Get Real (Looking): MAC Matchmaster Foundation Excels on Oily Skin

Published in: MAC Makeup, Product Reviews

mac matchmaster foundation review

“Why, yes, Ryan Gosling, I am wearing something new. How nice of you to notice. It’s the new MAC Matchmaster Foundation ($32.50; available in 14 shades) in shade 5.0, and I’ve been wearing it for about a week…”


Okay, no, Ryan Gosling did not actually remark upon my makeup regimen, but I sure wish he had. I think he might find the technology behind MAC’s new liquid foundation almost as fascinating as I do.


You see, it’s all about those spheres we talked about last week. For the new foundation, MAC encapsulated pigments in translucent spheres that they say allow Matchmaster to cover imperfections while still looking like real skin.

So does it work?

Well, that depends. Shade 5.0 definitely evens out my skin tone and covers everything I want it to cover, from the post-acne discoloring along my jawline (dang hormones have run amok!) to the light spots on my cheeks, but it doesn’t look completely natural to me.

I almost don’t even care, though, because of how much I love the lightweight feel and how long it keeps the shine on my forehead at bay (for hours). Unfortunately, I think it’s almost too good at washing out the natural variations in my skin tone and texture that would keep it looking real. I think my skin looks more natural when I wear Chanel Mat Lumiere, my current favorite foundation. With Matchmaker, I feel like I have to pay closer attention to my contouring with bronzer, lest my skin look totally flat.

It may have something to do with the shade I’ve been using… 5.0 isn’t a perfect match for me; it’s a little redder than my usual NC 42, but it was the closest shade I could find in the range to my skin.

I do notice that the reddish tones in 5.0 mellow out a bit after a few hours of wear and let through more of my natural skin tone, so maybe I just have to be a little more patient.

A few other notes…

No breakouts!

Knock on wood, but so far Matchmaker hasn’t triggered any breakouts on my combination oily/dry/acne-prone skin (read: generally fussy), so that’s a big plus.

Dry skin

Matchmaker doesn’t even flinch at oily skin, but it’s not as confident around the dry stuff. I can see it clinging to the few flakes I have on my cheeks.


Almost like a gel. That’s how Matchmaker feels to me. It’s thicker than most liquid foundations and can apply a little streaky. I tried it a few different ways, and I think I got the most natural looking results when I applied it with a skunk brush and pressed it in with my fingers.

mac matchmaster foundation
From the left: 1.0, 3.0 and 5.0

mac matchmaster foundation
7.5, 8.5 and 9.0

I’m in hard-core like with Matchmaster. Not love exactly, but very strong like. It creates a great canvas upon which other products can be applied, covering up everything that I’d like it to cover, but it doesn’t look all that natural to me.

By no means does it look as heavy as some full-coverage foundations I’ve tried, but I still think I look “made up” when I have it on.


Depending on the condition of your skin, you might like Matchmaker a lot, especially if you have oily skin and need comprehensive coverage.

PRICE: $32.50
AVAILABILITY: Coming September 22 to North American MAC counters and stores; available now online

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


P.S. I hope you’re having a good Monday so far. My favorite part of Mondays is usually the end. πŸ™‚ Hang in there. We’re almost there.


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  1. Chris25 says:

    You’re right- 5.0 looks a little red, which is strange.

    I was going to try this, but if it doesn’t look very natural, I’m not so sure. With my usual “I’ve been up all night studying” look, looking unnatural is the last thing I need!

  2. I might get a sample of this to see how it works. I really like Studio Sculpt and Face and Body right now, so I’m skeptical this new foundation can top those.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kajal Couture,

      I love both of those MAC foundations, too. Do you wear them separately, or together? A MAC artist showed me how to apply Face & Body first, and then use Sculpt to touch up on any spots that need more coverage. I really love the combo — it’s covers everything, yet it still looks natural and feels light.

  3. Celia says:

    Hmmm. I’ll definitely need a sample of #3 to see how this will fare w/my NC37 skin.

    BTW, I love all your slouchy hats/berets. As a knitter, they make me want to look up all the slouchy hat patterns out their to knit for the winter.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Celia,

      Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you!

      That’s super cool that you’re a knitter. I am a pseudo-knitter myself. πŸ™‚ I can only do scarves, and that’s about it.

      How long have you been knitting? And what’s the most complicated project you’ve ever worked on?

    • Nina says:

      im NC37 and my match is 4.0 … my undertones are yellow though, so that might make a difference. πŸ™‚

      • Celia says:

        I’ve been knitting since my 2nd daughter was born. Seems backwards to start after I have a kid, not before, but I was a crocheter since I was a kid. I’ve knit almost everything ‘cept the weird artsy stuff. I’ve got some complicated lace stoles/shawls that I enjoyed knitting, but I prefer to knit socks, hats & fingerless mitts ’cause they’re quick & if I want to do complicated colorwork or lacework, it won’t take me as long to do as a full sweater or shawl.

        Thanks Nina for that rec. I have a friend who works at Nordies but not always at the MAC counter, so I’ll ask her for 4.0.

