My love/hate relationship with MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation

[Feb. 2015 Edit: Please see the follow-up post to this one here.)

My absolute favourite product in the entire MAC Cosmetics range is the Mineralize Skinifinish Natural powder. Their lipsticks come in second and the Studio Fix powder foundation is a close third. I’ve tried the liquid Studio Fix before and thought that was horrible, but the powder variant has its uses. It has a rather heavy coverage and it leaves you with a very matte finish, which can look a bit unnatural if caked too heavily onto your face. The compact comes with a sponge, but you can completely chuck that (or just keep it for light touch-ups) and use a large powder brush or a kabuki brush instead. Buffing Studio Fix into your skin will give you a beautiful airbush-like finish that is still heavy, but full coverage is something we all want once in a while anyway. MAC Studio Fix is not my favourite powder foundation (that “award” goes to my Shu Uemura pressed powder), but I like it enough to feel like I need to have it in my make-up collection. The one thing that really irks me about it though is that I do not have an exact shade match.

With the help of a MAC make-up artist, I first bought the shade NC42. It’s about half a shade to a full shade too dark for my coloring depending on the time of year, but even at my darkest I still get comments about being so tan when I wear this. So then I went and ordered NC40 (next to NC42 in the shade range, there is no “41” **EDIT: There is an NC41, but it is not available in the Philippines nor is it listed in the MAC website!), thinking that it should be perfect… but ohmygoodness it is much too light for me. NC 42 on the left, NC40 on the right. Doesn’t that look like a huge jump in colour? :o I would rather go slightly darker in foundation colour than too light, so I’ve barely touched my NC40 compact. If I use it at all, I use it as a highlight on the bridge of my nose and on my brow bone. If I use it all over, I get that slightly grayish tinge on my skin which is so very unflattering. NC 42 also seems to be much warmer and more yellow than NC40, even though both are in the “NC” category, meaning they should both have warm undertones. I want to love this powder. I really do. But it looks like MAC won’t let me. See how much more yellow NC42 is? The yellowness is something that I noticed a lot too when I used the liquid Studio Fix formula, and it’s not something that I like. I tend to favor neutral foundations, because even though I’m Asian, I don’t have very yellow undertones. Sadly, I may someday soon decide that MAC Studio Fix is something not worth sticking with. If/when I do decide that, I will miss the sturdy compact packaging and the smooth texture—but the absence of a perfect colour match for me is something I find very difficult to get over. I’m not so sure if this has been a review or just a rant, so I’ll end with suggestions that might be of use to other people. MAC Studio Fix might be for you, if – you are looking for a powder foundation, – MAC carries a shade that suits you well, – you like the convenience of a compact, and – you are looking for medium to full coverage with a matte finish. p.s. There is no SPF in this product.

19 responses to My love/hate relationship with MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation

  1. Thea


    thanks for this I am buying N40, but i am curious as what shu uemura shade are you using?



      • dylanski

        Hi, Mariana! I totally agree with you about the HUGE jump in color between NC 40 and NC 42. NC 40 is a tad light for me, and I use Palladio’s rice powder over it do make it darker. NC 42 is just way too dark for me, and mixing NC 40 and 42 doesn’t help either.

        By the way, how much is the Shu Uemura powder you’re using? I might just switch to that after I finish the NC 40 I just bought. Could you comment on the staying power/oil control and the coverage of the Shu Uemura powder? Thanks!

  2. Suikyu

    Hi Mariana,

    I’m French and I don’t understand why the NC41 shade does exist in M.A.C France and not in your country? the NC41 shade is close to NC40 but a bit darker, not so warm as NC42.

    Before M.A.C France offering this shade (there is one year ago), I had to mix NC42 and NC40 in winter and only NC42 in summer, and since the NC41 shade exists, I’m very happy because this represents the perfect match with my skin when I’m not tanned. You can look into this page to see how is the NC41 shade

  3. Tamanna kamal

    Have you tried mixing the nc40 & nc42 to create a suited shade? maybe that will work.

  4. Rae

    I’m confused which one to get. I mean, there’s also C4 and C40. Which is less ‘golden’ daw. Maybe you can try those too.

  5. Michael

    I thought NC40 was my color too. I was rematched a couple of months ago to C4. This shade matches me much better. I have read that NC40 can give off a grey cast or become ashy looking. The C’s are supposed to be more yellow based, but I think that it works well for someone who was once matched to NC40.

      • Crissy

        C40 is available in Manila :) I do agree, that it is more yellow than NC40.

