Filed In: MAC

MAC · Instacurl Lash Mascara

MAC Instacurl Lash mascara opener


When it comes to mascara, there’s always room for innovation — from the formula, the brush, and even the tube shape. Instacurl Lash, the latest to come from beauty powerhouse MAC, has nailed it on all counts … and all this before you even try it on. Did I mention that the brush head is adjustable?

MAC Instacurl Lash mascara

Instacurl Lash Mascara (CAN $28.00) | A rich black hue in an ophthalmologist tested formula that is said to be clump, smudge, and flake-free and while not waterproof, it is sweat and humidity-resistant. But first things first: the tube. Looking suspiciously dagger-like (or a sabre-tooth tiger fang, maybe?), once the brush is removed from the tube, the top (yellow) part can then be rotated to adjust the angle of the brush (see the diagram below). Pretty cool, no?

Far from being gimmicky, this feature is actually rather brilliant, as you can then ‘form’ the brush to fit your unique eye shape. Since eyelids are not universally the same, having a brush that adjusts makes perfect sense and enables the user to effortlessly reach all lashes. After having tested Instacurl for several weeks now, and despite the initial learning curve (LOL) in using this feature, I’m a fan. And while this may not be the most volumizing mascara I’ve ever tried, I absolutely love the length and definition it provides, along with the fact that it stays intact throughout the wearing. Bonus points scored for being easily removed at the end of the day, without needing to use excessive force for the job either.

MAC Instacurl Lash mascara 2
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MAC Instacurl Lash mascara brush positions

MAC Instacurl Lash mascara swatches new


You’d think that with the plethora of new mascara launches, it would be near impossible to come up with something original, yet somehow MAC has managed to do just that with Instacurl. Putting aside the conversation piece that is the outer casing (fill in the blank: it looks exactly like a _____), it’s the excellent formula which speaks for itself and for mascara-fiends like me, that fact alone makes it definitely worth checking out. Just keep the sniggering to a minimum.

Available at The Bay and MAC counters

MAC Instacurl Lash mascara closer

Purchased product/As always, all opinions my own

MAC · Light Festival Eye Shadow x 9



Paying homage to divine Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity, the Diwali Festival of Lights is celebrated yearly (this year it begins on October 30) with a gathering of friends, family, light, colour, sharing of sweets and numerous fireworks. MAC’s Light Festival Eye Shadow x 9 honours this tradition with the release of a limited edition palette of 9 mini shadows, complete with a rainbow of wearable colour to help you channel your own inner goddess.



Diwali: Festival of Lamps, Light, Colour & Sweets (image)


MAC · Light Festival Eye Shadow x 9


Light Festival Eye Shadow x 9, limited edition (CAN $42.00) | Housed in a slim-profile compact, these nine mini shades come in a variety of textures — from matte to shimmery — and can be mixed & matched to create as many looks as your imagination can come up with. There are enough ‘neutrals’ to keep things grounded and a few more vivid hues for those who crave a bit more colour in their eye makeup, or anyone looking to punch things up a notch.

The colour breakdown:

  • Rice Paper (frost) – bone
  • Goldmine (frost) – pale gold
  • Amber Lights (frost) – light golden bronze
  • Coppering (veluxe pearl) – coppery pink
  • Cranberry (frost) – berry pink
  • Embark (matte) – mid-tone brown
  • Humid (frost) – soft emerald
  • Deep Truth (frost) – blue indigo
  • Carbon (matte) – smudgy black

First of all, all nine shades in the palette are also part of the permanent range; a good thing too, because any one colour here that you absolutely crush on can always be repurchased. In the swatches below, I’ve divided them by tier, starting at the top and working my way horizontally; the shades of the first row honour the gold/yellow spectrum and have the lightest colour payoff, with Goldmine actually applying much lighter than what’s seen in the pan (although it can be boosted by using a dampened brush), but all three work beautifully as inner eye or brow bone highlighters. The middle row honours the red spectrum and while both Coppering and Cranberry (the latter one of my all-time fave MAC shades) are vivid hues, they are extremely flattering against all eye colours and provide a stunning counterpoint to the depth of Embark. The last row honours the blue/green spectrum with two shades that are bright enough to stand out, but can still be worn sheered out as a light wash, perfect for anyone who’s colour-phobic but wants that little kick just the same. As to Carbon, its texture is one that can be hit or miss, but I finally figured that it was never meant to be an intense black; think of it as more sooty-like, and you’ll understand the finish much better. All blend extremely well and last without fading when applied over primer.


