Navigating MAC’s Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation Shade Range: My Personal Journey

MACSF6The Range

Anyone who isn’t a MAC makeup artist is going to be slightly overwhelmed when first faced with the Studio Fix Powder Plus shade range. The naming system involves a combination of letters and numbers that denote undertone and depth respectively. While most popular brands stick with relatively simple descriptive shade names, MAC, being a pro brand, uses a system that allows them to be precise in their description of a wide selection of shades. The numbers increase with depth and that’s about the easiest part to explain. When you get to the letter designations for undertones, it gets slightly more confusing:

C- “Cool ” – best for yellow/golden/olive skin
NC- “Neutral Cool” – best for golden beige skin
N- “Neutral” – beige skin
NW- “Neutral Warm” – pinky beige skin
W- “Warm” – best for pinkish skin

Looks pretty straightforward, but you may have noticed that although “NC” stands for “Neutral Cool” the NC shades are geared toward women with warm, golden skin tones. The same goes for the “NW” shades applying to cool skin instead of warm. The reason behind that has something to do with the colour wheel and colour theory. I don’t fully understand it so I won’t attempt an explanation, but I read on someone else’s blog that it helps to think of NC as “not cool” and NW as “not warm.” A former MAC makeup artist, Sharon Farrel, explains it all much more clearly in this useful post. 
Studio-Fix-Powder-Plus (1)This little chart is also from Sharon’s blog. I take no credit for it and it’s missing some shades, but wanted to include it here to give you a visual of the Studio Fix Powder Plus range. It is one of MACs most well-known and loved products, so most people who take an interest in makeup will probably check it out at least once in their lives. Many also use their MAC shade match from the Studio Fix range to describe their foundation colour in casual conversation.

Note that the shades don’t translate exactly across formulas–even the Studio Fix Fluid foundation (which is meant to simply be the liquid version of this) behaves differently. Other foundations from MAC (Matchmaster, Face and Body, Studio Sculpt, etc.) make use of different naming systems altogether, which can make finding a good match a dizzying affair. This post will solely be about the Studio Fix Powder Plus foundation and my experience finding a shade match.

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Dulce et Utile: Pressed Powder Foundations

I’m curious: How long does it take to put your face on in the morning? I used to dedicate a whole hour to makeup, and that excludes the time I need to get dressed, fix my hair, and ready my things. And when I say “I used to” that points back to just about three months ago. I now make it a point to get all of that done in under an hour (sometimes I can be ready in 20-30 minutes, which used to be unthinkable for me) and surprisingly I don’t feel rushed at all. I’m happy to have the extra time to do other things… like read or exercise or meditate. Or nap. I’m not saying I don’t like taking my time when I do makeup–I still do, but I save that for when I’m in the mood to really play or if there’s a special occasion.

I’m not really sure what sparked the change. You’d think that with all this time on my hands after leaving school I would be taking all the time in the world to play around with makeup. Instead I find myself craving a simpler, less-cluttered approach to everything in my life–not just makeup. This coincides with a renewed love for yoga (been dabbling in Vinyasa and Ashtanga instead of just Bikram/hot yoga) and although that has been a factor for sure, I was moving towards a more fuss-free makeup philosophy even before that, I think. But anyway, what I wanted to talk about today is a foundation form that has helped me cut down on makeup application time: pressed powder. P1170465

Clockwise from left: Ellana Minerals Pressed Powder Foundation*, MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation, and Maybelline White Super Fresh Powder Foundation

I had forgotten just how easy applying foundation is when all you need are a large powder brush and a compact of pressed powder foundation. You can adjust coverage by using a fluffy brush for light coverage, a brush with more densely-packed bristles for medium coverage, and a kabuki brush for full-on, heavy coverage. Sponges can be eliminated from the picture completely. The fact that these powder foundations are pressed eliminates the mess that loose powders almost inevitably create and they are also easy to travel with. I don’t think I even have to explain how these are more convenient than liquid foundations.

