Topic: Unsung Heroes

Unsung Makeup Heroes: Benefit Ready Set Brow 24-Hr Setting Gel

Published in: Benefit, Makeup, Ulta, Unsung Heroes

benefit ready set brow

Benefit Ready, Set, Brow!

The long-running Unsung Heroes series here on Makeup and Beauty Blog features some of our all-time favorite permanent collection products.

Desert island brow gel right here!

OK, if I were a castaway stranded on a desert island, I would very likely be more concerned about finding enough food and water and getting the hell off said island than I would be my brows, but assuming there was a sheltered fresh water lagoon and all of the mangoes and papayas I could eat, and I had the luxury of worrying about keeping my brows from moving while I bathed under the waterfall or dove into the lagoon, I’d be all about $24 Benefit Ready Set Brow 24-Hr Setting Gel.

Girl! I’ve been using this for almost a year, and I’m about to finish my first tube. Squee! And for sure, I’m getting another.

You might be thinking, “Yeah, right, how exciting can a clear brow gel be?” Well, I think this one is really, really exciting, and I feel like with some makeup basics, like brow gel, if you’re going to go through the trouble to use them, they should be really, really good. And this one is.

To put it in context, I think it’s better than the Anastasia Clear Brow gel, which was my gold standard for years. This one has a stronger hold, and the brush combs through my individual brow hairs better, which makes brows look more defined and fuller, yay! It mellows out whatever brow powder or brow pencil you happen to be using to fill in your brows, too, without lifting away the product.

That’s the thing about the Anastasia Brow Gel… If I fill in my brows first, then run that gel through them, it tends to remove about half of my pencil/powder/whatever I use. Then I have to go back in and refill the empty spots.

Now that I think about it, I don’t know why I was so in love with that brow gel, but I digress…

tom ford shade illuminate cheeks sublimate k

Wearing Benefit Ready, Set, Brow! in my brows with MAC Brow Sculpt Pencil

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MAC Unsung Heroes: Cork Eye Shadow

Published in: MAC Makeup, Makeup, Product Reviews, Unsung Heroes

mac cork

MAC Cork Eye Shadow, an Unsung Makeup Hero

Whenever I take MAC Cork out for a spin, I hear champagne bottles popping. “POP!”

If it were possible to place 1,000 butterfly kisses on a pan of brown eyeshadow, I totally would.

Wait — that actually is possible. Never mind! 🙂

It’s a medium neutral golden brown with MAC’s Satin finish, and it’s part of the permanent line.

It’s also not the only Cork at MAC. There’s Cork Brow Sculpt Pencil and a Cork Lip Pencil, too.

What’s an unsung makeup hero? For me, it’s an oftentimes underrated makeup morsel, a permanent collection product that scoots under the radar screen of many makeup lovers but regularly rocks my world. The long-running Unsung Heroes series features some of my favorites.

Cork isn’t flashy, but it’s a damned good workhorse shade. It’s one of those shadows that’s easy to miss when you’re perusing those tiered MAC shadow displays.

The Satin finish is totally key. It makes Cork a great transition shade. It can double as a matte eyeshadow and deepen the crease, and because it has a hint of shimmer, it has a little more character than a basic matte. And it’s much easier to blend.

mac cork in crease

Cork in my crease and along my lower lash line (my lid shade is MAC Club)

Cork may fool you at first because it can really look like a straight up matte, but if look closely, you’ll see the tiniest twinkle (it’s barely there!).

I like using Cork in my crease when my lid color is a cool or neutral shade, and I think it’s GORGEOUS with blues, greens, purples and grays.

Oh, my gosh! Try it with MAC Club on your lids one of these days. That’s what I’m wearing in these pics. The two are like Shakespearean sonnets together. MAC Greensmoke too.

mac cork swatch

Cork is also my secret weapon when I look in the mirror in the morning, and my lids look more hooded than usual. The neutral-ness (?) of the brown sculpts a deeper shadow in my crease than warmer shades like MAC Soft Brown or Saddle.

