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My First Brush with MAC in Bangalore
Bangalore was blessed with a MAC store a few years ago. Whenever I passed by this store, it intimidated me a little bit. I always suspected that there would be snobs inside, doling out horrendously expensive products to the ultra rich. But after reading an astonishing review of MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation here on IMBB, I could not control myself. I had to check out this product even if it meant stepping into a MAC store.
My first impression of the store was that it was smaller than I had imagined it to be. You know how it is with people as well – celebrities appear taller on TV than in real life. The second thing I noticed was a huge glass wall which let in a lot of natural light into the store. There was artificial lighting only in part of the store were the products were displayed. But as we have it in Bangalore, that particularly cloudy day made the store look bleak in the absence of enough light. The Makeup Artists (MUA) wore top to toe black outfits which gave them a severe look. If it were not for the colourful cosmetics strewn around the store, the scene looked just out of a Harry Potter movie with death eaters (wearing black of course) floating about under a dark sky. But the MUAs I met were polite and helpful and not overbearing.:)
MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus foundation
Since I knew exactly what I wanted, I asked for it by name. An MUA promptly pulled out some shades of the Studio Fix powder while inquiring about my skin type and concerns. She gave me some nice smelling makeup remover wipes to wipe off my makeup (or lack of). I did not feel intimidated at all as I had feared; instead I felt happy and confident being there. That was due in part to IMBB where I’ve learnt enough so as to not feel intimidated trying out makeup products in one of most celebrated stores in the world.
I have oily, acne-prone skin with redness from old acne, and hyper pigmentation around my mouth. Despite oily skin, my face does not turn shiny expect when I end up using a product that aggravates oiliness.
The MUA first tried NC42 on my face with a sponge. Somehow it didn’t feel like the right shade for me and I told her so. She asked me to check it in a big mirror near the natural lighting window. I couldn’t see much coverage and said so. Then she applied some more of the powder and sprayed some MAC Fix+. Still, with the bleak ambiance it was nearly impossible for me to figure out any coverage. At the same time I wondered if even the NC shades were yellow enough for me. So I asked her if we should try some of the C shades. She was reluctant, but finally agreed to try some on my face. She wiped off NC42 from one half of my face and applied C40 on it. Under natural lighting, it looked too yellow, but I just wanted to try it out anyway. I told her I wanted to wear these two shades for the rest of the day and see how they sat with my skin as the day progressed. She was fine with that and did not pressurize me to make a decision on the spot. She said that I was always welcome to walk in and try out other shades as well. That was day 1 of my MAC safari. 🙂
When my husband saw me, the first thing he noticed was the too-yellow side of my face. But I had to check it out myself to be sure. So at home, I took a few pictures of my face with these two shades of MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation on. I noticed that the coverage was medium, but good enough for me. The powder seemed to give a matte finish, but a soft glow was what I was looking for from my foundation. Still, no big deal if it worked well otherwise. The C40 shade photographed extremely well and looked like a perfect match for my skin, at least in the photos. In reality, it was too yellow for me. The NC42 on the other hand, had turned a weird shade of orange by the end of 3 hours. It continued to turn darker as the day progressed. I thanked my stars that I hadn’t shelled out 1600 bucks for something that was going to oxidize on me! From what I have gathered from the Internet, foundations turning orangy or darker is a common problem for oily skins. It is said that the oils from the skin can react with the pigment in the foundation, making it appear more intense or muddy. I was quite disappointed with MAC since I had pinned my hopes on Studio Fix Powder becoming my HG foundation. Still, I decided to go to the MAC store a second time and see if there was a something the MUAs could do.
This time around the first MUA consulted another MUA about the orangy problem. They accepted that Studio Fix Powder does oxidize and decided to try out a lighter shade on me. They tried C4 and NC41. C4 was obviously too light for me and NC41 looked probably a touch too light, but not stark. On this day, I freely took photos of my face in the store. The MUAs even offered to take the pictures for me. They seemed genuinely interested and eager to help, unlike some of the drugstore SAs we often come across. I asked the MUA to apply the powder with a brush this time, and she happily complied. In fact, the real reason for my looking for a powder foundation is that I love buffing powder on my face with a brush. Bourjois Mineral Matte buffer brush (new price 390/-) is very good for dense application of not only powders but liquid foundations as well. It gives a poreless, flawless finish, provided you use a foundation that exactly matches your skin tone. OK, so after spending a good hour and a quarter at the store, I came home with NC41 all over my face. It was a humid day and by the end the of 3 hours, I noticed that my face had turned very oily and noticeably darker. So I was back to square one – the lighter shade had oxidized on me as well. This powder was a no go, let alone HG material. 🙁
On day two, I also got colour matched for a concealer. The MUA patiently tried about 10 different shades and textures before coming up with a match that she felt satisfied with. It was NC45 in Studio Sculpt. But as luck would have it, the concealer turned orangy as well in a few hours. I also noticed that it had balled up some during application.
MAC Studio Sculpt Concealer
The most common solution suggested to prevent foundation colour change is to use a makeup primer. But when I read how primers sit between your skin and the foundation, I was not sure my acne-prone skin would agree with all the pore-clogging that can happen due to the use of a primer. So even though this is an option, I would only resort to it if it is the only one.
During these MAC trips, I had my heart set on MAC Fix+ (around 900/- for 100 ml). I had loved how it brought the whole makeup together. Even though the slightly lighter NC41 looked powdery on application, a few spritzes of Fix+ sort of “settled the dust” and made the makeup look fresh and natural. It smelled wonderful and very posh. So I was contemplating buying that. But later I read some reviews of it where they mentioned the presence of castor oil and a few other ingredients that may cause break outs on acne-prone skin. So I chose to get the second best, again, thanks to IMBB (Rati) – the FabIndia Rose Face Spray (175/- for 100ml). It is currently a hot favourite in my family – my husband lavishly sprays it all over his face morning and evening. And I’m not very far behind in terms of lavish usage of the spray. The nozzle is very good quality and sprays a fine mist just like Fix+. We’ve already used up a quarter of the rose water in a week.
Coming back to MAC, I should note that there was no pressure to buy any products and there were no unncessary recommendations. Overall, a very satisfying and empowering experience. I have also sampled foundations from Shisedo, Chanel, Clinique, Maxfactor and Maybelline since then. I am still contemplating getting the Studio Fix powder because I have controlled the foundation oxidation problem somewhat. I suspected that since my skin isn’t very oily to begin with, it might be the oils in my moisturizer that were causing the darkening. So I skip moisturizer (so bad I know!), apply liquid foundation and set it with a compact. Then I spray rose water all over my face and neck generously. That sets the makeup and provides some degree of moisturization as well.
Image source: http://www.maccosmetics.com