What Do The MAC Lipstick Finishes Mean?


I still remember the first time I walked into a MAC store like it was yesterday. I was 14, a beauty newbie and had no idea what the variety of words on the bottom of the lipstick tubes actually meant.

Because of that, I went straight in with Russian Red – a classic, bright red lip with a matte finish. However, I was looking for something slightly more hydrating but I had no idea what the other finishes meant, so I settled.

However, fast-forward a few years (and many MAC lipsticks later!), I like to think that I’ve got to grips with the lipstick finishes pretty well. So much so, that I actually own one in every finish that they have!

Whether you’re off to buy your first ever MAC lipstick – or are just looking to know which finish you’re actually working with! – here’s the ultimate guide to learning what the MAC lipstick finishes mean:


As I mentioned earlier, the matte finish was the first lipstick formula that I’d ever used.

As the name suggests, matte lipsticks are matte – meaning they don’t contain any glossiness whatsoever. Despite being the most likely to dry out your lips, matte lipsticks can look gorgeous when pulled off!

When it comes to this formula, it’s important that your prep your lips properly beforehand. If you dive straight in with lipstick without moisturising and scrubbing them, it tends to highlight roughness and cracks in your lips.


Satin lipsticks from MAC tend to be opaque in colour – much like their matte sisters – but have a slight sheen to them. They’re less drying than matte formulations and feel more moisturising on the lips.

Some of the most popular MAC Satin lipsticks include Rebel and Myth.


By far the most popular formula, the MAC Cremesheen finish is, as the name suggests, the creamiest type of lipstick within their entire range.

Offering the widest variety in terms of colour options, MAC Cremesheen lipsticks are often the most wearable. This is because they aren’t extremely opaque (you can even apply them without a mirror!), but the colour can be built up as desired.


Lustre finishes are similar to Cremesheens in terms of hydration, but tend to be slightly glossier and more sheer. They’re like the middle-ground between Cremesheen and Glaze; not too sheer but still offering a nice amount of pigmentation.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of Lustre finishes. I own Lovelorn and Patisserie from this range – both of which are two of my favourite lipsticks of all time!


The most sheer MAC lipstick finish, Glaze finishes popular some of the most popular MAC lipsticks – including Hue.

This kind of MAC lipstick finish proves to be extremely popular with women looking for an everyday, nude lipstick. Often looking more like a gloss than a lipstick, Glaze formulations help to add a little “something” on your lips when you’re not looking for something too heavy.


Frost lipstick finishes, as the name suggests, look very frosty when worn on the lips. They have a cool-looking finish and are extremely shimmery.

Despite being my least favourite MAC lipstick finish, there are some popular lipsticks in this range – including Costa Chic and Ramblin’ Rose.

Related: How to Find the Best Lipstick for Your Skintone


Lipsticks from the Amplified range have been hailed as some of the best MAC lipsticks of all time, with Up the Amp and Girl About Time being some of the bright and bold options that make up the range.

This lipstick finish has an amplified colour. They have incredible pigmentation and instant colour can be applied within one single swipe. Depsite not being ideal for applying it in a rush, they can look amazing when pulled off!

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