Monday, December 16, 2013

MAC Face & Body Foundation: Some Tips

MAC Face & Body foundation gets a lot of great press: it's the "one foundation every makeup artist keeps in their kit," every YouTube beauty guru has tried it, and it's probably the first thing that springs to your mind when somebody asks, "What's a foundation that really works, but still looks like skin?"  It's no secret that F&B has been my favorite foundation for about 2 years now; I love it so much that I'm willing to buy an extra bottle in the white shade to obtain my perfect match year-round.

I've only recently realized, however, that F&B has a bit of a learning curve, especially if you're new to makeup. And I didn't think to do a post until now, because I've already explained everything on YouTube!...except I don't do YouTube videos anymore. Oops.

Hence, I've decided to compile a couple of tips and tricks I've picked up over the past few years. Be prepared for some really awkward animations!

Texture and Upkeep

Face & Body is known for its unusual texture. It's incredibly thin and slippery, and at first, it feels and looks like you're rubbing nothing on to your skin. True story: I tested this product out on my never-wears-makeup cousin, and while she thought it felt great ("It's kind of like lotion," she said), to this day I think it feels disgusting. I honestly hate how this stuff feels for the first minute or two that I'm applying it. It also has a slight citrusy scent...not a fan of rubbing that on my face, either.

But this texture is part of what makes this foundation so damn amazing: it's weightless and it provides coverage, but it doesn't completely mask your skin. It's so weightless, in fact, that I put five layers on the aforementioned cousin's face, and she couldn't feel a thing.

According to makeup artist Lisa Eldridge, this product contains a film former similar to the one found in long-wearing lipsticks, which explains the unusual texture and long wear time. But you're going to have to baby this baby a little if you really want to maintain that texture, especially if you're like me and you have to buy the humongous MAC Pro size bottle of White.

I have two recommendations here. The first recommendation, especially if you buy the larger bottles of F&B, is to depot a small amount of the product and put the rest in a refrigerator. It's actually not uncommon for people to keep their makeup in a corner of their fridge, especially if they buy back-ups of their favorite cream products or lipstick. I've had my bottles in a mini fridge for about a year now, and they still haven't gone rancid. The product will get a smidge thicker in the cool air, but it thins right back out after an hour or so at room temperature with no alterations to the original texture.

The second recommendation is to shake your bottle(s) of F&B at least once a week. This product separates easily; shaking it helps to "disturb" the pigments and keep everything mixed. Even if I'm going sans makeup for 2 weeks due to illness, I reach in to the fridge and shake these puppies up.


One of the major negatives that pops up in a lot of MAC Face & Body reviews is its drying time: it's a very slick, wet foundation, and it stays that way for a good minute. This means that even if you like the texture (which seriously WTF is wrong with you), you'll notice the product going streaky and feeling a bit gummy if you try layering it too quickly.

The trick here is to work in sections. Yes, I know, that's usually the logic with foundations that dry quickly, but it works here, too. Let's say you start with your left cheek, like I did here. You smooth a small amount of the foundation on to your skin, then gentle rub it in. You take 15-20 seconds to give that portion of your face a little pat (more on that patting later). Then you move on to the next section of your face, spend another minute there, move on to the next section, spend a minute there, etc. By the time you're ready for your second layer, enough time has passed that your left cheek is dry, and the foundation shouldn't get streaky or cakey. Take your time with this foundation and you'll notice some really beautiful results.

Also, this might seem kind of obvious, but work from the back of your hand. I know some people like to drizzle foundation right on to their brush, ya de ya...that won't work here. Pour a small amount of product on to the back of your hand and work from there.

But what about that patting I mentioned?

There's a now-infamous video of makeup artist Mary Greenwell applying boat loads of F&B to a model's face, then slapping the product in to the model's skin. The model, bless her heart, looks a bit bewildered during the application, and of course the "rough treatment" of the model's face gets brought up quite a bit on forums and in blog posts. But in the end, her face looks freaking STUNNING. And it's because that slapping does a lot of the work.

I wish I could get all science-y here and explain to you why patting F&B in to your skin makes it look even better, but I don't have any definitive answers. Maybe it pushes the product in to the skin more, giving it that "real" look, or maybe it helps the foundation dry faster for smoother layering. Regardless of the reasons, that patting motion really goes a long way.

Now, of course, you don't have to actually SLAP your face. Just apply some foundation to a section of your face and rub it in, then use quick, gentle patting motions to press it further in to your skin. Then move on to the next section--rinse, lather, repeat.