  4. Kimberly says:

    I’m confused, 5 looks awfully dark.

    I have a lot of trouble with foundations – i’m 3rd generation irish and german, but my skintone is pale with a hint of olive. I’m also allergic to corn, which means I can’t use a lot of powders. And having oily skin makes it all worse. I’ve been using Smashbox’s tinted moisturizer lately, but I feel like there’s not enough coverage for formal events.

  5. sweeks1980 says:

    Bummer – I was hoping that this foundation would be good πŸ™

    I just purchased Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua, and I’m liking it so far. It looks very natural and seems to have good staying power. I guess I’ll put it to the test when I teach my 3-hour class on Wednesday!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sweeks,

      Ya know, it’s not like it’s bad, but I was hoping for more. It might be really great for gals with oily skin, though…

      Chanel makes some kick ass foundations, but oy vey they’re so expensive! What powder are you using to set yours?

      Oh — and what class are ya teaching?

      • sweeks1980 says:

        Hi Karen,

        Right now I’m bouncing back and forth between a pressed powder from Chanel and MAC Blot. I’ve only had the foundation a few days, so I’ll be excited to see how it holds up!

        I’m teaching a class on education methods. The toughest part of it is that it is a 3-hour class that meets in the evening once a week. The last time I taught this class, it was 2x a week for an hour and a half (much more manageable for the students and me!).

        I hope you, Tabs, and El Hub are doing well!

        Sweeks (aka Terri)

        • Karen says:

          Hi Terri!

          Ah, good ol’ MAC Blot. My love for that bad boy runs deeeeep!

          It sounds like the three-hour class is going to be challenging, but I’m sure you’ll do great. In the second half, shake those students awake if they start looking starry eyed. πŸ˜‰ How big is your class size?

          Things on this end are pretty good, thanks for asking. The Bay Area is having one of our typical late summer hot spells, so the weather’s been really nice lately — I even got to make it to the pool today to get my workout on (laps for 30 minutes). All in all, not bad for a Monday. El Hub and Tabs are outside hanging out, so we’ll be eating dinner soon.

          Hope you had a fantastic Monday!

  6. shadowy lady says:

    I’m super curious about this foundation and even more thrilled after reading your review. Not sure what my shade would be though…I wear sff in NW25…I’m guessing No.2? What do you think Karen?

  7. Nina ML says:

    I love how it looks in your photo. But That reddish cast you mentioned Is worrisome. I am also thinking 5 is my color. I would love to sample this. I would like a more formal and finished look sometimes sounds like this may work . Thanks so much!!!

  8. Vijaya says:

    Good for oily skin? I’m so on that! To bad about the redness, though. I get that from Pro Longwear as well, and since my undertones are very yellow… not a great mix.
    Vijaya recently posted … Prtty Peaushun Skin Tight Body Lotion: Review and Giveaway

  9. Joyce says:

    Mac foundations break me out. I’m hoping Matchmaster won’t do the same. *cross my fingers
    Joyce recently posted … Swatches and Review: Dior Mitzah Panther Eyeshadow Jungle Print

  10. Krisabelle says:

    I’m an NW20 and ordered the 1.5. I received it Friday, and sadly it’s going back to as of this afternoon. I was surprised at how much orange was in the 1.5 – I have pink undertones so it looked pretty crunk. The funny thing is my skin is typically more medium beige-y than fair, so 1.5 should have, if anything, been a hair too light. I was not expecting it to be too dark! I am not blessed with lovely porcelain skin, but I guess I should have ordered shade 1 instead! I tried applying it with my fingers, a sponge, and a MAC foundation brush, and it always came out looking flat and way too orange-toned. I also didn’t enjoy the thickness of this product – one pump dispenses enough product to more than cover your whole face. It reminded me of Revlon ColorStay but thicker. I actually like ColorStay! I was so looking forward to this foundation as I have oily-combination skin. The search continues! πŸ™‚

  11. Chelsea says:

    I’ve never actually tried a MAC foundation. The only foundation I’ve found that really matches my skin is Bobbi Brown’s Alabaster (00) color. I’m super pale. From looking at this, 1.0 seems similar to the NC15 colors, which are too dark for me!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chelsea,

      Good to know the super pale girls have that option over at Bobbi Brown. Is your skin more warm or cool?

      • Chelsea says:

        Karen – My undertones are rather neutral, not overly pink or yellow.

        Back in Art Class in high school we were learning portraits and how to get the skin tone right, and we were learning how to tell undertones. She told me mine were white :p

        • Jenn says:

          I totally feel your pain,my neck is so white I have to be really careful not to have a base line ;( i’ m on an extreme budget right now. I kinda have to get what I can find at the drugstore,any suggestions out there?

          • krisabelle says:

            I’be been using CG TureBlend liquid foundation for about a week and I LOVE IT! It’s the best drugstore dounation I’ve found. It lasts all day and keeps my skin from getting super oily. They also have a great shade range. The price is about $7 bucks, so that’s a bonus! =o)

          • krisabelle says:

            Durh…”TrueBlend”…not TureBlend, lol.

