For the Beauty Novice: MAC Lipstick Finishes

This is for us girls, who just started to play in makeup . . .  

A little over a year or so ago I started to get into lipsticks.  Before I was just a lip glass wearer – y’all remember that clear lip glass that was hella sticky?!?!

I was never a lipstick girl because I thought my big lips already got too much attention. Why dress them up and get more?!?!  And then I started to wear braces so I was like oh heck no.  I then started to see a lot of black women dressing up their lips and it inspired me to try.  I went very subtle at first but in no time I was red-lippin it everywhere.  LOL! Lipstick is really grown woman status.

I would walk to into a MAC store or counter and I would feel overwhelmed at all the lipsticks available.  And I wasn’t shopping wise because I really didn’t understand MAC’s concept.  Because the color in the tube isn’t really what matters, what matter is the finish – what does it look like on the lips.  You have to figure out, what you want to get out of the lipstick.  Color payoff? Moisture? Wear time? Because the finish (each lipstick is in a category) really answer these questions.


I want to share with you what I have learned about MAC lipstick finishes.  The different finishes are . . .

  1. MATTE: No shine, no shimmer, no glitter, no pearling effects, no gloss.  SUPREME color intensity, color payoff and coverage of all the finishes. The matte formula is dry-looking and it can look dry on your lips so make sure your lips are well moisturized before applying.  Mattes are like having pure pigment on your lip – it’s not going anywhere. Mattes have more wax than oil thus the long wear.  MAC also has the finish Metro Matte which is the driest formula and you can wear this for about 8 hours without reapplying.  Matte Examples: Russian Red, Heroine and Candy Yum Yum. Retro Matte Example: Ruby Woo 
  2. SATIN:  Very similar to Matte but it is not as flat.  It is also not as creamy as Amplified Cream (next one on the list).  Think of satin sheets.  Satin finish leaves a glossy surface.  It’s more conditioning to the lips and not as drying as mattes. Like mattes you still get the great coverage, color intensity and color payoff but it has a satin shine. Examples: Rebel and Cyber
  3. AMPLIFIED CREAM: Most emollient of all the finishes. This finish is ultra creamy and shiny and color packed.  The texture is just more creamier.  These finishes can feather (run) so it’s best to use a lip liner because it will slide on your lips. Examples: Violetta and Up the Amp
  4. FROST: Excellent color payoff but it leaves a frosty (glittery/pearlized/chrome) look. Some of them are pretty iridescent.   It is medium coverage. Not as color intense as the finishes above but it’s also not sheer.
  5. CREMESHEEN:  Creamy + sheen. Not great color payoff but very creamy.
  6. LUSTRE: This finish is demi-sheer.   With this finish you will get a lipgloss look but it’s not as sheer as a gloss.  If you are looking for coverage it will not provide it.  It gives you that wet/moist look when applied.  If you have naturally darker lips, the color payoff will be little to none because your natural lip color, if dark will show and not the color in the tube.  Think of shiny metals when you think of lustre.
  7. GLAZE: Sheerest of them all. You’ll get beautiful color from the stick but once you apply it on you will get better color payoff from a lipgloss.  This finish will give you a tint.  Think of glazed doughnuts when you think of this finish.

REMEMBER: The sheerer the lipstick the less wear time. So this is also a guide to which lipsticks last longer in the MAC range (Mattes being the longest and Glazes being the shortest).

Just know that lipsticks can be deceiving. Just because the color is beautiful in the tube it doesn’t mean that it will look that exact way on your lips.  If you are a beauty novice, I would recommend heading to a MAC counter and trying lipsticks on before purchasing.  I love color payoff so my favorite finishes are Matte, Satin and Amplified Creme. What are yours?


2 thoughts on “For the Beauty Novice: MAC Lipstick Finishes

  1. Matte (metro) for sure is my favorite I just got Flat out Fab…I like amplified but like you said it slides so much but that frost no ma’am I can’t do it..Great breakdown of the finishes!

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