MAC Arena Eyeshadow: Unsung Makeup Hero

Published in: MAC Makeup


Two things I recently realized about MAC Arena eyeshadow ($14.50):

  1. If you say the words “MAC Arena” fast enough, it sounds like you’re saying macarena.
  2. The color looks a billion times hotter on the skin than it looks in the pan.

Arena’s a permanent member of the MAC eyeshadow line, but I never really paid her much attention before.

I guess I just thought she looked kinda uninspiring in the pan. With colors like Freshwater (a bright and shimmery blue) to distract me, Arena simply got overlooked.

Thankfully, I’ve come to my senses. πŸ™‚

Arena applies as a shimmery golden peach — a subtle look — but the color packs enough peachy goodness to stand out in a crowd.

So far, I’ve mainly worn her as a wash on my lids, where I think she really brightens my eyes. Perfect for one two-minute eye makeup days.

MAC Arena on lid with flash

MAC Arena on lid without flash

Now I’m wondering how Arena will work with more complicated eye looks…

I bet she’d look good as a highlighter on the brow bone; paired with gold, peach or brown eyeshadows at the inner corners of the eyes; or with a thick black cat eyeliner and some bold red lips.

Swatch with flash

Swatch without flash


Are you a fan of MAC Arena? What colors do you think would work well with it?

Gimme, gimme Chimichurri Chicken Wrap!

I got my orange dreams on at Jamba Juice today. Did you know they’re serving pre-made wraps and salads now? I picked up this thing called a Chimichurri Chicken Wrap. Girlfriend, it’s the bomb diggity! Seriously. It has chicken, crunchy veggies and comes with a really yummy lemon-basil sauce. Maybe I was just *that* hungry, but I swear it was a symphony of flavors in my mouth.

NOTE: Cali residents who order one with a Jamba smoothie get $2 off the combined price of the meal.

The magnificent Chimichurri was the highlight of my day, LOL! What was the highlight of yours?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 57 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Tiffany says:

    Arena looks lovely on you! I have an urge to try it, although peaches dont usually look good on my eyes. Is it sad that I can’t think of a single highlight of my day? Ugh, I was home today trying to take care of my sick doggie. It was stressful! Oh! I guess the highlight was watching the last 2 episodes of true blood!

  2. TaLaisa says:

    That is so gorgeous on you. I think I need to try that out on me-self next time I go in. I used to think I was cool toned and couldn’t wear warm shades and after trying some coral lippies and realizing I have a ton of warmer eyeshadows I’ve begun to change my mind. I asked the MA at MAC and I’m a NC20 but could also go with NW20, so a mix of the two seems like it would match me perfectly. I guess I can go either way, lucky me?

    Anyway point is, although I wouldn’t have given it a second look previously I think I could wear it and love it as well.
    .-= TaLaisa’s last blog post… Happy Valentines =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi TaLaisa,

      Lucky you! A whole new world of color is opening for you — how exciting! πŸ™‚

      Oh, and I’m very happy that your friend’s son is doing good post-surgery. I hope he heals quickly.

  3. TaLaisa says:

    The highlight of my day was seeing blog photo’s of my best girlfriend smiling and her sweet son looking amazing after having heart surgery in Boston today. Made me cry great big tears of joy.
    .-= TaLaisa’s last blog post… Happy Valentines =-.

  4. Kim says:

    The highlight of my day was lopping off somewhere along the lines of 3-4 inches of hair, picking it all up to chin-length hair now. It was awesome. I just told my hair girl what my ‘hair problems’ were (excessive split ends! among other things..) and said “do whatever you want.” She ended up giving me the sexiest hair ever. I was described as an Egyptian Goddess by a coworker!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kim,

      That’s so exciting. There’s nothing like a new ‘do to inject some spring in your step. Does your hair feel lighter? That’s a lot to chop off!

  5. Marmar says:

    I don’t have a Jamba Juice anywhere near here πŸ™

    Lovin that pretty eye shadow!

    Officla highlight of my day- I got a new job!
    .-= Marmar’s last blog post… why I (heart) Girls Generation =-.

