A Manic Mango Thursday and My New Foundation Routine

Published in: MAC Makeup, Makeup, Makeup Tips/How To

Greetings and happy Thursday, friend! πŸ™‚ What’s shakin’ out yonder way?


Can we talk about foundation for a sec? A few of you noticed that I switched up my foundation/powder recently — the combo I’ve been wearing in my pictures — and I wanted to share why I changed, what I’m doing now, and to ask you about your routine.

But before that, mango break! Thanks for all the great mango suggestions and recipes. You’re really feeding my addiction. Nutella’s facing stiff competition from my new (and at different times former) favorite fruit. I think I’m going to try making mango lassi and mango salsa this weekend. Of course I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m so hooked on mango right now, it’s ridiculous. Last night at Trader Joe’s I chucked four (FOUR!) boxes of those Mango & Cream Bars into my cart. I actually felt a little ashamed, but it was like I physically couldn’t help myself. Damn those things are tasty…

trader joes mango and cream bars

Sorry, back to foundation. As a devoted fan of Laura Mercier Oil-Free Liquid Foundation for years, I was heartbroken to find that Laura changed the color of my go-to shade (NOOOO!). Or, rather, I’m fairly sure she did. I bought a bottle recently that seemed dramatically darker and pinker (is that a word?) than it always had before, so I checked other bottles at several counters just to be sure, and, yup, they were different too.

What a disappointment… It always covered everything, never caused breakouts, and has always been so easy to apply.

I drifted like that, crushed, in foundation no-man’s land for a while and returned to using my trusty Chanel Mat Lumiere, which I love for everyday wear, but I don’t feel like it photographs very well on me (I think it looks a little flat).

I also tried Make Up For Ever HD, which I think looks fantastic and photographs well, but hello, pimples!; and MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation (great coverage, but it smothers my skin) but wasn’t really wowed by either.

Then, last Friday, desperate for relief, I hit up the MAC store to find something new.

One of the artists suggested I try MAC Studio Sculpt, a gel-based foundation with buildable medium-to-full coverage and a satin finish, and matched me to shade NC40. She also suggested I get a slightly darker shade, NC42, for summer.

Years ago, the last time I was matched for MAC foundation, my number was NC35, but times and tans change. πŸ™‚

I haven’t been a regular user of a MAC foundation for years, but I’ve been wearing Sculpt for about a week so far with a combination of different MAC powders — a lighter powder in the center of my face to brighten the area beneath my eyes (MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium); a medium shade on the rest of my face to cut down on shine and to even out my skin tone (MAC Studio Careblend Powder in Medium Dark); and a darker powder along my cheekbones, across my forehead and along my jaw line to contour (MAC Studio Careblend Powder in Dark).


From left to right: MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium, MAC Studio Careblend Powder in Medium Dark and MAC Studio Careblend Powder in Dark

It sounds complicated, right? I know, but it’s getting easier as I get the hang of it. The overall technique is similar to one that MAC Artist Keri Blair describes in this MAC Artists in Action video. Even though it takes longer than my old routine with Laura Mercier/MAC Blot/MAC Prep+Prime, I like the glowy look, and I think the new products photograph really well. I’m happy with the results. Now I just hope it doesn’t break me out (knock on wood!).

What about your foundation routine? Are you happy with it, or is there something you’d like to change?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 62 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Jessica says:

    You look so fresh and glowy! I bought this foundation a while ago but didn’t like it when I had oily skin….my skin has changed since so I should give it another go!
    Jessica recently posted … Daily Beauty MAC Prep Prime Skin

  2. johanna says:

    I use the same foundation and shade its amaze great choice

  3. Christina says:

    I just got matched at MAC this afternoon! πŸ˜€ Turns out I’m an NC42 πŸ™‚ I was just getting a few lip goodies at the time but I really wanted to know my foundation color (though I didn’t have enough money with me to get it XD). When I do go back, I’m getting the Studio Fix foundation and the Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Dark for a fresh and new foundation routine! πŸ™‚

