How I lost touch with MAC …

I haven’t written about MAC since July 2010, when the “controversy” about their Rodarte collection which was eventually pulled from the shelves, was raging.

Since then, whilst I have, in fact, picked up the odd piece from a collection or two, I haven’t really got excited about anything, and I just haven’t been bothered enough about what I have bought to blog about them.

And why is that?  Well, increasingly, it seems, that by the time the stuff is out on the shelves, MAC have already moved on, and released their next collection. So blogging about the things you buy is almost entirely irrelevant, owing to everything being limited edition, and therefore, your posts are already out of date on the first day of release, as the products will have sold out already …

Annoying.  Add to this that MAC do fifty five collaborations a year.  That is FIFTY FIVE collaborations a year, more than one per week, and it’s almost entirely impossible for people to keep up with what they’re doing.  Then add to this that they’re constantly  – it seems – withdrawing basic staples, and then randomly releasing them in ever-more limited editions making it impossible to know from one week to the next if that lipstick you bought a few months ago is in stock or not. Or even still exists or not.

It all makes me feel like they’re too trendy for me.  I don’t really care about fashion, and I care even less about trends (it’s all I can do to keep up with the changes in the weather, to be honest), and, if I don’t know if a brand will be carrying the products I do want to buy from one week to the next, well, what’s the point of me going to the shop in the first place?  Especially if I’m only going to get sneered at by the sales assistants for daring to be in there asking where on earth the “Behold” eyeshadow is.  I’m definitely not trendy enough for a MAC store, these days, being all, like over forty, and dressed like an accountant and that.

Plus, it seems to me that the quality of the products doesn’t seem to be increasing with their prices.  When I started buying MAC, the eyeshadow singles cost £8 or so – a high price, but not unreasonable.  Now, they’re £12, which is a fifty percent increase in  price over the last ten years.  These are high-end prices, for what I’ve always really thought of as a mid-range brand, to be honest. And I still think the quality of the products is rather middling (not to mention variable) for the price.

And now … now they’ve moved into selling cosmetics in China, which means that they’ve had to re-introduce animal testing.  MAC are keen to let people know that the products they sell in the US and the UK will not be tested on animals, that only products sold in China will be tested, but this doesn’t alter that they’re going back on one of their major plus-points.  I’ve always happily recommended MAC to my vegan friends, knowing they’re about the best animal-friendly brands out there, but now, no more alas.

Does any of this mean I don’t like MAC anymore?  Actually, no.  I first really got interested in makeup through MAC, some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned came from MAC artists – who are, it must be said some of the best-trained in the business, when they’re not ignoring accountants in Selfridges, that is – and I still think that some of their basics are some of the best in the business.  If I open my train case on any given day, there are more eyeshadows from MAC in there than there are from any other brand, but I just don’t care about them any more.

How about you?

This post originated at: All rights reserved.


  1. 27th March 2012 / 07:40

    Brilliant post, I wholeheartedly agree. I love MAC and have been using them for my makeup staples (foundation, powder, concealer, neutral eyeshadows) for years, but I find the constant collections cheapen them as a brand. I barely get excited for them anymore, it's just another MAC collection, usually in tacky packaging and I don't try to keep up anymore. I also don't think bring a 40 plus accountant is the cause for 'the freeze', I'm a 26 year old who fires lots of £ their way and still feel like I'm entering Siberia when I stop off at certain counters! I actually think its included in their training course to be as standoffish and unwelcoming as possible. Not to mention my horror at the backwards step they took when they decided to put profit before the lifelong brand values that the utter core of their business is based on. As a cruelty free blogger I've now (sadly) stopped purchasing my go to foundation and staple products from them, regardless of whether they test in the UK or USA, it's the damn principle that they test at all. X

  2. 27th March 2012 / 08:52

    Interesting post. A friend and I were only just recently discussing how ridiculous the amount of 'collaborations' they do is, they just seem to do so bloody many, and some so ridiculous as well! It just doesn't grab me anymore, as Karris said, it all seems a bit cheap!
    The service is pretty hit and miss too, I often feel if you don't 'fit' the brand you are quite often ignored. (Though I find this varies from store to store, still annoying though, I don't wanna be made to feel like an alien when I'm at a counter!)

    • 27th March 2012 / 11:26

      I absolutely agree that the service can be hit and miss – in the smaller stores, it's usually pretty good, and they are amazingly talented people, but … I avoid the Selfridges counters and some of the "Pro" stores like the plague, for I have, in fact been treated like a plague carrier in them, at times. I just want to spend my money!

