Search for the Perfect Foundation. Part I. MAC

This article (or a number of articles as the title suggests) has begun as a review on MAC Studio Sculpt Foundation. But as I showed its text to Olga and Niina, I’ve realized that I had a lot more to say and research about foundations than a normal Beauty Pie review could handle. So I’ve decided to make it a multiple part story about my explorations on the way to the ultimate foundation. Here’s Part I: my hate and love for MAC.

MAC Studio Sculpt Foundation and 188 brush

To start off I would like to acknowledge that the search for the perfect foundation is a never-ending fight for a better looking and close-up savvy skin. It never ends because our skin never stays the same: its oiliness changes depending on season, weather and age, it’s complexion varies depending on where you choose to spend your summer and winter vacations and the foundation itself can affect your skin and make so the same foundation doesn’t suit you anymore. Nevertheless I’ve been tirelessly exploring MAC’s foundation range to find something that suits me at least most of the time. I have to admit that I have hardly tested any foundations from other brands, apart from some missteps of using testers of generic fluid foundations that were popular freebies in teenage magazines in the early 2000s (I guess they still might glue them into commercials of Maybelline or Cover Girl, though it’s been a while since I’ve read a teenage magazine). Ever since I discovered MAC, I was hooked by its professional approach to make-up and it’s clever marketing, and I’ve instantly become an adept and haven’t worked up my courage to try something else yet. However if I’m to continue this series of articles, I guess I’d have to try other stuff too.

So let us touch bases: some words about my skin type.

I have one problem with my skin that actually does me a favor in terms of finding the right shade. That is I have a sun allergy so I never get a tan, or, actually, it would be more accurate to say that I never allow myself to get tanned. The reason for it is that instead of a nice bronze color, which most people get after spending a couple of hours on a sunny beach, I get a red rush all over my face that is incredibly itchy and in the worst case scenario swallows my face so I can hardly see. Thanks to this helpful feature I can use the same shade of foundation all year round and after years of swatch browsing I’ve confirmed that my right choice at MAC is NW15. Apart from this perk my genes and hormones give me only trouble in the search for the perfect foundation.

MAC Studio Sculpt Foundation NW15

MAC Studio Sculpt Foundation NW15

My skin is really schizophrenic: when I use pressed powders it becomes dry and flaky on both cheeks and chin, when I use fluid foundations it starts to shine on my forehead and nose. It truly is what cosmetic marketing calls “combination skin type”, but let’s face the truth, it’s better to call it unbalanced and bottom line schizophrenic.

My skin problems don’t stop there, if you’ve been using any MAC products for a longer period of time, you’ve probably noticed that their stuff is kind of heavy on your skin. This fact has its upsides. As the whole range was designed for professional use, it does produce great results (with their foundation you can pretty much paint yourself a new face and hide whatever there is to hide). And it will stay on your face until you decide it should go, so you can wear your new face for hours with no touch ups. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, the downside is that it clogs your pores, which leads to more break outs, worse skin, the need to buy more foundation to cover it all up, even more break outs and so on… Wise marketing move to make your customers buy more cosmetics, or what I call ‘bad skin’ – more foundation vicious circle.

I don’t have good skin to begin with, which is partly because of unbalanced hormones and not-so-great genetics, but what aggravates me to a whole new level is having to touch and scratch my face all the time, while procrastinating, sitting in front of a computer, being bored or unsuccessfully trying to focus on something important. So I always end up in this vicious circle, gradually increasing the intensity of the foundation I use.

My MAC journey began with powders, back when I was 16, when I had much oilier skin and was looking for a super matte, porcelain-like, geisha-pale look (achieved with Studio Fix Powder NW10). If I could afford it now, this is the product I would like to go back to. But the problem is that as skin ages it normally gets much drier so the powders don’t work for me anymore. I need this extra boost of fats and nutrition in form of shea butter that MAC puts in their creamy and fluid foundations.

Studio Fix Powder

Studio Fix Powder

For a short while I’ve been trying MAC’s fluid foundations too, but my experience with them was dramatic. I hated that my forehead and nose would get oily and shiny after just a couple of hours. To make it worse my glass bottles always broke while traveling or just being clumsy. So after two or three crashes I was about to give up on MAC, but luckily (for MAC I guess, as they were about to lose a loyal client) I was recommended to try Studio Sculpt.

To be clear, Sculpt Foundation is one of the heaviest products I’ve used from MAC, but I continue using it, because:

a) It has a creamy texture so it covers all the flaws easily;
b) Once you master application (which becomes much easier with MAC 188 brush or any other duo fiber face brush) it looks immaculate;
c) With the right brush you can easily adjust the intensity of coverage by using different amount of product. On my good days I only need a little drop to cover the whole face, which means that the product lasts forever (my previous tube was with me for more than year of almost daily use);
d) it gives me a desired velvety-matt finish without flaking the skin;

and finally

e) it keeps me disciplined, because sometimes I get lazy (and/or drunk) and go to bed with make up on, but Studio Sculpt always makes me pay for my sins the morning after as I have to deal with a couple of new break outs.

Well this last bullet point brings us to the end of MAC chapter on my foundation journey. As I’ve lately became very concerned with the quality and safety of products I eat and apply on my skin, I’ve decided to look up the ingredients of my daily foundation. I’m otherwise pretty skilled in reading ingredients list, but boy this one looks scary and synthetic.

Two main active ingredients are Octinoxate and Titanium Dioxide, which are added for sunscreen effect. You’d guess sunscreen would be great for people with my conditions. But maybe not. Apparently some research has proven that Octinoxate mimics estrogen and might mess up my already not so well tuned hormone system. Just this one realization made me wonder if I should stop punishing myself and my skin with the help of my foundation and actually buy something that is potentially less dangerous to my health.
I reckon my next stop on the foundation trip is going to be ”All natural and ecological”. Do you have any suggestions on what I should try? Please, go ahead and leave your ideas below.

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