Mac Studio Fix Fluid: Difference Between NW15 & NC20.

So yesterday I finally got colour matched to the Studio Fix Fluid foundation for my wedding (just over 4 weeks away!!) and was matched with NW15. I'd actually bought this foundation last year and I loved the finish, coverage, and how buildable it was, however my fear of the counter led me to think "ah I'm about the same skin tone as my friend so I'll get the same shade as her." I was wrong. I ended up with NC20 which morphed me into....well...morph and gave me the hugest foundation line which was a shame as the coverage seemed to hide my blotches for a good few hours.

So I bit the bullet and approached the Milton Keynes counter with caution, silly really as the girl who served me was actually very lovely, she slathered on some NW15 and advised it was more pink toned and would therefore stop the orange line creeping around the jaw, and after gazing at my now even skin in the mirror for a while I left a happy customer clutching my little black box.

NC = Neutral Cool
NW = Neutral Warm

Whilst most people would think that red/pink toned skin is cool, and yellow toned skin is warm, mac actually decided to mix it up a bit and do things the other way around. They class yellow as cool and red as warm. So.

NC = Neutral Cool = Yellow Toned
NW = Neutral Warm = Pink Toned.

Mac Studio Fix Fluid NC20 NW15

Hopefully from the swatches you can see the difference and my rambling has started to make sense, the NC shade is fairly yellow and is obvs not suited to my skin at all, where as the NW's pinky undertones suit my fair skin tone a lot more - well not on my pale hand, look towards the wrist area!

Although it does seem to get more confusing. Some people (I'm one of these) just want a foundation that matches their skin and will use a concealer to cover up any imperfections afterwards, where as others want to counteract their tones and use the opposite shade to neutralise. So the thought for these people is that:
A pinky toned skin + A yellowy foundation = all mixed in nicely for an even face.

I can understand this but for me it just wouldn't work unless I literally used a paint roller to "do" my whole body so that no foundation lines could be seen. There seems to be so many opposing views on the difference between nw/nc online, if you've got any thoughts on it/had any bad experiences then lemme know!


  1. I used to have a counter fear but I'm slowly starting to get over it. There's nothing like testing a product out before you take the plunge and buy it.

    Ria x

  2. oh foundation is all so confusing! I was matched to NC15 and it really is the perfect shade my my whitey skin! eeep, i'm so glad you've found the perfect foundation for your wedding! :)xo

  3. such a helpful post! thanks for sharing, love your blog! wanna follow each other? xx

  4. i'm an NW20 I think... or is it NC. Without getting off the sofa no way to tell... although I am 99% certain its nw. Anyway, I got matched and told her I am a complete doofus at putting on foundation and needed the one that was the most foolproof, and I use studio sculpt!

  5. I've never tried MAC foundations before, but this is a really helpful post as I do want to try them out and can't always get to a counter and find I always need one of the lightest shades. I think NC15 would be a match for me :)


  6. To get the right color, I usually blend different shades of foundation together. I do like MAC studio fix a lot. Great consistency.

    Beauty and Fashion in Seattle | Cheap Makeup Reviews

  7. NC20 is my colour! I want to try their thicker foundations as I have a tinted lotion at the moment :) x x x

  8. I used think of it like this 'nc= not cool' 'nw= not warm', so it was inline with how they're usually considered. I've been wearing SFF for 6 years now, so I'm used it, but I can understand why it's confusing for people newer to MAC foundations.. I really don't understand why they decided to mix it up ha. Great post! xx

    Nic704 | Beauty Blog

  9. haha i agree with babyface about foundation being confusing.
    Congrats though on your upcoming wedding!!

  10. I used to use this in NW15 but recently switched to the new YSL foundation which is amazing! Check out my review x

  11. I have about 3 bottle of nc 20 because I'm an idiot and always buy the wrong one. :(

  12. Thanks for sharing, I use that foundation I believe... I've stuck with it bc I love it :)


  13. I've never used any MAC products but the NW15 looks a lot like the shade I got from marks and spencers which was called pale rose, it's like a pinky toned foundation not like I'd found before but it's so good! Great formula too.

  14. I love this MAC foundation too! I've been matched 3 times now and only the last one was correct. Don't get me wrong, I really really love MAC products and you can get lovely helpers, but choosing to need matching on a Saturday at about 11 is asking for a mistake isn't it? I went in when it wasn't so busy and now I know what my colour is.. funnily enough my 2 housemates came with me and we're all the same shade! xx

  15. It's a bit confusing at first but later on, you'll get to find out what works for you. :)

    would you like to follow each other? come visit my blog and I'll definitely follow back! :)


  16. they said i was warm, because my skin looked yellow, in the summer i tane easy
    she said, you are realy yellow, but she had it all wrong, why do they always think you have to be very fair to be cool.
    i am ligh/medium, i use fresco in este lauder double wear, and nw looks so much better on me, nc in mac made me look pale and sick.
    they should not judge a book by his cover, by only looking at skin color and how well you tan in the summer.
    yes i tan easy and dont burn easy, but on the other hand i look terrible in warm colors, i look good in cool colored clothes.


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