MAC Pressed Pigments – review, photos & swatches

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MAC proves that all that glitters is golden on the eyes!

photos: we heart this

Glitter, glimmer, sparkle, shimmer, oh my! There are so many adjectives to describe the degree of glisten in shadows these days sometimes I feel the onus of being true to the most awesome shadows among us. Let me start by saying that MAC Pressed Pigments ($25 each) are pretty awesome.

It’s really not enough anymore to say a shadow is “glittery” or “sparkly;” these were once terms for kindergarten arts and crafts or teen queen play makeup. Today, sparkle is for grown ups as is evidenced by the dreamy, creamy fine powder pigment of MAC’s pressed pigments, with enough reflective shine to make polished metals cry jealous tears.

We heart this was fortunate to receive five of these twelve envy-worthy shades for review:

Enlightening — Deep Silver

Amethyst — Purple with silver undertones

Day Gleam — High pearl powder in MAC’s NC30 shade

Jet Couture — Charcoal black

Angelic — Off White

Of these five, I got my hands on Enlightening, Amethyst and Jet Couture. These were not what I expected. In the pan these reminded me of Urban Decay’s Stardust shadows, a versatile shadow with buildable color and sparkle that ranged just below a glitter to around a glisten. I loved these shadows but, in truth, they ain’t got nothing on MAC’s Pressed Pigments.

First, MAC’s Pressed Pigments are the buttery, velvety-type consistency that most of us high-end beauty shadow aficionados have come to expect. That creaminess of consistency means a finer mill of powder that snatches up every available spot meant to be covered. It also means that the color in the pan is pretty much the color you will see on your lids.

Pressed pigments – Enlightening, Charcoal Black, Amethyst, Day Gleam, Angelic

These shadows can be applied with different methods with varying degrees of effectiveness. Stef suggested using fingers to press the shadow onto the lid would be most effective. I, of course, bow to Stef’s shadow wisdom and used this method most frequently.

Using my finger to press the dry pigment onto my eyelids can be imprecise but is highly effective at depositing the most shadow with the least fallout. These shadows are also highly blendable so using a stiff yet soft-bristled brush to smooth things over after the finger application works marvelously (MAC suggests their 215 Medium Shader Brush).

Using a brush to apply these pigments dry will result in fallout. The pigment will still be intense rather than buildable but you’ll have it on your cheeks and chin. I did this a time or two but not without a damp towelette and some face powder.

Working with the Pressed Pigments wet is another great option for application. Whether it is with a wet finger or a wet brush, the intensity of the already bold pigment is magnified and the fallout is nullified. The shadow goes from deep metallic to glossy, almost patent-leather-like shine. This is the grown-ups’ answer to arts and crafts: foiling for the eyes.

A closer look at Enlightening and Charcoal Black

And Amethyst, Day Gleam and Angelic

There is something almost intrinsic about women’s attraction to sparkle and shine. MAC pressed pigments are for those of us who turn our head at every shiny object and stop to contemplate every sequined dress and sparkly cocktail ring. Isn’t that all of us?

we heartsters – Is your love of sparkle innate? If so, your love of MAC’s Pressed Pigments must be preordained.

Pressed Pigment
Angelic – Off white
Light Touch – High pearl powder in W10 shade
Flicker – Pastel yellow
Blonde Streak – Light cream
Day Gleam – High pearl powder in NC30 shade
Enlightening – Deep silver
Blue Willow – Light icy blue
Sweet Acting – Mid-tone pink
Amethyst – Purple with silver undertone
Smoky – Deep silver blue
Deeply Dashing – High pearl powder in NW55 shade
Jet Couture – Charcoal black
$21 US/$25 CDN

Disclosure: This review includes products that were provided by the manufacturer/PR firm for our consideration. For more info, or any questions, please see our disclosure policy.


  • sherrishera

    Sherri is a writer, dog lover, old movie fanatic, history detective, political junkie, fashion pundit and social media consumer advocate. “A fancy dinner and expensive champagne are better than writing a rent check any day of the week.” skin tone: NC 25 skin type: oily/sensitive favorite beauty product: anti-aging anything

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  1. You weren’t kidding about what you see in the pan is what you get, @sherrishera! I really like Day Gleam, but I’m a NC 42 so I bet that would just about disappear on me. I keep staring at the Charcoal Black, something about that shimmer in the black makes it so interesting… I bet, paired with Amethyst and Enlightening, it would make for a really great nighttime look.

