MAC Unsung Heroes: Layin’ Low Paint Pot

Published in: Eyes, MAC Makeup, Unsung Heroes

mac layin low

MAC Layin’ Low Paint Pot, $22

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

When was the last time you heard somebody flip their lid and rave about MAC Layin’ Low?

Ever…? Have you ever heard it? Because I can’t remember ever hearing somebody rave about MAC Layin’ Low. It really does lay low and keep a low profile. Among the MAC Paint Pots, it just doesn’t get the same kind of love that Soft Ochre and Painterly get and, yes, while they’re also cream eyeshadows, I think Layin’ Low deserves some love of its own, because it’s one of THE BEST base colors for warm browns.


There, I said it! WARM BROWNS. I know I go on and on about how much I like to wear cool browns on my lids (the gray tones create fabulous faux shadows that give the illusion of a deeper crease, which is something I’m always striving for since my crease is pretty shallow), but there’s something about warm orangey browns and reddish browns in the fall and winter. They just feel right, and they go oh, so well with plum, wine, brown and red lips.

Warm and creamy matte beige Layin’ Low is like Soft Brown’s creamy shadow cousin, and if you like warm browns like MAC Saddle, Texture, Swiss Chocolate (and others), it’s an absolute must.

If you’re warm toned like I am with a skin tone around NC20 or up, it’s like friggin’ David Copperfield (i.e. magic). If you’re lighter than NC20, just in case, give it a swatch first before committing, because it can look a little more orange than warm beige on some gals.


A quick daytime look with Layin’ Low on my lids and MAC Costa Riche Eye Kohl on my lash lines; the lipstick is bareMinerals Lead the Way

I’m a MAC NC42, and Layin’ Low is in my category of everyday staples. For fast looks, I’ll wear it as a standalone shadow, just popping it right on my lids, diffusing it into the crease and smudging Costa Riche on my lash and water lines before adding mascara and a bold plum, wine or berry lip. It lasts all day and doesn’t even need primer!

mac layin low

MAC Layin’ Low as a base (you can see it on my lids and brow bones), with MAC Soft Brown, Saddle and Swiss Chocolate in the crease and MAC Smolder Eye Kohl on my lash lines

It’s also a superstar eyeshadow base for warm orangey brown or reddish brown smoky eyes. I’ll buff it on my lids from lash line to brow bone with a MAC 217, then sweep Soft Brown into the crease, then Saddle or Texture slightly lower into the crease, Swiss Chocolate on my lids and a black liner (usually Smolder) on my lash and water lines.

mac layin low swatch

A swatch of MAC Layin’ Low on my NC42 skin

If you’re one of those gals or guys for whom the MAC Paint Pots look thick and heavy on your lids, try applying a very thin layer of Layin’ Low with a domed eyeshadow brush like the MAC 217. I’ll just do quick, little sweeping motions and make tight circles to buff the layers down as thin as humanly possible, which is something I learned from a MAC makeup artist, and it changed my worldview on the MAC Paint Pots, LOL! Before that I’d always press them into my skin with my fingers, and they’d look heavy and dry on my lids.

I hope you give Layin’ Low a chance one of these days, because I think it’s a totally underrated everyday workhorse. You can find it now for $22 in the MAC permanent line, hoping to change lives one sweep at a time. 🙂

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


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


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So far, 23 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Kaprice says:

    This is my favorite MAC paint pot to use! I’m so glad I’m not the only one!

  2. Lulle says:

    I’ve stayed away from MAC Paint Pots because of the dry/heavy look problem, but of course I was applying with my fingers. Thanks for the tip, I’ll look into them again trying that application method!
    Lulle recently posted … Barely purple: Tarte Energy Noir LipSurgence Skintuitive Lip Tint review

  3. Jane says:

    I don’t have any MAC paint pots, but I have used and still have some of Bobbi Brown’s cream shadows which I use as a base for when I do use Metallic eyeshadow (which is not too often). I also wear them alone when I don’t want to spend alot of time on my eyes. my two favorites are Shore which is a Pale nude and Mocha which has a bit more pink . I have always used my fingers, but I like the idea of buffing them out more. They are great basics to have in my collection.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane,

      I’ve worn Bobbi’s cream shadows too and hers are great! I have a couple; need to bust them out soon. 🙂 Let me know how it goes with the buffing brush action.

      Happy (almost) Friday! I’m so ready for the weekend. Are you doing anything fun?

  4. Yessenia says:

    Ive always wanted to pick up a paint pot and this is the color I gravitate toward and on of my favorite youtubers xxsarahnicolexx raves about it too!

  5. The application method you described is exactly the one I use with my beloved Maybelline Color Tattoo in Creamy Beige (which looks very much like MAC Groundwork) and I agree it’s the best way to apply it!
    Carol in a Page recently posted … Monthly Favorites: October 2015

  6. Too orange on my skin, as I am NC 15, but you are right, I never ever heard someone rave about it.
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Going through phases – Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Concealer + Treatment

  7. Yep, there’s no denying it, the MAC Paint Pots still deserve major praise! They make such good bases! They don’t budge at all.
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Review | New Le Petit Marseillais soap and shower products fall 2015

  8. Astrild says:

    I fell this one is too peachy/orange for my taste on my NC20. But last week I had a makeup lesson at MAC and they use Perky paint pot on me applied in the same way as you describe. The put Swiss Chocolate on top and it was a GORGEOUS combination. It’s on my wishlist since then. I will give another try to layin’ low with this technique to see If I was wrong.

  9. Agata says:

    I am NW20 so I am not sure it would work for me but this look is gorgeous. So simple, yet so beautiful! And that lip color is TO DIE FOR! And your eyeliner looks so good and perfect!
    Agata recently posted … Makeup Revolution London- Affirmation Ultra Eyeshadow Palette Review

  10. MonicaP says:

    That’s quite a list!! I’ve literally never heard anyone mention Layin Low as a base. It’s always Painterly or Soft Ochre.

    MonicaP recently posted … Mold and Hold – Absolution Jeggings by Democracy

  11. Lauren says:

    I found this month’s ago at a CCO! I’m horrible at applying paint pots, so thanks for the tips! You look fab as always. I swear you could wear lime green lipstick and still look freaking stunning!!

  12. Tatiana says:

    I love your Unsung Heroes and New To Me posts. They always send me out searching for a great product I might have missed. I like the paint pot in Painterly, even though I sometimes feel like it’s too dark and too pink.

  13. Erica says:

    I guess it’s a matter of perspective lol. I’m a medium dark girl and Layin Low and Grounwork paint pots are my usual go to base shadows for neutral looks. Layin Low was LE before Mac came to its senses & made it a permanent shade. Glad it’s working for you Karen!

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