If you have combination or oily skin, powder foundations are an obvious bet. If you have dry skin, I can see why you might have apprehensions, but priming your skin properly before applying powder foundations helps a great deal. Even with my combination skin, I still prefer to prime beforehand (usually with sunblock, but also with primers before evening makeup) so that the powder goes on as even as possible. There are also powders on the market that actually moisturise these days. It sounds crazy, but I’ve come across one (a BRTC compact) that really did more than just not dry out my skin–it was nourishing it. And then of course there are usual oil-control powders. Loads of those to choose from, my oily-skinned friends!

There isn’t any particular pressed powder foundation that I wanted to highlight in this post. I suppose I just wanted to bring attention to a form that I myself had forgotten for a while and that others might have too. Using powder foundations has helped me save so much time getting ready for my day and I haven’t had to sacrifice my options when it comes to coverage or even finish. Plus I can easily pop my compact into my bag for touch-ups. Can’t think of much else to ask for, really.

What are your favourite foundation formulas? Liquid? Cream? Loose powder? Pressed? No need to debate about the pros and cons of each form as they all have their time and place for sure. It all comes down to personal preference and I for one think that that is where it really gets interesting. Yeah? I say more power to the powders, baby!

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When There’s Smoke: MAC Pro Lipstick in Smoked Purple

P1150879MAC recently released some formerly PRO-exclusive shades into the wild (i.e. into the wide open, gimme-gimme hands of the general public). Smoked Purple (Matte) is one of those shades. I picked it up one day without actually planning to, as I really thought that Peachstock would steal my heart. Peachstock was lovely (and good thing I can now go back and get it whenever I want to), but Smoked Purple looked more appropriate for the “moment” we’re having in beauty right now. 

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The Fiasco That Was My Experience With MAC Face And Body Foundation

FAB1MAC Face and Body Foundation (1,800.00 Php for 50mL) is pretty new to the Philippine market. While it’s been a part of the MAC range for years, it only recently became available at non-Pro stores and in the smaller 50 mL size. I had heard so much about it’s awesome water-resistant qualities and buildable coverage from YouTubers like the Pixiwoos and even Lisa Eldridge that I picked it up without bothering to review anything else about it. I was so excited about the release that I forgot that Nic (of the Pixiwoos) and Lisa Eldridge both have skin thats’ on the dry side–and I’m oily/combo. Uh oh. 

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The Beauty Bee Awards: Best of 2013!

BBAIt’s time to go through my Beauty favourites for 2013! :) I had a difficult time choosing between products, so I thought it would be fun to present the “winners” alongside the other products that nearly made it. I love everything shown here, but the winners have been consistent faves throughout the year (or at least since I acquired them).

I didn’t limit myself to any number of categories, but I ended up with a nice round number: 10. The winners/faves are named in the photo and my little bee mascot can be seen hovering close to them. Let’s have a look! :) 

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My Holiday Collection Wishlist + Beauty Chit Chat #2

Hey guys! How are you all doing? :) I’ve been super stressed at school, but I can really feel the Christmas spirit creeping up on me! The Christmas songs and decor are slightly distracting, but it’s definitely the holiday makeup collections that are always on my mind these days. What an exciting time of year to be a beauty enthusiast (lol)! I personally get most excited for Fall collections in general, but holiday collections are just so pretty, festive, and are also often a great way to snag a deal by buying makeup sets. Who doesn’t love them!

I still can’t buy any makeup until January 1 (if you’re not a regular reader,  you can read about my makeup ban here), but browsing is definitely allowed. It kills me to walk by counters, swatch products, ohh-and-aahhh over products, and not be able to pick them up, but I do have the one Christmas item that I’m allowed to pick out for myself. I haven’t seen all of the collections or studied them very well, but these are the things that have caught my eye so far.