  6. Karen F says:

    What a wonderful day on Makeup and Beauty blog! First, the Benefit eyes tutorial with Samba De Loves Me and then the MAC Arena love! I have both these colors and you have (as always) provided some great, fresh ideas. Thank you for all you do to make your blog a “must-read” for me each day!

  7. Nicole15 says:

    You must be in my brain Karen! Last night I took out Arena, opened the pot & said to myself, “jeez, i really have neglected you, but i just never know what to pair you with. you are such a pretty color. i must use you this week.” I am totally going to use some of your suggestions especially the cat liner with a bold lip. Ooh la la! Anxious to check back & see what the other MBB babes advise for this color. I def need to show Arena the love. πŸ™‚

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nicole15,

      Arena is a workhorse color housed in a drab outfit, LOL! If only she looked sexier in the pan — I’m sure she’d get more lovin’!

      Oh, do you have Rubenesque? I’m thinking Arena would look fab with it.

  8. erica says:

    OMG…LOVE arena! it was my VERY FIRST MAC shadow, bought in 1999 freshman year at college. AND the name of a Duran Duran album (sorry had to make a DD connection)…

    I used to wear Arena with MAC Brulee. Do they still make that one?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Erica,

      Yup, they do. I have Brule, too. It’s so old — it’s one of the pans with the screw on cap. Dang that thing is ancient.

  9. Kailey says:

    That color is so pretty!
    I’m gonna try it πŸ˜‰

  10. Crystal G. says:

    The highlights of my day were a hot stone massage and lunch with 2 good friends from work – both belated gifts for yesterday (my birthday). At lunch I had an awesome dessert: coconut pecan caramel ice cream pie…yum!

    I like Arena a lot – it’s a good shadow to use for work looks, on both the lid and under the brow as a highlight.

    I’ve used it as follows…

    Lid – Arena
    Around crease – Satin Taupe (sometimes with Handwritten in the crease)
    Brow highlight – Shroom

    Lid – Bare Canvas paint, Arena
    Outer c – Coppering and Antiqued
    Brow highlight – Shroom

    Lid – Arena (inner), Paradisco (middle), Mulch (outer)
    Crease – Mulch
    Brow highlight – Shroom (I’m noticing a pattern here…LOL)

    It also works well with Parfait Amour, Plumage, and on top of Rubenesque paint pot.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Crystal G.,

      What a lovely day. Happy belated birthday!

      Thanks for these color suggestions. I have all of these shades (whee!). Now it’s time to play. πŸ™‚

  11. Kate & Zena says:

    Hm, it’s so light and I have about three different colors that are like that but 50% cheaper. It’s pretty but you can find drugstore versions that have been around longer for cheaper.

  12. Sejal says:

    I’m glad you like this coilor! Arena is one of my staples since I can use it for a quick wash (like you did), but also with browns, bronzes, taupes, pinks….just about anything! And it is such a work friendly color, I love it!

  13. Christina says:

    this was my first MAC shadow!

    i loved it for a sheer wash in the store but couldn’t really figure out how to work it at home. it’s been sadly neglected. i love your suggestions, am definitely going to try some this week!

    highlight of day: working out and not being obnoxiously sore. πŸ™‚

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christina,

      It hit me last night that it might look really pretty on top of a peachy cream shadow, like Benefit’s Samba-dy Loves Me or MAC Rubenesque. Maybe try it on top of those to give it more punch?

      Good for you for working out! I did pushups on Monday for the first time in ages and I’m still sore. What kind of workout did you do?

  14. Tali says:

    I like it! Its like all that glitters.. looks nothing in the pan and then Wooopah! On the eye its amazing!
    .-= Tali’s last blog post… Garnier =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tali,

      ATG is another neutral from the MAC line that’s new to me. I have to pick it up next time I go to the counter. What do you usually like to wear it with?

  15. e. smith says:

    Arena has been my staple highlighter for years! Glad you like it.

  16. Tiffany says:

    Hi Karen! He seems to be okay so far today – thank goodness!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tiffany,

      That’s good to hear. It’s so stressful when a pet gets sick. It’s hard to see them suffering, plus they can’t tell you what they need. When Tabs caught a cold in January both El Hub and I were so worried about him; we were both nervous wrecks. Thank goodness for good vets!