  3. 27th March 2012 / 09:04

    I agree with you! I think anyone would get frustrated trying to keep up with all the collections MAC is throwing at us, and I personally don't understand why even some brushes would be limited edition! I never got too excited about any collections (maybe just Shop MAC, Cook MAC, and the upcoming bring back your favorites. But then again I only ended up purchasing one fluidline from Shop MAC, Cook MAC), and I agree that unless you get all the press releases and products before they are released, there is little blogging value in MAC LE products. It just all seems a little frivolous at times.

    I haven't had the best experience with some of their salespeople either, and I can tell you this is something that is pretty universal. I remember trying to pick out a Tendertone (because it was SO raved about and I was curious) a while ago and asking for a recommendation. The girl said something, and I said I don't see it making too much of a difference. Instead of recommending something else, she said:"then I can't help you." Well, too bad for you, because I'm going to spend that money somewhere else now!

  4. 27th March 2012 / 09:08

    Not alone – I've never particularly cared about MAC. I have about 6 of their eyeshadows, one lipstick (totally don't like the formula or smell either).. and I think that's it. They're all permanent, too – the collections bore me. Occasionally I see some pictures from a new collection and think 'ooh, that product looks nice' but I don't bother setting my heart on it because I know it will inevitably be sold out by the time I manage to get to a store. And all their staff are PROPERLY rude. Never met one who I didn't want to smack.

    • 27th March 2012 / 11:29

      Now, I do love some MAC, but it's all limited edition stuff from years ago, that I now have to hoard because they no longer make it! Devastating. And yes, not knowing whether the store will have it in stock by the time you get there is annoying, especially when you really want something.

  5. 27th March 2012 / 10:03

    Very good points, I am a makeup artist so tend to use their makeup a lot but I totally agree with all your points above, it's hard to keep up with what they have and what they don't have with all these limited edition collections.

    It also drives me a little crazy seeing bloggers all blogging about exactly the same thing in waves, I can only read so many reviews of a shade of lipstick unless they're telling me something new, rather than just showing off.

  6. 27th March 2012 / 10:13

    I agree about the collections. I have found it hard to be interested since the Rodarte collection, and the constant LE products- well they just drive me bonkers. People fight tooth and claw to get something, without knowing if it is any good JUST because it MIGHT sell out before they can try it!! ARGH!! Some good staple items in the shop, but I think they need to go a bit slimline with their outlook and calm down rather than throwing their stock about like Jackson Pollock in a paint shop… x

    • 27th March 2012 / 11:29

      "People fight tooth and claw to get something, without knowing if it is any good JUST because it MIGHT sell out before they can try it!! ARGH!"


  7. 27th March 2012 / 10:18

    I remember when MAC first opened a shop where I live and I was thrilled but then again, I think I was 17. And throughout university, they were my "go to" brand but now, I rarely even look at their counter as I'm drifting through Selfridges. Granted because it normally has music blaring and is surrounded by hordes of annoying teenagers.

    But also they discontinued my favourite product, the paint tubes which had amazing staying power and whilst they do the paint pots, they dry out too quick. I don't rate their lipsticks and their lipglass is too sticky.

    I also think that because they are so focused on the next collection and the next and the next etc they have lost focus on the core products. There's nothing groundbreaking about it now. It's a bit "seen it all before".

    • 27th March 2012 / 11:30

      The paint tubes! I love them, they were the best eyeshadow primers EVER.

    • 27th March 2012 / 12:12

      YES!!! I had one in "bare" and it was the right colour for my eyelids and anything over it was there forever! I could go clubbing and 6 hours later, regardless of how much I'd danced, my eye makeup would not have budged a milimetre. No creases!
      Bring back the paint tubes!!!

  8. 27th March 2012 / 10:37

    I agree whole heartedly with this post! I gave up on collecting items from MAC Collaborations after the Disney Venomous Villains campaign, it cost too much money and the novelty of a new "limited edition" collection every 6 days soon wore thin. Don't get me wrong I have bit of makeup from MAC that I love and will continue to repurchase but at most that's only 3 items.

    I am tired of their shoddy customer services too, despite the fact I have a job that pays well and have money to spend in their shop/ concession the SA's routinely ignore me and would rather help someone who looks trendier, younger and more fashionable than me which is fine, Illamasqua can now say hello to my cash.

