MAC Cosmetics Shade Guide

Finding the correct shade of foundation, powder or concealer can be a difficult task.

Our shade guide will help you understand what each MAC Shade means so you can find the one that’s best for you. Find your match!

The following chart was created by MAC to help you understand the wide array of foundation shades that MAC makeup products offer. Each shade’s name is a combination of letters followed by numbers (ie: NC 35 or NW 15). The shades range in depth from 15 (very pale) to 55 (very dark). The C, NC, N, NW or W distinguish between different skin tones.

To understand how MAC Cosmetics names their foundation, powder and concealer shades, here is a breakdown of MAC’s foundation codes:

Stands for:
“Neutral Cool”
Match for:
Yellow/Golden Olive Undertone
Slightly Golden Undertone
Neutral Undertone
Slightly Pink Undertone
Pinkish Undertone

The number that follows the letter(s) denotes the depth of the shade. The higher the number, the deeper the color. For instance NW55 is a match for very dark skin with a pinkish undertone, whereas NC20 would be a match for somewhat lighter skin with a slightly golden skin.

The first step in selecting your shade is to simply look at your skin, without makeup, in daylight. If your skin is warmer toned, or looks like it has a more yellow, gold or olive tint to it compared to others with your same skin depth, you match with Neutral Cool or “NC” shades. If your skin has a more neutral tone, you will match with the Neutral or “N” shades. If your skin looks more cool toned, you match with Neutral Warm or “NW” shades. This might seem backwards since usually we think of pinkish skin tones as cool and yellowish skin tones as warm. The reason for this is that MAC uses the makeup artists color wheel which is pretty much the opposite of what we usually think of as cool vs. warm. An easy way to look at it is like this: Think of each MAC foundation shade as being named with either the cool or warm shade that would neutralize and balance out your skin tone.

By looking at your skin in daylight, most skin tones will fall into either the NC or NW classifications. However, if you are still not certain which classification is right for you, looking at the veins on the underside of your forearm with help. If your veins look more blue, then you most likely have pinkish undertones. If your veins look more greenish, then you probably have more yellow or golden undertones. If at all possible, it is highly recommended to match your skin tone in person at a MAC counter or MAC store to ensure you purchase the correct shade.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Finding the “right” colour is something very subjective. It is a good idea to choose the shade in person by visiting a MAC counter if at all possible.
  • When choosing a foundation shade, you will want to make sure you use the skin near your jawline or neck area as your criteria for determining your match. This helps to ensure flawless blending and to avoid ending up with a face that’s too light or too dark that doesn’t match the rest of your skin! If you simply try to match the skin tone on your forehead or cheeks, you will often end up with a shade that looks to dark compared to the rest of you. It is much better to choose the shade that matches your jawline/neckline, and then to use a Bronzer or Skinfinish to highlight or add “sun” to your face, if desired. (Also, when it comes to actual makeup application, be sure to blend foundations and powders around the jawline and into the neckline.)
  • With concealers, it is possible you may want to try a concealer with a slight tint to it. This will help cover up dark undereye circles or reddish imperfections.
    • Slightly yellowish tones will help to cancel out and cover up dark purpleish/blueish undereye circles. (Or just selecting a concealer that is a few shades lighter than your regular foundation will also work well for diminishing undereye circles.)
    • Slightly greenish toned concealers will help to cancel out any reddish tones in your skin caused by acne, or other skin conditions.
  • If you have a significant undertone to your skin, you may choose to play it up or play it down by trying a shade that includes or excludes your undertones.
  • Often, people will wear a couple different shades throughout the year because skin shade and tone can change according to the season, physical well being and general lighting.

123 thoughts on “MAC Cosmetics Shade Guide

  1. rie

    Why do some people say NW is cool and NC is warm? I saw the MAC site and its the other way around. AH~ it\’s just to confusing \\:[

    1. Renee

      Rie: like the article explains, people say NW is “cool” because it balances out the pink in cool skin, and the opposite for NC. I’m cool-toned, but I wear NW because the yellow balances out the pink tones in my skin.

      It’s color theory. You match a color with its opposite to neutralize it and balance it out.

      1. Angel

        NC is Cool and, NW is Warm. NC is yellow undertone and NW is Reddish undertones. In Color wheel reds,pinks are warm and, yellow, greens are cool. You are soo wrong.

    2. Hollie

      NW is for WARM and NC is for COOL….. the previous reply probably had this switched that’s why it confused you.

