There’s something really intoxicating about shopping at Sephora, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, or Nordstroms, and stopping by the makeup counter of the brands you see mentioned in Vogue or Elle or Harper’s Bazaar. I remember my first Chanel lipstick — a deep chocolate berry brown I wore down to the nub back in high school, when almost-black lips were the hottest thing. (Raise your hand if you owned a black lipstick!) Fancy makeup makes you feel the part. If you lived your life like the glossy magazines dictate, you’d have a dresser covered in MAC, bedecked with Shu Uemura, and decorated with Dior. But in these days when gas prices are escalating, homes aren’t selling, and we may-or-may-not be in a recession, maybe you can’t afford a lipgloss that’s $25. Maybe a $50 giftcard at Sephora needs to get you the maximum bang for your buck. Maybe you yearn to pull that YSL lipgloss with the gold sparkles in it out of your purse, just to be flossy for once, but you need to pay the bills and can’t afford to splurge on a product that may not be perfect. So you’re asking yourself… but is it worth it?

Recently, I’ve gotten the opportunity to try out some of the fancier makeup brands. Some of them really are everything you’ve dreamed of, and make you feel like the epitome of luxury with each application. Some of them, not so much. Sometimes you might be better off spending $10 on two-for-one drugstore lipglosses than blowing $20 on just one. This is the beginning of some really honest reviews about the products you may have been saving up to purchase. I’ll start with the Fafi collection from MAC.

Ask just about any woman of color what their favorite makeup brand is, and you’ll get almost the same answer — MAC. It is the gold standard for women of color. Why? Because MAC has a reputation for high quality products with pigments that work with and last on darker skin tones. Their new Fafi line is super fun, with distinctive, graffiti-inspired packaging all designed by the makeup’s muse, French artist Fafi. Makeup Loves Me scored an exclusive interview with Fafi, check it out to learn more about her.

Click here to explore the super cool Fafi website, click here to peep the products. The Fafi stuff is funky, youthful, sparkly, and muted all at once. Some beauty bloggers love it. Some don’t quite feel the same. And apparently, Fafi isn’t selling as well as Heatherette, so you can still find Fafi stuff at the counter. So, is it worth it?

Mostly yes, sometimes no.

The thing that draws everyone to MAC is the quality. You know if you’re buying an item, be it a $14 lip gloss or a $34 eyeshadow kit, will be a well-made, wonderfully packaged, highly pigmented item. Fafi lives up to the quality standards, and some of the items in the collection are awesome. I think the paint pots are amazing. My favorite is Rollickin’, a subdued ice blue that looks great on my skin tone. Cash Flow is a buttery green-gold that looks better on than it does in the pot. But here’s the thing with Fafi. We’ve got lots and lots of pink happening. Is there such a thing as too much pink? This brown skinned bella says yes.

The Fafi blushes are too pale of a shade for me — they don’t quite blend perfectly all the way in on my skin tone, but instead leave me with doll-like pinkness on my cheeks. It’s blush that seems to be meant to be noticed. And if you like doing a super feminine, pale, Sixties-inspired Estelle-ish eye, by all means enjoy the other Fafi paint pots. A little cat’s eye line is all you need for a fetching date night look. But for me, I prefer to highlight my baby browns with bold brights. My MAC line (that’s already all designed in my head) would feature lots of ocean colors, purple shades, and stronger eye colors than this. Same goes for the eyeshadow quads, which are a bit muted for my taste. Unless I was going for a pink smokey eye, which could be fly for a romantic evening. But at $36? They’re not the standout items of the collection.

MAC eyeliners are among the smoothest, longest lasting liners available, and the Eye Kohl is no exception. But in my honest opinion, eyeliner isn’t necessarily the product you need to spend big on. These are $13.50, and the color is deep and strong… but Milani’s Color Brilliance, Sephora’s kohl, and Rimmel’s eye definer are just three brands that come to mind, that are equally smooth and comfortable for daily use, and half the price (or even less). I did like the Fascinating pencil, which is a bright white that really, truly does make my eyes look bigger and prettier when I use it sparingly.

