15 super-cool uses for MAC pigments

MAC-pigment-usesWhen I started off in beauty, nothing would intimidate me more than those sparkly jars of MAC Pigments – they looked so gorgeous and professional but I could never figure out just what to do with them. Then, over the years, I saw leading makeup artists use these highly pigmented loose powders in ways that I had never thought possible. In fact, some beauty industry mavens firmly believe that 2-3 pots of MAC pigments, a jar of Vaseline and and the right tools can easily dress up everything from your hair to your toenails. Read on for some of the tips I have picked up along the way.

Using pigment as eye liner

Dampen a liner brush and dip it into the MAC pigment of your choice. Line the upper lid as close to the lash line as possible. Then use a darker pigment on the lower lash line if you want a truly dramatic effect.

Pigment as eyeshadow

This is the most commonly used way to wear MAC pigments. To begin, apply an eye shadow base or primer (this is essential as the loose powder needs something to adhere to the skin) to the eyelid. Then sprinkle some pigment in the jar’s lid and dip a small shadow brush into the powder. It’s best to use a stiff brush and instead of sweeping the brush across the eye, pat it as this stops the pigment spilling all over your face.

You can also “foil” (which basically means using it wet) the pigment for more vibrant colour payoff. To do this, take any mixing medium like Visine or MAC’s Fix+ (you can even use a face lotion or cream). Dip an angled brush into the medium and mix it with a bit of the pigment. Then simply apply this mixture like a cream eye shadow.

Pigment as eyebrow filler

Take a MAC pigment that’s 1-to-2 shades lighter than your original brow colour. Dip a firm angled brush into a pigment and apply small strokes to ape the fine hair in the brow.

Pigment as mascara

For funky lashes, mix some MAC pigment with a clear mascara and apply it to your lashes. Or simply stroke on a bit over your regular mascara, while it’s still wet, for a hint of sparkle.

Pigment as lipstick

A clear or slightly rose-toned gloss works best for this purpose. Mix a tiny bit of MAC pigment with the gloss and apply with a lip brush. Or, you can apply gloss to the lips, then dip your finger into the pigment and either pat or slick it over your lip gloss.

This is also a great way to wear your matte lipsticks as a frost – just layer a sheer, frosty MAC pigment over it. And if you want to add some “oomph” to a lipstick, simply pat on a very sheer layer of pigment over your lips after applying lipstick.

MAC-pigments-4Pigment as highlighter

Vanilla (for lighter skintones) and Naked (for darker skintones) are popular choices to highlight the brow bone, cheekbones, centre of the nose, cupid’s bow, chin and forehead. And it’s simple: apply a very small amount of MAC pigment to the brush and apply with a light hand.

Pigment as blush

You can also use these multipurpose powders as blushers: apply a small amount of MAC pigment to your blush brush and blend it into your skin. Or, for greater control over the blending, create a cream blusher by mixing some of the pigment with a moisturiser.

Pigment as illuminator

You can also mix a light-toned pigment (like Vanilla) with foundation or moisturiser to create a dewy, luminous glow on the face.

Pigment as nail polish

You can mix your MAC pigment together with clear nail polish to create a custom nail colour. For the best results, use a a jar of polish that has the little metal agitator pellet in it. If it doesn’t, try and get a small ball bearing, which you can generally find at craft stores or hobby shops. This is not essential but the metal balls allow you to mix the two elements together more smoothly.

Don’t want to commit a whole bottle of clear nail polish to one colour? Apply the nail polish, then sprinkle the MAC pigment on top before it has dried.

Pigment as body shimmer

One of my favourite ways of using a MAC pigment is to take a big paddle brush and pick up a shimmery, neutral colour (such as Naked or Tan) and lightly sweep it over my decolletage & shoulders, wherever the light would naturally hit. It gives a lovely glow!

For a more subtle effect, mix in a small amount of pigment with a body lotion and lightly massage into your skin. I would recommend sticking to a lotion texture – body creams or butters can be difficult to mix and blend.

MAC-pigment-texturePigment for body contouring

Want your legs to appear long and slender? Blend gold and silver MAC pigments with your body lotion and apply it from your knees to the ankles. The glossy line will make your legs look gorgeously toned!