I present to you my (incomplete) Holiday Collection Wishlist:

mac_nocturnalssilverviolet0021. MAC Nocturnals Pigment & Glitter Set in Silver and Violet (2,100Php) – Of course I have to start with something MAC. Every year I tell myself that I won’t be that interested in the MAC holiday collection, based on the promo material–but every year I fall in love with something at the counter. This set includes three pigments and two glitters. I’ve never owned a MAC pigment but I have only heard great things about them. This set includes the ever-popular Vanilla pigment as well as a pearly pink shimmer called Kitschmas. I love that– Kistchmas! Click on the photo to see a review by Temptaliamac_divinenightgroup0042. MAC Divine Night Lipstick in Private Party (1,100 Php) – Private Party is the second from the right and is the one shade in the line that Temptalia rated with an A. It was also the one that I fell in love with when I swatched it. It’s a dirty plum mauve with a satin finish. The colour is right up my alley and I am dying to get my hands on it. Again, click the link to see a full review! This goes for the rest of the items on this list, too. :)lauramercier_merlot0023. Laura Mercier Creme Smooth Lip Colour in Merlot(1,100 Php) – Ok, so this is part of a Fall collection and it will be in the permanent range… but ugh, it’s such a beautiful deep burgundy red that I would totally wear for Christmas and New Years parties. A friend of mine has this exact shade and she reports that it doesn’t stain (fine by me) but it does wear comfortably.

Stila-Color-Outside-The-Lines-Smudge-Stick-Waterproof-Eye-Liner-Set4. Stila Colour Outside the Lines Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner Set ($34) – Stila’s smudge sticks are incredible. They are, however, in a twist-up mechanism and they run out quickly, so buying them in sets makes a lot of sense. This is a set of five full sized eye liners. lauramercier_artistpalette0015. Laura Mercier Artist’s Palette for Eyes for Holiday 2013 ($48) – So this palette leans toward being cool-toned, but I think it will work for me because of the purples and taupes. I’ve checked this out at a counter and the packaging is not top quality, but I just about died over the quality of the shadows. Last year’s LM holiday eye palette (see Carina’s post on that one!) was also a wishlist item, but I did not end up getting that one… maybe because this one is better suited to me? Hihi. Also, this is supposed to be “exclusive to Sephora” but you can definitely get it at LM counters in Rustan’s locally.

So that’s what’s on my wishlist for now. Do let me know what you think about my picks and feel free to share if you are also lemming after a few Christmas collection items. :) I also want to chat a bit about the soon-to-be-released Urban Decay NAKED 3 palette.

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My 5 Favourite Lip Glosses!

Hi guys! HAPPY HALLOWEEN! :) I don’t really get into it as a holiday, but if you’re Trick or Treat-ing, good for you! Candy was always the best part of Halloween for me. Then you get too old for it and you only use it as an excuse to dress all slutty (Mean Girls!) — we all had that phase… right? Lol, I was once a slutty soldier. I cringe! Anyway, I don’t have a Halloween-themed post for today or anything, but I’m working on uploading my October favourites video at the moment. It’s taking much longer than expected, so I decided to go ahead and let this post loose first. :) MFLG1Meet my five favourite lip glosses! :) I discovered the wonders of a good gloss late in my “makeup life” because I thought that all glosses were glassy, tacky, hair traps. They were just messy things I couldn’t be bothered with. Then I had the chance to try a mini lip gloss from Urban Decay (the one that comes with the NAKED 2 palette) and my mind was blown! It was the perfect texture, comfortable on the lips, manageable when it came to trapping hair, and it smelled of mint (love!). That gloss would undoubtedly be a part of my favourites now if I still had it. Sucks that UD is not available here, but I will definitely buy a full size one day! For now though, these lippies are keeping me quite happy:

1. VMV Hypoallergenics Lip Gloss in Coquette Rosette (1,000 Php) – This lip gloss is more like a liquid lipstick. It’s completely opaque. I use it alone most of the time because it makes little difference if I wear it over a lipstick. You do have to be careful about rubbing your lips when this is on because it kind of balls up when you do that, but if you don’t have that habit, this will wear for ages!

