Well Estee Lauder has been my favourite brand...until Youtube tutorials exploded on my horizons, and the fact that every Guru depended on MAC. MAC, like Clinique, is housed within the threshold of "High End", yet their basic packaging and overt pursuit of the younger market, left me somewhat alienated.
In particular, (at the time of my most flagrant makeup consumerism, if one can pinpoint its beginnings) I recall MAC's ubiquitous Mary J Blige soundtrack further confirmed this- making me feel stiff, outmodish and stuffy. Compounding the initial trepidation, MAC's almost unbroken rule is that their staff be as surly and sneery as is possibly conveyed through several thick inches of Studio Fix Fluid and MSF and Blot (these sound like articles for your car bonnet's upkeep right? Compare these functional and blunt names and chunky black plastic compact designs to their feminine sounding Estee Lauder counterparts: 'Lucidity'; 'Spotlight'; 'Double Wear', et al. Not that this is unintentional: MAC pride themselves on this professional, rather than consumer- friendly, appearance.)
Anyway, having seen these Youtube Gurus extoll the values of MAC for any self-respecting makeup obsessed individual, I took to looking at my huge stash with the realisation that the only MAC I owned (through recommendations from that hallowed temple known to us as Makeupalley) was MAC Blot pressed powder (undeniably the best there is for oil minimising without any caking) and a MAC foundation pump, which had been lovingly attached to my favourite and most fundamental item of all, Estee Lauder Double Wear, in my discontinued shade, Soft Beige no.11. (the day I realised it was gone was a sorrowful one indeed; I have stocked up several years' supply, perhaps a decade's worth, and hope to God they never go bad in my immediate lifetime. Unlike MAC, Estee Lauder do not regularly bring back items from the dead and taunt and tempt and confuse you with their lineup, so it seems any hope to see it again is doomed to ridicule).
So, with only the two MAC items of my own, and countless pretty tutorial faces, I had easily been persuaded that, indeed, MAC warranted serious investigation. As detailed earlier, MAC's heavy affiliation with music and celebrities is at the heart of its appeal to trendy young things. Their PRO scheme also means most makeup artists would naturally use the MAC lineup, as other comparable ranges would become more costly, hence the prevalence of MAC at fashion shows and professional kits, which reinforces 'MAC's superior quality'. In addition, no other readily accessible range has half as many eyeshadows, and few have even a fraction, if any, pigments- and certainly not in huge tubs like MAC.
Previously, ambitious eyeshadow had been reserved for nights out, and daywear was merely: full foundation (on eyelids too), perhaps Prescriptives matte yet creamy pale yellow eyeshadow, thick pencil winged eyeliner, Lancome mascara, some Blot powder, Bare Escentuals blusher and some deep lipstick. A ' signature look', if you will.
But now I learnt that eyeshadows came in multifarious shades and finishes, and different specialist brushes were essential to achieve the full potential of your expensive shadows. I had been happily using a free gift Lancome eye shader brush, natural bristle but nothing remotely fancy. My first purchase at MAC was the much lauded 187. I begrudgingly paid £28 for this two toned brush. Luckily, even in spite of my high hopes, the brush revolutionised the way I applied my foundation. Although I'd been happily using my fingers to stipple in the foundation, now I could never turn back. Indeed, recently my brush was dirty and I used my fingers- and I could barely believe this had been my daily ritual for so long. In a way ignorance is bliss, because now that I know how quick and seamless the 187 is, even to the point where you can use less product for the same effect, I just have no patience to carefully blend stipple blend blend, when I can now just dot, stipple and blend, in moments. After this initial MAC succesful purchase, I returned to buy some eyshadows. I got 'Mystery' and 'Blanc Type' for everyday neutral eye looks. 'Blanc Type', part of the Matte 2 squared Collection, is wonderful and on a par with Prescriptives' best shadows (they can be hit and miss but many are unrivalled for their creaminess.) 'Mystery' is less so, as it is limited. Although it's a 'Satin finish', it behaves more like a chalky 'Matte', refusing to apply evenly. I also bought the apparent must-haves, as dictated by all- Yes, the 217 and 239. The 217 is certainly essential and a pleasure to use, 239 took a little getting used to, for a while I preferred the angled 272 for my bulgy round eyes, but I now too join the ranks who recommend the 239 as the ultimate eye shader brush.
OK, after a good few purchases, I have numerous eyeshadows, I also have the gorgeous bright Manish Arora palette, the quads from Cult of Cherry, and I have quite a collection of pigments too. I have full sizes of Silver, Naked, Silver Fog, Violet, Teal, plus various samples. The full sizes are unfeasably large and messy, it seems a little extreme for the average pleb. But Teal is especially beautiful. I also have various blushers, my favurite being 'Blooming', part of- surprise, surprise, a limited edition collection ('Cult of Cherry'). Others however have disappointed- Pink Swoon is very chalky, like a drugstore cheap blusher really. And the lasting wear is very underwhelming, my 'Mocha' blusher would be my ultimate everyday blusher but it fades oh so quickly! I have tried the famous MSFs in 'So Ceylon' and 'Petticoat' but found them underserving of their cult following.
I have found that MAC brushes are helping my application a lot though, and the recent MAC Holiday 2008 introduced the ideal opportunity for a new MAC collector to conveniently increase their wares. However, the horrific croc texture and gaudy fake 'gemstone' was effective in keeping them at bay. The 'Little Darlings' collection though, were irresistible. I got the Warm and Cool sets, but the Cool sets had pigments I already had, and Frost, with its gross chunky unworkable texture, was wholly unwanted. Indeed, as a pale cool tone myself, I was surprised by the inclusion of several red tones (surely pinked mauve is warm?) so I exchanged for a second Warm set, which in fact had cool toned golds in which proved far more suitable for cool skintones. The warm set contains a variety of delicate Golds, and even the glitter is a rich tone and not too prone to fallout.
The lipgloss was an especially welcome chance to sample the variety of lipglass, lipgloss, lipgloop, lipplush and whatever else they call their, erm, lipglosses. At £12.50, lipglosses seemed rather expensive...considering they only charge £14 for their face powders and £11 for a lipstick...and never a fan of sticky shining wet lips, I had never been tempted. Therefore getting a set of 5 little sizes was wonderful and so far I am enjoying them. Plushglass seems a little piquant on the lips, but stays far longer than any lipgloss I have ever tried in my life: I'm impressed.
...Then MAC did the unthinkale: 20% off! Is the economy in that much trouble?? Jesus! Well gaudy gross packaging is all very well when it's a full asking price, however such principles quickly dissolve at the sight of a sale. I got the Smokey palette as it's perfect for one such as I, building up MAC staple shades. And I am adoring it. It's a cool toned selection of browns and greys, perfectly coordinated. The only somewhat let down is the Silver colour, as it behaves rather like the dreaded 'Lustre' formula, although it claims 'Frost' status. But it is nice to have, and makes the palette the perfect one stop shop for taking away, as it's fully loaded to cope with any look from the humblest to the most dramatic. If you haven't taken advantage of MAC's holiday collections yet, get to it!!