Lips: MAC's Lipsticks in "Punk Couture" (LE) and "Instigator" (LE) [Punk Couture Winter 2013]

Hi everyone. I remember when I heard about MAC's Winter 2013 collection, Punk Couture, back in October. It was being released alongside another collection, Magnetic Nude, on December 26, 2013, and I was not surprisingly looking forward more to its partner collection than this collection itself. Why?

Simply put: the stars of this collection are four limited edition matte lipsticks in dark, vamped/gothic colors - a finish and color range I typically don't wear.

As I started seeing pictures of these lipsticks, however, I decided to try some because the colors were unique for me and different from all the colors I already own. I've been open to experimenting with new looks and colors, and these lipsticks fit the bill. I also wasn't too scared of trying MAC's matte lipsticks after having so much success with their retro matte formula.

The colors I purchased were "Punk Couture" and "Instigator."

~I will be skipping most basic information (packaging, scent, etc.) since I've written about MAC lipsticks twice before. If you want to read more details about those basics, check out my first MAC lipstick post here.~

Names: "Punk Couture" (AA3) and "Instigator" (AA3)
Net Wt.: 0.1 oz./ 3 g.
Price: $15 each
Finish: Matte (slight sheen that dries down matte)

*I remember hearing that these were in the retro matte formula, but they are not. They are in the regular matte formula.

LEFT (in both pictures): Instigator
RIGHT (in both pictures): Punk Couture

Here they are labeled as "matte" lipsticks.

They are labeled as mattes here, too.

From what I've read, when both the outside packaging and the bottom of the tube read the same finish, then the lipsticks are that finish. Flat Out Fabulous, for example, reads "matte" at the bottom of the tube, but its outside packaging was labeled as retro matte, hence why it's a definite retro matte finish. With these, however, that is not the case (MAC's website further confirms this as it lists the finishes as "matte").

TOP: "Instigator"'s ingredients.
BOTTOM: "Punk Couture"'s ingredients.

LEFT (both pictures): "Instigator"
RIGHT (both pictures: "Punk Couture"

You can see how dark these lipsticks appear in the tube. In some lighting, they both look black, but I tried to take pictures from different angles to show that "Punk Couture" is an actual purple and "Instigator" is more of a reddish-toned color.

These two colors were the most popular from the collection because they were the collection's two purples. MAC's website describes "Punk Couture" as a "deep blackened grape" and "Instigator" as a "deep blackened plum." Pictures I saw of both online made "Punk Couture" almost appear bluish-toned while "Instigator" appeared more wine-toned, though both were still definite purples. Now that I own both, my thoughts on the colors are changed yet again.

LEFT: "Instigator"
RIGHT: "Punk Couture"

"Punk Couture" swatches on me as a purple with more red than I expected, and a subtle bluish tone, while "Instigator" swatches as a blackened berry with much more red than purple.

LEFT: The previous swatches lit from a different angle.
RIGHT: The previous swatches in less lighting.

Depending on the lighting, these can look much richer and darker than they typically are, but that's not surprising as they're such dark colors to begin with.

As with "Flat Out Fabulous," I applied a layer of lip balm a few minutes prior to applying these lipsticks. I did this moreso to aid in application than to keep my lips moisturized, as I've tried these without freshly applied lip balm before and they tended to tug at my lips and pool into my lip lines, which looked worse than normal given how dark the colors are. Lip balm does help with these problems, but I still found application to be difficult and patchy - moreso with "Punk Couture" than "Instigator."

Let's first take a look at "Punk Couture":

On my lips, the subtle blueish-tone to "Punk Couture" is evident, mostly because it clashes somewhat with my skin. Application in this picture (and, well, all of the lip pictures in this post) is sloppy because I am not used to applying dark, matte lip colors, which need a lot more care and precision than sheer, glossy, and more natural colors. Still, you can see the patchiness characteristic of "Punk Couture" above. I don't know if this is because of my lack of experience with these colors, or because of the formula. All I know is that the inner portion of my lower lip is especially resistant to grabbing the color.

Bare-faced with "Punk Couture."

"Punk Couture" is clearly not the most flattering lip color on me, but I think it's workable and I still am happy to own it. The following pictures are also wearing "Punk Couture" but in darker lighting, where I feel the red tones of the color come out more. 

I actually prefer how it looks in the above pictures. ^_^;

Anyway, moving on to "Instigator"!

Random picture of me holding "Instigator" after I wiped "Punk Couture" off. These actually remove with little staining left behind when they aren't worn for too long.

Just putting it out there: I prefer "Instigator" over "Punk Couture."

"Instigator" deposits way more color during application than "Punk Couture" and, consequently, applies more evenly. But this color, too, had some patchiness to it, and the inner portion of my bottom lip again proved to be stubborn in terms of holding the color. I have no idea why it works out that way. In any case, "Instigator" is almost easier to apply than "Punk Couture" because it is creamier, but it's also hard to apply in general because it's so dark and pigmented. On me, "Instigator" is a deep reddish berry that almost looks like a burgundy in some lighting.

Bare-faced with "Instigator."

Whether it's obvious in these pictures or not, I feel way more comfortable wearing "Instigator" because I think the color suits my skin tone much better than "Punk Couture." Anyway, the following pictures are of me wearing "Instigator" in darker lighting.


I wore "Instigator" longer today than "Punk Couture" and I did notice the color wearing off on that stupid part of my lower lip, but otherwise it stood intact across the rest of my mouth and, when I removed it, left a pretty, deep red stain behind. I really need to practice putting colors like these on more often because I actually like the look they give, despite being the opposite of what I usually wear, and would love them so much more if they weren't so damn hard to apply.


While I enjoy both "Punk Couture" and "Instigator" and am happy to have both, "Instigator" is definitely the winner for me. If you're interested in these colors (and can still find them, as they are limited edition), I'd say give them a go, even if darker, matte lipsticks are not usually your go-to products. I've seen pictures of quite a few girls sporting these colors and I have to say I'm impressed by how flattering they look on so many different people. If you're the type of person that wants a no-hassle, one-swipe-and-go lipstick with a totally matte finish, I'd say pass on these.

With this post being up, I've reviewed MAC's cremesheen, retro matte, and matte finishes, and I still have four others to get through. As of now, though, I'm enjoying all three and am happy to have this amount of variation at my disposal! Anyway, that's all for today. I hope you found this post helpful and, as always, thanks for stopping by! ('<>')>


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