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, 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.
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.
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.