Rediscovering old faves: The MAC Studio Fix Fluid and Powder Foundation

Fun fact: MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid was my first bottle of foundation. I asked my mother to buy it for me as a Christmas present, and the makeup artist matched me perfectly to NC42 (at the time). Since then I have been (time and time again) disappointed by other artists who have failed to match my shade properly, but I’ll always remember my first time. My uncle said I looked like a Korean - my skin was so smooth (helped by the pill at the time) and acne scars were non-existent. Flash forward to now: I have tried many a foundation in my day and have admittedly forgotten about the Studio Fix Fluid after emptying it, so I find myself pleasantly surprised about Ole Reliable.

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I got to rediscover the Studio Fix Fluid and Studio Fix Powder foundations after MAC announced that Maine Mendoza is the first face for the line in the country. Maine is NC35, which is actually the most popular shade for Filipinas! It’s MAC’s best-selling shade. Maine loves the foundations and have been using them throughout her successful career as an actress. There are multiple ways to use the foundations so I followed the tips shared by Maine’s makeup artist, RB Chanco.

Studio Fix Fluid SPF15 in NC40 (~P1,950 fo 30ml)

The first thing you’ll notice is the expansive shade range available in physical stores. It’s hard to find shades like NC40 and darker locally, and even then, stocks are hard to find.

It’s definitely nice to be able to swatch and test before committing. We know brands like Fenty exist, but there are no physical stores for you to be able to test and find your correct shade. Foreign drugstore brands try to stock the medium deep shades but often stop at NC35/37. Forget about local and Korean brands; the variety just isn’t there yet.

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This liquid foundation is hella reliable! People are intimidated by its coverage but it is so that it lasts you a full day. Set with loose powder, it can last my normal to oily t-zone skin for a minimum of eight hours. This is what they mean when they talk about investment pieces.

Swatches, from left: NC37, NC40, NC35, NC30, NC25, NC20

Swatches, from left: NC37, NC40, NC35, NC30, NC25, NC20

RB’s tip is that you can mix the formula with many different things to change the appearance and texture. For sheer coverage, mix with 4 parts MAC strobe cream, or one to two drops of face oil (meaning 4:1 strobe cream to Studio Fix Fluid). For medium coverage, 2:1 strobe cream to Studio Fix Fluid. It works with hydrating primers as well as pore blurring primers. You can also layer the product for more coverage without it becoming fussy, although using a setting spray after is a must to keep a smooth finish.

It works great with liquid products, like highlighters, blushes, and contours. Powder products layer well, too.

I have been told in two separate occasions that my makeup looks flawless without me asking for their evaluation/validation. This is great if you’re into that sort of thing. The first success was when I used the Fluid and the Powder, and the second was when I primed with NARS Smooth and Protect Primer which, in their words, made me look “poreless.”

Studio Fix Fluid set with Laura Mercier Setting Powder

Studio Fix Fluid set with Laura Mercier Setting Powder

However, I find that this fails without the correct skin prep. If your natural texture is not so good, the foundation will also look bad. I have used many ‘perfecting’ foundations before, but this is more akin to Estee Lauder Double Wear (I am in shade Cashew) and Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Foundation (shade 300) in that it covers but doesn’t smoothen. This means that your skin can look cracked, your dry patches can be emphasized, you may see all your giant pores more, or it can slide off when you moisturize too much. The best prep for me so far: moisturize with one layer only, put on sunscreen, put on the blurring primer, and layer where you need.

It’s already messy.

It’s already messy.

I don’t understand why but the pump comes separately and costs P700++. (1) Just why? (2) If you have other MAC bottles with pumps, they do not fit in the Fix Fluid bottle. (3) The Estee Lauder Double Wear pump fits but only costs P475. (4) Why again?

You may also notice that this gets flashback because of the SPF content but the SPF15 won’t be enough to protect your skin from the sun. You don’t typically spread foundation evenly, nor do you typically use enough of the foundation for the SPF to be effective.

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Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation in NC40 (~P1,950 for 15g)

Again following RB’s tip: Studio Fix Powder works great as your sole foundation when primed with Prep + Prime Fix+ Setting Spray, and set again with another layer of spray. It actually delivers a super smooth finish that feels like nothing the whole day (minimum of 8 hours)! I actually forgot that I had makeup on.

Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation

Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation

The best way to apply the powder is using a dense brush with a rounded top, with the product pushed in (as opposed to using a fluffy brush and using swiping motions). The product only has medium coverage though, so you’d still need to conceal blemishes.

This also gets one more point for shade range; powders that don’t make you look like the Bent Neck Lady (read: a ghost) are hard to come by more so than dark liquid foundations. Note that the powder version is lighter (or darker in some cases) than the liquid version. It kinda ruins the shade system if they’re not consistent.

Swatches, from left: NC42, NC37, NC35, NC30, NC25, NC20

Swatches, from left: NC42, NC37, NC35, NC30, NC25, NC20

Surprisingly, the two MAC Studio Fix formulas don’t really go well together. The powder doesn’t do a great job at oil control. As I mentioned above, the powder is great by itself, but for some reason, my t-zone always looks oilier when used in tandem with the fluid. It can literally slide off, or make the face look cake-y during the retouch (despite blotting first). How odd.

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More combinations I’ve tried:

  • Strobe Cream + Fix Fluid: awesome skin finish that can be used to create glass skin. Obviously won’t last as long, but looks super fresh. Strobe Cream over Fix Fluid: also works great and neither product is disturbed.

  • 1 drop of oil + Fix Fluid: takes the coverage down to medium, and is more forgiving over dry patches. I just add a thin layer of the foundation alone to dark and red spots.

  • 2 drops of oil + Fix Fluid: skin tint delight! Great for cold weather or when you just want something that looks like incredible skin.

  • Fix Fluid + loose setting powder (I use Laura Mercier or Banila Co.): best for long days and nights out as the loose powder eliminates the need for retouching.

2 drops Bobbi Brown face oil + Studio Fix Fluid + Studio Fix Powder

2 drops Bobbi Brown face oil + Studio Fix Fluid + Studio Fix Powder

Overall, I love the two products separately and find them to be great workhorses. These are staples that people need in their collection! My attitude towards powder foundation has slightly changed as well as I am now more willing to wear them alone.

Have you tried this product? What are your favorite ways to use them? Let’s discuss.