    Thanks for the great review, @sherrishera! These aren’t making me run to the MAC store, but I’ll definitely check them out next time I’m there.

    1. I smiled my way through “Foodie Penpals with the Lean Green Bean.” Thank you!

  2. My husband teases me whenever I use MAC Pigments because I find myself running around the house trying to track down tape first! A little stip of plain old office tape is the best way I’ve found to clean up fallout, but it certainly looks a little funny at first.
    Enlightening and Day Gleam are beautiful and defintly hitting my “Ooh, shiny!” button, but it’s a shame that the problem of fallout is still there. I won’t be running to the MAC counter for these, but I’m sure they’ll find their way home with me sooner rather than later!

  3. Did not know what to expect from the MAC Pressed Pigment, Day Gleam. On sight, I loved the color and couldn’t wait to apply, but never used a pressed pigment before. Well, I loved the way it glided on easily, and the sheerness of it on ther naked eyelid. FINALLY, I found what it takes to emulate Ginger, from Gilligan’s Island, wet-look, goldy lids. This made me feel super-sexy! Had fun playing with different bases, and shadows. Agree that fingertips worked best for me. 4 Star rating. More than likely, I would purchase this product again.

  4. Oh, @sherrishera, take a normal eyeshadow and attach adjectives like “dazzling, iridescent, shimmering, etc.” and suddengly an enormous amount of adrenaline is pumped into my system and I lose all reason and control. And so it was with your article . . . the single reason that I have not already ordered these MAC pigments online is that my $1.25/hour salary for teaching at a private school (part-time this year) provides me with little extra. But I’m going to save my milk money and dive into these! One is definitely not enough. I am fascinated by the hues (the variated tones in “Jet Couture” have me absolutely intrigued). Pressing the powder onto lids is a practice which wouldn’t have occurred to me, but it seems it would lend an even more ethereal look to Cinderella-like shadow; thanks for this tip! I did foil my eyeshadow on New Year’s Eve. My husband continually complimented me on my appearance. I fell asleep without removing my makeup (I deserve to be beaten, to be sure), and woke up to him standing above me saying, “Wow! What did you do to your eyes? They’re so sexy.” Well, at least he DID notice–more than fourteen hours later!

    1. Jet Couture is definitely my favorite and most versatile…I’ve used it as a lid color for a dramatic, smoky eye and as a liner and as a crease color. It’s my night-time “everything” workhorse!

  5. I love your description–“enough reflective shine to make polished metals cry jealous tears.”

    I tried two of the pressed pigments in the Face & Body collection last year and was really turned off by the fallout and overly glittery and chunky texture. I LOVE sparkle, and I LOVE MAC, but I just wasn’t in love with the product. They were pretty, but really only appropriate if you were trying to look like a fairy covered in fairy dust on Halloween. The ones in this collection look a little less… explosively glittery. Be warned, these are more fragile than your typical pressed powder product–I broke one of mine :( I’d swatch/try these on in person if you’re nervous about the amount of sparkle.

    1. Your comments are helpful–thank you!

    2. Oh, @lipglossandspandex I didn’t try the pigments of which you speak but from your description it sounds as though these have a much finer texture. And yes, these straddle that glitter/shimmer line but I tend to fall on the side of intense shimmer. Every bit seems to have multifaceted shine but those bits are so fine…none of the chunky stuff that leads one to fairy glitter wonderland. It is a bit much for daytime unless you’re one of the ultra-fabulous who can get away with that sort of thing. For the rest of us it’s weekend-night-out wear.

  6. oh my gosh, Day Gleam is calling my name! I am NC30…Does that mean that this will look effortlessly gorgeous on me!? I sure hope so :) I must check this out in person!

  7. These are really nice! Went by the MAC store while they were launching this line last week.. I’m showing my age now..I loved Gilligan’s Island..Ginger was stunning to me as a kid..Just because of her perfect sexy look, this drew me right in..

  8. These are all stunning looking – I love your closing paragraph about us women being innately attracted to sparkle – so true! And I flipped when I saw the NC30 shade – like I would have no thinking or playing to do – it would just magically look perfect on me…and then I remembered that I think I’m NW30 darnit. Anyways, they’re all gorgeous – great review!

  9. Wow, Enlightening and Jet Couture are fabulous, and colors I would use for a special occasion, may have to pay a visit to my MAC counter!

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