  4. Christina says:

    P.S. And thank you so much for recommending those mango bars from Trader Joe’s!! I was needing a mango fix this week and it tamed the cravings down πŸ™‚

  5. luv2smilexo says:

    the trader joes cream bars are so delicious. I love the mocha ones and the raspberry ones πŸ™‚
    luv2smilexo recently posted … Le Metier de Beaute Single Eyeshadow Swatches

  6. Ru says:

    I’m currently using MAC Prolongwear in NC35 (a tad lighter than my skin color, but the next one up is too dark. I’m actually an NC27). I’m useing Benefit Hello Flawless as my powder, not because I like it though- because I purchased it and need to use it. I still don’t have a good setting powder. Prolongwear is good for daily usage and work, the only thing is its a tad drying and it provides sheer to below medium coverage. My skin has been behaving lately, so this routine works. But when it doesn’t look so great, I put on Tarte concealer on top of the foundation. It’s not the best bet though…. so still looking for a solution for that.

  7. Claudenka says:

    I’ve been using the Studio Sculpt for months now and absolutely love its texture, finish, and moisturizing qualities BUT I always need to make sure I powder enough…without it, my face is an oil slick by the time lunch starts πŸ˜›

  8. Vijaya says:

    I really want to try those Mango and Cream bars!
    Vijaya recently posted … Quick Linnaeus Update- And Some Questions For You Guys To Answer

  9. Jessi says:

    Of course there are no Trader Joes anywhere near me! I have a craving for mangoes ever since you first started talking about them on Twitter. And your face has been looking fabulous recently!
    Jessi recently posted … My Most Expensive Blush Purchase Ever- Estee Lauders Radiant Peach

  10. Stef Smith says:

    The look is amazing, but it’s a lot of steps. I inherited very good skin, thank you Pop!, so moisturizer with SPF and Benefit’s Hello Flawless does it for me. But I have to admit, the multi-step process sure does make for a pretty presentation!

  11. Jess says:

    Those Mango bars look SO yummy!! And I’m sure you’ll LOVE Mango Lassi – I’m probably going to grab one this weekend now that you’ve mentioned it.
    What are the Careblend powders like, Karen? Are they very different than the Blot Powder? For a different purpose?

  12. Arianne says:

    Wow the results of your new routine look so flawless! What do you think of the new Careblend powders, Karen? I’m curious if these are suitable for oilier skin types.
    Arianne recently posted … Totally Worth All The Hype- Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush

  13. Tracy says:

    I haven’t tried a MAC foundation in years now-maybe it’s time to try again! It looks great on you!
    Tracy recently posted … Sephora Jumbo Liner 12HR Wear Waterproof Pencil

  14. littlegminor says:

    I’ve been devoted to Guerlain liquid foundations for over a year now, although I don’t have a particular favorite formulation. (Currently using Parure Aqua Radiant in 12 Rose Clair.) First I prime with Benefit That Gal, then use Benefit Erase Paste (applied with ring finger) to hide my dark circles of doooooooom. For the foundation itself, I use one pump on the back of my hand and then apply with either a stipple “skunk” brush or my new love, a Sephora “airbrush.” I finish with Make Up for Ever HD powder. It sounds like a lot of steps but I love the finish I get, it’s medium coverage with a light feel, and stays on all day.

    In other news, I wish I could have a mango bar.

  15. Danielle N says:

    I had noticed that your skin has been looking AH-MAH-ZING recently but didn’t think too much of it. I just started doing the contouring with some bronzer but I don’t know if I’m hooked yet. I think I’ll give it another week to see.
    Danielle N recently posted … Natural Beauty Items on Sale at Target

  16. it’s the combination of the powders that makes all the difference, i think. i’ve seen this technique used on women with darker skin colouring and it just looks absolutely stunning. i think, more than the foundation itself, this is what’s making your skin look extra gorgeous.

    omg, mango & cream bars?! i need this in my life!
    dani@callitbeauty recently posted … All About Eyes – Amethyst

  17. angie says:

    i love the finish of sculpt…you look very glowy and J’LO ish in this photo! and…your shirt is soooo cute! where did you get it?!