  12. Corinne says:

    I got a sample of this and can’t wait to try it! I’m an NC35 and was matched to a 4.0

    I pray this will replace my Dior Forever since Dior is soooo expensive.

  13. Melitina says:

    Hey Karen, I did not own any MAC foundation before MatchMaster, so I can only compare it to my Clinique Supermoisture foundation which had become waaaaaaaaaay to greasy for me (hormonal changes: dry skin became almost oily).
    So overall I’n quite happy with Matchmaster as it effectively controls oil and has medium coverage and a satin finish which is what I was looking for. As for he color, I am “Sand” at Clinique, around NC43 at MAC, and 6.0 with MatchMaster (shocked to see I’m darker than you Karen!). 5.0 was way to orangy for me and 6.0 was the right colour, but I too think the foundation looks different (i.e. better) a few hours after I apply my makeup.
    An excellent foundation for beginners like me, anyway. And for the price too (I dream of Dior Airflash foundation but it’s crazy expensive!!!).

  14. Nina says:

    i went to MAC to check this out and got matched to a 4.0. i asked for a sample (got a very generous one too!) and ive been using it this week.

    i love how light it feels, and it is easier to blend than studio fix fluid (still my one true foundation love) … im probably going to get a bottle of this, but not til im done with the last of my NC37 sff. most probably in a month or so. πŸ™‚

  15. April says:

    Hey Karen, first off I really enjoy your blog:) Secondly, how can you tell what your undertones are? If you have already written a post on this, I’m sorry! I just can’t find it:(

  16. Kim says:

    The darker colors really do look quite red. I think 5.0 looks nice in your pic, though. Btw, that hat is super cute on you – I meant to say that before. I have a black version that’s similar, but the Hubs says I look like a Q-tip with it on (he’s right, of course, and we usually get a good chuckle – especially since that wouldn’t stop me from wearing it on a cold day!). πŸ™‚

  17. Emma says:

    If it washes out your skin, I think IÒ€ℒll stick with my Chanel Mat Lumiere. Matchmaker sounds good in theory.

  18. Nicole says:

    Do you think it handles oil better than the chanel matt lumiere? My skin starts off lookong great and in 6hrs im a greaseball. I was using revlon colorstay and just switched over to estee lauder double wear. Im still not impressed. Please help!

  19. Melody says:

    It certainly photographs well. You look great! Hmmm…I think I can tell from the photo that 1.0 will be too peachy for me. I’m very pale but also quite yellow. I’m willing to try it if it’s lightweight though. That’s one of my biggest concerns with foundation.

  20. Ana says:

    UGH. Totally forgot to consider this new foundation when I was at Mac today and made my first ever Mac purchase! I got Studio Fix fluid in NC25 and Prep+Prime. Sounds like the coverage of this new one is comparable to that of Studio Fix? Does it look more natural than studio fix?

  21. Jamie says:

    Hi Karen! If you are NC42 and using shade#5, since I am an NC44, would I be shade#6?? What do you think? Thanks for your help πŸ˜€

  22. Shari says:

    Just bought MMaster 7.5 I generally wear NC 50 and it’s amazing! My biggest problem with MAC in the past has been that they think all dark women have read undertones but this does not! It’s melted into my skin and I’ve had it on for 8 hours now and it’s still “true” does not crease and looks natural and flawless. I work on TV and considered an airbrush machine I had a test done but this is MUCH better.. LOVE it!

  23. Natalie Martinez says:

    I bought this foundation today, and I am so in love with it so far!!!! It’s my first MAC foundation so hoping for the best πŸ™‚

  24. Oh so is MAC doing away with their NC/NW naming?

  25. Mabel says:

    I use it for a week now, thats a very good foundation, lightweight, very blendable, very silky and smooth, after you applied it on your face, it feels like melting in in your face. And the staying power is very good, I wear it at 8am, I didnt see any changes in my face at 6pm(not shinny and no break-out),

    I have Chanel vita lumiere and Giorgio Armani Silk foundation, I think the matchmaster is way better than them. (and the price is way better than them too, lol)

    BTW, I am using C2.

  26. Sunaina says:

    Hi Karen,

    Is the NC42 fix fluid much more yellow then shade 5.0 of matchmaster?
    At this moment I am using NC42 only the problem is NC40 is to white for my skin and NC42 is right in the morning when i apply it but it tend to get some darker as it dries(even darker then my neck).
    I thought to use NC42 in combination with powder NC41 as NC42 gets darker, but this makes much colour difference with my neck..
    I have a really oily skin and some imperfections so need a good coverage.
    At this time I am thinking to use NC42 in combination with the prep+prime transparent powder or the 5.0 of matchmaster what you suggest me?

  27. Kay says:


    i recently brought mac matchmaster in 5.0 and was wondering what that is equivalent to mac studio fluid? thanks.

  28. Syl says:


    I’ve been using Matchmaster 4.0 for about 3 weeks now. I loved it at first but 3 weeks in and I’m having major breakouts. I knew most MAC foundations weren’t the best for sensitive skin but I decided to take a chance with Matchmaster since it looked so great and light on my skin. My search for a new foundation begins…

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