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Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,279
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Mac Cosmetics foundation colors. This may help.

I don't have all of the answers, but I have been using Mac for 100 years, so I know some.

Mac colors are based on the art theory that warm colors have red (so pink toned foundations are considered warm) & yellow/olive tones are considered cool, because of...who knows, but that is what they do.

Pink/Peach=NW shades

Yellow/Olive=NC shades

Very yellow=C shades=

Neutral with no strong yellow or pink tones=N

 

The numbers are the depth of color NW5 is very pale with a neutral leaning pink tone.

NW or NC 20 is fair to light. Pink or golden tone.

NW58 is very deep toned skin with pink/red shading.

 

If you go to the Mac site they give a nice description for each color of foundation-

N4-VERY FAIR BEIGE WITH NEUTRAL UNDERTONES FOR LIGHT SKIN (NEUTRAL)
 
Concealers are the same. So if you want to cover a spot on your face, you may want to go with an NC shade to neutralize any redness.
If you want to neutralize blue circles under your eyes, you may want an NW shade.
Or you can just match your skin tone & that is fine.
 
Another thing is the Back To Mac program. You collect 6 containers-foundation, mascara, blush, plastic eyeliner tubes, etc when you are done with them. Return them to a Mac counter or online & you get to choose a free lipstick!!
Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,931
Registered: ‎09-12-2013

Re: Mac Cosmetics foundation colors. This may help.

@Dusty1   This is very helpful! 😊

Honored Contributor
Posts: 10,840
Registered: ‎05-23-2010

Re: Mac Cosmetics foundation colors. This may help.

@Dusty1 MAC's system is ridiculous to me. All it does is confuse customers. 

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 7,741
Registered: ‎06-06-2019

Re: Mac Cosmetics foundation colors. This may help.


@Mindy D wrote:

@Dusty1 MAC's system is ridiculous to me. All it does is confuse customers. 


It is confusing but maybe because what they've been telling us all along was incorrect.  I am giving this a try just to see if it works because nothing I ever tried in other brands was a huge disappointment.  What's one more shot.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 10,840
Registered: ‎05-23-2010

Re: Mac Cosmetics foundation colors. This may help.


@rms1954 wrote:

@Mindy D wrote:

@Dusty1 MAC's system is ridiculous to me. All it does is confuse customers. 


It is confusing but maybe because what they've been telling us all along was incorrect.  I am giving this a try just to see if it works because nothing I ever tried in other brands was a huge disappointment.  What's one more shot.


@rms1954 @If you went to the counter in a department store, you'd probably find a shade for you. You can try it on Q too, but I don't know if Q carries all their shades.  I found a shade for me in their liquid foundation some years ago but the foundation I was looking at was not the best for my very dry skin. Good luck.

Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,987
Registered: ‎05-13-2021

Re: Mac Cosmetics foundation colors. This may help.

I didn't watch the presentation, I'm just going by what I've read here. I don't think MAC is correct. Pink is cool, yellow is warm.  Always has been.  If someone at Mac  made a boo boo long ago, they should fix it.

My nickname was 'Pure N Simple" but now I've switched to 'decaf'.
Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,279
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: Mac Cosmetics foundation colors. This may help.

@decaf It is somehow based on the actual artist color theory that makes it "right", but I agree that it is confusing.

Once you throw all of that out & just realize that C tones are more yellow/olive. W tones are more pink/peach it makes it easier that trying to understand it. LOL

Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,279
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: Mac Cosmetics foundation colors. This may help.

@Mindy D I didn't design their system. I'm just trying to help people choose a shade.

It is confusing if you try to make it make sense (It is explained on lots of sites.) 

If you want to try the foundation & you decide if you are more yellow/olive toned (NC or C) or pink/peach (NW or N), then just roll with that.

Are you very fair, fair, medium, medium deep or deep then you choose a number.

If you don't get a full coverage foundation, you can fudge the number fairly easily.

If you aren't a strong yellow or peach you can fudge the NW/NC designation, too.

They have a huge range of shades & undertones to choose from, not all here on the Q.

You can also use those tones to "adjust". You can use an NC color to tone down redness. 

Or an NW color to adjust for sallowness.

It's makeup! It's fun. 

Honored Contributor
Posts: 30,456
Registered: ‎05-17-2010

Re: Mac Cosmetics foundation colors. This may help.


@Mindy D wrote:

@Dusty1 MAC's system is ridiculous to me. All it does is confuse customers. 

 


@Mindy D  I agree. Even purchasing MAC at counter is a nightmare! I've been an artist most of my life and their color theories are off the wall! Warm tones are olive with yellow undertones and cool is pink undertones and neutral is in between with green and blue vein testing.

 

It doesn't matter to  me what they call their shades or the numbers they use, it's impossible, even for professionals, to choose the correct shades. I gave up years ago.  Every other makeup line divides their shades the complete opposite of MAC. 

Honored Contributor
Posts: 30,456
Registered: ‎05-17-2010

Re: Mac Cosmetics foundation colors. This may help.


@decaf wrote:

I didn't watch the presentation, I'm just going by what I've read here. I don't think MAC is correct. Pink is cool, yellow is warm.  Always has been.  If someone at Mac  made a boo boo long ago, they should fix it.


@decaf   They had it "right"...same as other foundations in most lines and then several years ago, someone decided to "flip" the undertones. MAC does great shadows and lipsticks, but foundations are impossible.