  18. Beatrice says:

    I’m pretty happy with my foundation routiene. I blended my Revlon Colorstay foundation with a little moisturizer to make my own tinted moisturizer and then I set it with maybeliene’s loose powder and a big fluffy brush. Overall it works out pretty well πŸ™‚ But you do have a nice glow to your skin in your photographs, hopefully this foundation doesn’t break you out like you said….It sucks when stuff like that happens ><
    Beatrice recently posted … Jessie J Inspired Makeup Tutorial- Making The World Dance!

  19. Tiffany says:

    Wow you do look amazing in the photo!! I’m using make up for ever face and body foundation, which I love, but I need something darker for summer soon.

    Those bars sound yummy! Reminds me of creamsicles! Yum!

  20. I recently tried out the Studio Sculpt on myself, tested how it photographs, and then picked it up for my kit! It’s such a gorgeous product and it’s nice to see it get some love on your blog!
    Kajal Couture recently posted … Estee Lauder Double Wear Light Foundation Review

  21. I’m glad you found a new foundation! LM definitely changed the shades. Just this weekend the manager at my LM counter told me so and I finally found a good LM match ( I used to be in between shades). I thought they had just added shades but I guess they changed and affected some ppl πŸ™ . Let us know how studio sculpt does with your skin tho!

    Ps i am SO curious about the mango bars! I’m heading to my TJ’s in a bit so I can get some to try!

  22. Monica says:

    I apply Smashbox’s Artificial Light in Glow first, then I apply Chanel Mat Lumiere with a damp MAC Skunk brush. I usually don’t apply powder, Mat Lumiere’s staying power allows me to skip it. This is the best combination I’ve had in years. Perfect combination of having a glow without looking shiny and looking finished without looking like I have a mask on. By the way, I tried the Chanel foundation at your recommendation. The price scared me at first, but it has been well worth it.

  23. Katrina says:

    I really only wear foundation if I’m going all out. I’m, as of now, blessed with great skin (of course sometimes that changes…) but when I do, I have been liking MAC Pro-Longwear, though I mix it with my favorite moisturizer, Clinique Moisture surge because its a little too much coverage for me, yet…the shade is perfect I have horrible luck with tinted moisturizers. Often, I will just put on a little powder. Using NARS right now and I really like it.

  24. Nina says:

    I switched foundations a week or so ago – from studio fix fluid to mac face & body. thats my go to foundation during summer since its so hot here.

    the application method change too – i find that f&b doesnt take too well to a stippling brush so i just use a sponge wedge that i lightly misted w/ fix+ to apply it in stippling motions all over my face. then i apply cream blush, contour and then apply powder blush and highlight. πŸ™‚

  25. Emily says:

    Well I must say, it looks absolutely GREAT in that pic up top! I recently bought some CoverFX (the liquid and the cream foundations). I consider the full coverage cream a really big pan of concealer! It’s great. The liquid I’m not sure of yet, but I need to give it more of an audition than the few applications it’s had. But I’d definitely recommend the brand! The only odd thing is, my shade in the cream, didn’t match the liquid one. Hmmm….

  26. MJ says:

    I’ve just started using the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer with her translucent powder and am loving it. I am still working on the best application method but am leaning towards the Beauty Blender and a stippling brush.

  27. AK says:

    After my Trish McEvoy even skin liquid foundation began breaking me out, I too went on a wild foundation hunt! I tried MANY many things, including lots of drugstore brands, but nothing suited my skin until I met Bobbi Brown’s moisturizing cream compact foundation. It. Rocks. Not a single pimple since I started using it. No kidding.

    I think part of the problem too was that I wasn’t moisturizing properly. My skin had changed the last year from oily/normal to oily on the nose, super dry on cheek! I have yellow undertones in my skin, which is difficult to match. I use Sand 2.

