Make Up

Some MAC loveliness … and a (very long!) unplanned ramble

We all know I have a major soft spot for MAC: they are the make up brand. People often consider them to be so high end that they are out of a ‘normal’ price range – which for some people is true and that is ok – but actually, MAC are not too expensive, compared to others.

I’m going to slightly pause/deviate here – briefly (just re-read what I’ve written below – I don’t think briefly covers it!). I try on this blog, to post a variety of budget options: I know not everyone can afford some of the products I post about, and more importantly, I know some people do not want to spend their money on pricey products (totally ok anyway) when there are more budget alternatives. Also completely fine. I don’t spend money on clothes – at all. Pretty much everything I own, clothes-wise, comes from Tesco/Sainsburys. I spend my money on make up/skincare as and when something takes my fancy. It may look like I am constantly buying products – trust me this is not the case. I tend to ‘lump’ purchases together. I often buy a nail polish or cheap blusher or body cream when I do my Tesco food shop: I don’t live in Boots. I am also quite a frugal shopper when it comes to beauty products:

  1. I hardly ever pay for postage (scour the net for a discount code);
  2. I sign up to all the beauty websites I possibly can – they send out offer codes/offer dates/free postage times etc. You don’t have to use them if there isn’t anything you want, but at least you know when there is an opportunity to save some cash. You do have to have some self control though – these companies send a lot of emails with offers: you need to work out which ones are worth it. I think, roughly, for every 30 emails with deals/offers/free postage I get sent, I use 1. 
  3. I have an app on my phone where I write all the products I want/like to try/purchase. Most of these products are recommendations from other bloggers/blogs/youtube videos I watch and read. Most of the products stay on my list for at least 6 months, more likely a year – until I see a deal/price reduction/offer in Boots/online etc. I very rarely run out and buy something straight away. At this very moment, there is a product at the top of my list that has been on there for 14 months. 
  4. I make massive use of the Boots vouchers they send – I’ll hold off buying stuff until they come through (and yes, I do ring up Boots and ask them for the voucher release dates so that I can plan ahead!);
  5. I have quite a big make up/skin care collection and I regularly ‘shop the stash’ – I switch up my make up bag about once a fortnight and switch things about – so in MOTD posts, most of the stuff is not new, but from my stash – if I’ve purchased something new, it’ll be on the blog.
  6. I only ever buy make up when it is on some kind of offer and again, I research online to see where it is cheapest;
  7. On offers like 3 for 2 in Boots, I deliberately go to the checkout about 15 times with my products (I HATE it when they do a 3 for 2 and it automatically gives you the cheapest product for free – I try to lump them together and purchase similar priced products together, separately. This is the only way to guarantee maximum saving e.g. foundation costs £12, primer costs £11, eye pencil costs £4. I don’t want the £4 one for free, I want a higher priced product for free, so I get an eye shadow palette for £11 and the eye pencil goes in a different, similarly priced group. Sounds complicated but this kind of stuff saves loads – in that example I’ve saved £7). 
  8. As ridiculous as it sounds, I do a lot of research before I buy anything. I scour reviews, ingredient lists, youtube – I do not want to part with my cash for something crap. Occasionally something does not work with my skin type – and you cannot predict that – but generally, I don’t have that many ‘disappointed products’ that have been a complete waste of money (I do have products that are not my fav, but I still use them – Clarins Everlasting Foundation for example). This research is especially important/useful with high end products – who wants to spend £25+on a foundation that is total crap? I do give quite a lot of my unused products away to friends (Jane’s bag of crap, as it has become known – the highlight of English department meetings!) – this is where the products that haven’t worked out, end up. Or sometimes, they are just products that I’m bored with, or they are sample products (free with other purchases) that I have tons of/repeated. I also give away stuff to Give & Make Up – a charity in London for the Women’s Refuge – that take products to give to women who have had to leave home due to domestic violence etc. and who have nothing. I usually send about 2 boxes of stuff a year – cleaners, moisturisers, face masks, eye shadows, unused samples, lipsticks with the top sliced off etc. The only things they don’t take are mascaras and lip glosses – for hygiene reasons. 

The (rather long-winded …sorry!) point that I am trying to make is that I know that not all my products are for everyone. Where I can, I’ll give an alternative that is more budget friendly, or at least a similar product that you might want to try instead. Please don’t think this blog is about me showing you all how loaded I am and how much cash I have to splash about! It isn’t and I’m not and I don’t. I budget carefully and am very specific in what I spend my cash on: I still have to pay the bills/nursery fees/do the shopping! There are lots of bloggers who’ve become millionaires through blogging about beauty products and made it their full time job – they have to buy new products to maintain their blogs/youtube videos and keep them up-to-date (they also get send A LOT of stuff from brands). I am not one of them. Everything on the blog I bought myself or it was a gift from family/friends – that is why, on some posts, I might drag out the same products. I have quite a substantial collection, but nothing like those bloggers – and if a product is good, I’ll use it again and again! So, I’m just literally trying to share what I’ve learnt/know – hopefully occasionally you might find something interesting or like a recommendation. If it isn’t helpful or interesting, that is fine. If you want to skip the higher end posts, that is also fine. I enjoy writing the blog (especially at the moment – it is still my distraction/therapy) so will keep going … 

Ok. Back to MAC.

