MAC Unsung Heroes: Subculture Lip Pencil

Published in: Lips, MAC Makeup, Unsung Heroes

mac subculture

Colleges could teach courses in ways to pair MAC Subculture Lip Pencil ($13). Seriously, I wear this warm rosy nude with practically everything. EVERY. FRICKIN’. THING. I use it so much that I’ve gone through about four sticks of it over the past few years. It’s a regular Ms. Versatility, boo, and if you two haven’t met, it’s high time ya did.


Many gals, myself included, feel that Subculture’s color matches the natural color of their lips perfectly, which, I know, seems counterintuitive. I mean, why buy a lip pencil in the same shade as your lips?

Well, for the definition, doll. πŸ™‚ I use this creamy, long-wearing, non-feathering pencil to define my pucker with crisp edges when I wear lipsticks and/or gloss, and I also think my lips look smoother and plumper with it on.

mac subculture ps2

When I’m pressed for time (or just feeling lazy), I’ll quickly line and fill my lips with Subculture, and then pop a little clear gloss or lip balm on top. It’s an easy nude lip look that also looks great with smokey eyes.

If you prefer brights, Subculture also plays well with pinks and reds, like cult fave MAC Russian Red. I use it like an anchor (lining and filling with it first) to prevent color from bleeding and to keep vibrant lipsticks and glosses in place.

mac subculture swatch

mac subculture ps1

mac subculture k2

And whenever a pale lippie comes along that’s a little too light or cool for my lips (hello, MAC Pink 4 Friday!), I use Subculture to warm things up.

Oh, and it loves to be layered atop pink, brown, peach and beige neutrals.

A few colors that play well with MAC SubcultureÒ€¦


Subculture is a member of MAC’s permanent collection, and it likes to chill on MAC counters, in stores and at

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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

P.P.S. How was your Tuesday? I’m just about to sit down to dinner with El Hub and Tabs. Two of us are having ravioli, and the other is going with gravy tonight. πŸ™‚


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So far, 61 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Nika says:

    I have to get this! I’m in love! The only MAC Lip Pencil I have is in Dervish.
    Nika recently posted … February Haul

  2. Vijaya says:

    For me, Chestnut goes with everything, though that might be because of my lip color. I haven’t tried subculture, but now I may have to give it a look!
    Vijaya recently posted … Stila Travel Palette- Trendsetting in Tokyo

  3. Perri says:

    I just bought this maybe two weeks ago. This lip pencil rocks. You can wear it underneath so many lip colors!

  4. Crystal says:

    I’ve never worn lipliner before, but that nude lip in those photos look too gorgeous not to try. Are you just wearing a clear gloss over Subculture? (BTW Karen you look amazing!)

  5. Jen says:

    I will keep this one in mind! My nude pencil is Smashbox’s Smashing Nude (I think that’s the name, but I’m too lazy to go and check right now).

    And can I just say that I’m so jealous that you’re having ravioli??? I’ve been craving it something fierce for the past two days.

  6. Advah says:

    It looks almost identical to my Body Shop lip pencil in Heather. It was the first lip pencil I ever bought so I let the girl pick it, and it does exactly what you say – same colour as my lips and adds definition. I’ll try this Mac one when I need to replace it! (should think of using it more often)

    Hmm now I want ravioli.

    • Karen says:

      I’ll have to pop by Body Shop to check that one out. I’m going to the mall today so hopefully it’s there!

      LOL, ravioli kind of rocks my world. Do you have a favorite kind? Mine’s a toss up between portobella mushroom and butternut squash.

      • Advah says:

        Let me know what you think if you find the pencil!

        Mushrooms and/or cheese are my favourite actually, especially the four cheese kind hmm.. πŸ˜›

  7. Alison says:

    That’s a great colour, I think I will have to try it. Thanks for the review!