    Anyone else heard about how every 7 years you change drastically? Like you have a completely new set of cells every 7 years or so. My skin has recently changed, hair is starting to curl (from being straight as a pin), and now I think I’m developing an intolerance for milk. What gives?

  28. Charisse says:

    yess mango ice cream bars! yum I love mango mochi as well πŸ™‚

    Loving my foundation right now.. I have really sensitive skin so its hard for me to try out new things. Using all of BE’s stuff right now and I’m using Yes to Cucumbers moisturizer beforehand. Yay!

  29. Masi says:

    After hearing all the rave I tried the studio scult and I’m not loving it, perhaps I need to wear it a few more times to give it a fair shot. I have very oily skin, specially now that it’s starting to get hot outside, so I’m trying to wear more powder foundations. I wear a BB cream as a moisturizer to help even out my skin and wear maybelline’s mineral foundation on top of that. I apply it with the eco tools bamboo bronzer brush I bought after I read your review πŸ™‚ Anyway, my favorite foundation is mac studio fix fluid, but the bottle I bought over the summer is too dark for me right now (nc40) and I refuse to dish out the money for a new one, I’m just gonna wait till I tan so I can wear it πŸ™‚ (and no, surprisingly, it does not make me break out!! and I loooveee the coverage).

  30. Lauren says:

    it sounds like this foundation routine is working for you, so hopefully no breakouts! your skin definitely does look flawless and glowy. as for me, i keep changing up my foundation routine based on the type of coverage needed. for full coverage days i use mac’s studio fix fluid and on lighter days i use bb cream. on lazy days i just use concealer: either MUFE full cover or mac’s studio finish. im more or less happy with those even though they dont photograph well, so for flash photography i use MUFE hd foundation πŸ™‚

  31. Christina says:

    I’m currently using Christian Dior’s Nude Skin foundation (i think that’s what it is called) with Lancome’s powder compact. It was great until I started using oil blotting films. Those reallllllllly make you more oily! I heard the filmy blue ones cause more oil to form so we shouldn’t use them. I think starting tomorrow I will stop, no matter how tempting it is!!

  32. Christine says:

    I loooove the mango “bars” too! It’s so funny to me there is no stick.

    OK, so I looove Dior’s cream to matte foundation compact, but I go through it so quickly and need other options to wear inbetween my dior days.

    Sounds like this stuff might work- I need to try it out too.

    What lipstick are you wearing?
    Christine recently posted … No outfit today- but

  33. the mirror says:

    Studio Sculpt ROCKS! I worried when I bought it that it would be too heavy, but it’s ideal in that 1. you can mix it with moisturiser and 2. the gel texture makes it blendable if you only want to use it on parts of your face. Also it’s genuinely a case of a little going a long way- mine has lasted almost a year now, with daily use! Brilliant stuff, a total unsung MAC hero product:)

  34. Carolina says:

    Your complexion looks absolutely amazing. Like perfect skin that’s dewy, fresh. Will definetly check out Mac’s studio sculpt.

  35. Tracy says:

    This routine is definitely working for you, Karen! All make-up artists say it starts with your skin & your foundation, and yours really looks beautiful in this photo. I have a myriad of skin issues, so I change routine depending on my skin’s “mood”. My go-to foundations are Chanel Pro & Vita Lumiere, Hourglass, Shu Uemura & Chantecaille (in summer). For primer I use Missha BB Cream, Benefit That Gal, Smashbox or Trish McEvoy Beauty Boost. I use Sephora’s Mineral Powder brush to blend foundation – works perfectly for me. I haven’t used MAC foundation in years (just Mineralize Skinfinish occasionally), but you’ve got me curious about the Sculpt formula. It looks like it evens out skin and gives good coverage, but yet has a soft, natural look.

