The 10 Best MAC Products of All Time

Has there ever been a better lip gloss than MAC Lip Glass?

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Best MAC Products of All Time

Ulta

Most makeup brands are lucky if they create one product that earns a serious fan club. But MAC Cosmetics boasts quite a few with a dedicated following, like their Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo (known as a universally flattering red lipstick) to Lipglass, which changed what a lip gloss could do. With plenty to choose from, it was hard narrowing down the best of MAC, so we tapped two of their in-house experts, MAC Senior National Artists Keri Blair and Victor Cembellin, to share their favorites.

Beloved by industry pros and celebs alike (Hailey Bieber uses MAC Gigablack Lash Mascara), what sets MAC apart from the rest of the makeup pack isn’t just their products, but the groundbreaking campaigns (like Viva Glam) that forever changed celebrity partnerships and beauty for a cause. Though beauty trends have come and gone, MAC has remained a makeup mainstay, all while staying true to their brand of innovation, cutting-edge color, and products that deliver. Clear Lipglass is our pick for most universal thanks to its versatility.

From nostalgic favorites to underground go-tos, these are the 10 best MAC products.

Most Universal: MAC Cosmetics Lipglass Clear

Clear Lipglass - Clear

What We Love: This lip gloss is as high shine as it gets.

What We Don’t Love: Some people may not be into the thick texture.

“The glossiest, glassiest, sexiest, clearest lip gloss in the world — I am obsessed with this product,” Blair says. “Clear Lipglass is a makeup artist must-have; it’s so versatile and completes and expands your lip wardrobe. It can be worn alone, over lipstick or mixed into any pencil, gloss or bullet to create a custom shade and customized shade intensity. She is glossy and bossy, but your lips will tell everyone everything you want them to know without having to say a word.”

Ever since Lipglass launched in 1997, it took the gloss world by storm and hasn’t been toppled from its throne. You’d be challenged to find a beauty product with a more accurate name, as this gloss really does turn lips into liquid glass. Incredibly concentrated, the thick formula is infused with jojoba oil to condition lips.

“To think there was a time in the cosmetic industry that MAC Lipglass did not exist — that’s like trying to imagine a time before smartphones,” Cembellin says. “MAC blazed a trail and flipped the makeup script, elevating beauty to a new hyper-glamorous standard, with this one product. What I have found in my 25-plus years of using this product is that everything looks even more enticing on the lips when lacquered with a Lipglass shiny finish. I love that this one little additive product gives one the option to level-up and reinvent the look of matte or even uber-natural lipsticks. The formula is pure perfection with its lightweight, impossible staying power, glide, and irresistible finish. I challenge you to name one person that has not tried MAC Lipglass — or one makeup artist that does not have this product in their kit.”

Key Feature: High-wattage shine | Shades: 1 | Size: 15 ml

Best Foundation: MAC Cosmetics Studio Fix Fluid Foundation with SPF 15

4
MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 Foundation

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Love: The buildable formula is truly long-wear and works for all skin types.

What We Don’t Love: Though it’s infused with SPF 15, that’s not enough protection, so be sure to pair it with a sunscreen of at least SPF 30.

Since its launch in 2005, MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation has become a fan favorite for its buildable, lightweight formula that delivers medium to full coverage for all skin types. “Its ability to give a quick, matte, flawless finish that lasts for up to 24 hours is just a few of the reasons it’s a MAC Hero and one of our best-selling foundations,” Blair says. “I love it for its versatility of coverage and shade selection.”

Available in a whopping 63 shades, it’s sweat- and humidity-resistant, working to control oil and shine, plus it won’t fade over the course of the day. “As a makeup artist, this is the foundation I reach for most often when doing a range of industry work, from music videos to bridal parties, red carpet, and even VIP clients like my mom,” Cembellin says. “Without fail, this foundation applies, wears, matches, and looks flawless on most everyone. Simply put: It’s a sure thing for flawless skin! The wide shade range is unsurpassed and the products can either flex to a super-sheer finish (by whisking the product on with a brush like the MAC #159) or can be built up to full coverage using a Beautyblender.”

