Prep + Prime Skin Brightening Serum
1 fl. oz. for $40
Category:Skin Care > Serums > Serums
Last Updated:12.02.2014
Jar Packaging:False
Tested on animals:Yes

This thin-textured, lightweight serum is an excellent choice for those with normal to oily skin. It provides a good complement of ingredients all skin types need to look and feel healthy, but without any heavy or occlusive ingredients that oily skin doesn’t need. The brightening aspect comes from the form of vitamin C (ascorbyl glucoside) this serum contains. Although “brightening” isn’t the same as “lightening” (the latter being a term associated with active skin-lightening ingredients such as hydroquinone), you may see discolorations improve due to any form of stabilized vitamin C. Even if your discolorations don’t budge, the vitamin C offers multiple benefits for skin, and it is joined by several other antioxidants. Ignore the “charged water” claim; there’s no proof that charging water with minerals makes water more hydrating. Besides, skin needs much more than water to be hydrated; for example, it needs barrier repair ingredients to help maintain its water balance (and too much water is detrimental for skin). The only drawback of this serum is the inclusion of fragrant tuberose extract; however, it’s not a deal-breaker unless you have sensitive skin.


A serum formulated to instantly brighten, smooth, firm, and hydrate the skin while providing a plumper, more evenly toned finish to the complexion. Natural antioxidants help to strengthen the skin against UV-related damage, while M·A·C Charged Water ensures deep, long-lasting hydration.


Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Caffeine, Tocopherol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Squalane, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Gentian Root Extract, Tuberose Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Bran Extract, Silk Powder, Tourmaline, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenyl Trimethicone, Hexylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Magnesium Chloride, Potassium Hydroxide, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylates Crosspolymer, Polyglyceryl-5 Oleate, Calcium Chloride, Sodium Sulfate, Potassium Nitrate, Citric Acid, Fragrance, Sodium Citrate, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Chlorphenesin, Sodium Benzoate

Brand Overview

M.A.C. At-A-Glance

Strengths: Some impressive moisturizers; excellent Lip Conditioner (lip balm); praiseworthy foundations in a mostly gorgeous range of shades; good concealers; several great powder-based products including blush, bronzer, and eyeshadow in various finishes; noteworthy Fluidline and Technakohl Liner; dizzying array of lipstick shades in mostly sumptuous formulas; impressive Pro Longwear Lipcolour; several very good mascaras (regular and waterproof); top-notch makeup brushes; most of the Prep + Prime products work as claimed.

Weaknesses: A few products with uncomfortably high levels of known or potential skin irritants; some superfluous specialty products; several average pressed and loose powders; the Lustre and Velvet eyeshadows disappoint.

When it comes to skin care 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!

Note:M.A.C. is categorized as one that tests on animals because their products are sold in China. Although M.A.C. does not conduct animal testing for their products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brand’s state that they don’t test on animals “unless required by law”. Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Paula’s Choice Research Team.

For more information about M.A.C., owned by Estee Lauder, call (800) 588-0070 or visit www.maccosmetics.com.

M.A.C. Makeup

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. 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. Also, most of the makeup brushes are beautiful, full, and soft, as well as properly sized to fit the contours of the face and eyes. It is typically a pleasure to shop this line, though we wish the tester units (especially for blush, eyeshadow, and lipstick) were arranged by formula and finish rather than by color.

M.A.C.'s salespeople are sometimes trained as makeup artists, too, though being part of the Estee Lauder corporation means they have pressure to meet sales quotas (and no gifts-with-purchase to serve as an enticement). For this reason, you may prefer shopping at one of M.A.C.'s freestanding or Pro stores. The sales pressure is all but absent, the staff tends to be true makeup artists rather than only salespeople, and the stores routinely offer makeup how-to classes, which are both fun and informative.

M.A.C. has launched several state-of-the-art products since the previous edition of this book. The prime additions are several improved foundations and concealers, superior loose and pressed powders, a couple of mascaras that compete nicely with those from lash-enhancing leader Lancome, buttery-smooth powder blushes, and the very popular (and deservedly so) Pro Longwear Lipcolour. Couple this with their long-standing products that have always performed well and offered neutral shades (Studio Fix, anyone?) and M.A.C. is a force to be reckoned with in the world of department-store makeup. The only disappointment of note is that several of their liquid foundations with sunscreen still lack sufficient UVA protection. Why is it that Lauder-owned Clinique and Prescriptives continually get this critical step right, while Lauder's namesake line, Bobbi Brown, and M.A.C. tend to falter? It's especially upsetting in M.A.C.'s case because the affected foundations otherwise have exemplary textures and a vast palette of neutral shades for fair to dark skin tones. Other than this important point, you really can't go wrong shopping this line, whether you're new to the world of makeup or a seasoned pro.

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.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula Begoun herself.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I went to Nordstrom's today to buy this product and the lady at the counter said that this product has been discontinued and replaced with Mac's Moisture Infusion Serum Hydratant. She claimed that it's the same product, but more moisturizing yet when I compare the ingredients, that doesn't seem to be the case. Can you please do a review on the new product? Thank you!

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Paula's Choice Research Team Response
Replied on: Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hi, and thanks for your comments - we consulted with MAC as well, and the representative we spoke with says that the brand's Lightful Essence is essentially the same product as this one, with a few added ingredients. Checking the ingredient list, they do seem to be very similar. You can read our review of Lightful Essence here. As for the Moisture Infusion Serum Hydratant, we can put it on our list of items to review - thank you for the information!

—Paula's Choice Research Team
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