By the way, it’s also darker than MAC Soba, which is another neutral brown MAC Satin eyeshadow I use a lot as a crease color. I’ll alternate between the two, but I choose Cork more often when I’m wearing a super saturated lid color because it’s easier for me to transition a bold lid shade to a more medium-toned brown like Cork (the gradient isn’t as dramatic as going to something lighter).

mac cork

Wearing Cork in my crease and along my lower lash lines

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MAC Unsung Heroes: 221 Mini Tapered Blending Brush

Published in: MAC Makeup, Unsung Heroes

mac 221 mini tapered blending brush

The MAC 221 Mini Tapered Blending Brush ($25)

If you spend much time with MAC-a-holics, the subject of convo routinely turns to 217s and 224s, and you know, I get it. I do. Both are fantastic must-have makeup brushes. They’re workhorses. But there’s another bad gal, the MAC 221, and it’s… Oh! Once you get a taste of this blending beauty, nothing else compares. It’s my favorite MAC eye brush of all time!

What’s an unsung makeup hero? For me, it’s an oftentimes underrated makeup morsel, a permanent collection product that scoots under the radar screen of many makeup lovers but regularly rocks my world. The long-running Unsung Heroes series features some of my favorites.

The 221, otherwise known as “the Mini Tapered Blending Brush,” is $25 and part of the MAC permanent line.

It looks a little like a cross between the 224 Tapered Blending Brush and the 217 Tapered Blending Brush. The brush head has the same tapered, elongated shape of the 224, but it’s thinner, and the tip has the domed shape of the 217, only pointier. Essentially, you get the best of both worlds with it. It’s thinner and pointier than the average crease blending brush.

mac 221 mini tapered blending brush 1

So what does this mean for you? Well, if you don’t have a lot of lid space from your lash line to your brow bone, like, if you have smaller eyes, or a crease (like mine) that isn’t very deep, as is the case with hooded eyes, you probably have to be very precise when you place your crease color, and the 221 allows you to place shadows exactly where you want them.

Because the brush head is also fairly fluffy, you won’t end up with areas on your lids where the shadow is dark and overly concentrated — which is a problem I have when I use precision brushes, like pencil brushes, to work in the crease or the outer V.

And did I mention that it blends and buffs edges with preternatural pretty power?

The 221 is also great for applying and smudging eyeshadow and liner along the lower lash line. Most brushes scratch at my lower lash line, but the 221 is softer than a Ragdoll kitty’s paw. The thin tip also means that I probably won’t take my shadow or liner too far down.

mac 221 mini tapered blending brush 2

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MAC Unsung Heroes: Matchmaster Shade Intelligence Compact

Published in: MAC Makeup, Unsung Heroes

mac matchmaster shade intelligence compact closeup

The $38 MAC Matchmaster Shade Intelligence Compact is an unsung makeup hero

I keep seeing these memes popping up about people who eat dinner early and go to bed at 9, and I can so relate. That would have been my nightmare scenario as a kid, but when it happens now as an adult, it’s a dream come true. I wish I could do it every night, LOL!

It’s sort of like how I think of “natural” (air quotes) makeup these days. Like, when I started wearing makeup on the ‘low back in middle school, natural-looking makeup was the last thing I was going for. There was nothing natural about that purple liner I was rocking.

I would have said, “No way! I don’t want this to look natural! I want it to look like I’m wearing as much makeup as possible.” Fourteen-year-old Karen would have laughed at 41-year-old Karen’s quest for natural-looking makeup, which brings me to the MAC Matchmaster Shade Intelligence Compact.

What’s an unsung makeup hero? For me, it’s an oftentimes underrated makeup morsel, a permanent collection product that scoots under the radar screen of many makeup lovers but regularly rocks my world. The long-running Unsung Heroes series features some of my favorites.

It’s basically MAC’s version of a sheer liquid formula cushion compact, and it’s available in 12 refillable shades. The main compact is $38, and the refills are $28.

They were released last year around this time, and I’m a little nervous now because I can’t seem to find them anymore on the MAC website. I do see them at Macy’s, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, though.

Bloomingdale’s, by the way, is the only one that has all 12 shades and the refills in stock.

Cushion compacts?

You see them all over the place now, but they started out in Korea. They have a liquid-ish foundation formula and vary in terms of coverage from sheer to medium. They also usually have a second lid inside the compact that keeps a small, pre-soaked sponge or cushion from drying out.

When you press the sponge, a little bit of the liquid comes out, which is basically what sets them apart from other kinds of foundation.

mac matchmaster shade intelligence compact closeup

Wearing shade 4.0 (please ignore the crazy eye makeup!)

