The ultimate guide to MAC lipstick finishes

Frost, Lustre, What and What!? It's tricky when you don't know how

When I worked in MAC in another life, one of the most confusing elements for customers was that they would often have been familiar with a lipstick, but when they bought another colour the texture was very different.

The thing is, MAC products were originally designed for the artist in mind and not necessarily for the consumer. But because they developed such exclusivity, popular demand grew and grew. And grew. As the saying goes, we want what we can't have - and by God did it work for them.

With other brands, different types and textures of lipsticks are generally branded in different packaging to make it easier for us to identify the one we want; this not the case with MAC. Unless you have previously worked for the brand or you have exceptionally great eyesight, it can be very difficult to identify which one is which.

The lipsticks come in eight different textures, with individual colours specific to one texture. For example, you can't get a Frost version of Ruby Woo. But where do you find the texture? On the bottom of those lovely black bullets in tiny writing above the name of the shade. Clear as night.

Here is a run down so you can be your own expert.

  • Frost 


This one has a 'Frosted' finish, meaning it's infused with a pearl-like ingredient which gives an iridescent effect.

  • Lustre


Lustre is a semi-gloss finish so it's quite sheer in colour payoff. It's really good for people with a dryer lip or if you need hydration. The lustre texture does not have a huge amount of bold colour.

  • Creamsheen 


Creamsheen has a high shine finish with slightly more pigment than lustre.

  • Matte


Matte is excellent for long wearing lip colour. It's vibrant and bold, has great colour payoff, but with all matte lipsticks it's very important to prep and prime the lips beforehand, and condition them throughout the day with a balm or gloss.

  • Satin


Satin is a semi-matte finish. These stay put for hours on the lips but don't fully dry them out.

  • Amplified


Amplified are bright bold colours with a cream finish. Long wearing, with excellent colour payoff and hydrating on the lips. A good all rounder.

  • Retro Matte

retro matte1

Retro Matte has an amplified colour range with a matte finish. As I said, matte lipsticks are extremely long wearing but they can be a bit drying, so it's important to prep the lips before you wear it.

  • Glaze



Glaze Lipsticks are very sheer with a high glossy finish. Great if you are looking for more of a tinted lip balm than a vibrant colour.

Print this, and keep it in your purse; that's our final piece of advice. And maybe bring a magnifying glass with you, if you want to read the label.

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