MAC Unsung Heroes: Vex Eyeshadow

Published in: Eyes, MAC Makeup, Unsung Heroes

mac vex

Wow. I just realized that my love affair with MAC Vex Eyeshadow ($14.50) has spanned almost 10 years… And you know what? I love it as much today as I did the first day we met — the first time I swiped this duo-chrome powder shadow on the back of my hand.


Vex can be vexing hiding in its pan like a boring blah gray, but it comes to life when it touches skin, gracing it with a really pretty glow. A beige with greenish pink pearl and a frosty finish, it flashes pink from some angles and green from others — almost like crushed pearls under a bright light. I think of it as the MAC Strobe Cream of the eyeshadow world.

When I first got Vex(ed), it was to wear it with smokey eyes, and I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve used it for that (usually with MAC Soft Brown, Print and Brule).

But smokey eyes aren’t the only ways I’ve worn Vex. I also love it dressed down…

  • Clean, classic cat eye: When I want to do a clean, classic cat eye with a little twist, I’ll apply Vex from the lash line to just below the brown bone, pop a matte brown shadow into the crease for definition (a few to try: Soft Brown, Saddle and Folie) and then line my upper lash line with MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack.
  • Glowy eyes: When I’m short on shuteye and lookin’ beat, I pat Vex on the lid and into the crease with either a MAC 217 (or my fingers if I’m in hurry), curl my lashes and add a few coats of mascara. It’s quick, easy, and I swear it’s looks like getting an extra three hours of sleep.
  • Glowy Eyes 2.0: After applying MAC Cream Colour Base in Hush to my lids, I apply Vex to the inner corners of my eyes with a MAC 219 Pencil Brush. A quick lash curl and a few coats of mascara later, I’m glowing. πŸ™‚

mac vex


Next time you stop by a MAC counter, give Vex a shot. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find yourself at the cusp of a 10-year love affair.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


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


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So far, 37 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Molly SC says:

    I keep meaning to snatch that up- it’s such a great base, I used to steal it off my roommate alllllll the time. πŸ˜‰

  2. naira says:

    omg, i love vex. it’s more versatile than one would first think. it’s absolutely gorgeous with another mac e/s that you turned me on to: club. and it plays well with satellite dreams, patina, humid, knight divine (to name several off the top of my head).

  3. Aileen says:

    Great, surely is a great eyeshadow. Well done on all your tips for using it. Great blog.. really enjoy reading your posts!

  4. Vonvon says:

    Thanks to these posts of MAC Unsung Heroes, I should check them out. May be at the CCO, I might be able to find some of them. πŸ˜‰
    Vonvon recently posted … Sleek MakeUp New Shades Of True Colour Lipsticks – Some Swatches &amp Thoughts Haul Special Offer

  5. Bellyrockin says:

    Such a beautiful colour. I really should try to use it more often

  6. Eesha says:

    Hi Karen,

    Certainly a beautiful colour. This will be my next purchase fom MAC for sure…

  7. Jen W says:

    You know, I’ve never really noticed Vex before. Thanks for the review!

    I love my duochromes, and this look gorgeous
    Jen W recently posted … The Awesomeness that is Illamasqua Ignite- Review and Swatches

  8. Kelli says:

    I would love to try it with Humid. If I used Painterly underneath the Vex on the lid, would it change the color of it?

  9. Chelle says:

    I have to say, that while I love reading about you, your makeup and your kitty kat, for the most part… none of your makeup looks look very different to me. It’s always sort of muted, sort of dewy, sort of barely there. I can never get a feel for the actual product you’re using because, for whatever the reason, it always looks the same in your photographs.

    This shot in this article? I can barely even tell you’re wearing eyeshadow. You might as well have called this a neutral eye look and not praise for Vex. If you look at the closeup of your eye… the colour on your eyelid is the exact same shade as the colour below your eye and above your eyebrow. Now, those are probably from the flash, but they do a very good job of displaying that what you have on your eyelid is nothing special. Personally, I love Vex, so I know you don’t have NOTHING on your eyelid, but it’s photographed poorly.

    Just thought I’d throw my comments in. I love coming here for the product shots, but I’m always let down by the actual face swatches.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chelle,

      I appreciate comments because that’s what comments are for. πŸ™‚ You pretty much summed up my preferred approach to makeup when you said, “sort of muted, sort of dewy, sort of barely there.” I generally prefer subtle looks now to bright costume makeup, although I have done a lot of that as well over the years. I’ll make room for some bolder looks soon.

      Thanks for reading. I hope you’re having a good week.

      • Chelle says:

        Thanks for taking my comments into consideration – I’m never quite sure how the blog owner is going to react!

        And btw, welcome to Toronto. πŸ™‚

    • Kim says:

      It’s funny that you say that because I often think the exact opposite. Not about loving the blog, of course, but about the makeup looks. I personally wear very subtle, every day looks so I find some of Karen’s looks to be really different and adventurous. I often think “wow, that looks great on her, but I think it would be too bright for me”. I guess it depends on your personal attitude toward conservative or bold makeup. πŸ™‚

      • Aileen says:

        Interesting comment, I think fair play…. your great, you take a risk photographing yourself which is quite difficult (unless your a professional of course). Okay maybe the pic doesn’t show the colour brilliantly but it does give a fair idea of the look which is natural and beautiful. What gal doesn’t want to achieve this look? And VEX is a great shadow…keep it up!!!

  10. Amber says:

    I love Vex when I’m doing a cooler eye, but I have never been able to see the green in it!
    Amber recently posted … Playa del Carmen- landlubbing

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Amber. How are you today? πŸ™‚ The green is more like an essence, like mint tea instead of forest green, if that makes any sense, and I’ve only seen it in some of my closeups or when I’m looking in the mirror and turn my head quickly. It’s there for a flash, but I bet it would still be perceived by people when they see it in on someone moving around in real life.

