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The Illuminator . . . MAC Strobe Cream

The Illuminator . . . MAC Strobe Cream

MAC strobe cream is the OG of illuminators! (‘OG’ stands for original gangster where I come from) This product was launched probably early 2000s, I stand corrected, but I do know that MAC re-launched this moisturizer with their Strobe collection in 2008.

This is a true cult classic. I ‘ve heard raves about this Strobe cream for as long as I can remember and I did buy it, to add to my kit and for personal use. I repurchased when the Smashbox Artificial Light, Glow and Diffuse illuminating lotions were discontinued.


Now, back to the Strobe Cream.


This is what the MAC website claims: The ultimate quick fix for the skin. Super-powered with potent botanicals; de-snoozes, de-stresses, moistens, freshens and boosts the look of dull, flat or tired-looking skin with a fully loaded vitamin zap and a mega dose of green tea. Brightens and clarifies with iridescent particles and antioxidants. Enhances the effects of light on all skin and in all lighting conditions from sunlight to spotlight.


That’s a lot to live up to, but this liquid illuminator does and clearly works or else it wouldn’t still be in demand and going strong in the industry.


I don’t use it as a moisturizer; I have a pretty good skin care regime. I use it to create a dewy, radiant, youthful look, which can take 10 years off my age! It does brighten the skin instantly on application. I used it once under foundation but it broke me out. But before I bash this product, I think the product had too much emollient for my dry, sensitive skin and it blocked-up pores from the shimmer ingredients in it so breakouts. That said, some people don’t break out at all (Lucky you). MAC Strobe cream comes in a white tube and has the consistency of a light moisturizer. It is white in colour with a multi-dimensional pearlescent sheen. It definitely has pearly pink undertones - but I find it suits skin tones because the pink is ever so subtle and won’t jar against those with strong yellow or red under tones.

That said, MAC Strobe cream has never been marketed as an everyday moisturizer – so I recommend not using this every day. Save it for days where your skin needs an extra boost, when it’s moody, dull and lifeless.

 After my breakout experience, I never wore it under my foundation again. And, I would defiantly not wear it alone, God forbid I would look like a Christmas lights. I mix a tiny amount with a bit of my foundation and it definaltly added a sheer wash of shimmer. Mix with a BB or CC cream, or a medium coverage foundation at most, as it has little effect, if none at all, on full coverage foundation.

My favourite way to use it is to dot it over foundation: in a ‘C’ shape around the outer part of my eyes finishing the ‘C’ just above the highest part of my cheekbone, sparingly down the bridge of my nose and a bit above the Cupid’s bow. The trick to using this illuminator is to blend out harsh edges. I like using a stippling brush or buffing brush to create an airbrushed look. A little goes a long way  - and you will look like a mechanic after working 2 hours under a Toyota Conquest Tazz if you go overboard.


If you’re oily of tend to get oily around your T-Zone, I may skip this one as pores and blemishes can look more pronounced as the oil can make this product do the electric slide and you can end up looking like a hot mess. This can be corrected with a light dusting of powder to keep product in place.

All in all, I think it is a great product. You get a lot of product for the price and it will last you a long time.


Where to buy FSS MAC stores, MAC counters in department stores like Edgars and online at

Price: R360.


I’m on the hunt for a dupe and the closest I could find was the L’Oreal Magic lumi primer. I don’t recommend the Revlon PhotoReady Skinlight Face Illuminator. I swatched it at Dischem over the weekend and I saw no shimmer at all, nada, zip, zero! Let me know if you find any dupes, I love dupes!


Prativa (Beauty Bugle)


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