  8. LC says:

    Any drugstore dupes for Subculture? I know Wet & Wild makes cheap lip liners…

    • Karen says:

      Hi LC,

      I’ve used the Rimmel 1000 Kisses ones and like them a lot. A few to consider: Cappuccino, Nude and Spice. They’re about $3 each. Here’s a link to them on Rimmel Lip Liner.

      • bagaela says:

        haha, guess what, my fav lipliner is Subcultre, but I also have some other liners like…1000 Kisses from Rimmel, in Nude and Spice also. So I guess we had the same in our minds πŸ™‚

  9. Kim says:

    I know you’ll have to put on your surprised face when I say that liners have always sucked the moisture out of my lips. How are MAC’s?

    • Karen says:

      The Lip Liners are great, but you might have to apply a lip balm to prep if it’s the middle of winter and your lips are super chapped.

      You might want to consider their Cremestick Liners. They’re twist up (no need to sharpen) and have a very smooth, creamy formula:

      MAC Cremestick Liners

      There’s a lot of great colors, too! A few faves: Pink Treat, Beurre and Sublime Culture. πŸ™‚

      • Kim says:

        Thank you! I’ve added them to my “need to check these out” list. πŸ™‚ That is the biggest negative about the cold, dry winters – I feel like I need to be dipped in a vat of oil for the day!

  10. Alka says:

    Definitely going to pick this one up. I have been looking for a nude liner but just couldn’t decide which one to get…thanks for making the choice easy! πŸ™‚

    • Karen says:

      You’re welcome, Alka. πŸ™‚ If you need any additional nude liner color suggestions please let me know. MAC has several good ones in addition to Subculture.

  11. Tiffany says:

    I’m pretty sure I have this… I may need to work it into my rotation more often!

    • Karen says:

      Yeah you do! I bet it would look really pretty with your fabulous coral blushes. πŸ™‚

      How are you doing today?

      • Tiffany says:

        yah I just checked and I do have it. I thought I had sublime culture as well, but apparently not. I do have a lot of the pale lippies you suggested as well!

        I am hanging in there. I’m glad I don’t have to work today. In the past few days my uncomfortableness has skyrocketed, and I’m ready to not be pregnant anymore, LOL.

        How are you doing? any big plans for the day?

  12. Jessica says:

    I’m loving this post and you look so cute! Your hair looks adorable! I’m a person who loves color, but I like this look a lot – I’ll definitely be purchasing this pencil.

  13. This is a staple in my makeup bag too. I also like the Sublime Culture cremestick liner which is a similar color but in the twist up form.
    Kajal Couture recently posted … Anushka Sharmas Makeup in Band Baaja Baraat

  14. Nina says:

    is subculture LE? i want it! πŸ˜€

    lately ive been using the chromagraphic pencil to line my lips … i line and then smudge the insides a little bit. it gives my lipstick a crisp,clear line. πŸ™‚

  15. mkdallas says:

    Your hair and makeup look GREAT in these photos!! I need to get back in the habit of wearing a neutral lip liner. I’m hella lazy about it but it really does provide some much-needed definition to my fading-with-age lip line.

  16. JJ says:

    Is that a faux bob you’re rockin’? You look fabulous and ready for spring πŸ™‚

    That lip pencil looks gorgeous… I hope I can get to a MAC counter this weekend!

    • Karen says:

      Hi JJ,

      Yes, it is. I pinned the ends beneath just to try something different. πŸ™‚

      Ooh, let me know if you end up picking up Subculture. There’s lots of great nude lip pencils, but this one is my fave.

  17. Michelle says:

    I am obsessed with this liner also — I wear it with all kinds of nude, pink, and peachy pink lipsticks and glosses. It is perfect!!
    I used to wear Stripdown liner — but it pulls much more brown nude on me. Subculture is the perfect pink nude!!

    • Karen says:

      You know, I don’t think I actually own Stripdown. I need to pick it up one of these days!

