Part of the ongoing Foxalicious Fundamentals: Foundation series!
It’s kind of unfair, I suppose, to lead off with the foundation I’m liking the most at the moment, but there it is. I have been on a little bit of a MAC kick lately, I admit; I never used to buy MAC products (I’m not a big fan of ultra-hype and teenage fangirls), but since I started picking them up at my local-ish CCO, where you can play with the products in a quiet environment without being surrounded by rock music, black-clad hipsters, and a sales-pressure atmosphere, I’ve come to like them enough to actually deal with the in-store annoyances, so now I’m trying out a bunch of their products. Don’t worry, this is not going to become a MAC-fangirl blog; there are plenty of things I still don’t like about them, such as the fact that they seem to be putting out a new “collection” about every two weeks, many of which are merely repackaging of existing permanent items, and … well, no need to go on a tirade.
Regardless of your opinions on their music, hipsters, and sales atmosphere, MAC has established a major footprint in an incredibly important but previously underappreciated corner of the market: skin tone typing for the purpose of buying foundation. They have a system of identifying both the lightness/darkness and pink/yellow tendencies of your skin that has become a universal language in discussing foundations (both their own and those of other companies) and other products. Example: “If I’m an NC35 in MAC, what shade would I be in Revlon PhotoReady?” or “I’m an NW15; should I be wearing warm or cool brown eyeshadows?”
So if nothing else, it’s definitely worth it to stop by your local MAC store or counter (in many department stores) and get color-matched, so that you know your MAC number. There are two parts to the system: letters and numbers. The numbers are fairly intuitive, with the lower ones for paler skin and the higher ones for darker skin, and they range from 15 to 55. The letters indicate whether you are warmer- or cooler-toned, and this is a little more confusing for many people. In the rest of the world, if you have yellow undertones to your skin, you are considered to be “warm.” If you have pink undertones, you are considered to be “cool.” The MAC system is the reverse; it’s based on an artist’s color wheel, in which red-pink is a warmer color than yellow-olive. So, skin with pink undertones is “warm” and skin with yellow/olive undertones is “cool.” Skin tones are indicated by letters thusly:
NW: pinker skin
NC: yellower skin
There are also just plain N’s and C’s, but most people will end up being an NW or an NC. As all skin tones have some yellow in them, there is no plain “W” foundation shade, since no one is all pink and no yellow. If it helps, you can think of an NW as Not Warm, and an NC as Not Cool, if you want to keep your definitions of “warm” and “cool” consistent.
I am light-skinned with a complexion that tilts just slightly towards pink. I am an NW20.
Once you know your shade, you can also match it to MAC concealers and powders, since they follow the same typing system, and you can use it to figure out a comparable shade in other foundation lines. (I guarantee you that if you go to Sephora and say, “I’m an NW20 in MAC; can you recommend an appropriate shade in NARS?” they will be able to tell you, even though Sephora does not sell MAC products.)
So. On to the actual product! The Mineralize SPF 15 Foundation is a cream foundation that is one of MAC’s newer products. It comes with a little applicator pad, but like most applicators that come packaged with cosmetics products, this can be deposited directly into the trash. I apply with a foundation brush, over primer (I’m still using Too Faced’s Primed and Poreless facial primer), and blend the areas around my nose, inner eye, etc., with my fingers. It provides a medium to medium-full level of coverage, which is great for me. I can add extra coverage of blemishes or random skin flaws with concealer, and it’s significantly reduced the amount of undereye concealer I need to use. To set the foundation, I use a light buffing of MUFE HD powder.
This foundation does last all day on me, although by the end of the evening I can see some dry patches. This is the most moisturizing of the MAC foundations I tried, and I do moisturize well before application, so I’m not sure what could be done to lessen the effect. But because I only become dry at the very end of the evening, I’m not disappointed with the results. Some people do report that MAC foundations break them out, but I haven’t had any trouble with this. It removes cleanly with my Clarisonic, cleanser, and toner. There is usually a tiny bit of color on the cotton ball when I’m done with the toner, so it doesn’t quite all come off with the Clarisonic, but the toner does take off the remainder. I have also slept in it (do not tell the makeup police) and I haven’t had any trouble. I don’t recommend sleeping in makeup, but everyone falls off the wagon now and then.
Swatch, showing color at its most concentrated at left, then blending out to meet skin tone. (Remember that your/my arm is not the same skin tone as your/my face, too, so colors may appear a bit different.)
MAC Mineralize SPF 15 Foundation (cream): $32.00 (By the way, MAC foundation swatches on the website are not very reliable color-wise. If you know your number, just go with that and don’t worry about what the swatch looks like. They’re pretty bad.)
Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair, but we’ll see how long it lasts. I may have to come back and revise that.
Purchase again? Surely.
(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)