  9. 27th March 2012 / 11:38

    I am not going to lie. one of my favourite eyeshadow is from mac (vanilla) the lipstick of choice i carry around in most of my nights out is velvet teddy and I am totally addicted to mac 3D silver glitter. This is pretty much the extent of my mac collection. I love my items, BUT all the collections I see popping up are quite frankly tiring. I am confused between what's out, what's upcoming and what is discontinued. I feel MAC is digging its own grave, carry on like this and most people will get tired of their countless collections. I don't even look at the products anymore, what excites me is the promo looks done for them but many, lately have been disappointing.

    • 27th March 2012 / 12:10

      I think their artistry is amazing, Illamasqua aside, there simply isn't a brand to touch them in terms of sheer talent, and amazing imagery. But … is there too much?

  10. 27th March 2012 / 11:49

    I really don't like MAC staff, especially the ones in my local store, they are very rude, something which I have complained about to both the department store they work in and to MAC to no avail!

    I do buy the odd thing from MAC, I sometimes use their powder and buy the odd lipstick but that's about it, I'm not a die hard MAC fan, I would probably buy more if the sales assistants were a bit nicer to me!

    • 27th March 2012 / 12:10

      I'll be sending this link to the MAC PR dept, MG, I'm sure they'll find it very interesting reading.

  11. 27th March 2012 / 12:30

    I've never, ever bought MAC since I went in as a 19 year old and the lady at the counter took one look at me, sighed and said 'you need help'. I find it all too intimidating. There are so many different numbers and colors and collections to keep track of and after *that* store visit I feel reluctant to ask the staff, despite how lovely they probably are. It's a shame how one poor sales assistant can ruin a brand image isn't it!

    I have heard that their brushes are the best around however. But I think when it comes to MAC I'd need someone to hold my hand as I find it a little scary! And until then, I'll stick to more uncomplicated makeup.

    Great post as always Louise. Had no idea about the Rodarte thing. Very shocking reading! x

    • 27th March 2012 / 13:01

      It really is a shame when one person can put someone off using a brand for life.

      MAC brushes are very good, btw, I've had some of mine for ten years or more!

  12. 27th March 2012 / 12:59

    I am a latecomer to MAC (I am nearer 50 than 40, what can i say, I am a late developer) and in the past few months have bought a few lipsticks, in partic Impassioned (bright pink) which I love and I like the vanilla taste and the formual, I like the wide choice of colours.

    Took me a while even to realise MAC was Canadian not US – not doing much here to establish my beauty credentials am I?
    Have to say, shocked when I read about the Rodarte mess – just how dumb an idea was that? Did not know about the China animal testing and do not understand why need to animal test for Chinese market but not for US/UK – outrageous, that really puts me off the brand big time.

    Agree about the horror of the MAC counter at Selfridges – awfully busy and always a scrum and the testers in a mess, but to balance that I have to say the SA at the Kensington MAC shop was lovely, really nice and also the girls at the Covent Garden shop were very friendly.

    • 27th March 2012 / 13:05

      Oh, MAC in Selfridges always leaves me either shaking with anger at being ignored, or near tears in frustration at being ignored. I've never managed to spend any money there, aside from if you go during the week at random times of day!

      That said, I do think the MAC counters at Harrods, and in particular, Harvey Nichols are to be commended, they're always very polite, and usually, a lot quieter.

  13. 27th March 2012 / 13:54

    Goodness me, I've been using Mac products for approximately 12 years but my affair with them has faded in the last three years or so. I'm not bothered about the ever-changing collections; they look like repackaged and reformulated colours of products that have been discontinued. Annoyingly my favourite lipsticks are no longer available and instead I have to settle for alternative new shades. I swore by their foundations though that's not the case any more as I've switched to other rival brands who are hot on the case of developing even better base products than Mac but what disheartens me is their quality no longer stands up.

    My brushes that I've bought a year ago are literally coming apart (cheap production in China?). They also don't stand the test of time. Service is fine in the pro shops provided Pete Burns doesn't push in front of you and get served first (staff were faffing around him in the tiny Foubert's Place shop while those who had been waiting first were kept waiting)and definitely appalling in Selfridge's which seems to be taking over the entire beauty floor. Don't get me started on the ridiculous velvet rope policy at the Westfield shop in Shepherd's Bush. Get over yourselves, Mac!

    I'll pick and choose products from Mac but they are few and far and between. Plenty of newer brands snapping at the heels of Mac who value their customers too.

