MAC Black Panther, Holiday ’22, and More

We’ve got ourselves another MAC Cosmetics post! These are the products from MAC that I purchased during the final few months of 2022. I’ll begin with the two item types I haven’t purchased or reviewed from MAC before, but the blushes and highlighters are formulas I’m very familiar with and will probably not have much new to add. For those interested in my previous MAC posts, the list with links can be found on this index page here.

Additional MAC Items

MAC Glow Play Lip Balm in Floral Coral

This is one of a few items I redeemed as a free birthday gift from MAC’s Reward Program. It’s a sheer product in a soft formula. The top layer of the bullet instantly melts when it touches my lips. If I apply the amount of balm to my lips based on how it feels, I get almost no color. I can build it up to show a pink tinge, but the amount I need to apply for that leaves my lips feeling excessively wet in a way that isn’t quite greasy or oily, but it’s a similar enough sensation that is uncomfortable for me. After I wear it for a short time, it gives me the feeling of dripping around the edges and a strong urge to wipe it off.

For this reason, I haven’t been using this beyond the handful of times I wore it to test it out. And even though it feels moisturizing, my lips aren’t actually being conditioned. The moisture lasts a few hours before I feel like I need to reapply, even if there’s still some balm left on my lips.
If I want to wear a slightly colorful balm for a short time, like in photos, this is fine. If I want a balm that’s actually lip conditioning and having color isn’t a necessity, I’d reach for plenty of other balms instead. So, I don’t really recommend this. According to a sneak peek I saw on IG, MAC might be releasing a Valentine collection of new and/or existing shades of Glow Play Lip Balms and other lipsticks. I won’t be purchasing them.

MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 Foundation in NC47

This was a Black Friday purchase when MAC had 40% off complexion. The pump for this foundation is sold separately, and unfortunately was full price. I wish the package with the pump came with an extra cap that could fit over the foundation instead of the little dispenser cover piece because I always lose tiny parts to makeup and skincare (like the little spoons to scoop out products in jars).

With “fluid” in the name, I expected this foundation to be watery like the Uoma Beauty Say What Foundation or Kosas Tinted Face Oil, but it’s more viscous than those while still managing to feel lightweight on the skin. MAC describes it as being a, “buildable, medium to full coverage [foundation] in a natural matte finish.” While I agree with the buildable claim, the amount I would normally pump out and blend in with my Blendiful gives me light coverage, and I have to use quite a bit more product in order to get a solid medium. I can technically build it up to nearly full, but I have to focus on targeting my areas of discoloration specifically, and at that point it can look a little mask-like since it’s not my absolute perfect shade. So, I keep it at a nice medium and use concealer in the areas I need more coverage.

Additional photos of me wearing this foundation, under a different lighting situation (using my ring light), is in the highlighter section.

When I wore it the first time, I thought it was a pretty good color match, but upon subsequent usage and building it up to medium-full coverage, I realized it’s about a half a shade off in depth and it’s my correct undertone family but not perfect. The fact that I can wear it at all is quite surprising because I remember a time when I tried a sample of NC47 and it was too light for me, but the next shade NC50 was way too dark. I figured the hypothetical NC48 shade (if it existed) would be my perfect shade, but apparently NC47 can work for me in winter. Since I plan on wearing this at medium coverage level, it’s good enough of a match for me to keep it in rotation.

I do like the natural-matte finish of the foundation. It’s supposed to be sweat and humidity resistant, but I challenge that as well, since I managed to look sweaty on a day that was only 75 degrees Fahrenheit outside (and even colder in the house) when all I was doing was taking blog photos and rearranging my makeup drawers in the span of under two hours. It makes me wonder how this will look on me in the summertime when it’s between 85-98 degrees.
After I noticed how it was looking, I powdered my face (I initially skipped that step) and that helped to take away the extra shine. The other days I wore it were not hot days and I wasn’t doing anything that would make me produce sweat, so my face remained looking matte even without powder. So, I’m not sure what to make of those results. I will say that I love the fact that this sets on me to the point of being dry to the touch without a trace of wetness/creaminess and no transfer on my fingers that I can see. I love my natural and dewy foundations, but those usually come at the price of various levels of being transferable. I’ve had to train myself to just not touch my face and to be careful when switching outfits and hugging people. It’s actually a relief to have a foundation with some coverage again that I don’t have to be so careful with. I just wish they had my full on perfect shade in depth and undertone.

