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Mac’s sell-out beauty advent calendar is back for 2021 – we got a peek inside

Packed with lipsticks, eyeshadows and highlight, is there a better way to count down to Christmas?

Sabine Wiesel
Thursday 07 October 2021 11:27
<p>Since the brand first launched in the eighties until now, its make-up has been a staple in all the best professional make-up artist’s kits</p>

Since the brand first launched in the eighties until now, its make-up has been a staple in all the best professional make-up artist’s kits

Calling all Mac make-up fans: the day you’ve all been waiting for is here, as the brand’s 2021 advent calendar has finally gone on sale.  And with a worth-value bigger than last year, we couldn’t wait to see what’s inside.

You’ll be pushed to find a make-up brand more iconic than Mac. Since it first launched in the Eighties, its make-up has been a staple in professional make-up artist’s kits. And that’s because no other beauty brand has such a diverse and vast colour and texture range – the choice is endless.

And if you start counting how many cult classic make-up products Mac has to offer you quickly lose count, and that’s not even counting those renowned lipstick shades we all know and love. Some are so famous, that others will know you’re wearing Mac from just looking at you. Our tester was once approached by a stranger and told, not asked, “you’re wearing Mac’s lipstick in ‘girl about town’.” She was!

It’s a given therefore that such a well-loved and trusted make-up brand is going to have a popular beauty advent calendar that will, like all the very best, sell out quickly. But we were lucky enough to be one of the fortunate few that got our hands on one for a first look. Read on for our in-depth review of this year’s “box of tricks”.

How we tested

In the name of beauty testing, we opened up all 24 drawers to see what surprises were behind each number. We judged the calendar not only on the variety and size of the products inside but also the packaging and value for money it presents. Is it the treat we expect of the brand? Here are our thoughts…

Read more:

Mac box of tricks advent calendar: £135, Maccosmetics.co.uk

  • Number of days: 24
  • Products: 24
  • Product sizes: 12 full-size, 12 mini or sample size
  • Value of products: Over £340
  • Price: £135

Packaging

The beauty calendar is not called a box of tricks for nothing. It can cleverly be opened up in length to display all numbers and drawers, or folded into a space-saving cuboid shape (that’s a cube with rectangular sides if you can’t remember your school maths) – great for those that don’t have dressing tables or space in general.

The optical-illusion pattern on the calendar fits the magic theme too, in bold and bright swirls. It’s fun, expressive and everything make-up should be, so it fits the brand perfectly, but is also a minimalist’s nightmare.

It’s strong, sturdy and can easily be used again for storage of bits and bobs, as the draws come out and fit back into their slots easily and the design doesn’t overly say Christmas. You could also refill it again next year with alternative treats or chocolate for kids.

Products

There are 24 make-up products to unbox in the calendar, including options for the eyes, lips and complexion –with a great variety of signature products and classic shades – but also some products that encourage you to try something new.

The last unboxing is one of our favourite products from the brand – if you want to keep it as a surprise skip to the next section. However, if you were that child that went looking for your parent’s secret present hiding place, you’ll want to know it’s the full-size Mac matte lipstick in the shade “mehr”. It’s one of the brand’s bestselling lipsticks thanks to the highly-pigmented, mauve-pink suit-all shade.

A brand that’s so famous for its lipstick collection wasn’t just going to offer one lipstick shade in its seasonal surprise. For those that like to follow the trends, there is also a full-size matte lipstick in the shade taupe, which is a very of-the-moment brown lipstick with a reddish undertone that taps into the Nineties nostalgia. Then there’s a full-size powder kiss liquid lipstick in mull it over. Described as a dirty peach, we consider to be a modern take on a classic coral.

There’s plenty of bestellers in the calendar as well as new contenders

Then, unsurprisingly, Mac has gone down the bestseller route, with three mini lipstick mattes too. There’s velvet teddy, the deep-toned beige popularised by the Kardashians, chili, a warm-toned brick red, and the retro blue-red ruby woo that’s arguably the most famous Mac lippy.