  17. Karen B says:

    I don’t have Arena but it reminds me a bit of ricepaper which is a staple for me.

    My highlight of the day is going to three different schools this morning to give in my job application letters and resume. It’s so odd.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen B,

      Interesting… I have Ricepaper and it shows up more beige than peach. I think it’s cool how the same color can look completely different on people.

      Anyway, what kind of jobs are you applying for?

  18. Dao says:

    I like how it looks on you. I just got Rubenesque paint pot and I love it as well! Looks like these two are in the same wavelength!

    Once I get my mixer, I’m going to make aji, a sauce that’s similar to chimichurri. I eat way too many spicy food πŸ™‚
    .-= Dao’s last blog post… Q-tips Vanity Pack: When Cotton Buds Go Cute! =-.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Dao,

      I bought a pot of Rubenesque at the MAC sumo sale. I’m still waiting for my stuff (sigh). Once I get it I’ll try the Arena/Rubenesque combo.

      Happy Wednesday!

  19. lesley says:

    I’ve been looking at this colour for a while, though I’ve never bought it. I have 6 Back2MAC items so maybe I’ll give Arena a try… finally πŸ™‚ Is it like a peachier, powder version of Birthday Suit? I wonder how I’ll be able to wear it, since I’m NC25… either way… I’m excited!

  20. Dao says:

    Hi Karen,

    I also got Rubenesque from the sumo sale. I got my stuff yesterday, so yours should arrive very soon. Rubenesque works much better than Bare Canvas on me, I reckon.
    .-= Dao’s last blog post… Q-tips Vanity Pack: When Cotton Buds Go Cute! =-.

  21. redhead says:

    Sounds yummy! I thought they were called Chimmichangas, though. F**k the name, it’s too yummy to care :d

  22. Jess says:

    Hi Karen, Just wanted to say thanks for this shadow mention! Don’t get me wrong, I love doing a multi-step fancy look, but 90% of days I just don’t have time for all that before running to the office. That’s why I like to hear about a pretty shade that can be thrown on quickly in a pinch and still look fab. Thanks again, keep ’em coming!!

  23. Kate & Zena says:


    I’ll have to look through my stash. I’ll e-mail you if I can find something like Arena in my stash. I’m positive I have a few as I use a lot of neutrals.

  24. tatiana says:

    Arena is my shit! My first MAC shadow in which I hit the bottom of the pan.

  25. Jane says:

    This comment is not related to the particular shade you reviewed, but could you recommend a gray eyeshadow for light/med Asian skintone? (I’m NC30) It doesn’t have to be MAC, and in fact, if you could point out some great drugstore shades, that’d be awesome!

    Love love love your blog!!!


    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane,

      I am really loving Benefit’s Velvet Eyeshadow in Where There’s Smoke. It’s a shimmery, steel gray that you can build up easily or apply wet for a more dramatic look. πŸ™‚

  26. lexi says:

    Hi Karen,
    What a coincidence – I wore Arena today over Benefit’s ‘Honey Bunny’ creaseless shadow. It’s definitely and underrated shade. I have been using this for the past 3 years for a very neutral non-shimmer look. When I first started using this color I used it on top of Mac’s Pigment Pot – Bare study and Sketch in the corners for a shimmery look completed with black liner and loads of black plushlash. Now I like wearing the aforementioned way – it’s subtle and gives me that Angelina Jolie neutral lid smokey eye in ‘Wanted’ feel and trust me that’s the only way I can emulate Angie’s coolness!

  27. Karen B says:

    Yeah. Lol.

    Teaching eh. But I don’t think there’ll be work unfortunately.

  28. Karen says:

    Now I love Arena!!! I wore my Mulch with Arena just yesterday, I also use it with Green Smoke and one other I just cant think of right now, but Arena is def one that I use a couple of times a week.

  29. Andrea says:

    Hey Karen, do you think that Arena can be worn as a cheek illuminator/highliter ?

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