MAC’s zoom lash mascara is well worth the price. It’s just $11 — I’ve seen drugstore brands retail for that price! And it’s amazing. Long, thick, silky lashes that last for hours. I do love it.

I am firmly in the I hate lipglass camp, so despite the fun variety of shades, you can color me biased against these. I hate tacky, sticky lip glosses that cause your hair to stick to your face. Lipglass epitomizes that for me. But I love, love, LOVE the Fafi lipsticks. OMG, that High Top shade doesn’t even look like itself on my computer screen. It’s a bluish-gray purple with amazing purple sparkles. I know that sounds sorta terrible, but it’s very clubby and chic and different for nighttime. Takes me back to those dark lipstick days, and it’s moist and fab. And the bullet-shaped Fafi packaging is super chic.

The Fafi nail lacquer is ten bucks, and I’d say it’s worth it — the shades are shimmery, fun, flattering, and great for summer pedis, the packaging is adorable, and it’d make a great gift for a package of birthday or bridal shower items.

And there you have it. Fafi is fun, youthful, and there are a few items in the collection worth checking out if you’re a MAC fiend.

Have you tried anything from this collection? What’s your favorite MAC item, bella beautiful?

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Ashley Samantha says:
April 23, 2008, 2:35 pm
Oddly enough, I'm wearing the Girls Will be Girls nailpolish right now -I'm a huge fan of the Fafi line! I don't mind being a stereotype in this case - MAC is my fave makeup brand. I totally agree with you on Rollickin', it's so fun to play with. I like the lipsticks, but I'm a lip gloss fan so I love those too from this collection. Great review Bella!
Storme says:
April 23, 2008, 3:08 pm
you know...i used to be a HUGE fan of the clear lip glass...but then i found and fell in serious love with MAC's lip gellee in slicked pink. ive got to try their eyeshadow, but really i hate going into some of the MAC shops down here because they are so damn crowded that it makes it hard to get any kind of assistance. :(
regina says:
April 23, 2008, 3:34 pm
I was never too big on makeup, because I sweat so much but every now and then I'll go beyond eyeliner and mascara and do the whole thang! I once spent a little more than $100 on some Bobbi Brown stuff and used it 3 times and a year later threw it all out but than bought something cheap (in walmart) and loved it! I have close too no patience with make up and even less with those makeup counters! But when I find something that I like I try to buy a lot of it!!
Aaisha Rielly says:
April 23, 2008, 3:46 pm
As an employee of MAC, you gave a wonderful review, I totally agree with you on the blushes as far as the Fafi line goes, I am a MAC girl all the way and thats why I work for them now :)
Apple Diva says:
April 23, 2008, 4:14 pm
Fafi was definitely ok, as in not impressive. I missed out on the Cash Flow paint pot. I only got the Nice Vice paint pot from this line. Heatherette is cool...Trio 1 is amazing (high pitched voice) I like to layer my blushes. For example, I may use a red or pink blush and layer with a Warmed MSF or any Gold MSF that I have. I do not look like Raggedy Ann, but a nice soft glow.
sungoddess says:
April 23, 2008, 4:19 pm
I love lipstick, and have done the whole do on occasion, but really do not have the patience for more than lipstick on a regular basis. To be honest, since my son was born I have been disinterested in all kinds of beauty regimes, but am beginning to get back into the swing of things. However, I have never gotten in to MAC. Mostly because it hasn't been available wherever I happen to be living at the time. Here in Barbados, now that it is available, it is hideously expensive. It's at the front of the big department store in town, and I can only afford to shop in the back at the Revlon counter. I have friends who are MAC devotees, while my devotion tends to be towards another Mac(intosh), the heart of my geekiness is all things Apple. I may be inspired to splurge on a tube of something just to see what the fuss is about.
kia says:
April 23, 2008, 4:29 pm
hi bella! i agree with you on the lippies and paint pots.. i was in love! for me, while the blushes can be a bit splotchy, a very light hand makes them unnoticeable. =) i love both!
