shimmer in it. i saw one tester that had a lot more of the purple [really kind of a blue-violet] in it and the resultant shade was much more aqua-tinged. but mine is quite green, semi-sheer when applied dry and more intensely green when applied wet. quite intense, actually. i used my finger to swatch the product wet and it stained my f**king finger green. the amount of gold shimmer makes the colour look almost metallic and i really can't think of something i've seen that matches it. i like the fact that the bright green base gives a strong anchor [although it's nowhere near as bright as it looks in the pan] and you get a bit of a reflect from the other elements.

of the other "mixed" shades, "hint of sapphire", a cornflower blue with pink and copper is quite special and i may go back for it, i found one tester that had a lot more pink in it than others, and this just elevated the shade from pretty to awesome, but i have a strong feeling that that tester was a fluke.

generally, all of the mixed shades suffer a little from what i call the "water colours" problem. remember when you were a kid, playing with watercolour paints and you'd have to wash your brushes off? you'd put one or two brushes in water and the water would turn this amazing new colour. then, as you'd add more and more brushes, the water would gradually turn this sickly grey with elements of all the colours kind of lost. the shades in this collection that are the most successful are the ones where there is a strong base and where the additional colours can add a little dimension without competing. shades where there are a lot of contrasting colours involved, as amazing as they are to observe in the pan, end up with a final shade that looks kind of like that water when all the brushes have gone in. and keep in mind that, even when you can see a lot of dimension to the colour swatched on your arm, you'll see a lot less of it on your eyes. i think that this is one of the reasons why the black-based colours are so successful- there are only a couple of elements and you get the effect of both. beyond that, the more you add, the riskier it gets.

overall, i'd say that what one gets out of this collection is going to depend a lot on how long you've been a mac fan. i think that those who are fairly new and haven't indulged in mac collections before could actually get a lot and be happy. the quality is good and there is a decent variety of shades in most products. old hacks like me are probably going to be less enthralled, because there isn't much that's truly unique.

the shadows have something to offer, but can be tricky to buy, especially if you're trying to make choices over the internet. the good news is that, with such a large collection of colours, i don't think most of them will sell out too fast, so you have some time to think and check on line for swatches. [as i was typing this, i thought that the one exception would be "golden gaze" the black and gold shade. i checked the canadian web site to confirm the name and noticed it's sold out. sigh.]

i'll post a couple of looks with the products put to work in the next few days. 

all products are available exclusively through mac stores and counters or online at


Biba said…
Lovely products! I really like Gem of Roses and I think it looks very good on you.
flora_mundi said…
Thanks Biba! I think it's the kind of colour that will work on a lot of different people. Guess that's why it's proved so popular.

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