Review: MAC Paint Pots

By Voxy  

These have come up in the comments recently, so I thought I’d do a brief review/how-to on them.

MAC Paint Pots are opaquely pigmented creams that are most often used as eyeshadow bases. Colors range from neutrals to brights and finishes from matte to shimmer. (The shades in the permanent collection tend to be neutrals; brights tend to be part of LE releases.) Their major selling point is that they make eyeshadow color more intense and last longer while also preventing or reducing creasing. I apply mine over TFSI and have only had one creasing problem, ever; it was with a cream shadow and I haven’t had a single problem with creasing using powder shadows since I added a paint pot to my makeup routine. Shadows last all day with the same intensity and color they had when you first applied them. These are great little products.

That said, there are some tricks to working with them.

If you’re just starting with these, I recommend beginning with one of the neutral colors. If you are light-skinned with pink undertones (like me), try Painterly; if you’re light-skinned with yellow undertones, try Soft Ochre. (I use both of these depending on what I’m going to put on top; if I’m going to do a bronze eye, I use Soft Ochre; purple or nude eyes get Painterly.) If these are too light for you, try Groundwork (which MAC describes as “midtone neutral taupe”) or Quite Natural (chocolate brown). The opacity of the paint pot will totally cover up eyelid redness or veins. Magic, I tell you!

The biggest complaint you will hear about paint pots is that they can dry out and then need to be re-creamified with Visine. (See: Dear Cosmetics Companies, Please Make Your Products Smaller And Charge Less For Them So We Do Not Waste Money On Products That We Will Never See The Bottom Of.) In order to prevent this, the interwebz cosmetics community has come up with the superstition that if you store them upside down, this won’t happen. Of course this makes no difference at all — but it does allow you to see which color is which if you have a bunch of them in your makeup drawer. In general I like MAC’s packaging, but those big opaque black lids do make it difficult to distinguish different shades of the same product from one another.

I try to stave off the drying-out problem by applying with a damp brush, and so far this has worked well for me. This is a product for which a brush is far superior than fingertips for application.

First I apply my TFSI, and after about a minute, when I’m sure it’s dry, I run a flat concealer brush under the faucet briefly, wipe the excess water on my arm, and swipe it several times across the face of the product. I apply to one eyelid at a time, being sure to blend the edges out well and quickly — once it sets, it’s set, so you will want to be sure you have really blended it well and have gotten it all the way down to the lash line on the upper lid. You can also try using it as a concealer — for me it works better in the inner corner of the eye than as an undereye concealer, but your mileage may vary. As it dries, it will develop a slightly sticky texture (which is why fingertips aren’t so great for application; you end up pulling on the skin of the eyelid a lot and the application tends to be blotchy). You will get the best results if you start applying eye products before it gets too dry, so I next apply an all-over eye color in something that is as close as possible to whichever paint pot I’m using. Most of the time the paint pot is Painterly, and most of the time the eye color is MAC Brule. This serves as a nearly-invisible setting powder, and now the canvas is perfectly prepped for the application of other colors.

Shadows applied to a lid prepped with a paint pot keep their color and intensity all day — it’s really impressive. TFSI by itself does a great job of keeping shadow on the lid, but there is some fading. With a paint pot underneath, the shadows not only stay on the lid, but they keep their color without graying out.

The darker or brighter shades are fun to use under particular eyeshadow colors. Rubenesque is a light rosy-peachy-gold shimmer; Indianwood is an antiqued bronze; Coral Crepe (new with this spring’s collections) is, well, coral.

Swatches of Soft Ochre and Painterly:

Soft Ochre:


Man, fingers are funny-looking things, huh?


MAC Paint Pots: $16.50

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (mid-range: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good.

Purchase again? Yes, this is a must-have for me.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

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  1. avatar Indianalitchick
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve been using Physician’s Formula Mineral Wear light bronzer. I suppose I’ll have to be willing to pay more for better results! I don’t want a tan per se, just to look a little healthier. I use Jergens Natural Glow in fair to medium on the rest of me–maybe I should try the facial moisturizer, but I’m afraid of streaking/splotching.


  2. avatar Indianalitchick
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This is off-topic, but can we talk about bronzers? I have oily skin that is light-neutral and have been using a matte powder, but it seems too muddy. However, one with shimmer seems like it would make my skin look more shiny. Any suggestions?


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted June 2, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

      We can absolutely talk about bronzers. I haven’t asked a Question of the Week in awhile, and Thursday is the day I normally do it, so I’ll throw it out there tomorrow and we’ll see what others have to say.

      In the meanwhile, what exactly have you been using? I’m fair-skinned and had terrible luck with bronzers (they all just made me look either dirty or orange, or both) until I happened to get a small size of Tarte Park Avenue Princess bronzer as part of a kit, and lo and behold, it actually worked. I’ll think on it some more, but let me know what you’re actually using that isn’t working.


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