Like MAC’s regular Matchmaster Foundation, the formula is a self-adjusting liquid foundation that adjusts to your skin tone. I wear it in shade 4.0, which seems a little too golden-orange for me at first, but the gold mellows out somewhat to match my natural skin tone over about five minutes.

I don’t know what kind of voodoo magic they infused this with, but it works!

Coverage when it comes to cushion compacts really depends on the brand, as some brands are much sheer than others. I’d call this one sheer to medium.

I’ve tried other cushion compacts before but didn’t find one that I liked enough to stick with it until I found the MAC Matchmaster Shade Intelligence Compact. I ended up returning a fancy-schmancy one by Amore Pacific because it was a little too shiny and waaay too peachy for me.

But I really love this one. The coverage is incredibly flexible. It’s easy to go from sheer to medium to full, just like that, and I think it looks great in every kind of light from natural to flash to fluorescent. It even looks good in video.

A trick for full coverage

There’s a very fine line between practical, and fairly useless, when it comes to sheer-ish liquid foundations, because some are just so sheer that you can barely see anything when you’re wearing them, which, I guess, is pretty cool if your skin is darned near perfect already, but if you have a big pore situation like I do or freckles or areas you want to even out, this one is great for that.

It covers almost everything (but doesn’t look mannequin fake) and de-emphasizes my pores a tad.

And if you want to bump up the coverage to full, it’s really easy to do. Just grab your favorite liquid concealer (I’ve been loving Sephora Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer and Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Concealer), and place a few dots directly where you want that extra coverage. For me, that’s my cheeks, around my nostrils and on my upper lip.

Then, load a foundation brush or beautybender with your MAC Matchmaster Shade Intelligence foundation, and blend the concealer dots into your skin for an easy, fabulously flawless finish. 🙂 I use this technique all the time when I want full coverage but don’t want to spend hella days layering and buffing. It’s been my go-to technique lately for pics and video.

I also love the satiny finish (it isn’t too shiny or flat) and the super lightweight formula. It never feels like it’s suffocate my skin. Plus, it lasts long enough to get me through a long day.

I love this stuff! I just hope it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon…

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


P.S. Happy Caturday! I hope you’re doing something fun. Rogue One yesterday was pretty great. I thought it was better than I expected. It’s kind of a serious war movie…but I think you’ll like it if you like sci-fi. Plus, popcorn. 🙂

The MAC Unsung Heroes series (a subset of my regular Unsung Makeup Heroes series) features some of my all-time favorite products from MAC’s permanent collection

If you’re looking for permanent collection ideas or inspiration, there are literally hundreds of unsung makeup heroes posts in the MBB archives. These 20 are just the tip of the iceberg.

MAC Unsung Heroes: MAC Oh My Mocha Eye Shadow

Published in: MAC Makeup, Unsung Heroes

mac oh my mocha

Oh My Mocha!

I think the Internet may be giving people, and by “people,” I mean me, this belief that they can do *anything* just by looking it up online, because yesterday I made the most questionable (translation: gross) mocha at home.

What’s an unsung makeup hero? For me, it’s an oftentimes underrated makeup morsel, a permanent collection product that scoots under the radar screen of many makeup lovers but regularly rocks my world. The long-running Unsung Heroes series features some of my favorites.

I had just put on a little MAC Oh My Mocha Eye Shadow ($16) and thought, “I’m gonna drink a mocha while I’m wearing Oh My Mocha,” because the idea seemed kinda poetic, but then I looked outside and saw that a creepy, supernatural fog had descended upon my neighborhood…

mac oh my mocha

MAC Oh My Mocha Eye Shadow, meow!

It gets foggy here sometimes, especially in the mornings in fall and winter, and when it happens, it’s usually foggy at the crack of dawn but burns off quickly.

Yesterday, though, started out sunny, but then it got horror movie foggy… It was that creepy cemetery fog that appears out of nowhere right before the main character walks into it and disappears forever.

Anyway, I wasn’t brave enough to walk outside in it, but it did make me crave a mocha. 🙂

The coffee/milk/cocoa combo...

The coffee/milk/cocoa combo…

mac oh my mocha

A little whipped cream makes everything better? I think?!

So I googled a recipe, mixing coffee, milk, cocoa powder and sugar, and then added a boat load of whipped cream on top. Aaand it pretty much tasted like a pair of old Doc Martens with chocolate sauce, BLUH!

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