Little separates the prices across the range, so choosing the best MAC foundation comes down to coverage and durability. And when these are the factors upon which you judge, the MAC Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof foundation takes the crown.
It’s thick and pricey but is surprisingly lightweight, and good value for money. It was the only MAC foundation that lasted until the end of the day and kept our oily nose and dry cheeks balanced for hours. We’d say this is the best MAC foundation for oily skin.
In second place is a MAC classic – Studio Fix Fluid. It lost out on the top spot because of the fact you have to buy a separate pump if you want any sort of control over the application. It also didn’t last as long on the skin as the Pro Longwear. However, it is the best all-rounder and will suit multiple skin types. Its coverage also makes it the best MAC foundation for large pores.
The Studio Face and Body Radiant Sheer foundation was the lightest on the skin meaning it will be the best MAC foundation for mature skin. As its name suggests, it left us looking radiant. It lost places for a lack of shade options.
|1. MAC Pro Longwear Foundation||£30|
|2. MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 Foundation||£29|
|3. MAC Studio Face and Body Radiant Sheer Foundation||£30|
|4. MAC Studio Sculpt SFP 15 Foundation||£30|
|5. MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation||£29|
We recently put MAC’s complexion range to the test to discover which is the best MAC foundation
UPDATE: If you love MAC, the MAC Advent Calendar 2023 is on sale now and it contains 24 day’s worth of MAC products at a third of the price than if you were to buy them all separately.
You can see the full list of what is in the MAC Advent Calendar 2023 here, or a summary of the details is below:
Click here for more beauty advent calendar 2023 recommendations.
The original best MAC foundation guide continues below
MAC Cosmetics is a global giant and if you have even the remotest interest in beauty then you’ll be familiar with its iconic black and white packaging. With more than 1,500 stores in 78 countries, it’s made a name for itself by selling long-wearing, pigmented and bold products – namely its superb MAC foundation range.
However, with several versions on sale, all claiming to suit different skin types and finishes, it’s hard to know where to start. What’s more, most of the best MAC foundations cost in the region of £30 and without foundation samples, it’s a minefield.
To help you finally discover which is the best MAC foundation, whether you’ve got oily skin or large pores, we’ve spent the past month putting every bestselling MAC foundation to the test to bring you a definitive guide on how they perform and which is the best MAC foundation in the UK.
None of these MAC foundations were gifted. We bought them all from Lookfantastic using our own money. These are honest, real-world results and the photos have not been edited in any way.
Since we published this guide, MAC released the MAC Studio Radiance Serum Powered foundation. Designed to “fuse the science of skincare with the power of makeup,” the new medium-to-full coverage MAC foundation comes in 56 shades. We’ve bought the new MAC foundation and will update this best MAC foundation list as soon as we’ve had time to put it properly to the test.
Before we dive into our full list of the best MAC foundations, we also wanted to explain more about MAC foundation shades.
There are more than 65 MAC foundation shades, which makes it one of the most inclusive beauty brands on the market.
However, not all shades are available in all foundation finishes. The Studio Fix foundation has 67 shades, the Studio Fix Powder has 53.
Meanwhile, the MAC Studio Face and Body has just 11 listed.
All MAC shades are named with a letter (or two) followed by a number.
The letter is determined by your skin tone and the number represents how light, or dark, the shade is ranging from 3 to 60.
The letters stand for:
This means if you have a foundation in the shade NC35, you have neutral-cool undertones in a medium shade. Each of the shades also come with descriptions. NC35 is described as: “Light to medium beige with peachy golden undertone for medium skin.”
If you’re unsure which MAC foundation shade you are, you can read more about the MAC shade finder in our foundation match guide. In our MAC foundation reviews below, we’ve listed the relevant shade to give you an idea of how it appears on the skin in natural light.
FURTHER READING: We’ve reviewed and ranked the best Charlotte Tilbury foundations and the best No7 foundations
In our MAC foundation reviews below, we’ve listed the relevant shade to give you an idea of how it appears on the skin in natural light.
Below is a chart that also reveals the different shades across the wider MAC foundation and concealer range, including the new MAC Studio Radiance foundation.
Click the image to enlarge it in a new tab
Shade: NC30 | Price: £29 | Buy now
mamabella rating: 2/5
We don’t normally opt for a powder foundation as we find it a struggle to blend and make our skin look natural. We did however like that MAC’s Studio Fix Powder foundation came with a sponge that is neatly tucked in under the case. As is to be expected with powder products, this foundation is marketed as the best MAC foundation for oily skin types.
It also performed better with a cream primer than silicone.
We found that the built-in sponge gave a more smoother application than the brush, or beauty blender, and it really did give us a flawless, poreless look to our skin. It also provided full coverage. By comparison, using a brush to apply it reduced the amount of coverage provided, which saw us piling on more to get the desired finish.