      Anyway just look at the letter W for warm and C for cool.

  2. carol

    I am in Kenya and I’ve been trying to differentiate original from imitation mac powder. Here the shades are quite different from what I’ve just read. All of them seem to be dark for my skin tone. I am black but fair skinned. Help?

    1. Natasha

      Hi,when i was in kenyai found that you can buy the real mac foundation from the makeup shop in the WestGate mall.They should be able to match you to your right shade.

      Hope this help.

  3. Kara

    Thank you for the helpful hints! The wrong shades were suggested to me in the store, and I can now clearly see what I need. Good info.

  4. Violet

    Hi! Just wanted to say how EXTREMELY
    helpful this was! The forearm vein trick
    really helped me figure everything out!
    Thanks for being so thorough and precise!!

  5. marie

    Would you know whta color I would wear in MAC? I currently use Estee Lauder Double Wear in DESERT BEIGE. I am wanting to try MAC b/c es is just not working anymore and I dont have a mac counter near me to stop by and sample.

    1. SunKisseSarah

      MAC creme is quite oily and thick, good for dryer skin. MAC Studio Fix Powder works great for oily skin and full coverage.

  6. Jillian

    Thanks for putting time into making this, it was very helpful! The current foundation I use is revlon colorstay in the shade medium beige, it helps tone down the pink understones I have. I’m still deciding which mac-shade I should get. I know I’ll range around NC25? Not too sure yet. Any help will be very much appreciated :)

    1. SunKisseSarah

      Revlon Medium Beige is comparable to NW20 in MAC. I wear them both and are about the same in colour.

  7. Rumena

    Hi, I have a quick question I am Asian (Bengali/middle east). I have brought so many foundations from MAC, but I can never get my perfect match. When I went to the store, they gave me MAC foundation in NW35 and a select sheer loose powder in NC40. But It does not look too good. Do you think I should get both my foundation and powder in NC40? Or should my foundation be a little lighter then the powder?

    1. geo

      Forget MAC…try cover fx…I am Paki, but fair and very yellow and tan like crazy…I am M40 in winter with minimal sun and its spot on! I find their shades to be much more multi dimensional than just cool/ warm/ pick/ yellow…I M40 even in summer with a bronzer and it look way better than a darker shade. Plus my skin breaks out to everything very dry except very oily in t-zone. Cover fx never gave me problems. Technique is everything…use the right brush and light hand and it will never go on too heavy as it looks a little scary being such thick cream formulation

      1. Simone

        Where can I get this foundation as MAC cannot seem to get me my true match. I bought 2 bottles and had to give them away. I am frustrated.

      2. sehaf

        I agree with you 100%.I am a paki too and I have tried all the popular brands like MAC,Bobbi Brown,Channel etc.And my skin tone is very difficult to match.The ppl at the counter always match me either too dark or too light.But I went to Sephora and I matched so perfectly with Coverfx.I use it only as a concealer though.I simply love the color because it matches my skin tone perfectly.It’s all about the technique and the make up brush you use.But for all the paki girls out there,who always find it difficult to match their skin tones I highly recommend Coverfx.They have a lot of colors to choose from.They also have one color range just for our skin tones.

    2. millie

      I’m bengali too and was first matched for nw35 then matched to nc40. I found the nc40 too ashy so I bought studio fix powder in nc43 which is perfect! Try going a little darker maybe?

  8. oc

    hi, i need help about which shade i need.i have never used mac before. im a white girl with sensitive skin and red complextion.

  9. Sombol

    hi, i am ordering the mac studio fix powder/foundation online and i was confused about what color to get. i wear nw35, but i think it might be a little orange for me. if i get nc35 will it be the same darkness but a little less yellow? from reading this article, i definitely think i am NC but not sure of the color.

  10. Shelby

    Hello, I have been using studio fix powder in C3 for years and am sometimes happy with it…other times I feel very orangy. I am thinking of purchasing NW20, or 25. I was wondering if you may have an suggestions for me. My skin tone is very fair, and I use the foundation to even out the redness in my face. Thank you!