Don’t worry if you prefer a glossier finish, the brand hasn’t missed a trick. The calendar includes a mini lipglass in spite, a plum-taupe perfect for the party season, and a mini essential lipglass in clear to layer on top of any shade for a supreme high shine finish.

For the eyes, there are some cracking stand-out products too. Our tester relies on the pro longwear paint pots for quick and easy make-up daily – one swipe of the creamy eyeshadow and you’re done – so was pleased to see a full-size one behind a draw. It’s in the shade bougie (a newbie from this year’s beautiful shade extension) which is a more intense multi-dimensional reddish-brown with green shimmer and is currently sold out when bought separately.

On the opposite end of the texture scale is the powder kiss soft matte eye shadow in “devoted to chilli”, a rusty, reddish-brown which will make your eyes pop when you want some drama. But there are more classic shades that perfect for every day behind the drawers too – from the eyeshadow range there’s omega, a soft beige, and “brun”, the brown-black with amazing colour payoff.

When it comes to complexion products, our highlights include the mineralize blush in warm soul, which does what the name suggests – warming up cheekbones with its wash of colour and golden shimmer, and the make-up artist favourite strobe cream in pinklite – the ultimate glow-giver.

Value for money

When you compare this year’s advent calendar to last year’s offering, it might have increased in price by £10, but the value has also increased by over £45. So with over £340 of beauty goodies for just £135, you’re getting a great deal – especially if you’re a Mac devotee.

We counted that if you were to pay for eight of the full-size products individually, you get the price of the calendar, so that’s a lot of beauty extras you get for your money.

And trust us when we say, every single product in this calendar performs in terms of quality and longevity – there are no filler products to make up the numbers. The only real disappointment is there wasn’t a stand-out higher value item, a brush set or a palette would have been a nice touch for the last day of advent.

The verdict: Mac box of tricks beauty advent calendar

Mac has put together a “box of tricks” this year that should have been called a box of treats. The collection of products is a great selection of cult classics, as well as some newer shades perfect for getting out of your make-up comfort zone.

If you’re a big fan of the brand, you may already have a fair few of the products, but it can’t hurt to stock up on a few more at great value. And if you’re new to the brand (then you’re new to make-up, as that’s virtually impossible) it’s a lovely collection of make-up that can create day to night looks, with everything you need (except a base or foundation) to look your best for the festive season and beyond.

Just like magic, these are going to disappear quicker than you can spell abracadabra so if you want one go, go, go.

Mac box of tricks advent calendar

Voucher codes

For the latest offers on skincare and beauty products, try the links below:

Read more about the best beauty advent calendars for 2021

Beauty advent calendars 2021 – our ultimate guide to this year’s Christmas treats from M&S, Cult Beauty and more

Fortnum & Mason advent calendar – from traditional to 3D pop-ups versions, food fit for a feast and of course, the beauty advent calendar, you’re spoilt for choice

The Body Shop advent calendar – this year’s calendar features a selection of the ethically conscious brand’s cult classics

Cult Beauty advent calendar – it’s overflowing with skincare and make-up from Charlotte Tilbury, Sunday Riley and more

Benefit advent calendar – calling all Bene-babes, the gift you’ve been waiting for all year is here

Lookfantastic advent calendar – brimming with skincare, haircare, make-up and bath treats from all your favourite brands

Charlotte Tilbury advent calendar – the luxury beauty brand has gone all out for 2021, but is it worth the money?

The White Company advent calendar – sink into 25 days of utter indulgence with the brand’s seasonal offering

Clarins advent calendar – there are festive options for men and women this year and both are busting with cult products

Lush advent calendar – the eco-conscious brand has revealed its joyous gift set with a sustainable focus

Asos advent calendar – we got our hands on the fashion retailer’s festive box and there’s plenty to shout about

Next advent calendar – this year’s offering is packed with treats from big names such as Clarins and Mac

Liberty advent calendar – with treats from Augustinus Bader and Olaplex, this year’s calendar lives up to the hype

Jo Malone advent calendar – it’s stuffed with bestselling candles and boujie bathroom treats

Diptyque advent calendar – the French perfume house has unveiled a cabinet of curiosities

John Lewis advent calendar – with £600 worth of beauty products, is it worth the hype?

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.