So, compared to Chanel, Tom Ford, sometimes NARS, sometimes Charlotte Tilbury, MAC compares favourably. The main problem I have with MAC is the accessibility – on the Isle of Wight you’ve got no chance! This means that some slightly dodgy internet shopping (hoping the online colour samples are a good likeness!) and a bit of crossing fingers, is needed. I buy my MAC products from Debenhams, Selfridges or MAC online. The nearest MAC counter to the IOW is in John Lewis in Southampton: other than that it is Guildford, Brighton or London. I’ve been to the stores in Carnaby Street and Covent Garden. MAC shops tend to be teeny tiny and they are always packed. When I went to the Covent Garden store in June, I had a make over and was very pleased with the results: the guy took his time and didn’t rush – he talked through all the products and how to apply them and he wasn’t pushy (I only purchased three out of the face-full that he used and two of those were products I went in for, so he actually only sold me the bronzer).

MAC make up is excellent quality-they are known for their eye shadows, lipsticks, mineralize skin finishes and foundations. I very rarely hear anyone talking about the MAC blushers (that is NARS territory!). I own a bronzer, lipstick, mineralize skin finish (highligher) and Studio Sculpt foundation – all firm favourites of mine. A week or so ago, I got an email saying that there was a discount at Debenhams on MAC products, so I had a look and added to my collection: these products had been on my ‘app list’ for ages…


MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF15 in NW10 £22 (*currently £19.80 on* – this is what I paid) – This is the lightest shade of foundation that MAC do and it is always sold out – everywhere! I took the opportunity on the Debenhams site and I love it. It is quite medium/full buildable coverage – so not for those who like a light coverage (try MAC  Face and Body). The colour is perfect for my pale ghostly skin. The only thing that bugs me is it doesn’t come with a pump – so it is a cotton bud job. The reviews online of this foundation are excellent – I agree with them and I’m really glad I purchased it.

Price wise, it is £22 for 30 mls: Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation is £32 for 40mls (which I own and like); NARS Sheer Glow is £31 for 30mls; Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk is £36.50 for 30mls; Liz Earle Signature Foundation is £21 for 25mls (which I own and sort of like); Clinique Even Better Makeup is £25 for 30 mls; YSL Touche Eclat Foundation is £28.35 for 30mls; Estee Lauder Double Wear is £30 for 30mls. 

So, as you can see – the MAC foundation, even at £22 full price, is a lot cheaper and better value than any of the other high end foundations. Price wise – it is on a par with Liz Earle and Clinique – but quality-wise it is easily much better than both of those.


(Swatch: Syrup, Taupe, Studio Fix Fluid in NW10)

MAC Lustre Syrup Lipstick £15.50 (currently £13.95 on – which is what I paid) – If you research MAC lipsticks, as I did, this colour is without a doubt, the most blogged about colour (apart from Ruby Woo which I also have). It is a gorgeous, easy-to-wear pinky colour. I’ve seen this on dark haired, dark skinned complexions, medium tanned, and me – pale ghost. It works on everyone – Google it and see for yourself. I wanted to expand my MAC lipstick collection and this had been on the list for ages. I’m so glad I got it.

MAC Matte Taupe Lipstick £15.50 (currently £13.95 on – which is what I paid) – This is the shade that the guy used on me in the MAC store in Covent Garden when I had my makeover. It was June, boiling hot, I was melting and he put this dark, matte brown on me – I was dubious. However, I loved it. It looked amazing! The matte wasn’t drying – well not enough that I noticed – I just used some clear lip balm over it and it was fine. It lasted for the rest of the afternoon until I took it off for bed – about midnight. It was still there after eating, drinking etc. I think this shade has taught me that there are no rules with lipsticks. I used to think ‘oh I’m pale, I have to wear …’ and I avoided brown based lipsticks because they apparently make a pale skin look ill, and they make your teeth look yellow – but I actually don’t care. This is such a gorgeous colour and even though it is a matte, it is still a day colour. Ruby Woo is a much more ‘occasion’ lipstick – totally bright red, matte, striking – it’s an event/night out lippie which is a shame as I hardly get to wear it, but Taupe is definitely going to get more usage.

Price wise – Estee Lauder Pure Colour Envy is £24; Tom Ford Lip Colour is £38 (WHAT!?1?); Charlotte Tilbury KISSING Lipstick is £23 (I own three of these, in matte and normal – about the same quality as MAC); Bobbi Brown Lip Colour £20 (I own one of these – excellent lipstick, similar quality to MAC); Clinique Chubby Stick Lip is £17 (I own one of these – overpriced in my opinion – Revlon much better); No7 Stay Perfect Lipstick is £9.95; Clarins Rouge Eclat is £17.55. 

So again, even at full price on the MAC website of £15.50, the price point is so much better than a lot of the other high end brands. The shade range is MAMMOTH and amazing and comes in loads of different finishes:

Amplified finish = smooth, highly pigmented and long-wearing and don’t dry your lips out. Cremesheen = extremely creamy and glossy, not as pigmented as others but not sheer either. Quite hydrating but don’t last as long as others. Frost = as the name suggests, a shimmery, frosty finish. Medium wear time and slightly glossy. Lustre = sheer, subtle and easy to wear – this would be your day formula. Syrup is a Lustre. Matte = amazing pigmentation and staying power (I’m talking all day!) but can/does dry lips out and shows every dry patch (some serious lip scrub needed for these). I have Ruby Woo that is a matte – I LOVE it but lips need some time/attention beforehand. Taupe is a MatteSatin = long wearing and great pigmentation, without the drying nature of the matte finish – less labour intensive too.

So that is MAC. I think, if you’re looking  at Clinique in Boots, or possibly Clarins, or Liz Earle – then definitely look at MAC. In terms of budget version of MAC lipsticks, try: Rimmel Kate Moss collection (red packaging) £5.49 (am yet to try, but these are loved by bloggers/youtube); Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick £7.49 (I own one – Cherries in the Snow and I love it!); L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Lipsticks (I own two of these – good quality for the price) £6.99. 

Sorry for the essay – maybe I should have written my dissertation on MAC instead of Women in Shakespeare?!  ….



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