  11. kris lilly

    Sooo confused im usually very good with cosmetics but mac takes the cake its got toooo many options and I don’t know what to do im american indian but pale not white though I usually wear merle norman but I change the color with the seasons im redder in the fall browner in summer but I don’t tan much I have red in my skin and look excellant in red yellow clothes make me have dark circles which color should I go with. Also which products do u suggest for a base kit I usually wear concealer powder blush lipstick mascara eye shadow and eye liner I need dark eyes and pink lips n rose blush but I have dark eye circles which concelear and primer mineral not mineral I don’t know where to go I know I like a good stay on base and a light powder u cannot see but I have oily skin t zone help advice please

    1. Denyce

      I too am American Indian and it sure sounds like we have pretty much the same complexion coloring. I am reasonably fair with red issues. I have been matched as being “nuetral” neither warm or cool. My best luck has been from the smashbox High definition foundation followed by the Smashbox halo powder. A good shade for me is 3.1 with medium halo powder. I have never found anything that even comes close to this combo.

  12. Asen

    hey, i love MAC products, am an african woman, oily skin, my shade for black opal is capuchinno, so which MAC, powder (studio fix) and full coverage, sahde fits me, and a listick.

  13. Emma

    I use loreal true match foundation, the colour i use is natural rose C4. Could you tell me which colour in mac foundation would be best suited to that? thanks!

  14. Sarah

    I have very pale skin with freckles and pinky blue colours in it, my veins are blue so I presume I’m cool toned as I also suit silver jewellery better than gold. What colour would I be about in MAC shades as I didn’t seem to fit any of the codes above?

  15. Andrina

    I think I am an NC35, but I’ll go to the MAC cosmetics counter and ask an artist in that department so I can know for sure.

  16. Dani

    I wear NC15 foundation and NW15 concealer. Does this mean I am cool toned, warm, or neutral? I’m so confused…

    1. brenda

      I did some checking into this question about a year ago for myself and I was told by a MAC mua that it is to do with correcting the colour of the blemish/eye circle you are trying to cover. Your skin could be NC overall, but if the spot you are concealing has certain undertones, they will recommend the concealer based on that. example…blue undereye circles will use NW because in the colour wheel, red (warm) is the opposite and will cancel out blue (cool).

      Hope that makes sense!!

    2. Sam

      Your real skin shade is NC15 (yellow/warm) but you were probably matched with NW15 concealer because you had pink spots to cover (redness, pimples, etc) so to neutralize that you got an NW concealer. If you used an NC concealer you would just be adding pink on top of pink.

      1. Dasha

        I am really tired of having my makeup smeared all over the place, so I decided to try MAC. If I wear 03 Natural in NYX what would I wear in MAC? I think the veins on my underarm are green, my boyfriend thinks they are blue! Go figure.

  17. becky

    i am a natural redhead and pale,i want to know which shade is right for me and which foundation,id like full really confused!!!

  18. Jenny

    I think I should clarify this. According to the color wheel, Yellow is cool and pink is warm, even though we typically refer to them as the opposite. MAC uses the color wheel. therefore, NC means yellow, and according to MAC, is cool. NW is pink, and according to MAC, is warm. this has nothing to do with cancellation, although that’s what many people believe

  19. Lisa

    I personally have not seen a color wheel that considers yellow cool and pink warm. I therefore agree with Renee, the second reply here, and with the original post where it reads: “Think of each MAC foundation shade as being named with either the cool or warm shade that would neutralize and balance out your skin tone.”

  20. Indigo

    I went to the MAC counter and they matched me with NC 35 but doesn’t make my skin look natural. I use Clinique Superfit in Neutral. Please help me with the color

  21. evie

    Hi i currently wear clinique powder in matte neutral, could you pls tell me what mac shade of the foundation plus powder i would fall under? thanks

  22. Murasaki

    Geez people… There is really no way the author of this article (or someone else) can tell what MAC color you should get, w/o personally looking at you. What someone calls “fair” may not be considered fair by someone else. (e.g. I wear NC20 but I don’t consider myself “EXTREMELY too light/white,” as Shelby calls the same color.) Even at the same brightness level there are different skin tones.

    There is a really helpful foundation matrix at ww

    The info is based on compilation of info the readers submitted based on their experience. If you have a ball park idea, you can choose your undertone and find your current foundation in the matrx by the brand name; the number at the top of the grid should be your M.A.C. color (for most people). It may or may not work for you, but it gives you the idea of where to work from.

