MAC Unsung Heroes: Soft Ochre Paint Pot

Published in: Eyes, MAC Makeup, Unsung Heroes

mac soft ochre paint pot

Welcome to the Age of the Eyeshadow Primer, young lady. Right now there are loads of them out there to choose from, many of them un-tinted, like Urban Decay Primer Potion, Too Faced Shadow Insurance, and my current go-to girl, NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, to name just a few.


But there’s another great way to prime your lids, and all it takes is the right long-wearing cream eyeshadow.

Since they’re pigmented, some of them (especially the neutral ones) can also be used as color correctors, and they’re a great way to give depth to your other favorite eyeshadows. MAC calls their line of cream shadows Paint Pots, and one of my absolute faves of all time (okay, at least the past four years) is also my Unsung Hero today, Soft Ochre ($16.50).

Why Soft Ochre?

MAC Soft Ochre Paint Pot ($16.50) touched down a few years ago with the MAC N Collection of neutrals and nudes, and shortly after that it was added to the company’s permanent line. It’s a neutral yellowish beige with a matte finish, and many gals consider it one of the line’s primo primers.

I think it looks great worn all by itself on my lids with some liner and mascara, but I also use it to extend the wear time of other shadows and to intensify shadows that contain yellow or gold tones.

Dang if it doesn’t brighten my eyes as well as anything. It also evens out the skin tone on my lids — mighty convenient when I’m chronically sleep deprived, as I’ve been this week.

mac soft ochre paint pot

mac soft ochre paint pot

mac soft ochre paint pot

mac soft ochre paint pot

For me, Soft Ochre actually seems to work better than many dedicated primers billed as color correctors do (Benefit Lemon Aid and Too Faced Lemon Drop, for example) as it doesn’t turn gray on my tan skin.

Today I asked Melissa Street, a makeup artist friend of mine who works on celebs for television and movies (she’s great; check her out on Twitter and Facebook), why some yellow-based color correctors turn funky shades on darker skin.

“Dark skin tones tend to have a variety of undertones,” she said. “Sometimes they have blue undertones, red undertones, orange; all kinds of different things.”

Yellow-based color correctors have a tendency to oxidize, changing colors or turning ashy on darker skin. “In the eye area,” Melissa said, “in general, there’s usually blue undertones. To counter balance that you need to use something with a peach tone or an orange tone, or you risk oxidation.”

SIDE NOTE: Melissa is down in San Diego, California right now working behind the scenes at Comic-Con. Earlier today she did the makeup for Jason Momoa, aka Khal Drogo, the former tightlining hottie from Game of Thrones.


I dunno if Soft Ochre officially has any peach in it (I think I can see a little?), but for whatever reason it doesn’t turn ashy on my NC42 skin, and I love, LOVE it for that.

An application tip

If you’ve never tried any of the MAC Paint Pots before, they have a dense, somewhat dry texture that some find difficult to apply and blend across their lids. The texture doesn’t really bother me much, and I think its thick consistency makes up for it by helping the product latch onto powder shadows so incredibly well.

The quickest way I’ve found to apply it is by using warm, clean fingers instead of a brush. First, I rub my palms together, Mr. Miyagi-style, to warm them up. Then, I pick up a little bit of it with a finger and apply with a patting, rather than a swiping, motion to my lids. The warmth from my hands seems to soften the product and make it easier to spread.

Oh, and sometimes I also pat a small amount of MAC Fast Response Eye Cream, a non-oily, quick-absorbing eye moisturizer, on my lids beforehand, which seems to make the application even smoother.

When I wear Soft Ochre as a primer, I don’t have a problem with it creasing, but I’ve heard that some people with really oily lids do. If you have super oily lids, it might help to start with a layer of a colorless primer first, like Urban Decay Primer Potion.

Kettle Corn: A Love Story

Honestly, this stuff needs to be classified as an addictive substance.

I find myself wanting to both hug and slap whoever invented it. I got a huge bag at the Farmers’ market last night, and I kid you not — it took every ounce of my willpower to refrain from finishing it in the car.


Mmm… those hot and fluffy puffed corn bubbles, and that magical trifecta of butter, sugar and salt… ZOMG! I’m drooling on my keyboard right now!

I’m pretty sure it’s high in calories…but hey, at least it’s got fiber! ๐Ÿ™‚

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


The MAC Unsung Heroes series features some of my favorite products from MAC’s permanent collection

P.S. Kinda random, but have you heard the new Kanye/Jay-Z song with the killer Otis Redding sample? I’m not sure if I like it, but I can’t stop listening to it over and over for some reason (probably because of the awesome Otis Redding song).


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So far, 50 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Courtney says:

    Thanks for the great article. I’m an NW15 and I like to use MAC’s paint pot in painterly the same way.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Have you done a review on the MAC Fast-Response Eye Cream? And if not, could you? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Karen says:

      Hi Stephanie,

      I haven’t! Are you currently looking for an eye cream? It’s great if you need light moisture and want something that absorbs quickly. Plus, it mixes with MAC liquid concealers really well.

  3. Vijaya says:

    Ehhh. I’m not fond of the shade.
    Vijaya recently posted … Final Fantasy Inspired Look: Tifa

  4. Elle says:

    I love that song, Karen – I’ve been listening to it like crazy too. Kanye/Jay-Z collabs are terrific. And I love how the Try a little tenderness sample is used. The shizz!