2. MAC Cremesheen Glass in Colour Saturation (2, 450.00 Php for a set of 4) – I only have three MAC glosses and they’re all from the set I got last Christmas (gave one away). This cremesheen glass is my favourite because the colour is a beautiful purple/plum with a hint of pink in it. The name Colour Saturation is apt. You do get a punch of purple from this and you can wear it both alone or layered over a lipstick to alter the shade. On its own it’s not quite opaque but it’s definitely not sheer either. Your lips will show through the veil of shiny purpleness in the prettiest way! This spreads evenly and wears for around 3 hours without eating or drinking. Smells of vanilla just like MAC lipsticks, but it has faded over time.

3. Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Rose Sugar 3 (approx. 1,300.00 Php) – This is the lip gloss that I can wear over top of my MLBB lipsticks without altering the colour too much. It just adds a shine that really lasts. This is the only gloss that has lasted on my lips for an entire day out (approx. 6 hours?), keeping its shine and just resting really comfortably on my lips. Smells of cookies!

4. Stila Lip Glaze in Sugar Plum (approx. 1,300 for Christmas set of 8 / 800Php individually) – The only one in the bunch with a brush applicator! This one works like a click pen. You twist the end opposite the brush to dispense product and then just swish it on with the brush. You don’t get too much product, but the way it’s pushed out means there isn’t any going to waste, whereas when you have gloss in a tube, you can’t always get everything. Still, 0.05 oz is very little product. Buy these in Christmas sets and save yourself from spending the full price!

5. Mini Shu Uemura Gloss Unlimited in PK 70 C (700.00Php for a set of 2 travel sized minis) – Got this one off Taste Central thinking it was a set of two big ones. Oops! Oh well, it’s a cute size and it was my own fault for not checking. I love the formula of this though! Very smooth and not tacky at all. Because of the milky pink colour, I use this when I want to lighten a lip stick or make it more like a pastel.

To see swatches and close-ups of the applicators, click on through! :) 

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FOTD – Sept. 17, 2013

FOTD091613.jpg

I don’t post looks very often because I feel like I’m awful at capturing the colours well. I also sometimes think that I look the same in all of the pictures… but I guess you can see the difference when they’re placed side by side! Here’s what I had on today yesterday. I reviewed a lot of these products recently, actually. The Clinique CC cream review should be up in a few days so watch out for that! :)

Base: Clinique CC Cream mixed with Vichy Normaderm Teint, MUD Blue Corrector #3, K Palette Zero Kuma Concealer, Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer, and Clinique Stay-Matte Pressed powder (translucent) with UD De-Slick sprayed over top to set

Cheeks: MAC Small Vanity blush

Eyes: L’Oreal Infallible Eyeshadow in Amber Rush on the lids, MAC Espresso on the outer-V and on the lower outer lash line, Inglot shimmery pink on the inner corner, Fairyfrops Platinum mascara (waterproof variant), and Shu Uemura Hard 9 Eyebrow pencil in seal brown

Lips: Too Faced La Creme lipstick in Spice Spice Baby

P.S. You can click on the photo to enlarge it! 

Personal Makeup Challenge (feat. MAC Ronnie Red)

Some time last week Liz of Project Vanity asked her readers a question: What makeup look do you think isn’t for you? So many people left comments and it was really interesting to read what makeup looks or products others find daunting. Surprisingly a lot of people don’t like coral shades on their lips and bronzer. Not so surprising was that a lot of people veer away from smokey eyes and red lips. I myself feel quite a bit apprehensive when it comes to certain kinds of reds. My comfort zone is with the dark, deep reds, and I only ever wear them at night– I call it my “after 6pm” rule and I’ve always stuck to it. In reply to Liz’s post I mentioned that there are girls who can totally rock a bright red lip while the sun is still high in the sky, while I feel like I’ve aged some ten years or am trying too hard (lol). But I promised myself I’d give it another go (because you never know when something will just start working for you) and here I am documenting my little experiment / challenge to myself.

MRRI chose to use “Ronnie Red” from the MAC Archie’s Girls collection because it’s a bright pink-red (totally out of my comfort zone) with a matte finish. Matte lipsticks are generally more modern looking, though that’s really a matter of opinion. I already have a number of reds in my little collection but this is the very first with a matte finish and I have to say I liked it quite a bit more than the usual shiny or glossy reds I’m used to. 

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