This is a pretty nice foundation. I like it, but I still prefer my Rose Inc and Estee Lauder Futurist Hydra. I can also think of past Nars Foundations and the original Makeup Up For Ever HD and Ultra HD that I preferred as well when I owned them. I haven’t been using this very long, and normally I don’t review a foundation until I’ve worn it at least 10 times, so there’s still room for my opinion to change. If that happens, I will try to remember to update this post.

My Latest MAC Highlighters

I make it a point now to try and make my MAC purchases via Selfridges because of the price difference being in favor of USD, or from MAC’s website when they have a sale of 30% off or higher. However, it was only the MAC Indulgent Glow Face Kits that came to Selfridges, so I had to purchase the others elsewhere. Of course, I could have waited until a potential sale for the collaboration items, but I didn’t want to take the chance of them selling out, so I purchased the Black Panther Royal Challenge and Whitney Houston ones at launch. I did at least get 20% off on Black Panther’s Royal Vibrancy when I bought that one from Ulta. At the time I’m posting this, the Black Panther Collection is on a deeper discount on MAC’s website, along with last year’s holiday items.

For those who may be curious, in all four highlighter photos I’m wearing the MAC foundation in NC47, The Anastasia Beverly Hills Cream Bronzer in Terracotta (newest shade addition to the line that came out after my review), and the Pat Mcgrath Divine Rose III blush.

MAC Indulgent Glow Face Kit/Set in Sparkling Wine

These kits came in two versions: Sparkling Wine and Rosé. I was impressed by the presentation of the box in a beautiful creamy light pink color and with a raised pattern on the surface.

The bag the items come in is quite cute. I haven’t found a purpose for it yet, but it’s a nice “free” addition considering MAC Extra Dimension Highlighters have risen in price to $40 (or $44 for collaboration versions). This set being $44 normally, means the bag and brush that come with it are essentially free. I paid $35 for it from Selfridges, so the deal was even better.

I didn’t have high expectations for this brush, but it actually surprised me!
The more deeply shaped and intricate the embossed pans are from MAC, the harder it will have been pressed. That makes the top layer a bit tougher to pick up product from when using softer bristle brushes. This one feels soft, but the strands themselves are strong enough to really dig into the highlighter while still dispersing the product softly across the skin. Rather than following the direction of the brush, I swirled it roughly in the pan in a circular motion to get the most product pickup with the least effort.
I’ve used this brush enough times that it softened the surface of Sparkling Wine, so I can now pick up the product with my natural hair brushes. Prior to that top layer being broken into, it was extremely difficult.

I’ve also used this brush to apply blush and bronzer in a sweeping motion and it’s pretty good with those as well!

The highlighter embossing encapsulates the “Bubbles and Bows” theme MAC chose for holiday 2022.
MAC Highlighters tend to be smooth to the touch, but even when I rub my finger across the smoother part of the bow, it feels slightly rough and dry. However, it has such a healthy glowy sheen with a few twinkling sparkles that are just enough for me to feel like this is a festive highlighter I would want to wear to a holiday event, and not enough to be considered glittery. This contains medium size sparkles instead of large ones, which is probably why I actually find them to be quite pretty and wearable.

Ever since Fenty’s Trophy Wife highlighter came into being, I have feared pigmented deep yellow highlighters because of how terrible they look on me. So, I was afraid this one might be too yellow because of the way it looks in the pan, but then my fear switched to worrying it might be too light after seeing the swatch. However, on the face, it looks so pretty to me! Sparkling Wine has a semi-transparent base with just a hint of a yellow tinge to it. The color that peeks through blends with the undertone of my skin while not being pigmented enough to cause a stripe with the low amount of product I apply to my face. It also balances out the pearly looking particles within the highlighter. It looks lighter than Royal Challenge in swatches because the color of the inside of my arm is lighter than my face, but on my cheeks, the fact that Royal Challenge has a more pigmented and lighter base color gives it the lighter appearance, whereas Sparkling Wine’s slightly tinted base allows my darker cheekbone color to show underneath which makes it look darker than Royal Challenge overall. I really like this! As the embossing starts to wear down, I know I’m going to struggle with that part of me that doesn’t want to ruin it versus the side that wants to make sure I get good use out of the products I own. However, this embossing is lingering quite well so far, so I guess I have a ways to go before I need to start worrying!

