MAC Advent Calendar review—what's inside, savings and how it rates against other faves

The MAC Advent Calendar is a makeup lovers dream

MAC Advent Calendar
(Image credit: Future)
Woman & Home Verdict

Cutting-edge colors mingle with iconic buys in the Box of Tricks MAC Advent Calendar. With $280/£205 savings and 24 doors, this will keep any makeup fan in looks until Christmas '22

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Good variety for face, lips and eyes

  • +

    Excellent saving

  • +

    Many full-sized products

  • +

    Colorful keepsake box

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Makeup only, so won't suit everyone

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The MAC Advent Calendar has dropped, and as you'd expect it contains more professional-grade makeup than you could shake a blending brush at. 

For beauty fans, just about any of this year's beauty advent calendars will be a source of excitement (the savings! the surprises! the sweet little miniatures!) And the MAC Advent Calendar is always a highlight of the holiday season. Why? Because this is the makeup motherload and the queen of cosmetic calendars, just as the Jo Malone Advent Calendar comes out on top for fancy fragrance and The Body Shop Advent Calendar rules for scented body treats. 

Want to know more? Here's everything you need to know about the 2021 MAC Advent Calendar, from what's included to value for money and why we rate it as one of the best of the season.

MAC Advent Calendar 2021 review

MAC Advent calendar open

(Image credit: MAC)
Key Specs

Sale date: Available now (UK) Currently no stock (US)
RRP: $159/£135
Value: $465/£340
Products: 24
Full-size products: 15
Best for: Makeup obsessives

The MAC advent calendar is always one to watch, and this year's illusion-themed offering is no exception. It contains 24 products, an impressive 15 of which are full-sized to help anyone nail their Christmas makeup this season. 

Our picks of the bunch are one of the best red lipsticks of all time, Ruby Woo, MACs famously highly-pigmented eyeshadow in Omega, a classy neutral taupe, and highlighting Strobe Cream in Pink Lite, a pearly rose that's especially flattering on dark skin tones.  

What's inside the MAC Advent calendar 2021

MAC Advent calendar contents

(Image credit: MAC)

The MAC Advent calendar is packed with highly pigmented makeup plus a few skincare for makeup skin prep buys. The selection ranges from brand icons like Fix + setting spray to on-trend Expensive Pink eyeshadow. Here's your complete list of contents:

Full sized products:

  • Matte Lipstick In Taupe
  • Eyeshadow In Brun
  • Powder Kiss Liquid Lip In Mull It Over
  • Matte Lipstick In Mehr
  • Eyeshadow In Omega
  • Eyeshadow In Expensive Pink
  • Powder Kiss Eyeshadow In Devoted To Chili
  • Powder Kiss Eyeshadow In Its Vintage
  • Pro Longwear Paintpot In Boujie
  • Pigment In Tan
  • Lipglass In Clear
  • Brow Set
  • Mineralize Blish In Warm Soul
  • Prep + Prime Essential Oils In Grapefruit And Chamomile
  • Prep + Prime Lip
  • Fix + Original

Mini products:

  • Mini Matte Lipstick In Chilli
  • Mini Matte Lipstick In Velvet Teddy
  • Mini Matte Lipstick In Ruby Woo
  • Mini In Extreme Dimension 3d Black Mascara
  • Mini Lipglass In Spite
  • Mini M·a·c Strobe Cream In Pinklite
  • Cleanse Off Oil 6ml
  • Prep + Prime Natural Radiance In Yellow 6ml

Value for money

Products aside, one of the best things about this calendar is the juicy saving it offers, costing $159/£135 for contents worth $465/£340, that's $280/£205 worth of free beauty goodies

The Box of Tricks Advent Calendar by MAC is excellent value with a more than generous proportion of full-sized products versus minis, so the products will last for a long time after the holiday season. The calendar costs $15/£10 more than last year's offering, but the 2020 model contained $410/£300 worth of products, so you get an extra $55/£40 of goodies for your initial investment. 

Although this is still a significant spend, it does make the MAC Advent Calendar a savvy buy, coming in at a lower price than the likes of the Charlotte Tilbury advent calendar and on par with and the spendier of the two NO7 Advent Calendars

MAC Advent calendar design

MAC Advent Calendar design

(Image credit: MAC)

MACs gifting Theme for 2021 is Hypnotising Holiday, promising "Optical illusions, magical reveals, makeup trickery, and unbelievable performance and Artistry!" and this advent calendar certainly delivers on design. 

The keepsake box has a cool graphic print that does away with schmaltzy nostalgia and instead makes a play for contemporary, style-conscious types. The punchy tones will appeal to lovers of color and would make one of the best Christmas gifts for teenagers if you wanted to get in there early with a pre-Christmas treat.

In terms of materials, this calendar is made of an unusually sturdy card with drawers that open and close smoothly, even with repeated use. This means it could double up as jewelry or trinket storage after the holidays, giving it sustainability credentials. 

w&h verdict

The MAC advent calendar looks like great fun from the moment you see that design and delivers on the contents too. It's great value and rammed with products with a nice balance of classic, wearable shades versus fun trend products, making it a strong contender for the makeup advent calendar of the year. 

It goes without saying that if you or the person you are buying for isn't into cosmetics then this isn't going to suit you. If that's the case one of this year's beautiful candle advent calendars or jewelry advent calendars might be a safer bet. Otherwise, this is an exciting, product-packed buy any beauty fan would be sure to love.

Fiona McKim
Beauty Editor,

 As woman&home's Beauty Channel Editor, Fiona Mckim has tried more products than she’s had hot dinners and nothing makes her happier than raving about brilliant finds on or her instagram grid (@fionamckim if you like hair experiments and cute shih-tzus). Fiona joined woman&home as Assistant Beauty Editor in 2013 under industry legend Jo GB, who taught her everything she needed to know (learn about ingredients and employ extreme cynicism). She has since covered every corner of the industry, from interviewing dermatologists and celebrities to reporting backstage at Fashion Week and judging the w&h Beauty Awards.