Key Feature: Buildable coverage | Shades: 63 | Size: 1 fl oz.

Best Mascara: MAC MACStack Mascara

MAC MACStack Mascara

MAC

What We Love: The formula is endlessly buildable yet resistant to clumps.

What We Don’t Love: It requires a few swipes.

Bringing buildable to a new level, this long wear formula won’t clump or flake for up to 24 hours, all while separating and defining every single lash. It’s available in two brush sizes, mega and micro, for all your lash needs. “Hello dolly — MACStack is, simply put, a knockout for building, customizing, volumizing, and stylizing your lashes,” Blair says. “The unique polymers and flexible molded wand allow for endless building and intensity. Whether you like 10 coats to literally 40 coats of mascara (trust me I tried this, and it works) this mascara will build on top of itself with minimal clumping and maximal impact.”

This mascara is also a favorite of Cembellin. “The buzz, applause, and excitement about this mega mascara moment in makeup is still echoing throughout the cosmetic industry,” he says. “Personally, my professional needs call for a mascara that won’t flake, clump, smudge, or weigh down a curled lash. This mascara formula ticks all the boxes, making it a universally perfect grab-and-go. Both super unique, high-tech wands feature pedal-like soft grips that coat and find every single lash — from the fine, baby inner-lashes to the most dense lashes in the center. I love alternating between the Mega and Micro brushes and building up the lashes with multiple stacks. This mascara does it all.”

Nailing the perfect application is easy. “Be sure to comb through your lashes first to groom and style the direction you want them to go in,” Blair advises. “Comb to the side for elongation or fan them out for a more open-eyed effect.”

Key Feature: Buildable formula, two wand options | Shades: 1 | Size: 12 ml

Best Lipstick: MAC Matte Lipstick

4.9
MAC Matte Lipstick in Velvet Teddy

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Love: The creamy, comfy formula has great color payoff.

What We Don’t Love: If you’re looking for a touch of shine, you won’t find it with this true matte.

“Nothing compares to MAC Matte Lipsticks — they are the industry’s original — fully pigmented, long wearing, velvet textured,” Blair says. “Your lips will walk into the room before you.” Truly a favorite of the beauty industry, these lipsticks have earned a cult-following for good reason. Boasting incredible color payoff, they have a true matte finish — we’re talking zero shine here. The long wearing lipstick stays put for 10 hours without feathering, but the creamy formula won’t make your pucker feel parched.

Plenty of shades have their own fan club. “Colors like Ruby Woo, Velvet Teddy, and Lady Danger make your lips come alive,” Blair says. 

Key Feature: High color payoff | Shades: 34 | Size: 0.1 oz.

Best Blush: MAC Glow Play Blush

MAC Glow Play Blush

Nordstrom

What We Love: The cushiony formula is creamy and blends like a dream.

What We Don’t Love: The buildable coverage only goes up to medium intensity.

Like many makeup artists, Blair and Cembellin agree that cream blush has transformative powers. “As an artist, blush is a magical creature that mysteriously brings an entire makeup look to fruition,” Blair says. Cembellin adds, “I’ve always felt that blush adds a touch of magic to the skin. Youth, vitality, and life are restored with a pinch of blush.”

MAC Glow Play Blush is the perfect product that’s up for the task. The creamy, cushiony formula gives off a radiant finish and offers buildable sheer-to-medium color that’s a cinch to apply. “Most recently, I’ve loved the futuristic, modern formula of Glow Play, featuring its otherworldly sponge-like texture,” Cembellin says. “Glow Play Blushes add a unique, refined, poreless boost of color to the cheeks, straddling the desirable look of a cream blush and a traditional powder blush finish. My favorites are Heat Index, Groovy, and Cheer.” He recommends applying it with the MAC #127 Synthetic Split Fibre Face Brush , a two-sided makeup brush featuring one side for cream products and one side for powders.

Remember that blush isn’t just for cheeks. “Whether you like a pop of color on the apples of your cheeks (try the classics like Peaches or Pink Swoon) or a more glowing translucent effect (try the Glow Play Blushes in Cheeky Devil, Cheer Up, Heat Index, or Totally Synched), your makeup will look fresh and finished with the addition of color to the cheeks, chin, brow bone, and forehead,” Blair says. 

