When 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 and a jar of Vaseline can easily dress up everything from your hair to your toenails.
And all those different colors work for every skin tone — you just have to mix it right!
So, read on for some of the tips I have picked up along the way.
Using MAC pigments as an eye liner
Dampen a liner brush and dip it into the MAC pigment of your choice. Then use the brush to line the upper lid.
Follow with a pigment in a complementary color on the lower lash line if you want a truly dramatic effect.
MAC pigments as eyeshadow
This is the most commonly used way to wear MAC pigments, which are basically highly concentrated loose color powders.
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 a more intense effect.
To do this, take any mixing medium (like MAC’s Prep+ Prime Fix+ or the MAC Face and Body Mixing Medium). 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.
Eyebrow filler (oh, YES!)
For an extra sparkle, 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.
A 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 and subtle wash of color.
MAC pigments as lipstick
A clear or slightly rose-toned lip 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 with a more intense look, simply pat on a very sheer layer of pigment over your lips after applying lipstick.
Pigment as highlighter
The MAC Pigment in 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.
A 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.
MAC pigment as an 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 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.
You can also use a 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.
MAC pigments for body contouring
Want your legs to appear long and slender? Blend gold and silver MAC glitter 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 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!
Finally… this is essential reading on how to use MAC pigments!
- Open the jar with caution. It’s unfortunately 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.