MAC – Eye Shadow x15 – Cool Neutral Palette

We all know that eye shadow palettes are a major craze lately, so I’m happy to see that MAC has finally stepped up to the plate and released not one, but TWO neutral palettes that contain 15 full sized eye shadows each and sell for only $85!! That’s a HUGE savings! Whether you’re just a makeup lover or a professional makeup artist, these palettes are great to have on hand. I actually purchased both of them to add to my kit. Having so much variety in two little palettes has ended up saving me a lot of room in my bag as well as saved me time looking for that perfect color combination!

Both neutral palettes have a great selection of colors that you can achieve pretty much any kind of look with, from a smoky eye to a natural daytime look. There’s also a wide range of texture in the palettes, so you have a lot to choose from for lid, crease, and blending eye shadows. MAC included a few permanent must haves, though most eye shadows are limited to these palettes only. One palette contains warmer tones, while the other has cooler toned eye shadows… The Cool Neutral Palette is the one I’ll be reviewing for this post.

For the review of the Warm Neutral palette, please click here.

Cool Neutral Packaging

Cool Neutral Palette Product

MAC Eye Shadows are a high quality powder formula that’s well pigmented and applies easily. There are a variety of finishes/textures in this palette, so color payoff and coverage will vary between them… I’ll describe those more in depth in each individual review. For the most part, all give good coverage and color payoff, as well as wear time. With most MAC eye shadows I get somewhere between 6-12 hours of wear. To be honest, wear time depends on the finish of the eye shadow, if you have oily lids, and if there’s a primer underneath.

I ALWAYS use a MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot as my primer because it not only gives a good base to even out the texture and color of the skin on the eyelid, but it also gives the powder eye shadow something to stick to so it wears longer. Pro Longwear Paint Pots will keep the eye shadow from creasing, which is a must for people with oily lids or heavily hooded lids… For a good, light neutral color I suggest Soft Ochre, Painterly, or Layin’ Low. Using a light color of primer will also make the color of the eye shadow show up true to how it looks in the pan so it will never look washed out (these colors even work on dark to deep skin tones)! You can also use something that’s similar to the color of the eye shadow itself, or even something like Blackground if you really want to play with color and transform the eye shadow. Blackground works especially well under brighter, more frosted eye shadows.

The packaging for these palettes is fantastic! The palettes are very well made, feel sturdy and hold up to anything from gentle, daily personal to professional use, being tossed around, dropped, and crammed into a makeup kit regularly. The palettes have the clear top so you can see what you’re grabbing for if you have numerous palettes. The shadows are spaced far enough apart that the dust from one won’t travel onto the other and alter the color or anything like that. They are black and shiny, so they will show the dust from the eye shadows a bit, but that’s easy to clean by using a tissue and 99% alcohol to wipe them down and clean them up (you can also lightly spray the alcohol on the shadows themselves to sanitize them before/after jobs or just to keep them clean for yourself). The back of these palettes does tend to show fingerprints but any black plastic packaging does that, so I don’t consider that an issue. The one thing that some people may not like is that you cannot pop these out of the palettes like you can with the eye shadow palettes that you build yourself. That said, I don’t see why it would be necessary since everything you need is already conveniently organized in this palette for you (plus it’s cheaper than building your own)!

These Eye Shadow Palettes are permanent and available now at stores, counters, and online at www.maccosmetics.com. Each palette contains 15 full sized eye shadows, coming out to be a grand total of 19g / 0.68 US oz of product. These are a great value, selling for $85 (pro and employee discounts do not apply). For an individual MAC eye shadow (in the plastic pot), it costs $15, while the Pro Palette Refill Pan eye shadows sell for $10… In these neutral palettes, each eye shadow comes out to be $5.67. Even for people with a MAC PRO discount card, that’s still about how much each eye shadow would cost and you’d probably have to purchase the palette to put them in too! Basically, this is a killer deal for anyone, so it’s definitely worth buying if you need some new eye shadows for either yourself or your kit, especially since so many of these eye shadows are very unique.

MAC Cool Neutral Palette Label

NOTE:   All reviews are based on performance over a Pro Longwear Paint Pot, as I never wear eye shadows without one. Wear time, color payoff, and coverage will all be slightly less without using one as a primer. 

Application Tips:

I don’t normally go so in depth with how you can use the eye shadows in palettes, but because this comes with SO many and you can do so much with it, I want you to teach you my tips and techniques so you can learn how to use them to achieve all of the fun looks that are possible with this palette! MAC Eye Shadows can even be used damp to intensify the color/coverage or to use as a liner, so I’ll include tips on that.