Key Feature: Cushiony and creamy | Shades: 10 | Size:  0.21 oz.

Best Primer: MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ Primer and Setting Spray

3.7
MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ Primer and Setting Spray

Ulta

What We Love: It works to prime, prep, set, and refresh skin and makeup.

What We Don’t Love: The spray could have a finer mist.

Talk about a multitasker! Simply spritz this on to prep skin before makeup or spray it on after application to set. “Prep + Primer Fix+ (original) is a quintessential part of my personal routine and my professional work,” Blair says. “It’s simply an ultra-hydrating, versatile water spray infused with green tea, cucumber, chamomile, vitamin E, and caffeine. As if that’s not enough, it can (and should) be used before moisturizer (because wet skin absorbs more moisture than dry), after makeup to help bring your skin to its most plump and best-looking condition, and can also be used throughout the day to refresh and instantly hydrate.”

With the power to keep makeup fresh for up to 12 hours, it instantly hydrates skin, giving off a gorgeous glow. Bonus: The formula is alcohol-free to ensure it won’t dry out your complexion. “I also use it to dampen my brush for a more intense application of eye shadow, and to dampen my Beauty Blender before using to start every makeup application,” Blair says. “It is the ultimate beauty must-have!”

Key Feature: Makeup multitasker | Shades: N/A | Size:  3.4 fl oz.

Best Powder: MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural Powder

4.3
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural Powder

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Love: The baked powder adds dimension and sheer coverage.

What We Don’t Love: Not everyone wants a touch of bronze in their powder.

Take finishing powder up a notch with this option that does so much more: Beyond setting foundation, it also is ideal for contouring, adding a touch of bronze, bringing dimension to the face, or touching up throughout the day. Slow baked with low-level pearlized pigments, it provides just a dab of highlight.

“Soft and gentle, Mineralize Skinfinish is that highlighter that works on almost every skin tone,” Blair says. “It is the perfect mix of bronze, gold, silver, and pink, offering a flattering glow anywhere on the skin. Because of its unique formula (a baked slurry of pigments and mineral-infused water), it can also be used wet to create high beam effects on the skin, shoulders, legs, and decolletage.”

Key Feature: Adds dimension and glow | Shades: 14 | Size:  0.35 oz.

Best Eye Shadow: MAC Eye Shadow

Mac Eye Shadow

Mac Cosmetics

What We Love: Packed with pigment, it blends easily and wears well.

What We Don’t Love: Some reviewers found it on the drying side.

“Even after 26 years at the brand and almost 30 years of wearing MAC, I get excited every time I see our eye shadow unit,” Blair says. “The best part is we have the most wearable neutral nudes — Shroom, Soft Brown, Omega, Orb, and Natural Wilderness, as well as pops of iconic color like Triennial Wave, What’s the WIFI, and Dark Room. Duochrome like Vex, Tutu Good, Stars n Rockets, and Starry Night are perfect for when you want to add a ton of dimension with only one shadow. Then there are those tried-and-true deep jewel tones that work on everyone like Carbon, Sketch, Stormwatch, and Shady Santa. These long wearing, fully pigmented eyeshadows are easy to apply and blend. At MAC you will find a mélange of colors and textures that offer a never-ending array of color combinations and allow for endless creativity.”

Just a single swipe is all that’s needed for major payoff. Saturated with color, these individual pressed powder eye shadows easily blend and remain crease-free for up to eight hours. Cembellin recommends designing your own custom eyeshadow combination with a MAC pro palette.

“The creative possibilities have always been limitless since the inception of MAC, and no other product enabled makeup artists and beauty aficionados to actualize their visions and harness their creativity quite like MAC eye shadows,” Cembellin says. “Offering an endless array of colors and technologically-advanced luxury finishes, MAC eye shadows offer something for everyone. As an artist, I love the way that the colors and textures interact.”

Key Feature: Highly pigmented | Shades: 82 | Size:  0.05 oz.