Other Uses

What you're seeing in that animation above is my beloved Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer, depotted in to a Chanel jar. I love that stuff, but I've done a whole series on how to apply it, so you probably aren't surprised by that. What might surprise you is that I don't often apply it straight from the pot. I prefer to mix the Sensual Skin Enhancer with Face & Body to create a creamy, medium coverage concealer. KA SSE + MAC F&B = ILU.

This screenshot highlights how little of each product you need to get the job done. This is because KA SSE is very, very pigmented and MAC F&B is very, very slick. After I've applied my foundation, I add some of the leftover product on the back of my hand to a teeny tiny dot of KA SSE.

The mixture will always end up being more than I need, so I split a tiny dab of it between two finger tips. Then I gently spread it under my eyes and work it in to the area with very gentle patting motions. You can also work the mixture in with a soft, fluffy brush, but I find that my fingers are more gentle, and again, the patting motion has some kind of mystical magic in it.

You can also apply this stuff to your arms, legs, chest, etc. for photo shoots or special events--they don't call it Face & Body for nothin'. I often spread mine over my neck and ears for more evenness. Just remember to give any new application techniques a test run before big events, and give the product plenty of time to dry down.

Bend It To Your Will!

Left to its own devices, MAC Face & Body has quite a lovely finish on my combination-dry skin. It's not exactly dewy on me, but it definitely has a healthy, glowy look to it, and of course, it looks like my skin but better. But there are two things we have to remember here:

1. While most of my face is dryer than the Sahara, my nose is an utter oil slick, and

2. I'm a gaudy ho who likes lots and lots of cheek highlighter.

Face & Body is neither dewy nor mattifying on my face, so if I want to get my ideal look, I have to do a bit of finangling. And because F&B has such a unique texture...well, I'm sorry to say that it doesn't mix too well with most other products. That's why I use a mattifying primer and plenty of highlighter as is needed; in the above photos, I applied Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Finish Powder Foundation to the areas marked in green, and MAC Strobe Cream (which you could win!) to the areas marked in pink. The D&G has the added benefit of being, y'know, a powder foundation. That means I get a little more coverage on my nose (where I apply the powder first, full-on) and on some of the more discolored parts of my face (which I dust with whatever's left on the brush).

I also like to add a few spritzes of setting spray (my favorite is Skindinavia) to keep everything looking soft and fresh--look at the header picture for this post to get an idea of what that looks like.

That's not to say that this product can't look beautiful on its own. It certainly does! But if you want extra oil control or super-duper-glowy skin, you're going to want to add some more to your base.

As a side note, I'm going to the midwest to be with my boyfriend for about 3 weeks! Simmis is clearly going to miss me, but you guys won't: I've queued up a couple of posts to fill my absence. :) Have a wonderful holiday season, and I'll see you in 2014!


  1. I swear I already commented on this post, but maybe I didn't hit publish. . .Anyway, I just recently discovered the awesome-ness that is Face and Body, so this post was very helpful! I hope you enjoy your holidays!

    1. Huzzah for a new convert! It really is an incredible foundation.

  2. So i am unclear if you are saying you use the sse with f&b for all over coverage or just under eyes? ??

    1. I use it to create a concealer, so I'm only using it where I need more coverage. That means my undereyes and the occasional zit.

  3. Funny, I actually really like the texture! I only got it recently but somehow I seem to have jumped right to the top of the learning curve - from the get go I applied it from the back of my hand, going by sections (chin, cheek, cheek, forehead, leftovers for my nose). I usually only need one layer with a bit extra on any "trouble areas". I let it dry while I'm doing my brows, then set it with powder.

    Previously I was using UD Naked Skin (until the whole bottle turned orange??) which is much runnier, but doesn't provide nearly as much coverage. I tried a Smashbox one and found it too thick and difficult, so this is kind of perfet for me. This is such a HG for me I'm going to sell my NARS Sheer Glow, which I purchased at the same time. I have kept the big bottle in my makeup cupboard but should probably send it to the fridge, after so many people have mentioned it going bad.

    1. Funny story: my mom uses UD Naked, on the rare days when she wears makeup. I always wanted to try it because it looks so nice on her, but it doesn't come pale enough.

      I was being a little silly when I described the texture. Yeah, it's weird to some people--including me--but I know that a lot of people really like it. They describe it as feeling "like a lotion." To each their own!

      And yes, after about 6 months, I start putting foundations in the fridge. I'm just funny that way.