kia says:
April 23, 2008, 4:33 pm
them-- the splotches, if the blush applies like so....
winnie says:
April 23, 2008, 4:55 pm
I'm not a MAC girl at all, except for the...lip glass! I prefer a more natural look and MAC always makes me look like a hooker. I prefer Prescriptives Virtual Skin foundation b/c it makes me look like I have flawless skin instead of flawless makeup. I do like a dramatic eye for evening so I may look into the Fafi eye paints.
ginag says:
April 23, 2008, 5:11 pm
so far, the only things I've been really impressed with of MAC is their gel liner and eyeshadows. Nothing else seems to stay on my oily lids. I've found their lipsticks to be drying, their lipglasses nice, but not as long-lasting as I'd like. I haven't tried the blushes or foundation. I'm sort of scared -- the SAs at the counters seem more interested in hawking me a million products than helping me find one shade that looks natural and won't take hours to put on.
ednitak says:
April 23, 2008, 5:35 pm
Thanks for talking about the bad economic times and having to re-prioritize our beauty "splurges". Today, I took advantage of MAC's Back 2 Mac recycling program. Since I've been a customer for a few years, I've finally got it down to what products I can't live w/o and which I'll wait until I get enough empties to trade in for a free product. It has really cut down on the amount of stuff I buy and then regret because the shade/texture doesn't work out.
Joenell says:
April 23, 2008, 6:02 pm
how funny...i began this afternoon on youtube watching a video on natural hair care and it led me to another video by a really cute chick named "fafinettex3"...i love love LOVE how i look in makeup but don't really have all the expert techniques down so i spent about an hour watching her tutorials and learning all about mac and the fafi/heatherette lines...what a coincidence that this discussion is on the same exact topic! i really may have to go to the mall this weekend and see what this is all about. p.s. i'm so glad you both echo the same sentiments...all your stuff doesn't have to be mac in order for you to get "that look". she hawks mizani and nyc like they are gifts from god. lol
auragirl says:
April 23, 2008, 6:13 pm
As a college student, I can't WAIT until I can afford to buy high quality makeup like MAC and go to Sephora and actually buy something! lol
Mahoganydymond says:
April 23, 2008, 6:43 pm
*raising hand*... I wore black lipstick for a long time.. Mary J Blige got me started. I have not been able to buy MAC in the last 2 1/2 years. Once I get my money in order again, I do plan on buying.
Exquisitely Black says:
April 23, 2008, 6:56 pm
Never been much into makeup, but what I do have is plenty MAC...lipglasses. Yes, I also hate the fact that it makes my hair stick to my lips, but I also find most lipsticks drying and I absolutely love some of the shades (I swear by Oh Baby). Suggestions on a non-drying lipstick that has the sparkle of the lipglass?
Marsha says:
April 23, 2008, 7:01 pm
I've never been much of a makeup wearer (if I'm at Tarjay and the mood strikes me, I might grab a couple of CoverGirl products), but I'd never used MAC products. Now that I'm older and seeking a more consistently professional look, I might take a peek at what MAC has to offer. Thanks for another great set of reviews, Bella. says:
April 23, 2008, 7:53 pm
I've been a MAC girl for about 2-3 years. Previously, I never wore makeup because I either couldn't find the right shade, or didn't know how to put it on without making it look like I had too much on. Then one day, a MAC store opens up on 125th Street in Harlem. I'm doing some window shopping and went in to see what the hype was all about. I left after the free makeover with about $75 in products and a list of other items that I wanted to purchase when I came back with more cash. MAC is the only line of products that I have ever completely used until there was none left. I'm talking empty bottles and lipstick/lip glass where you can see the bottom of the tubes....LOL. Money got a little tight. I used other products. Drugstore foundation, moisterizer and blush. TOTAL WASTE OF MONEY. MAC is now a line item in my budget of necessities with rent, cell phone, electricity, etc....LOL April