MAC · Light Festival Eye Shadow x 9


MAC · Light Festival Eye Shadow x 9


MAC · Light Festival Eye Shadow x 9


MAC · Light Festival Eye Shadow x 9 (swatches in direct sunlight)


MAC · Light Festival Eye Shadow x 9


MAC · Light Festival Eye Shadow x 9


What I really like about this palette, is that it’s not only quite different from the shades I usually reach for (i.e.: neutrals), but it’s small enough to be perfectly travel friendly; I find it handy to have everything housed in one compact without needing to pack a slew of eyeshadows. You get a variety of colours without the commitment of a full-sized shadow (that you’d probably never use up anyway), and that totally works for me.

Available now at The Bay, MAC counters & online


Press sample/As always, all opinions are my own

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MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton


When makeup and photography collide, two of my [many] passions come together, and MAC’s upcoming Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Collection is sitting right in the heart of my wheelhouse. Ranking up there with such greats as Richard Avedon, Francesco Scavullo, Iriving Penn, and Guy Bourdain (to name but a few) I’ve been a fan of Helmut Newton’s iconic ‘erotically-charged’ style since I discovered his work back when I began reading Vogue in the early 70s (gah…so long ago!). This tribute collection pays homage to this man’s legendary work, and I for one am going to freeze-frame it all up.



Helmut Newton (credit: Vanity Fair)


Helmut Newton, Vogue Italia


MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton


Point ‘N’ Shoot Eyeshadow X 4 (CAN $42.00) | The four matte shades of this palette were inspired by the black & white aesthetic Helmut Newton was known for, not to mention being pretty much made for a neutral-lover such as myself. Perhaps not groundbreaking colour-wise, this one slim-profile compact holds basically all you need to create a multitude of looks that will easily take you from day to night. The shade breakdown:

  • Real Fantasy – soft eggshell, matte
  • Hard Currency – grey, matte
  • Influential – brown, satin
  • Point ‘N’ Shoot – black, matte

With the exception of the black (which is more charcoal in fact and not a true deep black, and thus not quite as pigmented as I expected), the shades show a very good colour payoff, blend effortlessly, and without any fall down . Real Fantasy appears near invisible when swatched on my arm (seen below) but makes for a good base with which to layer any of the other shades over and I personally love it as a natural-looking brow bone highlight.


MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Point ‘N’ Shoot Eyeshadow X 4


MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Point ‘N’ Shoot Eyeshadow X 4


MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Point ‘N’ Shoot Eyeshadow X 4 swatches


MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Point ‘N’ Shoot Eyeshadow X 4


Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour (CAN $25.00) | Does anything say allure quite like a red lip? Throw in a matte finish, and you’re basically channelling Old Hollywood glam right there. With MAC’s usual vanilla scent, the soft-flocked diamond applicator makes application a breeze; the flat side enables you to cover a large area quickly while the tip is great for more precision work. The finish is a true matte without any sheen or reflection, but still has depth to keep things from appearing flat. Colour saturation is on the strong side, and lasting power excellent without leaving any excessive drying feel behind. The shade breakdown:

  • High Heels – vivid true red
  • Chateau M – deep red wine
  • Self Portrait – dark plum

If you’re looking to make an impact, then nothing beats a strong matte red lip. Of course, some prep work is also needed; since matte lip products can emphasize flakes or dryness, make sure to properly exfoliate beforehand followed  by lip balm to trap hydration (just don’t forget to blot before application). A matching lip liner is also key in creating that sharply defined look, but I don’t mind a bit of imprecision either; shows some flirtiness. Note that Self Portrait might appear slightly patchy in the swatch below, but it actually appears much smoother in person (although it’s still the more finicky of the three).


MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour


MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour swatches



Studio Nail Lacquer (CAN $15.00) | Drawing inspiration by two of the cities Helmut Newton lived in and the other shade giving a nod to his profession, these hues are classic colours that transcend skin tone & season, easily wearable by all.


MAC · Limited Edition Photographs by Helmut Newton Studio Nail Lacquer

mac-helmut-newton-call-time-swatchCall Time | A putty crème hue that’s self-levelling, although some patchiness that’s seen by the first coat reaches full opacity at by the second layer. Coming to a glossy finish, this colour is a beautiful compromise between nude & white.

Coats: 2, plus top coat



Monte Carlo | My label has this as a frost (whut? Ummm…no), this is a blue-based maraschino red in a hybrid crème-jelly formula that’s self-levelling and comes to a plush, cushiony, and super-glossy finish. There’s a bit of a spring-back effect seen at the tips during application, while the colour saturation is strong enough to almost make this a one-coat-wonder — the perfect screen siren red. Relatively non-staining, don’t skip base coat just the same.