  11. Alka says:

    Oooh I love the duochromes! Vex is going on my list right next to Club for the next time I am able to get to a pro store. πŸ™‚

    On a side note: I have to disagree with Chelle’s post above that the face swatches on MBB are lacking in any way, shape or form. They are absolutely the most invaluable tool for me personally. There really isn’t another blog out there that has the same quality of information AND swatches for us medium tan girls!!! You would not believe the number of times I have gone to a makeup counter based on someone’s recommendation only to find that the particular shade washes out on me completely or is not flattering because of the strong yellow undertones in my skin. So…..Karen – keep up the awesome work!

  12. angie says:

    i loooove vex…it’s such a versatile color and it really brightens your eyes!

  13. noemii says:

    I’ve been wanting this eyeshadow for ages .. now i have the final push to go ahead and get it lol .hopefully it’s not sold out by the time i actually get to the counter….

  14. Sylvia says:

    Alka, you are soo right about the service that Karen provides us medium tan girls.:)
    I am eternally grateful that the makeup gods led me to Karen’s blog. I love it!!! Keep up the great work Karen (and Tabs πŸ˜‰ ) BTW~I too have had a love affair with Vex but I’m just going to leave it at 10+ years, otherwise I’ll be showing my years. LOL!

  15. Tulle says:

    vex is the best (it almost rhymes). I used it and love it.

  16. Amy says:

    VEX!!! Ladies you HAVE TO BLEND IT WITH ANOTHER COLOR! IT’S AMAZING! Okay the proper way to use vex is not by itself. It makes an average black smokey eye unbelievably gorgeous! It’s a secret weapon! Where you would normally begin to blend out your smokey look in the crease, add a little vex and blend up just a touch above the crease. It creates a luminous multi-dimensional effect! If you have a smaller eyelid, blend your dark color along the lash line and add vex along the inner 1/4 of your eye(closer to the tear duct) and blend over to the center of your eyelid. It’s INCREDIBLE!!!! πŸ™‚

  17. Jhoanna says:

    I am new to MAC. I have bought their foundation and powder, Painterly paint pot and Angel lipstick. I think I want to try their eye shadows now but there’s just too many to choose from. What are the top three that you would recommend? I have brown eyes and black hair, light with yellow undertone. Thank you!

    • Jasmine says:

      Hopefully the window for a response isn’t gone!

      You sounds very similar to my colouring, so my must-have MAC eyeshadows are:
      Wedge (for subtle contouring and blending out)
      Cork (for a natural but bolder contour)
      All that glitters
      Ricepaper or Brule as a highlight

      For colours, I like Expensive Pink and Sumptuous Olive

      I think for my skin, I prefer light to medium tone colours so they don’t overwhelm my features, but if you like smokey looks try Carbon, Typographic, Espresso or Sketch.

  18. Nina says:

    hi karen! i do love me some vex – all over my lid w/ a very thin line of gray eyeliner. πŸ™‚

  19. Christina says:

    I *just* started collection MAC eye shadows (so far I have abuot 20 of them…doing good, huh?), so I love it when you spotlight various MAC eye shadows. Please do it again and again!

    I am going to the CCO in Gilroy, at the outlets there, next week. Maybe I will Vex there? πŸ™‚

  20. Carrie says:

    Vex is one of my favorite MAC shadows, too! It’s so cool and unique. I don’t know why it doesn’t get more attention.

  21. Joyce B says:

    Vex is one of the first eyeshadows I bought from MAC. Thanks for reminding me to dig it out and start using it again!

  22. Kristina says:

    hm, seems a bit “barely there” color, to be honest.. or did you just apply a very thing layer?

  23. Kate Williamson says:

    I have had a long love affair with Vex, ever since we found each other at the Stonestown Nordstrom more than 10 years ago. I have found that berry lips bring out the pink tones in the shadow and make me look so much more awake.

    Thanks, Karen, for always being age appropriate with your application of products and giving us over 30 girls very wearable options that fit in to our day to day looks. Not all of us can wear the glittery teal eyeshadows anymore, but you never fail to show us ways to rock the latest looks and fun products without looking like a cougar who is trying too hard. Thanks again!

  24. Whitney L. says:

    So immediately after I read this post I was like, ‘YES! VEX.’ since sometimes I forget that it lives in my drawer of mac shadows.

    My Vex introduction was actually similar to the use that amy suggested earlier, but I fell in looooooove after I applied it to one of my friends over a matte brown smoky eye.

    Something about Vex used in the crease over a matte shadow makes it pop like crazy! I love it over a paint pot like painterly or soft ochre, with a medium brown on the lid like copperplate or something darker like Brun. Then instead of using a clean 217 to blend the crease, use Vex, it is MAGIC.

    Great post!

  25. AtelierGal says:

    I am adding this to my wish-list <3
    AtelierGal recently posted … Formula 1006 Deep Down Detox Giveaway Open

  26. Phyrra says:

    I’ve gotta try Vex as a cat eye. I can’t believe I’ve never thought of that before!
    Phyrra recently posted … New Haircut

  27. Barbara says:

    Hi Karen,
    I love your product shots, even though I am a PPP. Do you think Vex would work for my skintone??

  28. Melody says:

    Want! I never really thought about Vex before. It’s so unassuming in the pan.

  29. Hazel says:

    that’s actually really pretty!
    Hazel recently posted … Photo

  30. likeramona says:

    Vex was my very 1st MAC eyeshadow purchase, almost 15 years ago, and it’s still my favorite!

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