MAC Studio Finish Concealor

Under-eye circles have plagued me my entire life.  I need a product that lives up to my high expectations.
1. It has to be heavy-duty, yet easy to apply and blend in with my skin without being obvious.  No reverse raccoon effect, please!
2. It needs to work on dry, sensitive skin
3. I want it to look natural. You know, like skin.  Anything else looks chalky; and foundation and concealer look fake very easily on my face.

So far drug-store products just haven't worked for me, so last fall I broke down and finally decided to get myself something heavy duty-or at least I was willing to spend more. 

I read some pretty good reviews on MAC's concealer;  I have friends who constantly rave about how MAC's highly-pigmented eyeshadows had "ruined them for other eyeshadows", and I had hopes that the same would be true for their concealers.  Plus, it had a host of good-for-you ingredients and a high SPF. I don't remember to add sunscreen, so I know if it's not in a product I'm not going to use it. 

"A lightweight, creamy, discreetly opaque concealer. Provides a smooth, long-wearing invisible coverage for all skin blemishes. Water-resistant, fragrance-free and non-acnegenic. This emollient-based, lightweight concealer is so concentrated that a tiny amount can provide opaque coverage of the skin's imperfections and discolourations. It effectively covers dark circles, blemishes, moles, tattoos and birthmarks. Enriched with antioxidants (derivatives of Vitamin A and Vitamin E), it also contains Silica to help adsorb the skin's oils. Concealer has an SPF of 35 and is available in a wide range of colours. It can be applied with a medium to firm fiber brush (try the 242 Brush), a latex sponge, or the fingertips."*
*Source: MAC.com

I had to choose my shade online and settled on purchasing both the NW15 and NW20 because I was told you should stick with the NW warm shades for dark circles, and because my skin is very pink. 
  It came in a very small pot for the $16.50 I paid for each, but that was part of the appeal because I wanted something that would travel well.  It's colour was much closer to "skin" than any other I'd purchased before.  It really is almost an exact match to my skin!  I think I should grab an NW25 for summer though...
I ended up giving the NW15 to my mom, it's a perfect match to her skin so that made me really happy.
Anyways, on to the formula!

The Studio Finish concealor is more cakey than creamy, and provides medium to full coverage.  At first, I was very disappointed with this product because it ended up being dry and flakey on my skin too, but after some experimentation and time I discovered that I really just wasn't exfoliating and moisturizing enough. 




Close-up to show coverage on undereye circles and redness. 

I first applied it with an ELF eyeshadow brush that I use for concealer, but that was taking a lot of product so I've switched to using a damp wedge-sponge which is giving me much better results. 
I'm very pleased with the how this balances out my skin tone-especially at hiding my redness.  Acne areas are almost impossible to fully cover- but  stippling them directly on the spots with a very small "eyeliner" brush will do a good enough job to get me out of the house without feeling like everyone can see them. 
It does a better job of covering up my dark circles than anything I've ever used; but you can still see them more than I wish you could.  This is especially true for the area between my eye and nose, so not quite my dream concealer.  Which makes me sad because the shade match is perfect and I'm a total noob at foundation shopping.  (Yep, I use it as my foundation too most of the time.)

 Without moisturizer, this stuff has a tendancy to cake up on itself and loses it's "natural skin" texture on my skin and just sit on top of it, so I have to apply moisturizer (I love Oil of Olay sensitive complete but I've been substituting Cetaphil cream/original pink Oil of Olay) before I use it.  After that it sinks in perfectly, it only settles inside my pores a little; that may be a bit of nit-picking on my part. 

The SPF gives it a glowy texture which sometimes looks a little shiny to me, as almost every sunscreen does on my skin;  but it looks perfect once set with loose powder (I use Erno Lazlo Duo Phase).  It's sheer enough to be able to build on or just dab on to even out my complexion, it's versatility is the reason I keep coming back to it.

The downside:
 It's not very long lasting if you don't set it with powder.  After about 2 hours it's slipping or bleeding through around my eyes and nose, but even then it fades gradually and evenly so it's not really noticable unless I'm having a bad acne breakout I need heavy-duty coverage for.
It also likes to rub off on everything so I have to be careful to keep my hands off my face! 
I'm not sure whether this breaks me out or not; I'm sporadic about night-cleansing and when I remember to do it every day my skin looks great and when I forget I break out-so I don't think I can tie it to the concealer.  It hasn't further irritated/aggravated any existing acne.
It really does nothing at all for my moles/sunspots/oversized freckles, and while I personally have no tattoos-I wouldn't count on this product to cover them if I did.

Long Term Review:
After using this for about 4 months now, and still only about halfway(?) through, I'm happy with how it's held it's texture and lasted.  It matches my skin tone better than anything I've tried thus far, and I really hate trying to shop for new shades.  Especially when 7 months out of the year all I have access to is a very small Wal-Mart.  I tried Urban Decay's 24/7 concealer, yet this is what I'm still using. 
It's a little pricey considering the plastic lid is always popping out, but at least I can recycle them to earn a free concealer.  Go MAC!  Plus, it has lasted all this time so I guess I pre-judged it a bit. I really like what it does for my skin, I wish I could find a foundation to match it.  My skin still doesn't look "perfect" but this stuff does make a huge difference!

4 stars (could be longer lasting, packaging is a little flimsy, doesn't cover the little red veins on my face, some acne marks, and my under-eye circles are still visible).


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