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?