Monday, 22 November 2021

MAC Pro Palette Eyeshadow: It's Satin Taupe, but is it really green?

Source: eBay (I forgot to photograph mine!)

People who know me well will tell you that I have a hard time making decisions. A classic example of this is in a restaurant, where I will be overwhelmed by option anxiety and feel compelled to ask at least one question of the wait staff. This is to ensure I know exactly what I am ordering, and to pre-empt the feeling of "diner's remorse" that inevitably comes from eyeing "the dish not taken" that your friend ordered instead (to come over all Robert Frost for a moment). Last Saturday, at a meal in a primarily pizza restaurant, my question concerned the presence of raw onion, which I feared might be found nestling surreptitiously in a mound of Puy lentils in the salad I was considering - but was assured to the contrary. As I may have said before, I have even been known to inquire what exactly "Mushrooms on Toast" consists of, to be greeted by a blank look from the waitress and the laconic response: "Mushrooms and two bits of toast".

But in complete contrast to my usual MO of dithering and doubt, if someone were to ask me what colour eyeshadow I was going to buy next, I would have no problems at all defaulting to my favourite shade of all time, MAC Frost Satin Taupe. (See how I managed to sneak in another frost reference? We had some on the ground today, as it happens.) Satin Taupe was also a staple of the late, great blogger The Non-Blonde, and would be my desert island eyeshadow in the unlikely event of ever being forced to restrict myself to one. Even given unlimited choice, I probably wouldn't wish to own more than four shades: a taupe, grey, green and mauve would cover it. That is such a rare phenomenon for me with a beauty category, when you think how promiscuous I have been with perfume and lipsticks, and even skincare.

I was prompted to rebuy my beloved MAC eyeshadow owing to a recent bout of eye eczema, that I thought might have been triggered by either the eyeshadow or several possible mascaras being a bit long in the tooth, to be polite about it. Though it is so hard to know, as there are frankly irritants at every turn. Plus I am known for really pushing the envelope when it comes to using make up and toiletries generally well beyond their use by dates, which may not be doing me any favours.

So I went searching for a replacement online - not living anywhere near a MAC store - and landed on the website of Selfridge's, which offered to deliver for the princely sum of a fiver. And the exact product I lit upon was called "Pro Palette", which didn't compute with me, but the photograph showed a traditional eyeshadow pot just like the one I had, so I wasn't unduly concerned. But alongside the pot it also showed a picture of a flat square card form of packaging with a hole in it, which was puzzling, much like the name. The cost was £10, a bit less than I expected to pay, but of course the delivery bumped it up to £15.

Lean and mean packaging - my card minus the pan!

Interestingly, I have just performed the identical search in Bing and cannot fetch up the particular combination of images I just described, but I swear that is what I saw right before I clicked on "Buy". So you can imagine my surprise when what arrived was a very shallow disk inside this little square card - not unlike the presentation of Serge Lutens wax perfumes if anyone remembers those? It quickly dawned on me that I had in fact bought some kind of refill, not a new pot after all - but a refill for what?? I thoroughly examined my existing pot and couldn't see an easy way to relase the old pan and insert the new. There was no button to press or catch to release, for example(!), so it was not at all obvious how I would get the old suspect one out to replace with my hygienic new purchase. But there was also no practical way I could use this little sliver of an eyeshadow in its loose state - it was about the size and thickness of an old florin.

There was nothing for it but to get out my trusty little penknife - won in a particularly high end kind of cracker, and now about to have its moment - and prise the darn thing out. It did eventually shift, so I gave the plastic housing a good wash and slipped the refill in with no further problems. Having carried out a new Internet search out of interest, I see you can mix and match these little pan refills and place them in a new black plastic palette you buy separately for this very purpose. Who knew? It certainly wasn't clear based on the search that I made that the refill was NOT intended to go in the old style single shade round pot. And hey, I actually thought I was buying the pot in the first place!

Ta-dah! New refill finally wrangled into old pot

The penny also dropped that this move towards supplying refills will have been prompted by a desire to save on packaging on environmental grounds. All very commendable. Which explains why I was most surprised to learn that this slip of a product had been delivered in my absence to a neighbour. Why ever would it not have fitted through my letter box? This is why...and there was even more paper wadding than pictured - of the stretchy white concertina variety. Oh Selfridge's, how absurd is that?! They may think they have to justify their £5 delivery charge by putting the little card in the biggest box they need to to trigger a higher postal charge. When it would of course fit into a slim Jiffy bag / large letter at the very worst. So a big black mark to the store for their choice of box, notwithstanding its fetching yellow insides, for this all but undoes the good work of MAC with its refills.

Long term readers may recall that I have included this very issue of "bombastically big boxes" in my Scent Crimes series in relation to perfume packages, but it does of course apply to any kind of product.

But anyway, despite the confusion and extensive washing and knife work involved, topped off by disappointment at the disproportionate amount of packaging, I am still very glad to be reunited with good old Satin Taupe in a new condition that shouldn't trigger my eczema. And I was wearing it in fact at the weekend, at the restaurant where I inquired about the onion...

Source: MAC (an actual Pro Palette!)

If you could only have one eyeshadow, what would it be?


Tara said...

Yay for a happy ending! Well done on managing to get the refill into the non-reillable pot. You are nothing if not tenacious.