Pigments for your Hair

Take your favorite hair styling product (cream, mousse, gel etc.), sprinkle a bit of MAC pigment in it and mix well. Then streak it through your hair or use all over for a total effect. But always remember: if you dust the pigment over your hair without mixing it with something that helps it adhere, it will just end up spilling everywhere!


  • Open the jar with caution. It’s unfortunately somewhat common to open a jar and wind up with pigment all over your floor, hands, clothes and anything within a mile-long radius. That’s not a pretty mess!
  • Dipping the brush directly into the jar usually loads it with too much product. So, I prefer to grab just the right amount of the pigment from where it collects on the plastic stopper and then tap off excess against the rim of the jar.
  • Not all MAC pigments are suitable for eye or lip use, so ALWAYS read the packaging or the insert of a particular jar.
  • The savviest beauty divas mix up their MAC pigments to create unique, custom colours that no one else is wearing!
  • Whenever you are using a pigment “dry” (like eyeshadow or highlighter), dust some powder below the area of application. The powder will “catch” any loose pigment, which you can then wipe away with a tissue without ruining the rest of your makeup.

Do you use MAC Pigments? Which one’s your favourite? And how do you apply it?

Want to dye your hair with real gold particles?

Forget “It bags” and Cartier bracelets… your hair could soon be the ultimate status symbol! According to the American Chemical Society’s journal, scientists have now found a way to dye hair using real gold.

However, the process is not as straightforward as simply going a few shades more brown. Your strands first need to be bleached white and it then takes 7 hours of dyeing before the first hint of gold starts showing through. And it’s not exactly gentle – the dyeing process uses strong chloroauric acid which, with a pH of 12.5, is far more caustic than a classic alkaline hair perm, which has a pH of 9 or 10.

But there is a saving grace – even though you might need to pay the stylists a pricey sum for the number of hours they put into the process, the dye itself is relatively cheap. That’s because only 0.5 per cent of the hair’s weight is needed in gold to coat strands effectively. That means the amount of gold needed for the average head of hair – about 100g – would cost about £19 ($30).

Now, it just begs one question: who would really want a head of gold-infused hair, anyway? Would you?

Bizarre celeb beauty secrets (that you can recreate at home!)

It’s no secret that international models and Hollywood A-listers go to great lengths to look their best on the red carpet. But unlike leech facials or umbilical cord injections, some of these beauty tricks are actually doable by your average non-celeb. Well, if it works for a super model… !

celeb-beauty-secretsEva’s kitchen

Desperate Housewife or not, one can’t deny that Eva Longoria has simply the most flawlessly glow-y complexion in Hollywood. Her secret? A homemade mask made of 4 parts coffee grounds, 4 parts olive oil and 1 part lemon juice. Piece of cake!

Emma Stone’s grapeseed fixation

The Help actress, who always seems to have flawless skin, reveals that her look doesn’t come courtesy expensive creams – it’s actually the work of grapeseed oil. In fact, the 24-year-old is allergic to many beauty products, so she uses the pure vegetable oil as a moisturiser all the time. Emma jokes that the oil, which costs around US$3 from most supermarkets, makes her smell like grapes “pretty much all the time.” Which, I think, just makes her even more appealing!

Make like Moss

Kate Moss preps for a big night out by dipping her face into a bowl of ice cubes and cucumber slices to tauten up her skin and create a fabulous glow.

celeb beauty secrets 2Kerr goes coco

Australian beauty Miranda Kerr believes that beauty comes from within. So, she has a daily shake made from natural juice and a supplement of chlorophyll and spirulina to help maintain her clear skin. Besides this, she “doesn’t go a day” without four tablespoons of coconut oil – spreading it over her salads, cooking or cups of green tea. Now it might seem like coconut oil is fattening (and it is when taken excessively) but the composition actually makes for more energy and leaner bodies. That’s because it’s composed of lauric acid rather than saturated fat, which has unbelievable health benefits like fighting off bacterial infections, cleansing our bodies, and boosting metabolism, besides warding off breast and colon cancer.

Ramp up the runway quotient

Backstage, models and make-up artists have been known to concoct a powerful face pack consisting of aspirin and honey. The salicylic acid within the aspirin sloughs away dead skin cells and unblocks pores while the honey soothes and softens. Dreamy!

Glow like a Kardashian

A spoonful of sugar helps your skin glow, according to Kim Kardashian, who adds the sweet stuff to her body wash “for a gentle exfoliating experience”.