Coats: 2, plus top coat


Berlin | A deep maroon crème-jelly hybrid, this shade shows a touch of sheerness at the first layer, but reaches a much stronger intensity by the 2nd coat. Self-Levelling and über-glossy at the finish, this colour just screams femme fatale red to me. Relatively non-staining, I’d advise applying base coat first just the same.

Coats: 2, plus top coat (although it really doesn’t need it)


With a selection of images by the legendary photographer adorning the packaging of this collection, there are two more items which I did not receive: Boot Black Liquid Eye Liner & Upward Black Upward Lash Mascara, although I’m thinking to go scope them out when everything launches. Breaking down the collection & starting with the lip products, matte red lips there are a-plenty, but what impresses me here is not only the smooth way these apply, but how non-dessicating they all feel throughout the wearing. The eyeshadow palette is 100% versatile, with shades that anyone can wear (and the one I reach for at the moment). MAC’s nail polishes have come a long way too, with a much better formula and brush, with the gloss factor on all three here being nothing short of WOW. With nary a wild or eclectic hue in sight, this entire collection gets a major thumbs up from me.

Available online October 27, in-store November (North America)



Press samples/As always, all opinions are my own

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MAC x Star Trek Studio Nail Lacquer



In celebration of the original tv series Star Trek’s 50th birthday, MAC has teamed up with the franchise and released a limited edition collection based around 4 key female characters from the show (Lt. Uhura, Deanna of Troi, Seven of Nine, and Vina the Orion girl). At the collection’s media pre-launch that I attended back in May, I was totally drawn to the nail polish trio where all 3 shades immediately made me think of Uhura and her glam talons that you just couldn’t help but notice in each episode. Sporting chrome and glitter like it was nobody’s business, that woman certainly went where no other woman had gone before.

Previously reviewed from this collection:


Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura & her amazing nails


MAC x Star Trek Studio Nail Lacquer


MAC x Star Trek Studio Nail Lacquer


Enterprise, limited edition (CAN $16.50) | A brilliant metallic silver-chrome with a white undertone to keep it on the cooler side of the spectrum. The formula has an excellent flow & density — but does dry relatively fast as this type of polish is usually prone to — so you do need to work quickly & keep a steady hand, in order to minimize any visible brush strokes. Highly reflective at the finish with minimal shimmer spread at removal.

Coats: 2, no top coat — also shown with one coat of Skin of Evil layered on top


MAC x Star Trek Enterprise Studio Nail Lacquer


MAC x Star Trek Enterprise Studio Nail Lacquer swatch


MAC x Star Trek Enterprise & Skin of Evil Studio Nail Lacquer swatch


Holla-Deck, limited edition (CAN $16.50) | A gold foil/metallic hue with glitter flecks in gold and bronze in the mix, bearing an excellent flow & density and which applies in a self-levelling way. There’s almost a 3D quality to the finish that makes it appear somewhat textured, although this effect only adds visual interest and overall depth to this über-brilliant shade. Take care in removal to keep any shimmer spread to a minimum.

Coats: 2, no top coat — also shown with one coat of Skin of Evil layered on top


MAC x Star Trek Holla-Deck Studio Nail Lacquer


MAC x Star Trek Holla-Deck Studio Nail Lacquer swatch


MAC x Star Trek Holla-Deck & Skin of Evil Studio Nail Lacquer swatch


Skin Of Evil, limited edition (CAN $16.50) | A semi-transparent base filled with ultra fine green/gold “lizard skin” shimmer (sounds weird, I know) and black hexagonal glitter pieces in tiny & small sizes. The formula falls a touch on the thicker side (as compared to both Enterprise and Holla-Deck) but is still quite easy to work with and applies in a self-levelling way. The final look has a unique multi-tonal greenish shift that’s almost prismatic and you pick up enough glitter per brushful that no ‘fishing’ is necessary, although you may need to nudge a few pieces in place (along the sides and/or free edge of the nail) with an orange stick. Some elbow grease will be required for removal, but nothing excessive.

For the swatches below, I’ve opted to show it at 1 coat (which gives off a dainty yet still strong presence), 2 coats (basically fully opaque at this level), and with a matte top coat that may tamp down the brilliance but serves to make all the glitter pieces stand out instead. No top coat on any of the swatches.


