MAC Cosmetics turns 40. Here are the best products the brand gave us throughout the years.

mac cosmetics makeup on display
Last Updated On June 8, 2024

Many good things happened in 1984:) One of them was the birth of MAC. MAC Cosmetics is one of my favorite brands. Once I started to try products that were not anymore drugstore, it was the first brand I started to purchase makeup from. My first professional brush was the 217 and my first eye shadow was Swiss Chocolate. Those moments will always be remembered with joy. Because that is what MAC brought us, makeup that brings joy.

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Their line includes all the possible type of makeup, accessories, skincare, lashes, everything you can think of. And they were able to give us this for 40 years, not compromising on the quality or packaging.   Sure they were pioneers and nowadays there is a lot of competition, but they manage to innovate, to set up trends, to be on top of trends offering the right product for the specific need and to keep the good products in stock.

I will not write a history book about Mac Cosmetics, but there are few facts we need to know, to understand where Mac came from and where is going, now on it’s anniversary.

MAC is a Canadian cosmetic manufacturer founded in Toronto in 1984 by two makeup visionaries Frank Toskan and Frank Angelo. After the company was purchased by Estee Lauder in 1998 , the headquarters moved to New York. MAC stands for Make-up Art Cosmetics. All stores are run by make-up professional artists. When it started, the company catered towards the make-up professionals only, but the models/artists/actors were requesting the products for friends and even for themselves. So a need had to be met. This is how the brand started to produce also for us , the general consumers. 

Beside the normal selling activity of the products, the company is involved in charity programs (like MAC Aids fund with the Viva Glam Lipsticks and Lip glosses sales that go 100% towards the program), they make special editions makeup lines, collaborations with big names from the music/fashion industry and they keep on innovating and at the same time respecting old values and history of the brand. The packaging is sleek, simple, minimal, it shows good taste and professionalism. 

There used to be a program for returning 6 empty recipient products and you would receive a full size lipstick, as of 2023, that program was finished. But I sure hope they will come up with something else instead.

mac cosmetics top must have products list

Without further ado, here is my edit and take on what are the must-have products from the brand. These products are never missing from my kit. 

If you are just starting to buy more than a drugstore product, a good start are the lipsticks, lip pencils and the matte eye-shadows, the colors, the longevity, the texture are top level. There is always some promotion you can take advantage of, or make purchases in the duty-free(almost each one carries a MAC Cosmetics counter) or even buy the mini versions of the products, it’s a good option for testing and they last quite a lot. Plus you can get yourself glammed-up by one of the make-up artists working in the store.

1. MAC Lipsticks (click to shop)

Coming in a variety of colors, finishes, sizes, textures, there is one for each ones skin tone or simply style or preference. They come in finishes like: satin, frost, cremsheen , amplified, powder, retro-matte. Most popular shades that they going viral every once in a while, but constantly on the top choices  are: Velvet Teddy, Mehr, Ruby Woo, Chilly, Twig, Snob, Blankety, Honey Love.

Mac lip pencils have made history over the years. They created some iconic shades that are being sold until nowadays and they can be found in the makeup kit of any respectable makeup artist. They are easy to work with, they have such a range of colors that makes them so versatile, from pinks to beiges, colorful ones. And the lasting power is also good.

Some of the shades that are iconic and must haves: Subculture, Whirl, Spice, Soar, Oak, Stripdown, Boldly Bare, Ruby Woo, Cherry. 

The Paint Pot is a versatile makeup product. It can be used like an eyeshadow primer or a very long lasting cream eyeshadow. It can be matte or shimmery. It’s easy to apply and to blend, once it’s set it doesn’t move nowhere. I started by using it as a primer for my very very oily lids and nowadays I use it a single eyeshadow color on my lid when I just want a simple makeup. Most popular shade are the nude ones of course, but there are different colors and finishes. Most sold and always in my kit: Painterly, Bare Study, Groundwork, Layin’ Low, Soft Ochre( yellow beige, my first Paint Pot to own).

I don’t think there is  somebody to be passionate about makeup and not to own this mascara. It is a carbon black mascara with a special shaped brush that creates extreme volume and curl. It is not for the shy ones. The lashes can look clumpy and spidery if you don’t separate well, or maybe it’s the look you’re going after, it’s your choice. It is flake proof and smudge proof and it was the first mascara for me that didn’t make me panda eyes after a few hours of wear.

If in my youth I was applying foundation with my fingers and eyeshadow with a little sponge thinghy, the makeup game changed when I started to use brushes. My first brush from MAC was the iconic #217 Blending brush when it used to be made from natural hair. The brushes were imitated by any  brand that was making brushes also, but Mac was the best. They don’t produce anymore natural hair brushes, only synthetic, but the quality was not compromised. The brushes pick up the product and deposit it how it should, good for seamless blending, for sharp lines , for art on your face. Most popular brushes are: #224 Tapered Blending Brush, #209 Eye liner Brush, #217 Blending brush, #221 Mini Blending Tapered Brush, #242 Shader brush.

The eyeshadow line from Mac is beyond any imagination. All possible colors, textures and finishes, pigmented , easy to blend, long lasting, not having a lot of fallout. I have so many favorites, that is hard to pick a few names only, but to name a few only of the best selling ones: Vanilla, Naked Lunch, Omega, Satin Taupe, Brun, Sketch. 

What is described by the company as a lightweight water mist that gently soothes and refreshes skin and finishes makeup, is generating discussions in the makeup world.  Some say it’s a fixing spray, some that is a setting spray. Fixing- used in the early stages of makeup to have foundation on and other makeup products and setting- to spray over finished makeup. I would say that the spray was meant as THE NAME SHOWS, as company indented, to be part of the application, to make a canvas for the makeup that follows. Packed with vitamins and minerals,  it is meant to hydrate and keep the skin fresh. 

The Mac Eye pencil is a soft kohl pencil that lines, defines and shades eyes with rich color with different finishes. It’s excellent to use on it’s own for a winged eyeliner or for the waterline and also to be a base for a Smokey eye. My all-time favorites will always be Costa Riche ( Rich coffee bean brown) and Smolder (my first eye pencil from Mac which I bought from a very questionable person in Argentina, so it holds a special memory for me, what we would do for makeup :)))

This gel eyeliner is silky, soft and has an ultra-smooth finish. It’s like butter, it’s easy to work with , once it’s set, it’s set all right and you will only take it out with a waterproof makeup cleanser and not less. It’s longwearing and smudge-resistant. if it dries out on you, just refresh it with specific products for this purpose, but try to leave the lid as much closed as possible. Just take some product and work with it on top of the closed lid or on a palette. The must haves are the black shade- Blacktrack and Dip Down-a deep brown, constantly sold out because the brown things are viral now. They should always be!!!

Soft & Gentle. I said it all. Who didn’t hear about this highlighter? Who doesn’t have it?

This line of powders adds highlights to the face and body. It’s a luxurious, slow baked, velvety-soft, domed face powder with a radiant finish.

2 thoughts on “MAC Cosmetics turns 40. Here are the best products the brand gave us throughout the years.”

  1. What a delightful trip down memory lane! Your personal connection to the brand, from your first professional brush to your beloved eye shadow, highlights the special moments that makeup enthusiasts cherish forever. MAC has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the beauty world, not just with their high-quality products but also with the sense of joy and empowerment they bring to each application. Here’s to many more years of makeup magic and joyful memories with MAC!

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