LIPS | On MAC x Toledo and PR samples

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If you read any beauty blogs at all, you’ll know the MAC x Toledo collection is a) extant, b) beautiful and c) now available on counters in New Zealand. I am not publishing this post to be the first to break the news, although of course I’m including arm and lip swatches of the three products I have from the collection. What I really want to talk about is PR samples – PR samples from MAC in particular.


I will always disclose when a product has been gifted to me by a brand. Sometimes, if I’m excited, I’ll write about it in the body of the post. If not, I’ll at least mark those products with an asterisk. These things aren’t required by law in New Zealand, but it’s good practice for transparency and integrity’s sake.

I don’t always know if this is enough, though. I mean, for one thing, it doesn’t account for the things that I get sent and don’t write about. This happens quite a lot, and not everything makes it on to the blog, especially as I’m not publishing new content daily. (I don’t do that so that I don’t give myself a mental breakdown.) Sometimes, I feel like I have such a wealth of new stuff worth sharing that I’ll include it all in one post, like that time I did the ‘On my dining table’ one. I’m going to do another of these soon, because there’s just a lot of things.

The other thing about PR samples is, most of the time, they are unsolicited. I mean, I’m in contact with the PR company, but they’re not products I’ve requested. In fact, I get sent more things unsolicited than I have ever successfully received from asking for them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing… except when I start feeling bad because I haven’t written about something even though I didn’t even really want it and it doesn’t fit with my vibe. Skincare, for example, is not something I’m going to experiment with on a whim. I don’t have a team of assistants to farm these things out to, so they might go into my kit or get donated to Women’s Refuge.

Bizarrely, I still feel presumptuous and ashamed of myself when asking a PR company or brand to send me samples. This is something I really need to get over. Of course no one should barge around demanding free things, but the reality is that my blog has a) a decent readership, and b) an incredible purchasing influence (I found this out when I asked you guys to fill out my readers’ survey late last year). This is not something I will ever abuse. I know that you guys (my readers, my everything, my reason for existing) try things on my recommendation because you trust my opinion. Without that trust, my blog would be interchangeable with a Farmers catalogue or the beauty page of the Life pullout from the newspaper.

I mentioned this a little bit in my first video. Sometimes brands don’t send me things once I tell them I am always honest. This is alarming for a number of reasons, not least because it shows they don’t have the greatest confidence in their products.

Blogging is not about competition, but (remember I am all about honesty here) sometimes in the past I have seen other bloggers receive PR samples that I haven’t, and I have felt jealous. I’ll admit this, because who wouldn’t feel jealous when someone’s getting sent free stuff from MAC, or Benefit, or any other brand you really like? This has particularly been the case with MAC, because MAC has always been one of my favourite brands, and the pinnacle of professional makeup artistry in my eyes.

So, as you can imagine (and now I hit the lede, which is why this ramble is on my blog and not a news story) I was incredibly excited to receive samples from MAC of the Toledo collection, their big Spring (Autumn, for us) LE launch. Like, squealing aloud to myself at home alone kind of excited. This is a big deal for me!

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I received the lipsticks in Sin and Tenor Voice, and the lipglass in Oxblood. Tenor Voice is named as True Red and Oxblood as Nude Awakening in the swatch picture because those are the working names that are on the PR samples, and I’m still learning these things/not very good at reading press release documents.

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Hyacinth-Girl-Toledo-Tenor-Voice-lipswatch-s

MAC-Toledo-sin-lip-swatch-s

I’ll keep this part short because there’s not a whole lot to say about the products themselves that hasn’t already been said, and this post is long already. These are fantastic products as I would expect from MAC, and the lipsticks are long lasting and the gloss isn’t too sticky. To read more about the products themselves, Lani has done a very comprehensive review.

I wanted to talk about my approach to PR samples because it’s important that you guys know what’s going on behind the scenes. Sometimes I get things for free. That doesn’t change how I feel about them. 99% of the time, I’m not getting paid to talk about something. I will make it very clear if I ever am (there’s one of those rare posts coming tomorrow, but you’ll understand when you see it why I took the job).

What do you think? Am I doing okay? Transparent enough?

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  • Ellie S

    I’m surprised at how much I like the gloss – in fact, I think it’s my favourite out of the three products here! I’m so stoked for you that you finally got MAC PR samples (and a little jealous of course, but mostly stoked). I think you’re doing well in regards to the transparency thing – you always seem to let us know when you’re reviewing something you were sent for free.

    • Thanks Ellie! I hardly ever like gloss and it’s not the most practical, but the colour is gorgeous.

  • Great post Morgan! I really like how transparent you are about what you receive for consideration and agree with what you’ve said. I struggle with jealousy sometimes too and the guilt of not having reviewed some of the things I’ve received yet (mostly skincare, as you touched on). But I think I just have to keep on keeping on and review the things that I honestly want to show my readers (whether that’s because they’re brilliant or to save them wasting money on rubbish!). Also, you are smokin’ in these lippies and the gloss. Hot damn!
    PS. You are a total babe for linking to my review, thank you!

    • Thank you Lani! I think we’re definitely on the same page with our philosophy on this one.

  • Sophie ♥

    This is brilliant. I don’t really have words so I’m just gonna txt you x

  • I have a similar approach to this to you, as I know we have discussed. One reason I always have liked HG even before we were friends is your honesty and transparency. The reason I read blogs over magazines is that you are getting someone’s honest opinions about what they think, ae opposed to magazines where they’ll say anything for a buck pretty much. I feel like blogs are heading that way a bit, so often I’ll read something and then be like…that reads like an ad. Especially when you read a lot of blogs and then can see the trends. I can’t imagine losing my integrity like that just so a brand can sell some more lipstick or whatever. You can still do paid work and have integrity of course, but not saying anything about it is just shady.

    • It’s a hard balance because you want blogging to be taken seriously and to be paid for your work, but on the other hand you don’t want to be seen to sell out. Fine line.

  • I really liked this post. It is awkward when you get sent something and you’re not 100% behind it but I like how a lot of NZ bloggers (especially HG) give really honest reviews about products even if they have been sent them! You are great. This community of bloggers is great. Keep up the top notchness xoxo

  • Not a truer word was spoken/written! I agree with you on so much of this and feel you on the whole excitement of receiving MAC samples (my first ones too), also about jealously – it’s so hard to not, but then of course, it’s natural, I getcha girl. Great post as always x

  • Absolutely love this post. I haven’t been sent products but I take a lot of pride in the honesty of my reviews!

    • Yes! Honesty is huge. Your blog is great- you should reach out to some PR companies!

      • Eek I’m just so nervous hahah but thank you! That means a lot x

        • Send me an email if you like – I’m happy to help! x

  • Great post! I’ve haven’t been sent products but I can imagine feeling bad about not writing about what’s been sent. Honesty is one of the things I love about you, I know I’m reading a review that I can trust. xx

    • Thanks Ashley, that’s really good to hear! x

  • Wellington Chic

    Great post, was great to hear about how honest and straight up you are with products but also back to PR’s. Excellent 🙂

  • Nude Awakening is gorgeous!! I wanted that but it was all sold out online >.< gahh! At least I got the Oxblood lipstick and I am very glad x

    • Ooh the lipstick would be lovely – longer wear time than the gloss for sure!

  • Imogen

    I think you are by far the most honest and useful blogger I follow, along with Temptalia. I really appreciate you being so upfront. Also Sin looks great on you!

    • Thank you! To be in the same category as Temptalia is quite an honour!