As I’ve mentioned in my 2021 favourites, I got the entire new Viva Glam lipstick collection from MAC. I had every reason to: it is in collaboration with an iconic artist, the design and colour story is unique and collectible, and I’m a master at delegating my problem with lack of makeup storage for future me.
The collection is in honour of Keith Haring, the artist who’s the author of the instantly recognizable iconography you see on the lipsticks’ packaging. Keith Haring passed away in 1990 from AIDS and before he did, he became an activist for the LGBT+ community and dedicated part of his work to raise AIDS awareness (among other social issues), so it seems so fitting that his artistry is the motif for the most recent Viva Glam collection. In case you don’t know, 100% of the sale earnings from any Viva Glam product goes to fund HIV/AIDS related charities.
The colour palette is based on Keith Haring’s use of primary colours and I commend them for going bold. Honestly, if they would’ve done all wearable lip shades, I probably would not have gotten the entire collection. The colours are what turns the lipsticks into a pop art piece and not just another makeup thing.
There is Canal Blue, a velvet matte, nearly royal blue lipstick (in the red case), Red Haring, which is a cherry red in a matte finish (in the black case) and St. Marks Yellow, a light yellow with a frost finish (white case with the multicoloured drawings).
As you can see from the swatches, St. Marks Yellow is the Michelle in this Destiny’s Child trio of lipsticks. It has good pigmentation but is patchy and uneven on the lips, and it doesn’t matter how many layers you apply, it doesn’t get better.
Applying Canal Blue was an experience. I never tried a blue lipstick before, I’m not that adventurous. The most dangerous activity I partake in is wearing stilettos on gravel flooring. The velvet matte finish makes it more comfortable to wear than a traditional lipstick, it applies smoothly, and it’s pigmented but it takes two passes for it to get to full opacity. It mixes well with other lipsticks.
The one I’ll be wearing the most frequently (if not exclusively) is Red Haring. It applies with full opacity in one pass, it’s not as creamy as Canal Blue but it doesn’t drag on the lips, and it never gets patchy or uneven. It lasts an insane amount of time – I counted 8 hours with almost no fading, but there is a red stain left behind for a lot longer after that.
I didn’t make a wear test for the other shades, I’m sorry. I have zoom calls for work where I have to turn on the camera, so… that wasn’t going to happen. All of them have the traditional MAC vanilla scent, and are 3 grams each. The packaging is different for all three but there is a red metallic inner tube on the inside with Keith Haring’s signature, which differs from MAC’s traditional plain gray tube.
I also tested them by mixing and matching with each other, which is what I think they were designed to do. In the picture above you can see the results – the winner is definitely the Canal Blue and Red Haring combination, it’s a stunning wine colour and the shades blended into each other nicely. This makes me excited to mix Canal Blue with other lipsticks I own. St. Marks Yellow is difficult to work with even layered – with Red Haring, I see just a slight difference but the texture gets grittier, and with Blue Canal it turn into a weird uneven shade of green-gray. If you are planning on layering these lipsticks, I recommend using a lip brush – I used my finger to further mush the colours together, but that way can mess up the lip line.
This is one of my favourite collections MAC has ever made. Nothing against other previous Viva Glam collaborations (I love Lady Gaga, Cindy Lauper, Nicki Minaj, any of them), but it’s nice to see them paying homage to someone who was involved in AIDS related activism, and who got his life taken away by it so prematurely. And, speaking for myself, it was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the artist. Almost everyone recognizes his visual language, but how many know the artist’s name is Keith Haring? Or what was his work about? I’ve even seen a documentary about him, that’s how intrigued I’ve gotten.
So of course, I recommend these lipsticks 100 times over. If not for the charity factor, trust at least that Canal Blue and Red Haring are really fabulous lipsticks. St. Marks Yellow is a frosty mess, but I still consider it worthy of having.
Keep it going, MAC.