  36. Kim says:

    You look fantastic in that photo! I’m sorry about your LM but your new routine makes your skin look healthy and glowing. I’m crossing my fingers for you not to break out, too. πŸ™‚

    I hope you have a delicious mango-filled weekend! And we’ve talked about this… all those yummy snacks at Trader Joe’s are tiny. Four boxes of the mango bars are like 1 box of boring old popsicles. πŸ™‚

  37. Jenna says:

    Hi Karen, I bought this foundation a while ago but had a lot of trouble with it. When applied with my fingers, it looked such so thick on my skin and makeup-y I couldn’t stand it. Can I ask how you have been applying it? It looks great on you!

  38. meibaola says:

    I like to experiment with make-up and try something different almost every day, but this routine seems to work really well:
    Primers: MUFE HD green primer in a diamond shape including my nose and chin and Benefit That Gal on the rest of my face
    Foundation: Sephora moisturizing foundation applied with a damp sponge
    Concealer: MUFE Full Cover
    Powder: Sephora powder included in the Sculpt Disk, applied first all over face with a fluffy powder brush and then where I have put concealer with MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush
    Contouring: the bronzer included in Sephora Sculpt Disk applied with E.L.F. Studio complexion brush
    Highlighting: a TBS shimmery peachy “brick” (I think this is discontinued) applied with E.L.F. Studio fan brush
    When I am in a hurry I draw my eyebrows, add blush and mascara and I am ready to go!

  39. Chris25 says:

    You know, I always thought that you were darker than NC35. I am NC42 and your skin tone looks similar to mine. Now that it’s been confirmed, we can share foundations! LOL.

    • Diana says:

      Funny..I always thought, “Gee, Karen is darker than I am, how’s she NC35? I’m NC40. Foundation looks good, girl!

  40. Edel says:

    I use studio sculpt mixed with strobe cream or face and body on days when I want lighter coverage. Recently I have started spraying my foundation brush and face with fix + before applying foundation and it gives a lovely air brush finish

  41. larie says:

    I think I need to at least get matched to a MAC foundation (even if I have no interest in wearing one) because everyone uses them as reference points!

    And those mango bars – I need some. Now.
    larie recently posted … Tarte Mascaras- Yay!

  42. Gina says:

    Your skin looks absolutely beautiful here! It might take a bit longer, but man, it works! I personally use MUFE HD, and I love it, but I’m also not prone to breakouts. I also rarely set my foundation with powder, because my face is *so* dry.

  43. Nicky Bromow says:

    I cant find a good, full coverage foundation for my oily and acne-prone and scarred skin lately so I’ve been using Benefit’s Booing concealer as a foundation and damn, it looks good! Topped with a good powder, it lasts up to 12 hours! Its a bit heavy of course since its a cream, heavy duty concealer, but I have a LOT to cover since my last try of Rimmel 16 hours foundation and the MAJOR breakout that occured…

  44. Carrie says:

    For several years, I’ve used Revlon Colorstay Active Light foundation, which looks very natural on my skin, has SPF and lasts all day long. Of course, it has been discontinued. I had a feeling it would be, so I bought a couple of extras just in time. When I run out, it will be impossible to find something as inexpensive, long-wearing and natural-looking that doesn’t irritate my skin. Also, I have no need for powder when I wear it. The regular Colorstay foundations are a bit too heavy/dry for me.

  45. lesley says:

    So I am also very much in love with Studio Care Blend, works for both dry cold weather and warmer humid weather πŸ™‚ I use it in conjunction with Studio Moisture Tint and Moisture Cover concealer!

  46. Mandy says:

    I recently just switched from my tried & true Bare Minerals to a liquid foundation, the Yves Saint Laurent Teint Resist (currently worn over the Tarina Tarantino Pearl Glow Primer)… wow, for someone like myself who gets amazing oily, the YSL foundation works SO well to keep the shine at bay! I tested the time it lasts and it goes a good 14 hours, I swear, with maybe one blot session about 8 hours in. It’s amazing.

  47. Heather says:

    Your skin looks fantastic, so the effort is worth it!

  48. Regina says:

    Hi Karen.
    Sorry to hear about your go-to foundation… Have you tried the Perfect and Correct foundation from Stila? If you haven’t and since you are trying new foundations maybe you’ll like it (and also give us a review =) ).

