foundation for pale skin

Foundation for Pale Skin: Mac Studio Fix Foundation in NW10 reviewed

MAC studio Fix Foundation in NW10: foundation for pale skin

The news that MAC were releasing their famous Studio Fix Foundation in their palest shade ever – NW10 and NC10- was the news that every pale girl had been waiting for, basically.

Back in my university days, I briefly went through a phase of wearing the brand’s Studio Fix Fluid in the NW15 shade, which was the palest colour available at the time. It was a little too dark for me, though, so when I’d used up the bottle (Yes, I DID use up the entire bottle. In my defence, although it was too dark, so were all of the other foundations I’d tried, so it was either that or go barefaced, which would’ve been UNTHINKABLE to my younger self. This is the girl who used to stop to apply mascara every time there was a fire drill in the building she lived in, after all…) I moved onto something else, and didn’t give MAC another thought… until this year, when they announced they’d be expanding the Studio Fix line, and creating two paler shades: NW10 and NC10.

I was overjoyed by this news. It came at a time when most of the brands I like were discontinuing their paler shades, so when someone announces that they’re actually creating some, I feel it’s my duty to show them some support. I knew from my previous experience with MAC (and a little too much time spent swatching colours at any counter I happen to pass) that the NW shades are the best match for my skin tone (For the uninitiated, the NW shades are for pink undertones, while the NC ones are for yellow ones.) so as soon as my existing foundation died, I ordered Studio Fix in NW10, and I’ve been using it now for around two weeks.

Here’s what it looks like on, from top to bottom, the back of my hand, the inside of my arm, and blended in (very, very roughly, or you wouldn’t actually be able to see it!) on my hand again:

MAC STudio Fix Foundation in NW10: review

MAC studio Fix NW10 swatch

MAC Studio Fix fluid NW10 swatch

foundation for pale skin

It’s pale, but I wouldn’t describe it as SUPER-pale, however, bearing in mind that the skin on my face is a little darker than the skin on my arms and hands (thanks, freckles!), I was really pleased with the colour match. (I DID try to swatch it on my jawline, but honestly, you couldn’t see it in the photo AT ALL, which I guess is testament to how good a match it is.) For the past few months, I’ve been on a bit of a mission to use up all of the beauty products I have lying around, and I’d promised myself I wouldn’t buy any more until I’d done that, so I don’t have any other foundations handy to compare this with. In terms of colour, though, I’d say it’s comparable to the Bobbi Brown foundation I’d been using previously, maybe just a little darker, and although it looks a little orangey in my photos, that’s the fault of the photographer (moi) rather than the foundation, and I don’t notice any of the dreaded orange in real life.

As much as I love the colour of this, however, I’m not totally sold on the foundation itself. On the plus side, the coverage is good: it gives medium, buildable coverage, which I find perfectly suitable for most days, and it’s also fairly matte, so it helps combat my shiny forehead. It also contains SPF15 which is really important for me, as I burn easily, and am careful to the point of paranoia about protecting my skin. (Obviously if I’m going to be spending time in direct sunlight I would use an SPF higher than 15, but this is fine for day-to-day.)

On the minus side, though, although matte foundations are great at combating shine, lately I’ve been finding that dewy ones are more flattering on my skin, which is currently showing some signs of stress. I’m lucky in that I rarely get breakouts, but I have had some dry patches over the past few weeks, and this is less forgiving on them than a dewier formula would be. I normally apply my foundation with a stippling brush, but after a bit of experimentation, I found that this looks better applied with a regular foundation brush, although it’s still not quite as blendable as I’d like, and I feel it’s a little more obvious on my skin than some other foundations I’d use. In fairness, that could simply be down to the fact that my skin’s not exactly “glowing” right now, so I’d quite possibly have the same reaction to just about anything. Time will tell!

Oh, on the subject of time: I know quite a few people find that Studio Fix tends to oxidise, and turn orange over the course of the day. I haven’t had that issue, and find it looks more or less the same at the end of the day as it did at the start, so that’s another point in its favour.

The people who complain about the chemical scent, on the other hand?

Those people are totally right.

This is £20.50 per bottle, and although I do like it, it’s not quite ‘Holy Grail’ material for me, so once I’ve used it up, I’ll probably try something else. I wouldn’t rule out going back to it in future, though, if only because it’s one of the few foundations out there that actually is pale enough for my skin.

[You can buy MAC Studio Fix Foundation here.]

Related: The Best Foundation for Pale Skin | Tips for people with fair skin

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  • I also use the Mac foundation I like because it does not color my white skin

    May 7, 2013
  • Have you tried Chanel’s vita lumière aqua ? It’s the only brand I have found to match my fair with a pink undertone skin !

    May 7, 2013
  • I have been put off Mac foundations for good after I realised the one I was using was actually really quite glittery in some lights. To add to my delight I realised the Mac primer I was using under my foundation was also a bit sparkly! It’s now Bobbi Brown all the way for me – it’s actually pale enough for me and I don’t look like a walking glitter ball! 🙂

    May 7, 2013
    • Nanci Rose


      I love the sparkles, but I guess I’m just a giant 9-year-old at heart…

      December 25, 2015
  • A friend of mine swears by this:

    May 7, 2013
      • Sorry, I didn’t know you had already reviewed it.

        I’m not surprised the lightest shade is too pale – my friend has some form of anaemia and it’s the only shade she can use!

        May 8, 2013
  • my skin is really dry and studio fix fluid covers well but my skin looks and feels even drier , what are the other foundations they do that are suitable for my skin? and what would be a good concealer etc.

    May 21, 2013
  • Molly


    MAC really bums me out as far as foundation. I absolutely love the coverage and quality, but I’m just too pale.:(

    December 18, 2014
  • I bought this foundation at the start of the year, and I was so happy they had a shade that was *finally* light enough for me!! Although, it did break me out which is irritating.

    Emily // Beauty and Lifestyle Blog


    July 17, 2015
  • Ellie


    I would strongly surest to anyone with pale skin the Nars foundations there really good and the concealer has really pale shades too. I love them!

    July 30, 2015