MAC Year of the Snake Eye Shadows and Beauty Powder – review, photos & swatches

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This makeup union of the snake is on the climb up our beauty charts!


The Chinese zodiac designates 2013 as the Year of the Snake, bringing steady progress and attention to detail. Those born under the Snake sign are rumored to be stylish, fashionable and possessors of exceptional taste. MAC’s new Year of the Snake collection pays homage to this new year of beauty with exotic colors for eyes and face.

Year of the Snake is defined by a vibrant, shimmering palette encased in exclusive reptile-style packaging. Eyes, lips and face are all given the Snake treatment, and we received the full range of Eye Shadows and the Beauty Powder portion of this release.

First, the packaging… If you find it hard to give up beautiful, empty boxes, Year of the Snake will be trouble for you. Each standard black MAC box comes with a metallic-printed slipcover embossed with swirls of snakey color. I wish this design was printed on the products containers, too, but they are the standard black MAC plastic.

Inside the packaging, though, there is a surprise. Flip the lid, and behold… a reptilian design is embossed right onto the product. It’s almost too beautiful to mar with a brush, but I’m glad I did.

The Year of the Snake contains four limited edition Large Eye Shadows ($21), all of the shades have been seen before in other collections (although not necessarily in this larger-sized container):

Once Upon a Time (metallic vanilla) – a pigment-rich veluxe pearl neutral that is versatile and blends perfectly. The color is close to my skin tone, but better – an opaque, slightly frosted neutral beige that works well as a highlighter or all-over color.

Aztec Brick (frosted true copper) – another veluxe pearl shade that gleams like a new penny and blends easily. Depending on the heaviness of application, Aztec goes from a dense metallic to a sheer wash of glimmer. The color has serious orange undertones and in its unblended form is extremely pigmented and dramatic.

Carbon (intense black) – a super-dark matte black. I found it works best used as a liner. With a little work, it can be blended into the veluxe shades to add a dark, smoky look.

Altered State (deep frosted blue purple) – see the comments to read what the tester has to say about this veluxe pearl shade.

Once Upon a Time, Aztec Brick, Carbon, Altered State

I love the oversized pans and the embossed snake design, and on top of this, the veluxe shadows are easy to work with. With a primer, I’m getting a full eight hours of wear with very little fading.

I also tested Year of the Snake Beauty Powder ($24) in Shell Pearl.

I’ve read about MAC’s cult-favorite Beauty Powder, but this was my first opportunity to really try it, and, wow! I understand the devotion. Described by MAC as “delicately tinted in a pale peach with gold pearl,” Shell Pearl goes on as a soft, velvety wash of subtle color, and I can’t get over the smooth texture.

I’ve been using it as a daytime blush or an anytime highlighter, even as an overall finish if I’m in the mood to really gleam. The color might be too light for darker complexions, but for brightening up my pale winter skin, it’s the prettiest thing ever!

I understand that Shell Pearl is actually a repeat from MAC’s Give Me Liberty of London collection, but with its shimmery mystery, it works perfectly in the Snake collection. Of course the Snake pattern is embossed in the powder of this limited edition item.

Shell Pearl – indoors

Shell Pearl – in sunshine

Chalk up another hit for MAC – after sampling a taste of Year of the Snake, I feel ready to shed my winter doldrums and slither into the unexpected.

we heartsters – Are you celebrating the Year of the Snake with a few purchases from MAC’s latest collection? What are your must-have pieces?

Freckletone – Neutral peach (lustre)
Plumful – Blossoming rose-plum (lustre)
Cockney – Sheer yellow red with multidimensional pearl (lustre)
$15 US/$18 CDN

Beauty Powder
Shell Pearl – Pale peach with gold pearl
$24 US/$29 CDN

Powerpoint Eye Pencil
Engraved – Rich black
$16 US/$19 CDN

Zoom Lash
Zoomblack Rich black
$16 US/$19 CDN

Large Eye Shadow
Once Upon a Timeā€¦ – Metallic vanilla (veluxe pearl)
Aztec Brick – Frosted true copper (veluxe pearl)
Altered State – Deep frosted blue purple (veluxe pearl)
Carbon – Intense black (matte)
$21 US/$25 CDN

Brash & Bold – Bright magenta
Push the Edge – Deep bright purple with pearl
$21 US/$25 CDN

photos: we heart this

Melissa loves road trips, bargain shopping, drive-in movies, lip gloss and rock ‘n’ roll. She lives in Baltimore with her precious pup Zeus.

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.


  • turboterp

    Melissa loves road trips, bargain shopping, drive-in movies, lip gloss and rock 'n' roll. She lives in Baltimore with her precious pup Bellarina. skin tone: NC20 skin type: dry to normal favorite beauty product: skincare

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  1. I have Shell Pearl from the Liberty collection – I looooove it. This collection is gorgeous. I also loved the promo images for it too. Once Upon a Time is my kind of eyeshadow – so pretty!!

  2. Wow–talk about sumptuous color! I love the “Shell Pink;” I think it would work quite well with my very fair skin. And I keep scrolling back to the “Altered State” eyeshadow–such an opulent hue!

  3. These are super pretty! I’ve seen plenty of Snakes around here at SCP with the Lunar New Year and Year of the Snake but have to say MAC’s packaging is outstanding! Will see in person as soon as I can get down there! Shell Pearl is calling me!

  4. Wow – that Aztec brick is calling out my name! Love the packaging…MAC never slows down, do they?

  5. I do wish that the snake imprint wasn’t just on the surface, because I’ll be sad when it wears away!

  6. Good Lord, that box is gorgeous! Altered State looks really great, as does Aztec Brick. I wonder how close Aztez Brick is to Mac pigment Copper Sparkle? It doesn’t look like a dupe, but fairly close, and probably better because you won’t have pigment fallout. (I’m SUCH a messy applicator…)
    Thanks for the review, @turboterp!!

  7. Once Upon a Time and Altered Slate are calling my name :) GORGEOUS!

  8. As a former snake owner I’m pretty smitten over the imprint on these pans! Once Upon a Time looks like the perfect neutral. These pans are pretty big, but I can see myself using the whole thing in no time!

  9. I received Altered State to test. And it is in fact quite lovely!! I am a sucker for a purple eye shadow. Of course I hate that using the shadow wears away the awesome snake imprint. But such is life with these special edition beauty products. But this shade is just awesome. It really is a great match for the snake theme. It is like an exotic snake with it multi-colored shimmering appearance. It comes across as sometimes purple, blue, and gray. It’s like a hybrid color. Super exotic!! It’s a keeper for me for sure!!!

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