  23. Mo

    I use Black Opal Nutmeg but i not too keen on the coverage. my veins look greenish and i wonder what shades of concealer and foundation i should use.Please help

  24. Rhea

    Hi I can never match with Mac studio fix powder. The mac associate first gave me nc40 and it looks to white or grayish on me and nc35 was too light. Then I came back saying my foundation really doesn’t match my neck and face but they said that was really my color cause nc42 would be too dark on me. I went to bobbi brown because my friend suggested I am yellow tone and that Bobbi brown is yellow based. So the lady suggested Warm beige and it does matches my skin very well. I had so many compliments that my skin looked so nice and natural. They tought I wasn’t wearing makeup. The problem now with Bobbi Brown is that I am breaking out having small pimples on my forehead. I want to go back to Mac because I don’t breakout with mac but I can’t seem to be matched with a correct color. All my friends are mostly nc 30 to nc 40 but doesn’t match them. I think that’s the only colors they know to suggest. Please help what bobbi brown warm beige would match with mac. Thanks

    1. Surena

      Hey there! I have a lot of yellow in my skin as well (I’m a Thai girl) and I used to used NC45. When i came back to be matched since i had gotten lighter (a move from Az to Chicago will do that to you) they matched me as a C7 which has more yellow than the NC. I think if your complaint that there isn’t enough yellow in the makeup I’d try the C colors if you can. Good luck on your makeup adventure!

  25. Amber

    @Rhea – I have cool skin (I use NW) and warm freckles (NC) so I mix them together. Maybe that’s what you need to try. You might be neutral and you need both NC and NW to balance each other out. Any MAC artist should tell you that most women do need 2 colors to find the right match. You need to go to a store and try on several different combinations until you find the right match. Also, go out into natural sunlight and make sure the color matches. The lighting isn’t the best at the stores, so you can come out with an orange face when you thought it matched inside. Hope that helps!

  26. Jennifer

    Over the yrs I’ve tried nw/nc 15 best I find to 20 I’m nit light or dark enough for either. But I notice foundation to a nuerotuc level I am convienced. Either way so ic I’ve tried n worn both. Does anyone mark a true neutral.
    I mean I’ve what I call cool hazel eyes gray/blue with yellow (underscope by appereance just looks gray-blue green different colors dominant at diff times depending.) I am pale but not ivory white I’ve some time pink to my cheeks but nit much usually . If I tan I just get darker I don’t “tan tan” my hairs dirty blonde that’s a mix of ash/Irish/beige blob.. I look good n orange teal turqoise n black n violet purple burgandies… So I any more wonder I think I’m a true neutral or some odd summer deformity with bits of fall spring notes to me… Long winded sorry just curios does mac or any one make a truly neutral foundation n toner . I don’t ever wear foundation but I am extremely curious.

    Thank .

  27. Chloe

    This post is so helpful! Thankyou :-)

    I have a question.. Do you know what Mac Studio Fix I would be, as I normally wear Clinique Superfit, Neutral. They’ve stopped selling it temporarily, so i’m trying to find an exact colour replacement! Thanks :-)

  28. jass

    Hey i wanted some info please. I want to buy mac foundation , not sure which shade i am, i am definately a NC , i am cool shade olive / pale skin. I use at the moment maybeline dream matte mousse ivory shade and also sand shave. not sure which foundation could i get, and also which poweder ? im thinking nc 15 or nc 20, not sure which the difference is between the two..

  29. NiNI

    I am nc45 in the studio fix fluid foundation and studio finish concealor in mac and i was wondering does that mean i can by any product in nc45 from mac?

  30. JeWeLz

    I came across this site trying to find out what NC/NW stood for. Then I learned that there was a C group which I believe you can only find in the Studio Fix Powder + Foundation. Most of the foundations are only offered in NC or NW. I’m asian so my skin color is very yellow/olive and I was using Studio Fix Powder Foundation in NC40 and it was okaaay, but still a bit pink on my skin. You could tell that I was wearing makeup. Then I tried the C35 and it matched perfectly! I highly recommend anyone who is yellow or olive in skin tone to try the “Cool” shades. Especially if you haven’t been able to find your color match in the NC or NW shades.

  31. Hanna

    Ok so I came across this site because I wanted to find out what shade would match me. However, im still quite confused since im not sure where I would fit in this color chart. Im half Caucasian and half White so if anyone can help it would be appreciated.

  32. geo

    to all those who find NC too white, pink or grey go with C, otherwise choose lines meant for far east asians with yellow skins! if you match your yellow base first the rest can be adjusted with bronzer, or blush, but matching the yellow in your skin is key!

    1. maduixa

      >to all those who find NC too white, pink or grey go with C, otherwise choose >lines meant for far east asians with yellow skins!

