MAC – Punk Couture – Instigator Lipstick: Photos, Swatches and Reviews

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There are a total of four lipsticks in MAC’s Punk Couture collection, which was released the day after Christmas… I realize this post if a bit late but I didn’t even receive my products until earlier this week! Because I’ve received these lipsticks in different shipments, I’m reviewing them individually rather than as a group… I may start using this format anyway, so let me know how you like it!

For this post, I’m reviewing Instigator, which is one of the darker, more “punk” Lipsticks in this collection. Although this may not be for everyone, it’s definitely worth trying out if you can find it! Darker lipsticks and purples are VERY on trend right now so you can get away with a lot more bold, intense lips than you probably think you can!


MAC’s Matte Lipstick formula is one of the most highly pigmented, long wearing formulas that they make. For this reason, Matte’s are my favorite! Because the drier, though still creamy texture, they really adhere to the lips and wear well without feathering or fading for an average of 5-6 hours. That’s a pretty good wear time for any lipstick, BUT you can make it last even longer! With a liner, you’ll add several hours of wear time, extending it to closer to 7-8 hours. The purpose of the liner is to keep the lipstick in place and also give it something even drier to stick to, especially if you line, then fill in around the edges and corners or even all over the lip. Another trick is to use a primer, like MAC’s Prep + Prime Lip, before applying liner and lipstick to add even more wear time and smooth out the lips for a super easy application.

The texture of Matte Lipsticks is dry, but still feels creamy and glides on without tugging on your lips. The benefit to this is an intense, bold lip without shine. I feel like when you’re going for a bold or bright lip, Mattes are perfect because sometimes too much shine and intensity can seem like it’s overdone. The only down side I can think of with Matte texture Lipsticks is that the drier texture can potentially emphasize chapped or dry areas on the lips… However, there’s a very simple solution for this! Once again, Prep + Prime Lip works as a lifesaver… It’s a color-free lip primer that gives the lips a tiny bit of extra moisture on in addition to locking in your lip’s natural moisture. On top of that, it smooths out the lines and texture on your lips so everything applies smoothly and stays in place. I’ve also found that when wearing dark, more intensely pigmented lipsticks, Prep + Prime Lip will help prevent staining!

Instigator Label

The Lipsticks with the Punk Couture collection are all limited edition and were released on December 26th both online at and stores and counters and are now available IF you can find them… Unfortunately, these sold out insanely fast, so I can’t promise that your local MAC will have it in stock but there’s always a chance that the website and/or local MAC will have more for sale at some point, so keep checking! Like the majority of MAC Lipsticks, these sell for $15 and contain 3 g / 0.1 US oz of product. They have a faint vanilla scent but no flavor. There is also no special packaging with this collection, which is why they sell at the normal price (thankfully!).

Photo taken outdoors in natural sunlight. Instigator swatched on NC15 skin.
Photo taken outdoors in natural sunlight.
Instigator swatched on NC15 skin.
Photo taken indoors with natural sunlight + light from my OttLite makeup mirror. For color reference, I’m a NC15 in MAC terms.
Photo taken indoors with natural sunlight + light from my OttLite makeup mirror.
For color reference, I’m a NC15 in MAC terms.

Instigator:   This Lipstick is described as a “deep blackened plum” and has a Matte finish. It’s a deep, cool, blackened purple with some slightly warmer wine-stained undertones. It has the usual sheen for about the first hour of wear that fades later on to a true Matte. As you can see, it’s not 100% opaque, but mostly. The color payoff is lighter on the lip than in the tube, but with some layering you can intensify it. The texture is pretty creamy, though seemed a little drier than the other lipsticks in this collection. You can probably tell by how it showed the tiny little chapped area I had, which was fixed with Prep + Prime Lip next time I wore Instigator!

There are a few liners that I really love with Instigator… From lightest to darkest, you can go with Heroine Lip Pencil (limited edition), Rich Purple Chromagraphic Pencil (MAC PRO), as well as Currant, Vino, or Nightmoth Lip Pencils.

Dupes:   Smoked Purple Lipstick (MAC PRO) is very close, though it lacks the sort of wine/berry undertones. Cyber is much darker and cooler toned. Potent Fig (limited edition) is more of a true purple. Rebel is lighter and has a sheen, but honestly, you can try Nightmoth Lip Pencil all over the lip with Rebel Lipstick on top of it and it’s pretty darn close!

Overall Rating:   5 / 5

Application:   5

Coverage:  5

Color Payoff:   5

Texture:   5

Wear Time:  5

Packaging:   5

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