MAC x Whitney Houston Extra Diminision Skinfinish in Just Whitney

This is another highlighter that was hard-pressed in a way that just affected the very topmost layer and is now getting easier to use as the print is fading. And, once again, I’m reaching the point where I want to keep it intact, but want to be able to wear it. This is slightly smoother and less drying feeling than Sparkling Wine. It’s certainly closer to the kind of deep golden highlighter shades I tend to prefer to wear. Just like all my other highlighters from the brand, this lasts all day and remains shiny without losing its reflectivity as the day goes on. It’s a solid product, but because it’s the most common type of color in my collection, I instinctively compare it to everything else I own, and then it doesn’t seem quite worth the $44 price tag. If the highlighter was in standard packaging, I believe it should be within the $28-$35 range. Because of the collaboration with such a powerhouse of an icon (or at least Whitney’s Estate on her behalf), the pretty limited edition packaging, and the highlighter embossing, the special factor is there. So, I don’t mind it being the price I paid, but I’m just not sure this particular color being added to my collection would be worth it otherwise. For anyone else though, I would recommend it with the acknowledgement that it could be considered a bit overpriced.

MAC x Black Panther Extra Dimension Skinfinishes in Royal Challenge and Royal Vibrancy

I still haven’t watched the Black Panther sequel, but I loved the first one, so I felt an inward obligation to purchase at least one thing from the collection. I tried to purchase the Black Panther Cosmetic Bag, but that was an utter mess. Even though I purchased it at 2am EST (I assume it launched at midnight), my order ended up canceled due to being “sold out,” but they didn’t cancel it until three weeks later after it was sold out at other retailers too. The most irritating part is that I called them about nine days in to ask them about the fact that they priced it at $35 whereas everywhere else had it for $25 and then they later changed the price to $25, but I hadn’t been reimbursed. That call, had the bags truly been out of stock, would have been the prime moment for them to let me know there weren’t any left and to cancel my order so I could have time to buy it somewhere else. However, they didn’t do that, so I don’t believe their statement to me about the bag being out of stock since the launch day, yet it somehow took weeks until it read “sold out” on the website.

Anyway, these two shades are gorgeous, but a better combination for me is to have Royal Challenge on the bottom and a little bit of Royal Vibrancy added on top. That way, I can get some of that darker shimmer without the dark cast when I turn my head at certain angles. In photos, Royal Vibrancy looks perfect for me, but I’ve been unsuccessful in capturing the dark cast I’m referring to from it being a little too deep bronze-red for me.

The texture feels soft and smooth. It’s softer than the others, but it’s also not as hard pressed because the embossing isn’t as detailed/intricate. Also, it’s lasting me quite a while. I forgot to take a photo of Royal Vibrancy prior to being used (or at least I lost the photos of it if I took them) so the picture I included above shows it after about eight uses and it looks nearly untouched! Granted, I was swiping highlighter across the entire pan and not just zeroing in on one specific spot in order to keep it looking even.

At the same time that I purchased these two, I also bought the Tom Ford Shade Illuminate Highlighting Duo in Tanlight that reminded me of a combination of those shades. However, in swatching them together, I see that the tones are slightly different. The lighter shade in Tanlight is more flattering on me than Royal Challenge and the deeper shade is not as dark, and therefore works on its own for me better than Royal Vibrancy. Most of the time I just mix the two Tanlight shades together for a highlighter shade I love a lot and it’s in an even smoother finish than the ones from MAC. Considering I paid around the same price for Tanlight (it was slightly discounted at Nordstrom) as the two MAC highlighters combined, it’s funny that the Tom Ford one was the better purchase for me. However, I also bought these as Black Panther/Wakanda Forever merchandise, so I don’t regret it.

While I could have waited for these highlighters to go on a deeper discount, I like the franchise and didn’t want to chance missing out. So, for me, these were worth having. I think I will stop using Royal Vibrancy though, in order to keep one looking pristine, and just start using Royal Challenge mixed with a different darker highlighter, such as the R.E.M. Interstellar Highlight in Miss Mars.

My Latest MAC Blushes

I currently have 35 MAC blushes in my collection (this number fluctuates as I get rid of some and purchase others) which is by far the most blushes I own from a single brand. Despite having so many, I can’t help but remain interested in them because MAC makes some of my favorite finishes, plus they’re pigmented, and are very long wearing. These four I’m discussing today are the remaining few that hadn’t been reviewed yet on this blog.

MAC Glow Play Blushes in Just Peachy and Groovy

That’s Peachy was the other free birthday item I chose. Based on how it looks, I thought there was no way it would show up on my skin. However, I felt the same way about Peaches ‘N’ Dreams, which ended up working on me too, so I tried it on a whim and was floored! Granted, I have to build it up a ton to get a flush of peach, but it still works and I think it’s beautiful!