This caused it to look cakey and this cakiness just got worse during the day as it settled in our creases and pores. A flaw that was exacerbated when we added our powder bronzer. While the powder works well with cream products, it doesn’t seem to like being combined with other powder makeup products and it was hard to blend our bronzer out.
We were also disappointed because it says it controls oil and shine, yet within a few hours our nose looked greasy. This resulted in us applying even more. Our fine lines looked like full-blown wrinkles by the end of the day, and our skin was crying out for cleanser.
Shade: NC30 | Price: £30 | Buy now
mamabella rating: 3/5
We were a little sceptical by the title of this foundation. We figured it would be quite thick due to the word ‘sculpt’ yet it was surprisingly soft on application. We liked how this MAC foundation left our skin looking like skin.
The consistency is light to medium, but it wasn’t too runny. It blended really nicely, the shade was spot on and we were really happy with the final finish.
It’s a buildable foundation that gives medium coverage. It worked nicely with a beauty blender as well as a foundation brush but it did leave our nose slightly oily while causing our dry patches to be more visible.
It felt lightweight, which we liked, but this may explain why it didn’t last long around our T-Zone.
Shade: C3 | Price: £30 | Buy now
mamabella rating: 4/5
We thought this foundation would be runny, due to the fact it says it’s sheer, but we were pleasantly surprised by the medium consistency. It’s frustrating that the shade range is relatively small in comparison to other MAC foundations and you can’t get it in the same NC or NW colours.
That aside, this foundation worked great with both of our primers, along with our beauty blender and foundation brush. When used with a beauty blender, it covered the pores more than the foundation brush but the difference was minimal. We love the finished look it gave us, it didn’t look cakey and instead of making our face look flat, it gave dimension.
The size and shape of the nozzle stop you from using too much and, despite its medium consistency, this MAC foundation creates light coverage. It also feels light on the skin and is buildable too.
In terms of longevity, this MAC foundation lasted well throughout the day. We only had to top up the nose area when that area got oily around midday.
MAC recently released a new foundation in the Studio Radiance range called the MAC Serum-Powered Foundation. It’s said to contain 33 skincare ingredients and provides medium-full coverage with hydration and nourishment. We’ll update this page once we’ve put the new MAC foundation to the test.
Shade: NC35 | Price: £29 | Buy now
mamabella rating: 4/5
The Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 foundation is a firm favourite for many and we can see why. The consistency is medium, coverage is medium but if you want to, you can build this foundation to make it full coverage.
Out of all the best MAC foundations in this list, the Studio Fix was the one with the most noticeable, perfumed smell. It’s pleasant but unexpected. Despite its slightly thicker consistency, this MAC foundation didn’t sit heavy on the face and felt light on the skin. We also loved how it gave a pretty flawless texture to the skin.
We achieved more even coverage when using a foundation brush, but it still blended nicely with our beauty blender. However, getting this foundation out of the bottle can be a pain.
You either have to shake it out – which is difficult and caused us to regularly waste foundation by pouring too much – or you can buy a separate pump. This is a little galling given the fact this foundation already costs £29 and the pump adds on an extra fiver.
MAC has said this foundation will last 24 hours but again our oily nose did peek through. Although not as bad as others on this list. We also loved that the foundation didn’t sit on any dry patches on the skin.
You can read more in our full Studio Fix Fluid foundation review.
Shade: NC30 | Price: £30 | Buy now
mamabella rating: 4/5
The Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof foundation is already one of the most expensive in our best MAC foundation list, yet this becomes even more of a factor when you see how small the bottle is. Coming in at £12 per 10ml – so £30 for 25ml – this foundation is half the size of the MAC Face and Body version, despite coming in at the same price.
That said though, we think this foundation is worth the money. A tiny amount of this thick foundation goes a really long way. It creates a beautifully soft, satin finish that is balanced and blends like a dream. Its medium-to-full coverage is also great, but it did leave our face looking a little flat so we needed to use bronzer and highlighter to lift it.
The texture of the Pro Long Nourishing Waterproof Foundation is creamy; it blends nicely but we found it dries a little fast so you need to work quickly to get even coverage. A quick squirt of setting spray or mist solves this and refreshes it once more, but it’s worth noting.
The thing we were most impressed with this foundation is how well it held. We even ventured out in the rain to see how it would perform. It left our nose slightly oily by the end of the day and it did start to sit in our dry patches around the nose but this was leagues ahead of other entries in this best MAC foundation list. It’s the kind of foundation you could wear to work and a night out without worrying too much about it melting or transferring. Even on oily skin.
For each foundation, we tested how well it went on and how well it lasted using both The Ordinary Silicone primer, and the Bobbi Brown Face Base cream. We also applied each using a foundation brush, or a damp beauty blender to see which gave the best finish.