Typically, I use these dry… Since they’re so highly pigmented, a damp application isn’t really necessary. These are much more blendable and easier to apply when used dry. Dry application is great for use on the crease, lid, to highlight below the brow/on the inner corner of the eye or even to line with!

A damp application of will make the colors and amount of shimmer/frost more intense, though it certainly isn’t necessary most of the time. It is nice if you want to use these shadows as a liner, though. Applying damp is best for the lid or lining, as it makes these much more difficult to blend out. For a damp application, simple spray your brush with something like MAC’s Fix + Spray then swipe it on one small section of the eye shadow. For eye shadows that I use damp, I designate one small section for use with a damp brush, otherwise, swiping a damp brush all over the eye shadow will make a sort of “crust” on the product, making it nearly impossible to use dry.

Lid:   When applying powder eye shadows to the lid, a few of my favorite brushes to use (all from MAC) are the 239, 213, 215 (for a more dense, heavier application), 287 duo-fibre (for a lightweight or damp application), 242 (good for dry or damp), or a 252 (dry or damp / for larger eyelids). A 249 brush is also great for damp application, especially on larger eyelids.

Crease:   My favorite crease brushes are the 217, 224, or 286. All three of those are nice and fluffy so they blend out the eye shadow beautifully. If you want more intense color in the crease, I suggest a 214, 215, or 219 (for a super defined, cut crease). The 275 angled brush is also fantastic for the crease because it’s tapered to fit into that area perfectly, but still blend the shadow out so you’ll get the perfect shape and softness.

Liner:   When I’m smudging an eye shadow under my eyes or above my upper lash line as a type of liner, I like to use the 219, 214 or 212. For a damp, more defined liner application you can use whatever liner brush you’re most comfortable with… The 209, 210, 211, 212 work well for a softer liner look, while the 263 and 266 angled brushed will work better for something like a cat eye.

Highlights:   For a below the brow highlight, I like something flat like the 242 or 239 for more intense color payoff. If you want a softer brow highlight, try a 217 or 224. You can also highlight the inner corner of your eye with a smaller type of brush like a 219, 228, or 231 brush.

MAC Cool Neutral Palette - Product with Names

Photo taken outdoors in natural sunlight. Eye Shadows swatted on NC15 skin.

Photo taken outdoors in natural sunlight.
Eye Shadows swatched on NC15 skin.

Flounce

Flounce

Flounce:   Flounce is described as a “chalky white pink” and has a Matte finish… It’s a light, cool toned pink with nearly lilac undertones. The finish is truly matte and it is indeed a bit chalky, as the description implies. Color payoff is surprisingly great for such a dry, matte color… It does look cooler on the skin than in the pan, but other than that it’s true to pan color and intense. Coverage was great… It was almost opaque with little product used and gave full coverage when applied over a Pro Longwear Paint Pot. The texture does feel slightly dry but it still applies and blends out easily without being too dusty and powdery. I got a solid 8 hours of wear before any fading occurred.

Dupes:   Yogurt Eye Shadow is close but cooler toned and slightly darker.

Overall Rating:   4.7 / 5

Application:   5

Coverage:  4

Color Payoff:   5

Texture:   4

Wear Time:   5

Packaging:   5

Sweet Allure

Sweet Allure

Sweet Allure:   Sweet Allure is a “soft light pink” and has a Satin finish… It’s a light, slightly warm toned champagne-pink with a soft satiny sheen. Color payoff is good, though without some layering it doesn’t look completely true to the color in the pan or have as much of a sheen. Coverage is about the same… It will give full coverage after some light layering but not with one quick swipe of product. The texture of Sweet Allure felt silky and applied easily without being powdery or dry at all. With this eye shadow, I got about 7 hours of wear before any fading occurred.

Dupes:   Orb eye shadow is pretty similar but more pink. Naked Lunch is lighter, less pink, and more of a warm, true champagne color.

Overall Rating:   4.5 / 5

Application:   5

Coverage:  4

Color Payoff:   4

Texture:   4

Wear Time:   5

Packaging:   5

Sun Tweaked

Sun Tweaked

Sun Tweaked:   Sun Tweaked is a “soft frosty coral” with a frost finish It’s a light-medium, peachy-pink coral with some coppery undertones and a truly frosted finish. Used damp, this eye shadow even looks metallic! This is definitely the warmest shadow in the cool neutral palette but it does work well with the other colors. The color payoff was okay It did take some layering to achieve pan color. Coverage was similar but luckily this eye shadow is easily buildable. For a Frost finish, the texture felt more powdery than usual but this still applied well, especially when patted onto the lid or used below the lower lash line. Wear time was pretty average with frost finishes… I got 6-8 hours of wear before it began to crease or fade.

