Tested on animals:Yes
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.