      Where can I buy them? I’ m quite desperate, as Studio Fix NC15 is definitely too dark and looks pinkish-greyish-orangish on me :(

  33. Fang

    I used to use Revlon Natural-finish cream powder Fair Beige 07. It matched my skin perfect but they don’t produce this kind anymore so I want to try Mac. Please help me I don’t know what shade suit me best. I’m Asian with yellow and pretty light skin. I also use Revlon colorstay liquid 300 golden beige, it look alright on my skin, a little little bit darker, just a bit darker. Thank you!!!

  34. Bee

    I currently have mac hyper spf 15 foundation NC250. I can’t seem to find it anywhere… how would I match this colour to another mac foundation. Do I just drop the 0?

  35. Ani

    I used Loreal Airwear (tan) and now I wish to try MAc as Airwear is of the market. Someone suggested I use NC 43. It seems a bit dark. would NC 42 be better? i am from the Caribbean.

  36. Nymphet

    I notice you make no mention of skin darker than pale on your chart. Everyone knows MAC becasme popular becasue of it’s extended color system which complements the deep hues of women of color’s skin. If we weren’t buying it , it wouldn’t be trendy :)

    If you are going to do a seriouse piece on makeup it would be very good to include and not pointedly exclude the more common skin tones. As if the color wheel stops at “olive skin”. shakes her head sadly.

    1. Serena

      Hi Nymphet,

      Thanks for your comment. As mentioned in the article, MAC’s foundation codes have both a letter and a number. The numbers represent the shade (how dark or light) and the letters represent the underlying tone (cool vs. warm versions of that particular number/shade). As mentioned above: “The shades range in depth from 15 (very pale) to 55 (very dark)” and of course both lighter and darker skin shades (and everything in between) are considered and appreciated by this site. The match descriptions in the chart were actually released by MAC. :)

      If you read the whole article you will realize that it is not saying in any way that the color wheel stops at olive skin. “Olive” is an undertone, as opposed to describing a shade or depth. It is possible to have darker skin with either a pinkish tone OR an olive tone. It is also possible to have lighter skin with either a pinkish tone OR an olive tone. This article is simply aiming to help our readers understand that MAC’s foundation codes incorporate both shades and tones so that each individual can best determine a possible foundation match if they are unable to visit a MAC counter in person.

  37. haley

    hi. i don’t have a mac counter around where i live, so i can’t go there and ask what shade i am. i was wondering if someone could tell by what makeup i use already and in what shades. i’m a “buff” in revlon colorstay active makeup, a “nude beige” in revlon age defying makeup and a 466- “buff beige” in Loreal true match naturale powder makeup.

  38. Kim

    If the MAC counter has color matched me NW20 with Studio Tech (and I must say they did a PERFECT job with this!) Does that mean that I am NW20 with other MAC products of this same coding? For example, Studio Fix powder or concealers?

  39. nkem

    I love mac powder and want to make it my powder.
    I am light and my under arm vein is green
    Pls which number should I use

    1. Alex

      Like she said in the article, if your underarm veins are green you most likely have green/ yellow or golden undertones. If you have green or yellow undertones you matched with cool (c) If you are more golden on top of green or yellow you would be matched with cool warm (cw). The number depends on the depth of your shade so if you are light you’d most likely be matched with a lower number since the the higher the number the deeper the shade. hope this helped! :)

  40. sabrinaa

    i use No.7 -almond in winter and tan in summer but i want to try MAC now
    does any one know which shade of MAC would best match me ??

  41. aneta

    I have a big problem.I have Mac pigment pots 50 of them.I stupidly throw away the boxes.Now I don’t have their names (orginal name of the colour)only what I have are numbers or letter and number. I now that some of them are not safe to use in eyes area.Can somebody help me on this???THANKS

  42. Mohana

    Hi, I’m using Bobbi brown golden orange pressed powder, so now I want to switch to Mac, please advice which color tone will be suitable for me similar to the golden orange

    Thank u

  43. Shona

    I use face & body N1 from mac, but i seem to have more of a break-out than previous. Can anyone suggest a product from mac or any other good quality make up counter? Thanks

  44. Steph

    Hi, I am shade natural-01 in Clarins tinted moisturizer and Warm beige in BareMinerals. Any idea of what shade I might be with MAC Studio Sculpt? Thanks.