    • 27th March 2012 / 16:05

      Oh my god! I'd forgotten about the "velvet rope"! Me and MrL were once kept waiting outside the Westfield store on a weekday afternoon because there were two people in store waiting to get served. We walked off. Not a good way to develop custom! Yes, it's a small store, but …

  14. 27th March 2012 / 14:02

    Oh my god! I'd forgotten about the "velvet rope"! Me and MrL were once kept waiting outside the Westfield store on a weekday afternoon because there were two people in store waiting to get served. We walked off. Not a good way to develop custom! Yes, it's a small store, but …

  15. 27th March 2012 / 15:54

    Has MAC now become another victim of pushy business and marketing strategies where profitability is top of the agenda, leaving the quality of products compromised??

    By constantly churning out 'Limited Edition' collections to the point of fifty five collaborations a year, the special exclusiveness of each 'Limited Edition' collection is actually lost. This approach is evident in many luxury retail brands, one strong example being the British luxury accessories brand with a bush as a logo. The prices are unreasonably high due to popularity, 'limited edition' element milked dry with so many different variations of the same design/concept, but the quality of each product has decreased because the companies are eager to hard sell the 'limited edition' concept with mass production.

    And let's face it, almost half the products in each limited edition collection put out by MAC for the past few years have been either repromotes or permanent products. Ok, this may be a generalisation or even an exaggeration. But the sense of originality is waning with each collaboration, especially with fifty five of them in a year. It's too overwhelming for a consumer, a bit like going to a restaurant with hundred different food items on the menu. That is not to say variety is not good, it is. But with the vast variety of permanent products MAC already has to offer, surely the approach to limited edition collections should be "less is more". I think the company would be better off releasing limited edition collections seasonally, where they focus on carefully creating and considering each item with the collaborators, thus the quality and originality of the products (which MAC was so famous for) are retained.

    As for customer service, I think intimidation would be the right word to use. Never do I feel angry going shopping for makeup, apart from going to MAC counters. Every. Single. Time. Customer disservice????

  16. 27th March 2012 / 16:01

    I can't say that I'd never ever buy from MAC again *but* three things have made me move away from them more and more in recent times:

    1. MUA Shade #12 which at £1 is an EXACT dupe of the MAC Blue/Brown pigment. Goes on the same, looks the same, costs a quid. I'd rather pay for eye shadow not a label. And there are a lot of MAC dupes out there now.
    2. They test in China. They can pretty it up and PR it up all they want, but they test in China. I'd much rather they had the balls to make a stand and say "We're MAC and we're not going into your market until YOU change."
    3. I've fallen madly in love with Illamasqua. I can't remember being this excited about a makeup company before. I mean SERIOUSLY excited. MAC is wearing blue lips because blue lips are "on trend". Illamasqua is wearing blue lips because you feel like it and couldn't care less what a trend is. MAC makeup artists are really REALLY good… and then there's Alex Box. I rest my case.

  17. 27th March 2012 / 16:03

    I completely agree with you on this. I just cannot keep up and as a result I've lost interest. They make it so hard to get excited about collections, the frequency of them just makes them feel less special. I still like MAC but I can't remember the last collection I got excited about. I wish they would go for 1 or 2 collections/ season!

  18. 27th March 2012 / 16:11

    As you know I have only just come back and have found myself blogging about some new releases but now I feel like a hypocrite and I'm happy to go on record and say that! I went off the MAC formula a while back when Estee Lauder took them over the shadows lost ptgmentation and felt more talcy(EL also known for testing on Animals so the MAC thing was inevitable tbh regardless of the China thing) Saying that I did start to get excited about a few of the new LE lines so though eh what the hell ill post about them, but now reading your post I feel I have sold out a little but hey at least I can be honest about it

    • 27th March 2012 / 16:28

      I don't think you should feel sold out, not at all! We all blog about what we're interested in, and if you think the products are good, then you *should* blog about them!

      It's good to hear a dissenting voice on the post, by the way, thanks for being brave enough to post your comment!

    • 27th March 2012 / 16:45

      I have an honesty problem it gets me into trouble a lot haha.

      I agree blog about products you like however, for me i think I got sucked into the beautiful marketing campaign because everyone has to admit they are very good at making a product look awesome, but I still haven't actually purchased a mac product since testing products in store after EL took over.

      Another love of mine is Smasshbox and I did get concerned that their products would go down the loo when EL took them over but, to date they have kept all creative control so the products are still the same maybe MAC should have done the same instead of seeing £££'s

  19. 27th March 2012 / 17:44

    55???? FIFTY FIVE????? ARE YOU SERIOUS???
    Fifty five collaborations a YEAR??? WTF??

    I bought a couple of Iris Apfel lipsticks and liners – I didn't even have time to blog them before they had moved on to another collection. Whatever.