Dupes:   Arena eye shadow is lighter and more of a peachy color. Gleam is pinker, lighter and more shimmery. Expensive Pink is darker and more of a peachy-pink. All That Glitters is almost similar on the skin, but still is lighter and has more of a pink tone to it.

Overall Rating:   4.2 / 5

Application:   4

Coverage:  4

Color Payoff:   4

Texture:   4

Wear Time:   4

Packaging:  5

After Dusk

After Dusk

After Dusk:   After Dusk is a “mid tone rosy pink with pearl” and has a Veluxe Pearl finish… It’s a medium, ever so slightly warm toned berry-rose with some coppery undertones that seem to only show up in the sheen. With the Veluxe Pearl finish, it’s in between a satin and a frost, so it has a slightly frosted pearly sheen, but not so much that it looks metallic. Color payoff was great and looked nearly true to pan with little product applied. Coverage was equally wonderful, giving full opacity with only a tiny bit of eye shadow patted onto the lid. The texture is super smooth and easy to blend out, which is typical with Veluxe Pearl eye shadows. I got a little over 7 hours of wear before After Dusk began to fade or crease.

If After Dusk sound familiar, it’s because it was recently released as one of the eye shadows in the Stroke of Midnight Warm Face Palette, which was one of the kits released with the 2013 Holiday collection. Although it was limited then, it will remain permanent exclusively in this palette.

Dupes:   After Dusk is pretty unique and is difficult to find a dupe for! The base color of Trax is similar, but it has a golden sheen to it and appears more purpley on the eye. Star Violet is considerably darker and well, more violet.

Overall Rating:   4.8 / 5

Application:   5

Coverage:  5

Color Payoff:   5

Texture:   5

Wear Time:   4

Packaging:   5

Blackberry

Blackberry

Blackberry:   Blackberry is a ” muted burgundy-plum brown” with a Matte finish and is one of the few permanent colors in this palette. It’s a medium-dark, mostly neutral but slightly warm, plummy brown. Once applied, the color payoff seems a little darker than it is in the pan but the color itself is great. Coverage isn’t 100% opaque with the first swipe of a brush but it’s buildable and very easy to achieve full coverage with. The texture is super smooth and not the least bit powdery, especially for a Matte! Blackberry gave me over 8 hours of wear before I noticed any fading. There is no difference in this version of Blackberry compared to the permanent one either, which can sometimes happen with palettes.

Dupes:   I can’t really think of any dupes, and since this eye shadow is part of MAC’s permanent lineup, there’s not really need to find one!

Overall Rating:   4.8 / 5

Application:   5

Coverage:  4

Color Payoff:   5

Texture:   5

Wear Time:   5

Packaging:   5

Photo taken outdoors in natural sunlight. Eye Shadows swatched on NC15 skin.

Photo taken outdoors in natural sunlight.
Eye Shadows swatched on NC15 skin.

Pick Me Up

Pick Me Up

Pick Me Up:   Pick Me Up is a “pale ivory” with a Matte finish. It’s a pale, slightly cool toned ivory-beige with a completely matte finish. Color payoff is great, while it does look a little lighter and almost, but not quite, white on the skin. Coverage is also fantastic with Pick Me Up, giving full opacity with little product. The texture is a little dry but in a silky, not too powdery way, so it applies well. As with most Matte finish eye shadow, I got over 8 hours of wear before I noticed any fading.

Dupes:   Blanc Type and Brule are both similar but are a tiny bit darker than Pick Me Up.

Overall Rating:   5 / 5

Application:   5

Coverage:  5

Color Payoff:   5

Texture:   5

Wear Time:   5

Packaging:   5

Cozy Grey

Cozy Grey

Cozy Grey:   Cozy Grey is a “cool grey” with a Matte finish… It’s a light, neutral, though slightly cool toned grey with some brown/mauve taupey undertones that warms it up once it’s applied. Color payoff was good but coverage was only so-so… It definitely applied best when worn over a Pro Longwear Paint Pot and was layered a bit. The texture was drier and almost chalky compared to the other Matte finishes in this palette but it still blended out well. I actually love this color and texture for a blending color in the crease or just above to soften darker eye shadows. The great thing about Cozy Grey being slightly dry is that is gave me 10+ hours of wear before fading!

Dupes:   Malt is warmer and slightly darker. Bisque is similar but lighter and more neutral. Camel Coat Pro Longwear Paint Pot is actually really close, only a tiny bit darker, but it’s a cream formula.

Overall Rating:   4.2 / 5

Application:   4

Coverage:  3

Color Payoff:   4

Texture:   4

Wear Time:   5

Packaging:   5

Crushed Clove

Crushed Clove

Crushed Clove:   This eye shadow is a “dirty gold olive” with a Frost finish… It’s a medium, neutral golden color with a dirty olive type of undertone that cools the color down a bit overall. The more neutral tone shows up mostly in the very frosted, nearly metallic sheen. Color payoff is pretty true to pan color but it does look warmer in this photo than in person, due to the warmer golden sheen reflecting light. The swatch above is more accurate. Coverage was great… I got total opacity without having to use much product. This eye shadow feels incredibly smooth and silky and only has minimal powdery fallout, but only if you get too much on your brush. Crushed Clove wore for about 6-8 hours before any creasing or fading occurred… I prefer wearing Frost eye shadows on the lid, rather than in the crease because of the issue with them fading more quickly in the crease.

Dupes:   Woodwinked is slightly darker, warmer, and more intense. Tempting is similar in color, but as a Lustre, the color payoff and coverage aren’t as good so it ends up looking lighter. It’s also not as olive.

Overall Rating:   4.8 / 5

Application:   5

Coverage:  5

Color Payoff:   5

Texture:   5

Wear Time:   4

Packaging:   5

Deception

Deception

Deception:   MAC describes this eye shadow as a “chocolate gold” with a Frost finish… It’s a medium-dark, cool toned, chocolatey brown with some nearly mauve undertones that only show up once applied. The Frost finish is what contains the majority of the golden sheen. The color payoff is great and looks quite true to pan color, with the exception that the mauve undertones show more once applied. The coverage is opaque without applying much eye shadow. It glides on easily and felt very smooth and easy to blend. As with most Frost eye shadows, it wears best on the lid, giving around 7-8 hours of wear time over a Pro Longwear Paint Pot, while wearing for more like 6 hours in the crease over the same primer.

Deception is permanent in this palette only, but has also been previously released… Once in Fall of 2009 with in the Smoke & Mirrors Eye Shadow Palette as part of the Magic, Mirth and Mischief collection, and again in the Stroke of Midnight Cool Eye Shadow Palette with the Holiday collection in Fall of 2013.

Dupes:   Woodwinked is close, but not as smooth or pigmented… It also appears more golden and slightly lighter on the skin. Satin Taupe is cooler and darker.

Overall Rating:   4.8 / 5

Application:   5

Coverage:  5

Color Payoff:   5

Texture:   5

Wear Time:   4

Packaging:   5

Brun

Brun

Brun:   Brun is one of the permanent eye shadows in this palette and is a “muted blackish brown” with a Satin finish. It’s a medium-dark to dark, cool toned brown with a hint of a greyed undertone. The finish is considered to be a Satin, but this feels and applies more like a Matte until it’s been layered. The color payoff is good and true to pan color. As far as coverage goes, it does take some layering to get full opacity but that’s easily achieved. The texture is dry, perhaps a bit chalky, but in a very smooth way… The dryness can make it a little hard to blend but if you use a softer brush like a 239 or 217, it should make it easier! Like I said before, until you really get this product built up, it looks drier and more matte than it does once applied more heavily… That’s when the slightly Satin sheen shows up. Wear time is great and lasts for a minimum of 8 hours before any fading or creasing.

Another note… This works great as a brow color or as a liner (I suggest a MAC 208 brush for brows)!

Dupes:   As a permanent color, I don’t see much need to list dupes since you can get this anytime BUT Concrete is lighter and has more of a grey undertone, while Espresso is warmer and a but lighter.

Overall Rating:   4.5 / 5

Application:   4

Coverage:  4

Color Payoff:   5

Texture:   4

Wear Time:   5

Packaging:   5

Photo taken outdoors in natural sunlight. Eye Shadows swatched on NC15 skin.

Photo taken outdoors in natural sunlight.
Eye Shadows swatched on NC15 skin.

Silver Fog

Silver Fog

Silver Fog:   This eye shadow is a “white with silver pearl” and has a Lustre finish… It’s a very light, slightly cool toned white-silver with a soft pearly but nearly frosted sheen. Color payoff is pretty true to pan, while coverage was only about 75% opaque, unless you layer it a bit. I was really impressed with the texture… It felt very smooth, gliding on and blending out well without having that powdery, almost gritty feel that some Lustre finish eye shadows do. I found that this also had very little fallout, which is somewhat common with this finish. It wore better than most Lustres, staying put for around 7 hours.

Dupes:   Electra is darker and more frosty. Silver Gull, which was limited with the Iris Apfel collection is close, but more shimmery. To be honest, Silver Fog is pretty unique as far as MAC silver shadows go.

Overall Rating:   4.2 / 5

Application:   4

Coverage:  4

Color Payoff:   4

Texture:   4

Wear Time:   4

Packaging:   5

French Clay

French Clay

French Clay:   French Clay is a “white-grey frost” with a Frost finish. It’s a light, neutral-ish toned taupe-ish grey with an unusual hint of a golden tone thrown in there that will warm this color up a bit when used with certain warmer eye shadow and on some skin tones. In the pan, the warmer tone shows up more but other than that, the color payoff is great and pretty true to pan. Coverage was fantastic and full without having to use much eye shadow. The texture felt like silk and blended out very easily. As with most Frosts, wear time on the lid was around 7 hours, while in the crease it faded a bit sooner.

Dupes:   To be totally honest, I can’t think of any really great dupes for French Clay… Sweet Satisfaction Pro Longwear Eye Shadow is close but a hint warmer and more pigmented.

Overall Rating:   4.8 / 5

Application:   5

Coverage:  5

Color Payoff:   5

Texture:   5

Wear Time:   4

Packaging:   5

Cumulus

Cumulus

Cumulus:   This is a “dirty grey charcoal” with a Frost finish… It’s a medium, cool toned taupe-grey with a nearly dirty, mossy brown undertone to it that makes this color seem slightly warmer, or at least neutral, when paired with certain eye shadow and on some skin tones/with some eye colors. It’s really unique! Color payoff is good but like I mentioned, it can appear more neutral sometimes. Other than that, it’s pretty true to pan color. Coverage was good, but not totally opaque by itself. Applying this over a Pro Longwear Paint Pot helped dramatically. Cumulus felt smooth and applied and blended out easily. Wear time was about 7-8 hours on the lid and slightly less in the crease.

Note: This Cumulus is NOT the same Cumulus from years ago… They only recycled the name. It’s NOTHING like the color or texture from before.

Dupes:   I’m stumped. This color is just THAT unique!

Overall Rating:   4.7 / 5

Application:   5

Coverage:  4

Color Payoff:   5

Texture:   5

Wear Time:   4

Packaging:   5

Pearled Earth

Pearled Earth

Pearled Earth:   Pearled Earth is described as a “deep blue-grey” and has a Veluxe Pearl finish… It’s a medium-dark, very cool toned indigo hued grey with a soft type of frosted, pearly sheen. Color payoff is great and spot on to the color this eye shadow is in the pan. I got really good coverage too without having to apply much product at all, though it wasn’t totally opaque with just one layer (unless you use a Pro Longwear Paint Pot underneath). The texture was luxurious and silky, blending out and applying well and with little effort. Wear time was similar to a Frost eye shadow, with around 7-8 hours on the lid and slightly less when worn in the crease.

Dupes:   Scene is similar in color, but is much, much drier, less opaque, and more matte. Smut is darker and has a warmer, wine stained hue. Dangerous Cuvee Pro Longwear Paint Pot is honestly the closest in both color and finish, but it’s a cream product.

Overall Rating:   4.7 / 5

Application:   5

Coverage:  4

Color Payoff:   5

Texture:   5

Wear Time:   4

Packaging:   5

Black Tied

Black Tied

Black Tied:   Black Tied is a “black with silver sparkle” and has a Velvet finish. This is one of the permanent colors in this palette… It’s a deep, matte black base with very fine, almost multidimensional micro-sparlke particles. The color payoff takes some layering to be true to pan… Same with the coverage. You definitely want to use a Pro Longwear Paint Pot as your primer and pack this on the lid with a brush like s 239 for a smoky eye. That said, it’s also great in the crease to make any look darker and more dramatic. The texture is smooth, though somewhat powdery, but still easy to blend and layer. You do have to be careful with fallout, as with most black or very, very dark eye shadows, so make sure you either apply this product BEFORE foundation, concealer and face makeup, or hold a tissue/shadow shield under the eye to this doesn’t end up on your cheeks! Surprisingly, this version of Black Tied didn’t seem to have as much fallout as the permanent version that I have. It felt smoother as well. Wear time was about 6-7 hours on the lid and in the crease.

Dupes:   Although you don’t need any since this is permanent and always available, I’ll give you some anyway… Knight Divine is similar, though more of a blue-grey and not as dark, while Carbon is of course a true matte black with absolutely no shimmer at all.

Overall Rating:   4.3 / 5

Application:   4

Coverage:  4

Color Payoff:   5

Texture:   4

Wear Time:   4

Packaging:   5

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2 comments
  1. Jen said:

    This was such a thorough review. Thank you!

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