Gaga over spinach

Lady Gaga claims that drinking spinach juice works wonders on her skin. Dermatologists and nutritionists concur: The phytonutrients in green leafy vegetables such as spinach help the detoxification and biotransformation systems in the body, which is a crucial element in clear and glowing skin.

Gisele’s bed head

This Brazilian beauty often has a sexy, come-hither “bed hair” look in public… and she doesn’t need an army of stylists to achieve the same. Gisele washes her hair at night, ties it up while it’s still damp, then goes to bed. When she wakes up in the morning it looks nice and wavy, so all she needs to do is add a bit of hair serum for a shine.

celeb beauty secrets 3Laundry locks

A celebrity cannot afford to have one hair out of place on the red carpet. So, stylists sometimes use spray-on laundry starch on their tresses, which helps control fly-aways and prevents frizziness even in the steamiest of situations.

Jennifer Lopez’s appetite killer

J-Lo is known for her slender frame and legendary curves but she has an unusual method for maintaining the same. The singer-dancer-actress sniffs grapefruit oil for 15 minutes (there is always a vial on her person somewhere) to reduce cravings and stop her reaching for the chocolates.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the pursuit to beauty? Would you be tempted to follow any celeb fads? Tell me below!

Is Kerastase Chronologiste worth the big bucks?

If it looks luxe, feels luxe and needs a luxe wallet, it must also be super-effective, right? Well! As most of us have learnt along the way, the fact that a beauty product comes with a hefty price tag and an enchanted feel-good experience is no guarantee that it will make a dramatic difference to your hair or skin. Which brings us to the Kérastase Chronologiste – billed as “The finest haircare treatment ever created by Kérastase”. Really? Time to put it to the test, which I did yesterday.

Hair, Caviar, L'Oreal, haircare, beauty, Kerastase, Chronologiste
Kerastase Chronologiste Caviar Pearls

First, let’s talk about the technology of this lush product that is centred around caviar. Except that the treatment doesn’t really have caviar – it’s “mimetic caviar”, which is a lab-derived equivalent (honestly, I don’t mind since who wants their hair to smell like fish eggs?). Anyway, this mimetic caviar comes in the form of pearls that are immersed in enriched Pacific sea-water and are crushed just before use to release active ingredients like lipids, vitamins A and E, and marine nutrients. These are mixed into the Creme Chronologiste, which is loaded with hair-nourishing goodies like gluco-lipids, ceramides, anti-oxidants and silicone. The result is a velvety paste that is applied liberally on your strands, right from roots to ends.

In the salon ritual (which uses more concentrated versions of the products), my hair therapist followed up the application with the most intense, reinvigorating and heavenly head and shoulder massage that loosened and refreshed every tiny millimetre of my scalp and was more decadent than all the products put together – I would go back just for this! Then she popped my head under one of those hooded steamers that make you look like a space traveller – 8 minutes of hot steam and 2 minutes of cold air (to close the hair cuticles) later, my hair was washed, dried and softly serum-ed into a glossy version of it’s normal straw-like texture. Ta da!

Now for the ultimate question – was it worth it?

My hair – which had been feeling dry, dull and totally lifeless after endless rounds of colour and flat-irons – did come out looking shinier, bouncier and smoother. It also felt lighter and not-so-weighed down, which meant that my fine strands looked more voluminous and had good movement. My scalp, which was so dry that it was flaking, seemed less tight and the flakes seemed to vanish. However, just a few hours later, the ends started frizzing and by the next morning, some of the shine had already disappeared, leaving me to wonder whether the initial smoothness and glossiness was due to an external layer of silicones rather than true deep conditioning. Frankly, I would say the long-term results were just a notch above the more generic L’Oreal Professionel in-salon treatments, which cost about half the money.

Kerastase Chronologiste Home Kit

Which is one of the reasons why I won’t be buying the take-home box anytime soon. Actually, I am sure that 10 concentrated doses would make an improvement but this treatment should ideally be carried out either by a professional or an extremely patient person who can meticulously coat each strand, from root to tip, for best effects. And I fall into neither of these categories. Think of it as the difference between do-at-home face masks and a dermatological facial – technique matters!

Would I try the in-salon treatment again? When I have cash to burn then yes – if only for the decadent, feel-good factor and the aforementioned head massage. Otherwise, I would rather stick to the more affordable and equally effective L’Oreal Professionel or Wella salon samplers. What would you do?