    Best not to get me started on the (lack of) Customer Service. Selfridges wouldn't even answer my question – A QUESTION. 'You need to take a ticket'

    I'm sorry – we're a deli counter now?

    I would love to know more about MAC skincare – but do I have the energy to look into it – God NO – certainly not in a shop.

    I would LOVE to get my hands on a Customer Service training session at MAC. You can be a shit hot artist all you like – but if you have no people skills – Honey I ain't buyin!

    • 28th March 2012 / 08:11

      That's not fifty five collections a year, it's things like, fashion weeks, collections, and everything else that goes into a brand, but, whichever way you slice it, it's a hell of a lot for anyone to keep up with, never mind the consumer.

  20. 27th March 2012 / 18:28

    55 a year is just insane. I have given up on Mac because I can never get served and it drives me up the wall. I'm not trendy, I'm not wearing yellow eyeshadow. I just want some Blot and maybe if you were nice to me an eyeliner and eyeshadow might creep into my basket.

    But no. I stand there. And I stand there. And I stand there. And then I give up and go and buy some Rimmel pressed powder from Boots.

  21. 27th March 2012 / 19:04

    I've never owned any MAC and in over 2 years of blogging, I've seen nothing to persuade me that I'm missing out. What I have gleaned is that I missed the glory days before they were owned by Estée Lauder and that I'd now only be buying a pale imitation of what they once were. The lovely pink toned tinted moisturiser they sold my yellow toned friend didn't help either.

    • 28th March 2012 / 08:13

      Oh, I don't think I'd go as far as to say that, there's still a lot to love about MAC, it's just impossible to find what's good underneath all the stuff that won't be there next week …

  22. 27th March 2012 / 20:22

    The animal testing thing irks me. I will admit to it being low down on my list of priorities. But surely if they're releasing a product both in the US/UK and China then that product will be tested on animals no matter where you buy it?


  23. 27th March 2012 / 20:31

    I'm going to buck a trend by saying my local MAC store is great, the staff are plentyful and helpful. Yeah, it's ludicrously busy with girls half my age on a saturday playing with lippies, but there always seems to be someone around offering help. That said, the limited releases are 10 a penny or so it seems and with all the hype sell out before I get to store and see for myself. I refuse to buy online and buy into the hype. It was mac that first sparked my love of lipstick and I almost never walk past the store in my town without popping in, but unlike bobbi brown, ysl or guerlain can walk out without making a purchase.

    • 28th March 2012 / 08:14

      I'm really glad there are some good stores around – my faves are the Browns of Chester and Harvey Nichols (London) counters.

  24. 27th March 2012 / 20:36

    Since I was told my face was to round to do anything with I've never really felt secure enough to go to a M.A.C counter and when I have I've not gotten served anyway. I wasn't aware there is a size/age requirement in order to love using make up.

    • 28th March 2012 / 08:17

      There isn't, and there really shouldn't be. That's awful! The one thing I love about makeup is that you're never "too fat" for it, unlike, say, clothes.

    • 28th March 2012 / 10:51

      I felt like I had to look like a member of Geordie shore to get acknowledged. I am UK 14/16 so not big really. Ironically I went in to give myself a treat after loosing weight lol

    • 28th March 2012 / 18:32

      It is a very stereotypical industry I personally have turned up to a shoot and a photographer wouldnt work with me because I didnt fit their style and I was overweight! Thank god it wasnt for a very well known photog but its very much that way. Its how you look not how good you are and the same for when you or i walk into a certain MAC stores because most of the girls are stuck up and have that mega bi*tch i am better than everyone else quality, no tact and would rather sell you an orange foundation! I am quite lucky the Brighton store is amazing the girls in there are wonderful and there are even so plus size girls working there 🙂

      As for your face is too round what a load of old tosh all women are beautiful symetical, non symetical and make-up apllied correctly will only enhance that beauty. I cant believe someone ever had the nerve to say that to you!! xx

    • 29th March 2012 / 14:43

      We live and learn don't we? I am sure there are lovely people working at M.A.C , shame that is not the image they portray. I must say however Illamasque are the complete opposite, made me feel like a Goddess?

      That photographer sounds like a rude egomaniac!! I can see from your little photo that you are stunning! x

  25. 29th March 2012 / 15:27

    Illamasqua have amazing ethics and the view that everyone is beautiful! As for the photographer he was an idiot and not even that great i didnt miss much it wasnt a paid shoot as for the picture thank you i didnt look like that then and i personally disagree but hey lol xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *