MAC Paint Pots (Reviews, Swatches & Photos)

MAC Paint Pots

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If you haven’t tried a MAC Paint Pot, you must run to the store and purchase one! 😀 But in all seriousness, these creamy pots have been such a wonderful addition to my makeup collection. Retailing for $17.50 and offered in a variety of shades, you can find these at MAC stores, counters and online.

One of the reasons I adore Paint Pots is that not only are they pigmented, creamy and long lasting. But, they are powerful enough to be used as a primer (if you have oily lids you may require an additional primer).

L-R: Fresco Rose, Constructivist, Blackground, Rubenesque, Painterly & Bare Study

It was no surprise that when Maybelline released their Color Tattoos (aka an affordable version of the Paint Pot), the makeup community went crazy. Up until then a drugstore dupe for Paint Pots just didn’t exist. Although I am a huge fan of the Color Tattoos as of right now their color selection is not as user friendly as MACs, especially for those who prefer a more natural eye.

MAC offers nine different Paint Pots shades in their permanent line and I own 5, including one limited edition shade. Below are some photos and reviews!

MAC Bare Study Paint Pot

The very first Paint Pot I purchased was Bare Study, a pearlescent beige with a frosty finish. This is a cult favorite among MAC users because it’s easy to use and can be worn on its own or underneath shadows as a base.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy, barely there look, this is a great choice. However, this particular shade is quite sheer compared to the others and requires some work to build up its intensity. For that reason, I mostly wear Bare Study as a base.

Bare Study Paint Pot (it has been well loved & the label is scratched off) :P

One dip into Bare Study

Bare Study (Heavy Swatch)

Bare Study in natural sunlight

If you suffer from redness or discoloration on the lids (and you’re between an NW/NC 15-30ish), you should definitely check out Painterly. I reach for this shade nearly everyday, its creamy and opaque and thanks to its concealing powers it instantly makes me appear more awake and bright eyed.

Unlike most of the other Paint Pots, Painterly is completely matte, which makes it look incredibly natural on its own. I also love using this a base for my shadows, its quick and easy and can be applied using just your fingers.

The best part about Painterly (and all Paint Pots) is even after a year they remain creamy and easy to blend, I’ve never had one dry up on me!

MAC Painterly Paint Pot

Painterly Paint Pot

One dip into Painterly

Painterly (Heavy Swatch)

Painterly in natural sunlight

Fresco Rose is a limited edition light pink Paint Pot that you can still find in some CCOs (Cosmetic Company Outlets). I wasn’t sure if I should include this, but since MAC tends to re-promote products I thought I’d talk about it just in case they release it again in a future collection.

Fresco Rose Paint Pot

Fresco Rose Paint Pot

One dip into Fresco Rose

Fresco Rose (Heavy Swatch)

Fresco Rose in natural sunlight

Fresco Rose is highly pigmented and extremely opaque, though on my skin tone it can make me look sick (pink tones on my lids aren’t the best match for me) so I only wear this as a base. However, if you’re blonde or have lighter features you can probably get away with wearing this by itself.

Rubenesque Paint Pot

Rubenesque Paint Pot

One dip into Rubenesque

Rubenesque is another cult favorite among MAC fans. This unique peachy gold has slight pink undertones and looks fantastic under golden shades like MAC All That Glitters or Honeylust.  It can apply somewhat splotchy so if you wish to wear Rubenesque on its own you’ll have to pack it on to achieve an opaque finish. But, the extra effort is worth the beautiful look of this shade!

Rubenesque (Heavy Swatch)

Rubenesque in natural sunlight

The last two Paint Pots I own are Constructivist and Blackground, two dark shades that are perfect for smoky eyes. I don’t get too much use out of these, but their pigmentation is wonderful and they are extremely opaque and easy to work with.

Constructivist is a beautiful warm brown with a slightly frosted finish. It’s not glittery, but it does give of a pretty sheen that looks beautiful across the lids. This is one of the creamiest and pigmented Paint Pots out of the bunch. It applies really nicely and isn’t splotchy or patchy. This was actually the base my MUA used for my wedding day makeup!

Constructivist Paint Pot

Constructivist Paint Pot

One dip into Constructivist

Constructivist (Heavy Swatch)

Constructivist in natural sunlight

Blackground is a deep black with tiny silver shimmers. It’s used a lot as a base under intense smoky eyes, though I’m not really sure why I purchased it since I tend to go for more natural looks (or smoky eyes with browns not blacks). Its consistency is smooth, creamy and its insanely pigmented! In the finger swatch photos below, it kind of looks like tar. If you’re not used to wearing darker shades you might want to approach this shade with a bit of caution.

Blackground Paint Pot

Blackground Paint Pot

One dip into Blackground

Blackground (Heavy Swatch)

Blackground in natural sunlight

Paint Pot Swatches L-R: Rubenesque, Painterly, Fresco Rose, Bare Study, Constructivist & Blackground

MAC Paint Pots

L-R: Rubenesque, Painterly, Fresco Rose, Bare Study, Constructivist & Blackground

Although MAC Paint Pots aren’t technically formulated to be used as primers, they will hold your shadows in place all day. On my lids (which aren’t oily) I get about 8 hours of wear before I start to see some fading.

In comparison to the 12+hours of perfect, no smudging, budging or fading wear I get with Urban Decay or NYX eyeshadow primers, the Paint Pots aren’t quite on the same level.


  • Retails for $17.50
  • Packaged in high quality glass jars
  • Creamy, pigmented & easy to blend
  • Lasts 8+ hours
  • No creasing or smudging
  • Can be used alone or as a base
  • Offered in a natural range of shades

If you’re in the market for highly pigmented cream shadows that are easy to blend and have long lasting power, I highly suggest MAC Paint Pots. The price may seem high, but they last forever. I used Painterly nearly every single day and my last pot lasted me two years. I eventually used up the entire jar, but even at the end it was just as creamy as it was the day I purchased it!

Let me know what your favorites are!




  1. Fresco Rose is so pretty, and I don’t know why I still haven’t tried Reubenesque yet! It’s so amazinggg. I usually tend to go for the bright ones when collections come out but I do have a couple of these (Painterly, Constructivist and Blackground) and out of the three I use Painterly ALL the time. I also have one called Treasure Hunt from Posh Paradise (light shimmery yellow) that I use a lot! Awesome swatches! :)

    • Julie says:

      Ohhh Treasure Hunt sounds SO pretty!! I am such a sucker for light neutrals, I think that’s why Constructivist and Blackground hardly get any love. I missed out the limited edtions that came out with the Glitter & Ice collection last winter, I hope they repromote them!

  2. I love these and that fresco rose is so pretty! I was instantly hooked on these when I first used one and will definitely get more hopefully soon! I was kinda hoping Revlon would try to come out with something just because I won’t buy maybelline products(cause of animal testing) but they haven’t so I will just stick with MAC paintpots! =)

    • Julie says:

      Thank you!! Fresco Rose is beautiful I hope they re-promote it so you can get your hands on it! With how crazy the Maybelline pots sold, I’m sure Revlon will come out with something similar (they’d be foolish not to) and if they do, I hope they release more softer/neutral colors than what Maybelline offers!

  3. This is such a great post :) All of these are so pretty, I have painterly and absolutely love it. I love how long the jar lasts too! I think they are quite the steal for the amount of product you get. Blackground has been on my want list for a while now :)

  4. Great review & product pics, Julie! These are definitely on my want-list for Mac. Do you find that you use Painterly under all of your eyeshadow looks, or just sometimes? I would definitely have to use a primer underneath with my oily lids, (but that is something that I will always have to do, so it doesn’t bother me!) :)

    • Hi Angie! It depends on my mood, but in general I use Painterly about 80% of the time under all my makeup looks or just on its own for concealing purposes. I still love using traditional primers though, like Urban Decay and NYX just cause they provide the best defense against fading. Unless its 90 degrees out with 90% humidity, I don’t experience creasing with paint pots but for added strength I will layer them over UDPP or the nyx primer. I adore these pots, they last forver and never try up, I hope you can get your hands on a few! :)

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