  49. April says:

    Could you do a video on your foundation routine??

  50. Soo says:

    ack, answered my last question reading this post. I don’t wear foundation since I don’t know where to start. it feels so overwhelming whenever I attempt to venture into them.

    also, mango cream bars are deliciousss. have you tried mango mochi ice cream? it doesn’t compare to strawberry imo, but it’s still pretty tasty.
    Soo recently posted … 5 Double Sparkle Eyeshadows from Inglot

  51. Nina says:

    Hello Karen, I’m in desperate need for help!
    I’m Asian with a medium-dark skin. And I’ve tried so many foundations out there but they all LOOKED ashy/grey on me :'(
    Foundations I’ve tried on: Chanel Pro-Lumiere, Nars Sheer Glow, Dior Hydra Life, RMK, and recently Shiseido dual balance!
    I’m so desperate for a foundation that doesn’t make me look ashy after 20 minutes!

  52. PS says:

    ja, your skin rocks in this picture. I have a really hard time finding the right shade and wind up having to mix several shades to make it look more natural. Like one of the posters I do mix Smashbox artificial light in too. It really brightens up the face.

    I hate all the steps too. Wish there was just the perfect make-up for every complexion & type of flaw. πŸ™‚

  53. Instant Karma (formerly L) says:

    I do Stila’s Illuminating Foundation. I absolutely love the way it looks on my skin, but I’m in between shades. I use 2/3-3/4 30 Watts and 1/3-1/4 20 Watts. Grr!

  54. kia says:

    yes your perfect 3 shades for natural skin dimension! you don’t find the studio careblend powder is a smidge heavy over your studio sculpt?
    kia recently posted … Hair Update April 2011

  55. Meta says:

    When I first “met” you I said to myself, now finally I can see my skin tone twin online! So I was very very very surprised to read that you were NC35, because I was so convinced that you were NC40-42 also. So you can imagine my happiness that the MAC SAs did match you to be NC40-42.

    I love how they’ve also suggested using three different powders to sculpt and highlight your face. It makes so much sense that different parts of our face has different shades.

    I want to go to my MAC counter tomorrow and get those three powders! Can you please tell me which powder brush that you use to achieve this look?

  56. Svetlana says:

    I use MAC Prolongwear foundation and concealer in NC20, MAC Blot powder to set, MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Durk to contour and MAC Fix+ to finish everything πŸ™‚

  57. amy says:

    you are adorable! I am hooked to your blog!! what did you do to me! I love each article you write, your style and your makeup and especially your photos.. so beautiful. Trying to learn from you! Thanks for the article on your favorite cameras. xoxo

  58. Laura says:

    Hmmm–I might have to give this a try. While I’ve had success with MAC concealers, I haven’t had particularly great experiences with their liquid foundations–Studio Fix in particular was a disaster. I might give this a shot, though, since other gel-based “liquid” foundations work well for me.

  59. Arummmanis says:

    Hi Karen,
    Two weeks ago I bought a new foundie. Revlon Colorstay Makeup With Softflex.I love how it covers acne scars and undereye circle, so I don’t have to wear concealer

    The staying power, wow! You should try it. For a complete review, you can read it here.

  60. Miica Mitra says:

    Hello Karen! I pretty much use the same combination, with a few tweeks: I use Studio Sculpt in NC 30 around my eyes and Laura Mercier concealer (more like a corrector, my undereye circles can get pretty major) and NC 40 around the rest of my face. I top it off with either the careblend powder in Medium Plus if my skin is feeling dry or Studio Fix powder in NC 40 for a long day or a night out. Another option that I’ve been loving lately is Revlon Photoready in 006 (for my eye area) and 008 (everywhere else). I’ve got sensitve skin and so far, no breakouts. Works like a charm on Filipina skin!

    • ManilaJen says:

      @Miica: Are you fr MLA? May I ask what MAC branches u go to and which SAs are good&really helpful? I want to get swatched right and Im afraid the SA may give give me the wrong shade. Thanks!

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