Best Eye Liner: MAC Eye Kohl Eyeliner

Mac Eye Kohl Eyeliner

 MAC Cosmetics

What We Love: Impressively versatile, it can be used to line, define, and shade.

What We Don’t Love: It could have a wider shade offering.

Smoldering eyes will be yours when you use this kohl eyeliner. You won’t have to worry about pinching, dragging, or pulling on delicate skin, since this goes on silky smooth. A true triple threat, the soft kohl pencil lines, defines, and shades, meaning it can be a one-stop-shop for your lids.

Choose between a matte or pearl finish, as well as nine shades, ranging from classic brown and blacks (like Smolder, an intense black, and Feline, a carbon black) to statement-making Minted, a vibrant mint green flecked with pearl, and Prunella, a shimmering plum. Ophthalmologist tested, the liner is safe for contact-lens wearers and even for use in the waterline.

Key Feature: Versatile kohl liner | Shades: 9 | Size: 0.05 oz.

Best Skincare: MAC Strobe Cream

MAC Strobe Cream

Nordstrom

What We Love: The cream delivers instant radiance and hydration.

What We Don’t Love: Those with very dry skin may need a gentler and more hydrating moisturizer.

MAC is so famous for their makeup that it’s easy to forget they have a few killer skincare options, too, like their classic Strobe Cream. Get your glow on with the moisturizer that transforms dull skin with iridescent particles that give off that lit-from-within look. The hydrating formula works to smooth skin and improve clarity. It does double duty as a liquid highlighter, making it a quick fix for tired complexions. Powerful botanicals and vitamins, including green tea, work to nourish skin.

Available in three shades, Pinklite is the original hue and is best for lighter skin tones. Goldlite features gold pearls, while Peachlite has — you guessed it — peach pearls; both flatter medium and deep tones.


Key Feature:
Illuminating moisturizer | Shades: 3 | Size: 1.7 fl oz.

What to Keep in Mind

Shade and undertone

A huge bonus of a makeup artist centered brand is the attention to skin shades and undertones. MAC has a wide variety of shades for nearly every product as well as an undertone matching system. To shop the base products (like foundation and concealer), you first need to understand their labeling system: MAC labels are N (neutral), C (cool), and W (warm). Simple, right?

Well, it gets a bit more complicated from there. Many shades are labeled NW or NC — neutral warm and neutral cool, respectively. You may think that neutral warm is for warm toned foundations, when actually it is the opposite. NW is for pink or blue undertones to neutralize them, while NC is to neutralize golden or yellow undertones. The numbers correspond to the depth of pigment, for example 10 is fair and 60 is deep. So NW53 is a cooler-toned shade for dark skin.

Finish and coverage

MAC has an array of finishes to match your makeup preferences. Knowing the type of product you are looking for can help guide you to the right pick. A glossy lip aficionado might like MAC Clear Lipglass, while a long-wear matte fan would prefer MAC Matte Lipstick. The foundation offers are also sorted by finish (dewy, natural, matte) as well as coverage (light, medium, and full). MAC makeup artists, as well as the brand website, can help you to find the best MAC products for your looks.

Your Questions, Answered 

Does MAC take back empty containers?

Talk about a win-win! Not only does MAC take back empty containers to help ease the environmental burden on the planet by reducing the amount of plastic sent to landfills, but they’ll also reward you after collecting a few. Through the brand’s BACK 2 MAC take back program, when customers return six empty MAC makeup containers to a participating MAC counter or send via mail, they can choose a MAC lipstick to take home for free. (These are final sale and cannot be returned or exchanged.) MAC Lover loyalists may choose a standard lipstick, lipglass or small eye shadow. 

Where can you buy MAC products?

MAC products are sold at MAC stores and their website, maccosmetics.com, as well as Ulta. Additionally, the brand is available at MAC counters at select department stores, including Nordstrom, Macys and Dillard’s.

Why Trust InStyle

Celia Shatzman has years of experience as a beauty writer and editor, reporting on the latest and greatest in the industry. To create this list, she consulted two MAC makeup artists to share their favorite products, as well as researched customer reviews and feedback. Shatzman also considered her own personal history with the brand and included her favorite MAC products.

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