Wednesday, December 21, 2011

MAC Matchmaster SPF 15 Foundation in 1 Review and Swatches

A few weeks ago I went foundation shopping at Macy's (the only department store with a beauty section in Eugene, we are so deprived) and was matched to and given samples of several brands' foundations. I almost didn't go to the MAC counter, because it was geographically the farthest away and I'd already gone to 4 other counters, but I decided I could take the 10 minutes more of standing. I was hoping to get matched to their standard shade scale, divided into NC (which, ironically, is the warm shades) and NW (the cool shades; I remember these by treating them as "not cool" and "not warm", respectively) and ranging from 5 to 50+, though their main foundation ranges start at 15. Once you know your MAC number, you can usually find your corresponding shade in other foundation lines more easily, so if nothing else, I wanted to walk away with that knowledge. Of course, I ended up deciding that the one foundation that isn't divided in the normal way was the foundation to try, but it's worked so well for me that I can't even care that I still don't know what my MAC number is (though, from what I've seen with this foundation and from input on Temptalia's Foundation Matrix, I'm probably NW10-15). The foundation in question? Matchmaster.
Matchmaster 1

Matchmaster is a recent addition to the MAC foundation line-up, and is described by the company as having a "new foundation technology using translucent pigments to enable a fully personalized finish influenced by the subtleties of your own skin's undertone. Moisturizing demi-matte finish. Medium buildable coverage." And yes, the weird punctuation and sentence fragments are a direct quote. Unlike other MAC foundations, Matchmaster isn't subdivided into warm and cool shades (because the "translucent pigments" supposedly adjust to match any undertone), but it does blend really well with my skin, though I'm not as super-cool as some (interpret that however you wish). I was matched to the lightest shade, 1(.0), which corresponds roughly with NC/NW15, and it's almost too dark for me, especially when it's first applied, but it settles in nicely and ends up looking very natural.
Heavy swatch (the lighter, blended swatch didn't show up at all)

There are many things I love about this foundation, but I will try to structure them in some fashion, because word vomit is rarely happyfuntimes.
1) The level of coverage is exactly what they claim, medium but buildable. I find a pump and a half of product suffices to cover my face and even out my skin and disguise blemishes, which is what I use most of the time. On particularly bad skin days, I do 2 pumps, which allows me to build up coverage over really persnickety parts of my skin, but it never looks cakey. I apply with my fingers because I hate wasting any product in a foundation brush, though I will sometimes brush over my face to smooth it all out. At some point I'd like to try applying it with a dense buffing brush, since that's the method of choice for many beauty bloggers, but until then, I find my fingers work just fine.
2) Demi-matte is the perfect description of the finish. It has some silicones in it that allow it to really glide over the skin beautifully, but not so much silicone that it pills up weirdly if layered. The silicones also mean that it helps control oil and smooth imperfections.
3) SPF 15! I'm sure a much thicker application is needed for that level of SPF coverage, but it's still nice that there's some sun protection.
4) The thing that makes me most giddily happy, though, is how long it keeps me shine-free. This foundation, layered over Amber Cream and topped with Kryolan powder, keeps me absolutely, completely shine-free for 6+ hours. It lasts 9+ hours with slight shine and no fading; blotting and/or repowdering brings it up to newly-applied levels. I don't know if you understand how freakishly unbelievably amazing that is, but for someone who is lucky to go 2 hours without getting slick (not just a little shiny, but actually slick), this is miraculous.
5) The packaging is both sleek and functional. I know, pump foundations aren't all that exciting, but as someone who has always used wide-mouth jar foundations, I really appreciate the convenience and precision of a pump mechanism! It's easy to control how much you want, and I love how the top swivels to keep from accidentally depressing the top and pushing out product.
Rotated this way, there's no place for the pump to go down; but rotate it to the left, and voila! Perfect application amount

The things I don't like? The price, which is steep compared to drugstore prices (but cheaper than other high-end choices), and the smell, which is a strong foundation-y smell. Do not want! It fades pretty quickly, say in 5 minutes or so, but it makes my nose very unhappy while it lasts. But compared to the amazing wear and finish, these are minor annoyances.

If you've got drier skin, this foundation probably won't pan out too well for you, but if you have oily, problematic skin but don't want heavy, mask-like coverage, I definitely suggest giving Matchmaster a try. Any MAC counter or free-standing store will match you to the correct shade and give you a custom sample to try.

$32.50 for 1.18 oz, available from department stores and MAC

Quality: 9
Effectiveness: 5+
Ease of Use: 5
Senses: 4 (the smell is icky)
Pigmentation: 5 (medium but can be built, as they claim)
Duration: 5
Consistency: 5
Price: 2 (while it is the most I have ever spent on a single makeup item [edging out Chanel Dragon by $0.50], good foundations are always more expensive than, say, lipsticks, so this doesn't seem as egregiously expensive)
Value: 4.5 (1.18 oz is 18% larger than most foundations, which helps soften the price a bit, and a little bit goes a long way)
Packaging: +0.5
Grade: A-

In spite of the high (for me) price, I will definitely buy this again when I run out. It's easy, it matches my skin, and it works. Definite love.
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