MAC x Star Trek Skin Of Evil Studio Nail Lacquer


MAC x Star Trek Skin Of Evil Studio Nail Lacquer swatch (1 coat)


MAC x Star Trek Skin Of Evil Studio Nail Lacquer swatch (2 coats)


MAC x Star Trek Skin Of Evil Studio Nail Lacquer swatch (mattified)


MAC has really upped their nail polish game, and this trio is a complete standout for me. With the holidays coming up, you really can’t go wrong with a good silver and/or gold metallic shade and both Enterprise and Holla-Deck fit the bill perfectly. Skin of Evil is one of those hues that’s oddly compelling, regardless of whether you’re a glitter fan or not, and I find its combination of tones very unique in my collection. So, forgetting the fact that I’m a 100% bonafide Trekker, I still give all three a thumbs up — I’m so ready to channel my inner Uhura. And Seven of Nine. And Deanna of Troi. I’ll even do Vina, minus the green body paint (but holy moly did that girl had some serious mojo).

Available at The Bay, Mac boutiques and online



Purchased items/All opinions are my own

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Becca · Rose Quartz Shimmering Skin Perfector



The latest from Becca, a brand that has become known for using ‘light to amplify the features you love’ comes their latest, Rose Quartz Shimmering Skin Perfector, a limited edition pale pink highlighter that launched without any buzz or fanfare, yet instantly sold out on day 1 on Sephora’s website (but has since been restocked & will become available in store next month). I usually don’t fall for hype and buy sight unseen, but my beauty radar was telling me to go for it, and I’ve learned to listen to that instinct. So happy I did, as this shade is like nothing I already own.

One of Pantone’s two colours of the year for 2016, rose quartz is a mineral and has been called the ‘Stone of Love’, having been also used as a love talisman as early as 600 B.C. Also synonymous with beauty, this stone is purported to have a nurturing and calming effect on those around it. Regardless of whether you believe or not, I love the positive message just the same.



Becca · Rose Quartz Shimmering Skin Perfector


Rose Quartz Shimmering Skin Perfector, limited edition (CAN $46.00) | Housed in a flying-saucer shaped compact (right?), it differentiates from Becca’s usual casing by its metallic rose-gold colour that’s just so pretty. The surface of the pattern is in raised geometric shapes that I’m sure will eventually wear down with continued use — not that I’ll ever get to that point (I think), and which shouldn’t affect how the product applies in any way.

The formula is apparently enriched with ‘ultrafine luminescent pearls that absorb, reflect & refract light’, and can adjust to your skin’s natural undertone. The texture is fine-milled and can be applied as a lighter dusting for just a touch of radiance (a fan brush works best for this), or layered for a more editorial-like brilliance. Longevity (over foundation), seems to be excellent and remains visible until removed.

This pale pink hue is quite unique in that it bears neutral undertones, thus making it workable on all skin tones across the spectrum. As someone with a light-medium complexion that has a golden undertone, I tend to avoid pink anything — but I was totally surprised by how Rose Quartz seems to adapt to my skin, and just seems to look better & better with the wearing.


Becca · Rose Quartz Shimmering Skin Perfector


Becca · Rose Quartz Shimmering Skin Perfector


Becca · Rose Quartz Shimmering Skin Perfector swatches


Apart from the cult-fave Champagne Pop shade shown above, I actually own another Becca coppery highlighter with the same pattern as Rose Quartz, but it seems to have gone MIA and I couldn’t find it to compare. As the swatches show, these two are nothing alike although surprisingly, the pink hue of Rose Quartz appears more wearable than the more golden colour colour of Champagne Pop.  I totally did not expect that, and it further backs up the ‘neutral undertone’ part of the claim.


Becca · Rose Quartz  & Champagne Pop Shimmering Skin Perfector swatches


Pulling out a few more pink-toned highlighters to compare (although something tells me that I probably have more lurking about, but I was just too lazy to hunt them all down), it’s clear that none are a match for Rose Quartz, leaning either too pink or too shimmery.

Note that all have been swatched with a heavy hand in the photo below, in order to show their differences and/or similarities. Press samples are marked by *


Becca · Rose Quartz Shimmering Skin Perfector & comparison swatches


Even though I trust my gut when it comes to beauty products, I still had hesitations about Rose Quartz … until it arrived and I swatched it. After that, it was all “hello beautiful & welcome to the family”. Somehow Becca managed the impossible: getting a colour usually reserved for the fair-complexioned, and making it universally wearable. Bottom line: totally worth picking up, especially if you happen to have a bit of a fetish re: highlighters (guilty).

Available at Sephora




Purchased Item/All opinions my own

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