  6. guest

    hey hun, Studio fix is now available in neutral colours since you said you prefer neutral foundation. The colours available are N3 , N4, N5, and N9

  7. thalie

    I had the same problem. I contact the customer’s’service of MAC by email and explained the whole in details. They recommended C40. I went in a MAC shop, I didn’t bother asking one of the MUA for help (because that usually with an hour wait) and bought it straight from the purchase counter. It’s PERFECT for the Winter. Summer I wear NC43 which is better than NC42 as NC42 gives a peach-orange tone. Now for liquid foundation the Face and Body in C5 is amazing for colour match but breaks me out so I use studio Fix Liquid in NC40 mixed with NC43.

  8. Megan

    I have the same dilemma, I live nowhere near a Mac counter so I have been guessing with everything while ordering online and reading as much as I can find by searching through Google! I tried studio fix powder in nc30 first which was a huge mistake, too pale! Then on to c40 (too light/yellow) then nc40 (also too light). Just fyi I am Caucasian but have a tan complexion. I then bought the nc42 which I can make work by applying with my sigma flag top brush (love it) but I have to buff and buff for a long time…it’s still just not right, it’s too orange and although on some days I can leave the house feeling somewhat satisfied with it, on other days I can’t imagine wearing it out. I use proactiv as I have acne prone oily skin – proactiv has cut back my oil emensely but I still need to be careful of what products I use. Macs mineral powder had one of my favorite finishes of all time but mineral products make me break out like no other! Matchmaster has been my holy grail, it’s a sad relationship though because I tend to continue my search for something to one-up it. I don’t give it enough credit. I ended up trying the matchmaster prior to the fix fluid or the pro longwear due to my issues with finding a good color match – I still want to try all the foundations but matchmaster really is great! I bought it in shade 4.0…it looks really close but a tiny but light. I want to also have shade 5.0 to mix or switch back and forth. Working fast and buffing it on with the sigma brush (after buffing on some Smashbox cc cream in the shade medium) I have found to work the best and looks very airbrushed as well as helps the matchmaster to have a more dewy look while staying on longer. I do also apply prep & prime before anything. I usually have to spray fix + to liven up just about anything I wear, I tend to go heavy on powder to control oil but with this mixture I don’t have to use any fix spray, I finish the matchmaster with some loose select sheer powder (it’s discontinued now though, a terrible thing to have done!) which i lightly pat on with a Mac luxury powder puff and then dust off any extra remaining powder from my face with a large powder brush. I have tried the select sheer pressed powder and it’s just not they same as the loose. Face and Body in C5 is a good match but only because it is so sheer, plus I have to put on like 3 layers of it and an ton of powder for it to give me the right amount of coverage…it doesn’t have any staying powder and rubs off on absolutely everything. I would rather just wear the Smashbox cc cream – it’s way less greasy, stays put and covers better. Face and body breaks me out pretty bad too. Am curious to try the mineralize skinfinish since I’ve read so many good things about it, but since it’s a mineral I am scared! I started with matchmaster 3.0 a few years ago, it was the first Mac foundation! I decided I wanted something thinner (I was applying with my fingers and probably much too slow as I remember it being thick looking) so I moved onto the loose mineral powder – that ruined my skin so badly, I thought maybe it was just the brand but switching to bare minerals didn’t help in the least! I had that in medium beige, it was much too pink. Tan was tooooo tan. Golden too yellow. Anyway, I’ve tried a lot of products and i love Mac more than any other brand out there. I wish I could try their lightful line, it sounds like it really improves the skin but it’s always out of stock!
    Thanks for your post on this, sorry to ramble, I just had to give my input!
    Does anyone have any advice to a nc42 alternative in studio fix powder? Nc43 I hear is not so orange? What about nw35 or something?

  9. sadia

    I’m also having same prob nt matching any shades of mac studio fix powder bt someone recommended me to take nc40 bt I don’t look skin tone is yellowish undertone.

  10. Yaya

    Hi Mariana,

    I stumbled upon this post while researching the C4. I was using NC41 in the UK but when i came back to Malaysia it was not available in Malaysian market as well. So all these while i was using NC40 (which was a little pale by itself on me) and NC42 (made me look orangey). Just now the MUA suggested i switch to C4 when i tried to ask for NC41 (although i know it was very unlikely they would have it but just never giving up on my NC41 😜). So i will give it a go and see if its the right shade. Btw, im using NC40 powder on top of the studio fix liquid NC40.

  11. Evelyn

    Definitivamente es ciertooo me sucede lo mismo 😢 el nc42 es demasiado bronceado y los demás muy claros no hay un tono para mi 😂

  12. Udeme inyang

    I’m having problem, right now I use C6 but it looks darker on my face. I’m confused. I’m African. My skin color is Chocolate, can someone help me out?

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