Prep + Prime Beauty Balm Compact SPF 30
Although this product is sold as a "beauty balm" (also referred to as BB cream), it really should be categorized as a cream foundation with broad-spectrum sunscreen, which is what it is. This foundation comes in a mirrored compact, along with a well-made sponge applicator.
Applying this product with a sponge ensures smooth, even coverage. Although this foundation is too sheer to cover dark spots or an uneven skin tone, it achieves a very natural demi-matte finish that lends a noticeably soft, hydrated appearance to the skin. It is a very good option for normal to slightly dry skin not prone to breakouts. The texture is rich, but this easily blends into skin for a natural, hydrated look. There are currently nine shades available, including some good options for very fair to medium dark skin.
If applied liberally—as all sunscreen should be—this foundation provides enough broad-spectrum sun protection to be used alone as your sole source of sunscreen, but don't forget you'll still need a regular moisturizer with sunscreen for your neck, and, if exposed to daylight, your décolletage.
Although this came close to earning our top rating, it missed the mark due to its inclusion of the fragrant plant extract Santalum album (also known as Indian sandalwood). The amount is likely too low to be cause for concern, but in combination with the synthetic sunscreen actives it could be an issue for those with sensitive skin.
Note: The sponge is separated from the foundation by a removable plastic insert—after using the sponge, we suggest that you keep the plastic insert in place between the used sponge and the product for hygienic purposes.
- Very natural demi-matte finish.
- Provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
- Includes a variety of antioxidants.
- Gives skin a noticeably soft, hydrated appearance.
- Contains a fragrant plant extract.
M.A.C. Cosmetics At-A-Glance
What more can one say for this long-standing makeup line whose products have spoken eloquently for themselves for years? In many ways, M.A.C. Cosmetics is a pivotal line not only for makeup artists but also for any in-the-know cosmetics consumer. Although M.A.C. has several singularly outstanding products, they generally excel by virtue of the range of choices offered. The color selection for everything from lipsticks to foundations is exceptional. Most of the makeup brushes are beautiful, full, and soft, as well as properly sized to fit the contours of the face and eyes.
When it comes to skincare you may be tempted to dismiss the small assortment M.A.C. offers and skip right to their makeup with its well-earned positive reputation. But doing so would mean missing a handful of beautifully formulated products that are worth trying. By no means is M.A.C.'s skin-care line one-stop shopping (at least not if you have blemishes, skin discolorations, or require more than a couple options per category), but you'll find more than just the color products impressive here, and the prices aren't unreasonable either!
M.A.C.'s salespeople are often trained makeup artists, too. This is especially true in the freestanding M.A.C. boutiques, where the staff tends to be true makeup artists.
Note: M.A.C. sets itself apart from other beauty brands by staying ahead of the curve by launching a seemingly-constant rotation of impressive limited edition products, usually with fashion-forward themes. Though it's impossible to review every limited edition product, many of M.A.C.'s are as impressive as those in their permanent collection.
Strengths: Some impressive moisturizers; praiseworthy foundations in a mostly gorgeous range of shades; good concealers; several great powder-based products including blush, bronzer, and eyeshadow in various finishes; dizzying array of lipstick shades in mostly sumptuous formulas; several very good mascaras (regular and waterproof); top-notch makeup brushes; many of the Prep + Prime products work as claimed.
Weaknesses:A few products with high levels of potential skin irritants.
For more information about M.A.C. Cosmetics call (800) 588-0070 or visit www.maccosmetics.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.