Sabrina97 says:
April 23, 2008, 8:02 pm
I LUV MAC! I haven't tried the Fafi or Heatherette lines yet. Thanks for the Fafi review. My MAC counter didn't really get any of it, so I guess the internet is my spot for this line. I tend to go for the foundations and lipliners... I, however, love the lipglass! I simply put some C.O. Bigelow Mentha lip shine (expensive at $7, but the stuff is awesome! Even freshens my breath and comes in several different flavors and tints) over it to bump up the shine more and stop the stickiness. I guess because my hair isn't as long as yours, stickiness isn't really an issue for me.
Moni says:
April 23, 2008, 10:28 pm
I'm a huge MAC girl. The paint pots are currently my fav product, but I love pretty much all of their eye and lip products (yes, including the lipglass). I'm not really a foundation girl, but I use their concealer, blush and powder. I even wear red lipstick! Their brushes are also the best that I've used. As for the Fafi collection, I've only bought the lipstick in Fun N Sexy. Since I've started grad school funds are tight, but it's a great color against my caramel skin. I'm looking forward to stocking up when I'm working this summer.
nyc/caribbean ragazza says:
April 24, 2008, 1:24 am
I like Prescriptives for my foundation but the line is not sold here. I will be checking out MAC to see if I can find what I need when my current make-up runs out. Regarding lipsticks and gloss. I love Bobbi Brown's Aubergine for gloss. Chanel and Trish McEvoy (various shades for lipstick).
LeAnne says:
April 24, 2008, 12:41 pm
The MAC counter lady said that Fafi was a flop for MAC. Some bigger named brands are better because MAC products are honestly not the best out their. The lipgloss is a bit sticky and the foundations can sometimes be hard to blend. But, with the cost of drugstore brands rising, MAC is the next best thing. Becca Cosmetics and Stila are too of my favorite brands. People used to go Ga-Ga when I collected my Urban Decay Eyeshadows. But, the best glosses come from Bobbi Brown and Nars. Orgasm... I cannot keep it in my clutches long enough before someone tries to steal it from me.
LeAnne says:
April 24, 2008, 12:42 pm
Ths shittiest lipgloss I've ever used is the Cover Girl with the color and then gloss attachment. Ugh... it 5 seconds it dries to a hard mess with with white clumps all over my mouth.
TJ says:
April 24, 2008, 12:45 pm
I like some mac products, but i've found high quality pigments in other products that were less expensive, too. If I find an expensive product that performs the best, then I will have fewer cosmetics. While I like Fafi's art, the line is a bit club kid for my tastes.
Nerd Girl says:
April 24, 2008, 1:20 pm
I'm not much of a makeup wearer beyond lipgloss and mascara. I do love the MAC 4N lipglass though. It is THE perfect everyday shade. Love it so much I bought 4 tubes of it because it is/was a limited edition. My skin is so oily, not much else stands a chance. Great post!
elledub1920 says:
April 24, 2008, 4:02 pm
thanks for this review. i have been wondering about the Fafi line. Now I want to check it out. ~L.
Bebroma says:
April 24, 2008, 8:10 pm
I might have to check out the mascara. I'm always on the lookout for the perfect mascara. Sticky lip glosses -- you're probably too young, bella, but the ultimate lip gloss disaster was when you had on your rabbit fur jacket and looking too cute in the front seat of somebody's car and the air from the vent blew the rabbit fur that was always shedding all over your Dr. Pepper flavored lip-glossed lips. Or so I've heard. ;-]
Sherri says:
April 25, 2008, 12:07 am
Great review. I am so in love with MAC. I love their eye shadow. So many pigments to help you express your personality. I am definitely an eye shadow girl. I can't say that I agree with you about lip glosses. I so used to be was either the pastiness or the high chowmein shine look that got to me. I find Sally Hansen's Lip Inflation is a non sticky gloss that makes your lips so kissably delicious. You should check out MAC's liquid tint. It evens your tone without that matte finish. LOVE IT!!!
Sherri says:
