Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mac Matchmaster Foundation; Review & Swatches of Shades

Mac Matchmaster Foundation SPF 15
Price: $34 per ounce (sold only w/pump)

Mac Matchmaster Foundation is the principal product for Mac's line of "skin-tone matching & adjusting" cosmetics. The foundation has done so well that the Matchmaster Concealer Stick was recently created to sit aside it's big-sister-foundation for Fall of 2014!

The whole notion of never having to stress over which foundation shade is right for you is certainly a tempting concept and would make makeup shopping oh-so-worry-free!

The problem is that historically tone adjusting makeup formulations haven't exactly been a fool proof system...

Mac Matchmaster was always one of the few foundations I actually overlooked. I think I tended to mix it up with Mac Face and Body Foundation because the two were "different" and didn't follow Mac's typical shade line up which just freaked me out (because I handle change so well.) 

I spent years (literally) trying every different Mac foundation & concealer. I was always looking for "full coverage" options (not because I needed full coverage but because I wanted to have a full coverage foundation that would make special events & pictures suddenly appear flawless). 

I read hundreds of reviews and comparisons on Mac foundations but Matchmaster was really rarely mentioned- at least in the full coverage context. It wasn't until I recently tried the new Matchmaster Concealer that I decided to take a closer look at the foundation and now I feel like I've missed so much time getting to know the Matchmaster lineup!

Mac claims that all their Matchmaster products use "Shade Intelligence Technology". When used in the Matchmaster foundation it is intended to "bring customized shades in a flawless demi-matte finish with medium buildable coverage and broad spectrum sun protection. Gives the perfect color purity without looking achy or chalky reduces shine on the skins surface and helps to absorb excess oil. Conditions and smooths skin while minimizing the appearance of pores and imperfections."

As consumers, we're potentially running the risk of falling into a very convincing marketing trap if we're to believe these claims at face value so I'll go through them one at a time...

Shade Matching Technology of any kind is really unreliable. The whole idea that any cosmetic product can magically adjust to your ideal shade is a total fallacy. Usually, a company will employ one or two strategies to create the "illusion" that a shade will adjust to your skintone. 

The first tool many cosmetic companies use is simply to create a sheer product that provides only minimal coverage. That way each shade has a larger window of skintones that will fit within the range and any "mismatches" will be far less noticeable.

The second method often utilized in makeup are "balls of pigment." Formulas like Almay SmartShade Foundation use them. These formulas start off with a white or gray texture & then they "adjust" to your perfect shade. Essentially, they are small balls of pigment that break up as you bend and release the powdered pigments which were encased in the tiny (usually not visible) capsules. 

Instead of using one of these options with Matchmaster, Mac just created 10 neutral, middle of the road shades that should suit the needs of the majority of people, regardless of their undertone and range from fair to deep. 

The manager of my local Mac suggested I try #1.5 which is absolutely hysterical. She claimed that the shades "do a good job of adjusting to your skin," which they may do...if you blend all the product away. Shade #1 is actually a pretty good match for me. If I really built the heck out of it it might be a tad too dark but that's true of most foundations so I can't complain.

The consistency of Matchmaster is typical of a liquid foundation. It's certainly a liquid foundation but it;s a very richly pigmented liquid and not at all watery or thin..The formula itself is actually incredibly similar to Mac Studio Fix Fluid Foundation which, while a fabulous foundation, may be too intense for some people to use everyday. 

The best way to think of Matchmaster is of a toned-down Studio Fix Fluid. Coverage is actually in the same range for both foundations but Studio Fix may be a tad more buildable. The big advantages in choosing Matchmaster over Studio Fix is the slightly-lighter-weight formula, and the simplified shade range.

Because Matchmaster is really designed for Medium Coverage, the shades are a lot more forgiving than shades designed for full coverage wear. This doesn't mean everyone will find a perfect match, but most people will find a suitable one that works well with their skintone- particularly for a low maintenance foundation for daily use.

The potential negatives of choosing Matchmaster are limited and will likely only effect those with severe acne, serious problems that they need concealed, or extremely oily skin.

Mac claims that Matchmaster has a "demi" matte finish and that's probably accurate for most people but the finish certainly leans more towards the matte end than the demi end for most skin. If you have very oily skin and need a very matte finish foundation that you may want to look at Studio Fix Fluid instead.

Wear time is impressive for a formula with a matte finish that doesn't carry all of the typical "long-wearing" formula baggage of cracking & wearing unevenly and is (again) very similar to Studio Fix but Matchmaster will work better for those with drier skin than Studio Fix would and is ideal for those with combination skin who need to find a balanced formula.

All in all, Matchmaster is actually a surprisingly great foundation and I'm sorry I didn't form a relationship with it before Mac abandoned their cruelty free beliefs because I would have probably found myself relying on it for everyday use. As it is, I find myself reaching for it frequently so it's a shame I won't be repurchasing until Mac pulls from China.

Matchmaster may lose some of it's niche appeal for those who like shade-adjusting foundations, but it's really a much more practical solution and will suit the majority of people far better than anything else that claims to adjust to your tone!

*For a Cruelty Free option, consider Hard Candy's 4-in-1 Just Face It FoundationNars Sheer Matte Foundation or Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Foundation. Nars is a little different to work with but well worth the effort and Urban Decay is just a fantastic foundation that also provides a "demi" matte finish.*

If you want a traditional shade-adjusting option, you may want to look at Almay SmartShade Foundation; while the shades are more limited, the finish is similar as well as performance.
Mac Matchmaster Foundation; Shade Matching/Tone Adjusting Makeup Swatches
Mac Matchmaster Foundation Swatches of Shades
#1, #1.5, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #8.5, #9,
Mac Matchmaster Foundation; Review & Swatches of Shades #1, #1.5, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #8.5, #9,
Mac Matchmaster Foundation Swatches of Shades
#1, #1.5, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #8.5, #9,

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