Studio Waterweight SPF 30 Foundation
M.A.C. Cosmetics Studio Waterweight SPF 30 Foundation is an excellent addition to their foundation lineup! Fans of the brand's iconic Face & Body Foundation will likely love this right out of the gate. This water-like formula sets to a satin finish that is neither matte nor moisturizing—striking a balance that makes this an option for nearly any skin type, including the acne-prone. We were thrilled to see the added benefits of an SPF 30 + a decent array of beneficial ingredients, something many foundations lack.
Before we go any further, we have to point out that this is the exact same formula as Smashbox's Camera Ready BB Water SPF 30. Estee Lauder owns both, so this isn't surprising, but what's unexpected is that M.A.C.'s version costs almost $10 less (not to mention offers 10+ more shades). As a result, much of what we have to say about this formula is also true of the pricier Smashbox version.
M.A.C. used a mix of mineral and non-mineral actives—a blend of octinoxate, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide—to achieve its broad-spectrum rating. This blend likely helps the formula retain its fluid, water-like texture, as a pure mineral sunscreen tends to feel thicker on skin. (We should note that despite the inclusion of non-mineral actives, we didn't experience sensitization around the eye area from it.)
Also included are a few antioxidants and reparative ingredients, from vitamin E, lecithin, apple and watermelon extract, and sodium hyaluronate, just to name a few. It's a nice mix, especially as few foundations include such ingredients.
Housed in a heavy glass bottle with a dropper applicator (handy for its super-fluid texture), Studio Waterweight SPF 30 Foundation is a clever addition to the recent trend of serum foundations. Most serum foundations have been limited to medium-to-full coverage and matte finish. This provides initially sheer coverage that can be layered to medium—but just barely—and looks incredibly natural on skin.
Due to its fluid nature, you may be surprised by how little you need to cover your whole face. We found that a few drops were more than sufficient for a full face, and it easily evened out a mildly uneven complexion, but more pronounced discolorations will need extra help from your preferred concealer.
We should mention that the tiny amount needed to cover the entire face would not get you the amount of sun protection stated on the label. To obtain the stated SPF, liberal application is key; a sheer application of products like this isn't enough, so if you want to apply in this manner, be sure to layer over your (liberally applied) daytime moisturizer with SPF.
This blends effortlessly onto skin—whether you use your fingers, a sponge or brush, it was a breeze to apply. As mentioned earlier, the finish is best described as "natural," as it isn't moisturizing, but it isn't exactly matte, either. Those with oily or combination skin will likely love how light this feels, while those on the dry side will find this layers well over a richer moisturizer and resists clinging to dry patches.
We found this wore well over the workday, and didn't wear away over oily areas—but this is sheer enough that such signs would be far less noticeable than if it were a medium-to-full coverage formula. This does not control shine well, nor does it claim to, so expect to powder and/or blot as usual.
M.A.C. Cosmetics currently offers this in a stunning array of 23 shades that includes the most common shades between fair to deep skin tones. As this has a lighter degree of coverage, the shades are more forgiving—but we still recommend trying this in store and checking the results in natural light for the best match.
Bottom Line: This is a wonderful alternative to the heavier coverage serum foundations released over the past year. Studio Waterweight SPF 30 Foundation earned out top recommendation for its beautiful finish, extraordinarily lightweight texture, broad-spectrum sun protection, and added beneficial ingredients.
- Natural-looking finish.
- Exceptionally lightweight texture.
- Provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
- Handy pump-operated dropper makes this easier to dispense.
- Contains added beneficial antioxidant and reparative ingredients.
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.