      • OMG Karen! You have GOT to get Stripdown. It is the BESTEST (lol) liner for peachy lips. I call it my J-Lo liner. Try it with something like Viva Gaga 2 lipstick and either Pink Lemonade or Lychee Luxe on top. I love it with lipsticks in the range of Jazzed, Dressmaker, Dressmaker too, topped with something like Richer, Lucher Cremesheen, yumm!

  18. Gina says:

    Karen! You looks so beautiful in these pictures! And I’m liking the look of that pencil, I might have to go snag it. I’m a firm believer that you can never have too many nude lip products =]

  19. lexi says:

    I think my HG pink nude pencil is MAC’s Whirl. I wear that with EVERYTHING too!

    I love your ‘Unsung Heroes’ posts!
    lexi recently posted … A Tale of Two New Blusheswhich one made the cut

  20. Meghan says:

    Love your hair!!!!! πŸ™‚
    Meghan recently posted … Drugstore Foundation Review- Loreal True Match

  21. grace says:

    did you cute your hair, karen? it looks awesome! can i ask where you got it cut?

  22. Monica says:

    How does it compare to Chanel’s nude liner?

  23. Kristina says:

    omg I want, now! it looks very nice πŸ™‚ looking into ordering it right away

    btw, I forgot to thank you for your MAC Wonderwoman post – it prompted me to get the Myscira πŸ™‚

  24. Theresa says:

    Hiyee! I was so torn between Subculture lip pencil and SUBLIME Culture Cremestick liner and I ended up going with Sublime Culture (only because I love the cremestick liner’s staying power). Do you think I chose wrong? I love how you listed which lipsticks to wear with this lip pencil. Thanks, hope you’re having a great day! =)

  25. Denise F says:

    I ran out on my lunch break to buy this lip liner, all because the picture looked so nice on you! I put it on and put my Kiehl’s mint lip balm #1. The perfect combination! Thanks!

  26. Karen your hair looks lovely with those lowlights! And the lip pencil looks great on you too – all about mastering the colour palette that complements your skin tone, hair colour and eye colour. recently posted … Ombre hair- the dip-dye effect

  27. KSlone says:

    Thanks for the tip on this liner! I love the Smashbox waterproof liners that match by skin color. I use that darn liner w/ eveything! I love that it is waterproof, and truly stays on, but I’m always on the lookout for alternatives. Especially since I have to confess to being a MAC ‘ho. I can’t wait to try it!

  28. I have been a MAC fan for years and it was only on my last trip to MAC that I was paired up with the Subculture lip pencil and Oyster Girl gloss. Those two together are my daily lip staple now. I also have tried Subculture with the pink Lady Gaga lip gloss. If you are looking for something with a lot of pink factor, its a super duper cute look.
    Kathleen Neves recently posted … Be Nice Or Else!

  29. I love me a nude lip! This liner is at the top of my mac list- thanks Karen! BTW- you went for reddish highlights! Looks great :0

  30. Indi says:

    That looks like a great color and would work well for me for a nude lip as well. I’ve been devoted to MAC’s Spice lip liner for years because it works just as well for a nude color however I will have to look for this one

  31. Kristina says:

    thanks Karen – I also got the pencil and it suits me perfectly as well! πŸ™‚ that’s 2 MAC purchases thanks to you!

  32. Phyrra says:

    I’ve always been curious about this shade! It’s going on my list πŸ™‚ I’ve got Cherry, Summerfruit, Life’s a Breeze, Currant, Grape, and Sublime Culture. Life’s a Breeze and Summerfruit usually get used the most.

  33. Ingrid says:

    Karen, would this work with MAC’s Violetta lipstick? I bought that on a crazy whim last time in the Pro store and now I’m not sure how to wear it, cause the insides of my lips are purple, but the margins are pink. Thanks in advance!

  34. Jenna says:

    I know this post is older but I am hoping that you can tell me if Subculture will go with the lipsticks Modesty, fan fare, and Velvet teddy. The Mac girl online suggested boldly bare but it looks too orangey brown online.

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