    …and I love Soft Ochre too. Used it the other day when I was looking like a zombie…although I think paint pots could be a weeeee bit smaller just because it takes me forever to get through one and I am always deathly afraid of them drying out before I get to finish them. I swear I used Rubenesque on a daily basis for about a year and it looks barely dented.

    • Karen says:

      Otis’ music moves my soul, period. A Change is Gonna Come always gets me, you know?

      Speaking of Paint Pots drying out — do you store yours upside down? I think it helps retain the moisture.

  5. Jen says:

    I love Soft Ochre! It’s my go-to when my eyes are red with allergies, a cold, or the morning after a bad night’s sleep. I couldn’t live without it!

  6. Chris25 says:

    I was considering getting some paint pots. Groundwork may be my first purchase. I feel like UD Eden PP basically gives me the same effect I’d want from Soft Ochre, so I have been holding off on buying it. But now you are starting to sway me…

  7. Hmm, you’re making Soft Ochre sound really tempting! I’ve never actually tried a Paint Pot, despite all the love they get from the makeup community – but it sounds like I’ll have to ^^

    My god, the day I found out that you can totally make kettle corn at home (and it’s super easy) — no words. *swoon*!
    Rae // theNotice recently posted … Clarins Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balm | 01 Crystal Coral review and swatches

  8. sheena says:

    Random question is the necklace your wearing part of the A21 campaign for charity?

  9. Jessi says:

    I don’t have any paint pots but I’ve swatched a few at the MAC counter. Unfortunately Soft Ochre is way too yellow and dark for my skin tone and would make me look sickly. Is there a good paint pot for cool toned fair skin?
    Jessi recently posted … More Frankenpolishes!

  10. Lauren says:

    Would you say, price-wise, soft ochre would be better than UDPP for a primer?

  11. Sylvie says:

    I have been using my Soft Ochre paint pot as a primer since uh… 2008 I think and it’s not even half gone. I feel that a synthetic brush like the MAC 249 applies the paint pot very smoothly.

  12. Jen W says:

    I’ve been wanting to buy soft ochre for ages, I love how the colour seems to counteract redness and brighten up eyes. I have the same issue with spreading paint pots- going to try Mr Miyagi palms next time!
    Jen W recently posted … Skin Care Saturday: MOR Marshmallow Sugar Body Scrub

  13. Christy O says:

    First: who is that man and why is he not my pillow right now?? Yowza magowza.

    Second: You weren’t kidding about looking wide awake. It’s as if fishing line is jerking your eyelids upward. I don’t know how well this would work on a pale person, but I’ll make sure I check it out, as a unique neutral base.

  14. karo says:

    You look so amazing good!!! ๐Ÿ™‚
    But I donร‚ยดt like Soft Ochre…I like Bare Study ๐Ÿ˜‰
    karo recently posted … Sigma BARE Eye Shadow Palette / Swatches

  15. Stephanie says:

    How quickly does this dry up on you?

  16. Brian aka Roulette says:

    Hey Good Morning Karen-

    Just wondering…I LOVE LOVE LOVE the soft ochre paint pot. Wondering if anyone else here uses a fluffy brush to apply theirs??

    I love using my 217 to apply the paint pots. All of them. Its quick and easy and you pick up so little product I think it makes it last EVEN longer. And you can layer the color in an area if you want it more opaque.

    Try it next time, just like with concealor I think you are going to love it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Brian!

      I haven’t tried it with the 217 yet. I’ll give it a go today!

      BTW, I just picked up MAC Face & Body Foundation and I think I’m in love! Do you ever wear it?

  17. Nina says:

    i am not a paint pot fan … but i might check this out!

    and yay for kettle corn! even the popcorn indiana ones at the grocery store are pretty yummy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Nadine says:

    Hi Karen,
    I love your Unsung Heroes series. I’ve picked up some new favorites based on your reviews.

  19. Christine says:

    I heard that soft ochre is going to become a pro only product, not sure if it’s true though. And to add, I also have an insane love for kettle corn !!!

  20. Yuri says:

    this pot reminds me of urban decay’s primer position in eden

  21. Maddy says:

    Karen, love this series of MAC Unsung Heroes…I have found some real gems through this

  22. Gauri says:

    Totally digging it since I’m a sucker for primers but I do feel like I’ve quite too many..decisions..
    Gauri recently posted … Treat Yourself: 5 Fun & Relaxing Spa Ideas

  23. Vonvon says:

    I have always wanted to get either this one or Painterly but still haven’t. I have too many stuffs. Currently trying to finish Benefit R.S.V.P., the small pot, by using it as an eye base.
    Vonvon recently posted … Nails Of The Day (NOTD): MAVALA Liberty Nail Polish – Review, Swatches

  24. Monique says:

    Karen, I LOVE this look. How do you get such a smooth and thin application of this paint pot? Also, would you do a vid/tut/blog on how you apply your foundation? Do you wear it daily? thanks!!!

  25. Cheryl A. says:

    Hi Karen! I’m about to purchase this today but I was wondering if you could tell me what lipstick and blush you used as well? :o) Thanks!

  26. Diandra says:

    Hi Karen! Would this shade work as a primer for me on my nc45 skin? Would you suggest something else?

    • Karen says:

      Yes it would. The trick is to not use too much and really buff it into the skin. I can also recommend NARS Pro Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base. I think it’s the best eye primer out there right now. ๐Ÿ™‚

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