Groovy looks like a deep coral-orange on me, and thankfully not a pure orange. As much as I love Heat Index, which was previously my favorite shade, Groovy dethroned it after just once use. I avoided getting this color for a long time because Nikki and a few others mentioned the formula difference in Groovy compared to the other Glow Play Blushes. It’s been a few years now since the Glow Plays launched (January 2020), so I think the original disappointing batch of Groovy are no longer being sold. Or at the very least, I was lucky and got one with the same texture as the others. I was more willing to chance it because I waited for a 40% off sale on blushes.

The Glow Play line remains one of my favorites from MAC and in general because they have the softness and sheen of a cream/putty with the benefit of drying down. They’re buildable and blend right into the skin. It’s a really gorgeous product that I highly recommend trying for those who haven’t.

Because there are such subtle differences among the shades I own, I figured it would be helpful to show the ones I own all together and in swatches.

And for those who like limited edition packaging, MAC currently has the shades Heat Index and So Natural in their Lunar New Year 2023 packaging for their “New Year Shine” collection.

MAC Mineralize Blush in Hey, Coral, Hey…

I included a picture of how the blush looks on my finger, plus a swatch that isn’t fully blended, to demonstrate my issue with this particular Mineralize Blush. The deep reddish-coral pigment is gorgeous and is a tone that looks pretty and suitable for me when I pick it up, but it’s got a light base powder that when blended lightens the shade overall and turns it ashy on my skin. This is even evident looking at the surface of the blush itself between the darker and lighter patches. It’s not super ashy, but just enough on the cusp to make me not want to wear it.

I’ve had issues with most of the Mineralize Blush shades I’ve tried in the past (and said it looked too matte and dry and lighter on my skin than it looks in the compact), and now I’m starting to wonder if the base color in this particular line of blushes from MAC is the reason most don’t work for me. Love Thing and Flirting with Danger are currently the only two that I’ve liked and don’t look ashy on me because the pigment is deeper than I’d normally wear, but is more toned down and lighter when blended on my actual cheeks. It’s unfortunate that it took me buying six of them to finally realize why some shades of Mineralize Blushes work for me, yet others don’t. But, I’m happy that now I know that if MAC creates more colors in this formula, it’ll be safe for me to get them as long as they are the deepest ones (and deeper colors than I normally go for). Any of the colors that look medium-dark or lighter in the compacts just won’t work for my skin tone.

Hey, Coral, Hey… isn’t staying in my collection, but I still recommend the Mineralize Blush line overall, as long as it’s well established to be careful selecting the right colors if you have a dark/deep skin tone. The two shades that work for me are in my top favorites, not just among MAC blushes but among my blush collection as a whole.

MAC x Stranger Things Powder Blush in He Likes It Cold

This color makes me think of MAC’s Flirting with Danger and Frankly Scarlet blush shades. I’ve tried several times to capture the variations in undertone, but they barely show a difference on my skin tone. I retook the photos again, but had to do brush swatches because my older powder blushes from MAC really don’t like to be finger swatched anymore. Nikki, who I’ve mentioned several times here, did a clear comparison of those three shades that can be found here on her blog for those interested, as well as a ton of other MAC content and more. Essentially, the undertone of those shades are going to make a bigger difference if you’re lighter than me (and then perhaps on the other end of the spectrum, if you’re much deeper).

I tried my hardest to skip buying this blush because I had similar enough shades to it, but I think I ended up paying $15 for it when it went on sale, so I couldn’t resist. This release celebrates Stranger Things Season 4, but I only watched seasons 1-3, so I don’t understand the “He Likes it Cold” reference (but it sounds creepy). It’s a pretty color, applies smoothly (even smoother than MAC’s older matte powder formula), and performs as fantastically as I expect from a MAC blush, so I’m happy I bought it. I just caution using a light hand with this particular shade.

That’s everything for today! I’m on another year long low-buy, so I would love to say it will be a long time before I do another MAC post, but that feels unrealistic as it’s one of the brands I purchase from the most. It can be expected that additional new releases from MAC will be reviewed here at some point, if not at launch, then perhaps after a big sale.

Thank you for reading!

-Lili

Disclaimer: Other than free birthday gift items everyone who joins MAC’s free reward program is entitled to (I can’t recall if you need to be a certain tier for it though), I purchased all the other items with my own money. I am not affiliated with the brand. There are no affiliate links in this specific post.