Review: MAC Studio Fix Liquid foundation in NC 15

This was my go-to foundation for months.  I’ve moved away from it for a few reasons, but it occurred to me that I should do a full review, if only to contrast it with the replacements I’ve been trying!

For reference, I have PALE(paler than MAC NC15) skin, with some freckles/uneven pigmentation. There’s the beginnings of a few fine lines(genetic, I’m fairly sure) under my eyes, and on my forehead, but no real wrinkles or crow feet(since I’m 23.) There’s a fairly minimal amount of under eye bags and coloring. It is slightly oily, gets some hormonal acne/blemishes, though not a lot, and is VERY sensitive to skincare and foundation. I look for allergic reactions, or fragrance allergies when picking out facial products, almost before any other consideration.

MAC foundations have a mixed reputation.  On the one hand, their coloring system is so detailed that it makes it easy to pinpoint your EXACT tone.  On the other hand, the formula’s aren’t known to be the best.  Many of the reviews I saw for the Studio Fix Liquid, on makeupalley showed massive breakouts and skin irritation, and oxidizing/color issues.  Add to that the reputation MAC has for leaving us pale girls behind foundation wise?  I consider myself lucky it worked for me for so long.

MAC 15 is the LIGHTEST shade sold at any of the MAC stores in my area. It’s possible that MAC Pro carries paler shades, but the nearest pro store is in San Francisco.  So logistically, NC and NW 15 are the palest shades in the line.

And there’s some weird irregularities in the palest shades that make it hard to be fitted in those!  NW 15 is far darker than NC 15, as well as pinker(like it’s supposed to be).  NC 15 is yellow.  Not especially pale, but VERY yellow.  Even for warm skinned yellow undertones, it’s STILL yellow. It works well as a concealer, but I know very few people who it actually MATCHES.

Compare it to their mineralize line, which the NC 15 is truer to color and is visibly paler, and more natural colored than the Studio Fix.

It’s a bit of a mess trying to make it work!  MAC Studio Fix is medium-full coverage, matte finish.  So having a good color match is even MORE important, since it will be painfully obvious and mask like, if it’s a teensy bit off.

For a while, I had more yellow in my skin, and could use NC 15, applied with a wet foundation brush to sheer it out.  Even then, it was slightly too dark, and looked a bit masklike in person.  Eventually, I took to mixing it with somewhat more natural toned foundations that didn’t have the coverage I want(Bobby Brown 00 alabaster, and Dior Forever 010 Ivory).

But back on topic!

This is a foundation that you NEEEED to set thoroughly with powder, or else it will melt off in around a half hour.  Even set with powder, I never feel like it was set all the way.  Around an hour later, I’d notice it wearing off, or myself leaving skin-toned smears on things.  The rumor is that it was originally designed for photography, which would make sense in that case, since long-term wear is not a consideration for that sort of formula.

The packaging is nice, sturdy glass, with the classic MAC font.  Simple, utilitarian, elegant.  What’s NOT utilitarian, is that you have to buy a pump separately, to put in the jar!  The top is just open, and you tap some product onto your palette, hand, whatever, to use.  This is not particularly sanitary, and is difficult to gauge how much will come out at a given time.

My overall verdict is that I’d be happy to wear this for photography or events, and my peeves with the line are all with the colors. I actually LIKE the formula, coverage, and haven’t had adverse reactions. I just wish they had more realistic shades for pale skins, and the numbering system was a bit more reliable.

Here’s swatches. Please bear in mind that my hands are darker than my face, so it’s showing up as paler here than it does on.

For color recommendations, or other options, I’d recommend checking out Temptalia’s foundation matrix.


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