I like cream eyeshadow sticks.

I would really resent paying a fiver for postage on that, let alone all that packaging. Was it not on the MAC UK website? In any case, I hope it helps your eczema. Never worth risking eye products that are out of date.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

I also like cream eyeshadow sticks - my go-to being one by GOSH in Twisted Brown. I have taken to wiping its top lately as a precaution, in the light of recent events.

I don't know what put me off the MAC site - I will have gone on it. May have been all the pop ups or something about the design of the site that deflected me into the arms of retailers, and the overall cost of £15 (including over the top box and delivery costs!) seemed like the best deal. But I have seen more options when I looked just now.

I think I have learnt my lesson now about eye products, though I still cannot be certain it was those. I reckon it was a combination of wood smoke and stress that did for my eyes when I was in France the other week! Unless my Clinique Take the Day Off finally did get contaminated, hehe.

Tanja said...

Funny, just some days ago I was browsing Gaias blog and became interested in exactly this eyeshadow. Maybe I will have a look of I get into the city in December

Vanessa said...

Hi Tanja,

Oh that is a coincidence! There are a few other favourable reviews of it that may give you further encouragement. I like the fact it has a bit of a sheen, but is not so "glittery" as not to be age appropriate. Matte eyeshadows just make me look like I am ill somehow.

I used to follow this blog, and Karen is another fan.

parfumista5 said...

dear, sweet Vanessa et al: please ditch the whole notion of "age appropriateness", I beg of you! Unless otherwise you feel so self-conscious that you would not leave the house, just wear the glittery eyeshadow, the leopard skin leggings, the Doc Martens boots up to here....Life is too short to give a hoot about what "other people" think. I personally believe that a bit of glitter and sparkle on the face gives glitter and sparkle to life, which has not exactly been too very cheerful for anyone recently! Just my two cents'... :-)

Anonymous said...

I am probably not the right person to talk to about eyeshadow - these days I can't even wear eyeliner cos of sensitivities, so am going to get vicarious pleasure from you putting on the glitz.

But I still have a precious little pot of one that Biba sold in the 70s! The container itself is black, the Biba logo in gold, and the shadow is jet black with sparkles. Needless to say I would never wear it (it's probably a thriving petri dish now), I just keep it for nostalgia. I also have a Princess Galitzene eye gel, black again, bought at the same time (from Harrods!). I obviously went in for the smokey eye look back then. I also still possess a Biba dress - black of course - which is long, slinky, totally synthetic heavy silk. How did I ever fit into it?????


Vanessa said...

Hi parfumista5,

I love your inspiring comment, thank you! To be truthful, very glittery eyeshadow would give me a significant fallout issue, but I certainly think this Satin Taupe looks and performs okay on my mature eyelids. ;)

I probably do dress quite young for my age as it is, not least because I have been wearing some of the same clothes since the 90s, hehe.

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

I love your Biba make up and clothes memories! I think it is great that you are keeping the black eyeshadow with sparkles for nostalgic reasons. I don't think I have ever worn anything outright sparkly. I do remember my first eyeshadow purchase: it came in a ball too, silver in colour, by Miners. It may have been a a bit glittery looking back. I know my mother made me take it all off the first time she saw me in it at about age 13. But I managed to sneak it back on later. And probably kept that ball longer than is recommended, haha.

Undina said...

I had about 15 years pause in wearing eyeshadows, and I restarted buying and even sometimes wearing eyeshadows just about a year ago. I don’t think that I have a favorite brand - let alone 1 shade I wouldn’t want to be without: I could easily go without any eyeshadows for the rest of my life (and still might have to do that because of my eye sensitivity), but for now I keep playing with different palettes, letting my eyelids to calm down in between experiments ;)

What do you use to apply eyeshadows? I’m asking because if you use a brush, it might be one more source of bacteria if not cared for properly.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

I didn't think you were much of an eyeshadow user, and like you, I have to take breaks between wearings because of my own flare ups. My eczema is back today in fact - boo! - which may be something to do with the cold, and/or the fact that I was handling strong glue and got a bit on my fingertips. Should have worn gloves - doh!

I use a little Bobbi Brown brush to apply eyeshadow and I do wash it fairly regularly - will do so even more now!

AustralianPerfumeJunkies said...

Hey Vanessa,
I love refills and have a small Kryolin palette.
I'm only allowed ONE?
Well, then it will have to be Kryolin matte black.

your satin taupe looks very nice.
Portia xx

Vanessa said...

Hi Portia,

Whoo, black eyeshadow! You and Jillie are both very brave. But then it is stage wear for you, while Jillie wore it in her youth. I just have to put on something a bit brown in colour and manage to look like I have been in a fight. ;)

Anonymous said...

For years I searched for a term to describe envy of what someone else had ordered in a restaurant and since there wasn't one already somebody helpfully went ahead and coined one: Mal Eid, or choice envy. About six syllables shorter than I'd expect of something in German, but still very pleased. -AnnieA

Vanessa said...

Hi AnnieA,

It definitely needs a term! ;) That wouldn't be "Wahlneid" by any chance, which is the literal translation of "choice envy" in German, and sounds a bit similar. Maybe "Mal Eid" is a dialect or colloquial form?