April 25, 2008, 12:12 am
you check out, the have a wonderful article on the use of coconut oil. I am partial to coconut oil. I have used it on my skin and I swear by it. Great read.
HeavenLeiBlu says:
April 25, 2008, 12:29 am
Well, I'm a chick with a teenage daughter and a tight budget, so I use a mix of high and low end cosmetics, and I like you, Afrobella, LOVE me some Milani (gotta get those new color Brilliance pencils)!I like MAC, mostly for the lipglass, and the HyperReal foundation, on the rare occasion that I wear a base. I've only gotten into the eyeshadows, pigments and paint pots in the last couple of years or so, and I enjoy them as well. As for this Fafi collection; as TJ said, it'a a little too club kid for my tastes. Ironically enough, though, the Heatherette is pretty much synonymous with the current club kid culture, and their collection appealed more to me. To ExquisetelyBlack, Avon has a line of lipsticks called Glass Reflections that wonderfully fit the bill of youe request. Alas, it was discontinued. I bought a few tubes while I could, and my favorite ones are the Glossy Nude and Glossy Spice. Very moint but not sticky. If you wanna give them a spin, I just searched on and there are a couple sellers that have some tubes on the cheap. Hope that helps.
Chandra says:
April 25, 2008, 11:16 am
I don't have a lot of money to splurge on clothes, shoes or hair products. But I do splurge on MAC. I've been using it for 5 years and I've never gone back. My skin is dark (like Estelle) and gets very shiny. MAC's the only line of cosmetics that can stand up to my skin. The only time I go outside of the line is to buy mascara...I haven't tried the Fafi line yet. I tend not to rush to the stores for each and every new celebrity line that MAC introduces. I usually stick with their basic colors and shades.
Lucky says:
April 26, 2008, 10:06 pm
I have a family and I'm returning to school to get my nursing license. Right now, I can't afford MAC, so the drugstore brands will have to do...(Holds head down in despair)...But honey, when I finally get out of college, watch out because I'm going to be hawking over the MAC counters like mad!
elledub1920 says:
April 27, 2008, 1:54 pm
I just recently started using "her glossiness" by benefit. I like their lip gloss better than MAC actually...not to sticky or heavy, I recommend "where's my stylist"?
Ms. Independent says:
April 28, 2008, 4:31 pm
I am not a fan of MAC glosses. I do think they have the best variety of pigments/eye shadows. Now for a decent blush job Bobbi Brown's shimmer bricks are the truth! Can't say I can afford any of this right now, but when I get my stacks together I know what I want, lol.
coco_fiere says:
April 28, 2008, 9:50 pm
For deep pigments and great colors on the cheap, go to Walgreens or CVS and get Milani and Prestige (love the Tiger Eye shadow--think Amber Lights by MAC). Also, Milani's Serendipity gloss is a dead ringer for Oh Baby but not as sticky or overly glittery. My fave easy, neutral gloss is L'Oreal's Colour Juice in Iced Latte and it's perfect for all Afrobellas. For the gel liner fix, get L'Oreal HIP cream eyeliner that comes with the perfect angled brush. Drugstores always do a BOGO or BOGO1/2 off deal every other week so you get even more bang for your buck. I used to work for a lot of the department store lines as an mua back in the day and I kept mostly NYX, Milani, Prestige shadows and blush in my kit so......
MamaBones says:
June 6, 2008, 10:47 am
I love, love, love MAC. It's the only thing I'll wear most times. I go & splurge around once a year after I get my bonuses. First fell in love 5 years ago. Went to the counter looking for someone to do my face for a friend's wedding. I looked so good I bought the whole lot they used on me. Everytime I go back, I leave looking like a queen. The last time I went was in April 30th. A friend was having a party & the theme was Old Hollywood Glamour. I lost count of all the compliments on my makeup. I use the lig glass - the orangey one - everyday and all the other stuff get osed over the weekend. I wourkout lunch time 7 do not have the time to apply anything after the shower. Did i mention that I love MAC?


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