  45. rachel

    i feel bad that some of you seem to have a really hard time finding a good shade at mac.. i consistently get a few shades past the lightest, so still on the light end but closer to medium then to the lightest shade. i went to mac for the first time as a gift from my bf, and they matched me. come to find out, nw15 is their lightest shade!!! i never thought i was that pale, but i’m guessing that mac simply doesn’t have lighter shades. it was my first mac experience/purchase and they were so helpful i actually called to tell a manager how great the consultant was. maybe you should try a different mac counter, such as going in nordstrom rather than a macys, or visiting an actual mac store, or trying a different mall altogether. it sounds like a pain but having a great foundation that meets your coverage/texture desires is awesome, and having it match your skin absolutely transforms your look.

  46. xtina

    @haley, if u use beige/buff u would b a c3 in studdiofix, i wear the same in other brands c3works for me all yr

  47. Michelle

    Thank you so much for this article. My friends and I were talking about the MAC shades, and this is so helpful. :)

  48. Mariah

    I use the new Fit Me foundation in 115, what color is that in Mac? Also I have kinda bad acne which foundation is best?I would go to a counter, but the closest one is 4 hours away.

    1. Alex

      I have bad acne, as well as bad under eye circles and I use Macs prolongwear. Liquid Concealer. It gives AMAZING coverage and stays put no matter what. Best Concealer I have ever used. Find your shade and take my word for it. Give it a try!

  49. mellissa

    i am pale blonde with blue eyes, blue veins and pink undertone so i am cool. what happens when you fake tan? will i change to warm or stay cool toned but just use a darker shade?

  50. Tanz

    Hi, I’m Currently using Napoleon make up – foundation stick colour look 2, and powder look 1. I have been In the mac professional shop but the girls are hopeless. What colour would you recommend to me?

  51. Vanessa Kae

    Hey girls, I’m currently having problems finding the correct shade of MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation for my skin tone. I find that NC35 in the Select SPF Foundation is a good match for me, yet most of the Studio Fix Fluids seem too orange, can anyone please help find the right shade ?

  52. Alex

    I will be taking this article with me to my trip to the Mac sagain. Thank you so much for explaining it. Every time I ask those girls to color match me they never give me the right colors! They are such idiots but with your help I can match myself now. Thanks again!

  53. jackie

    Hi, I am A MAC Artist. The N in NW and NC stands for NUETRALISES. Therefore NW = nuetralises warm eg neutralises YELLOW tones. NC = neutralises cool eg neutralises PINK tones. If you are yellow toned you would wear NC to neutralise cool pink tones, and if you are pink toned, you would wear NW to neutralise warm yellow tones. Hope this helps.

    1. Mar

      Thanks! MAC /scottsdale- NOT explain N is for “neutralizes”-but insisted nw25 is best to bring out pink in my skin (no!). I have med/fair skin with yellow undertones & a “few” pink spots to “neutralize”-tried to explain but she did not get it. She insisted I need to brign out the pink (what??). HADto ask for a different “mgr” who showed nc27 made more sense. Better training & interest in customer wld be nice.

  54. Storm

    Every time I think I understand this system I get thrown off again! I have quite pale and pinkish skin (which I find very unattractive!) so I think I am supposed to shop in the NW-W selection, probably around 15/20’s, is this correct?
    My problem is that when looking at the MAC shade guide to try to match one with my tone, all the MW-W selection look extremely pinkish! If I am trying to neutralise the pink in my skin I dont understand how this can be achieved by laying more pink on top of it! Help!

    1. jade

      storm. I think I have similar skin. I have blonde hair blue eyes and blue veins – so I beleive I have cool undertones – which requires nw foundation. I have pale skin with redness that pops up at times (like if i drink a glass of wine).

      If I use nw, wouldn’t that be putting more pink onto my sometimes pink skin. or should I ignore the pink flareups and choose nw because that what my undertones (blue veins) say I should do?

      1. ros

        i have the same problem with flushing on cheeks – I explained this at the counter and NW20 was suggested – it worked for me, evening out my skin tone – doesn’t stop flushing but did seem to “contain” it – i’ve used the same shade off and on over the years – differennt sales-girls have always chosen the same shade for me – however, colours do seem to vary between their liquid and compact make-up so you still need to be careful

  55. Charlotte

    I have no idea what shade to get, i hate it when foundation looks pink in colour in outside light i can never seen to find a foundation shade that doesnt do this. I want my skin to look tanned rather then pink and im med skin tonned. any idea on what colour/s would be good for me?

  56. Denise

    I’ve visited my counter several times and am still unable to match a perfect shade! I currently wear Studio Fix fluid in NW33 mixed with a little NW30. My skin has a very red undertone and I need to counteract this!
    I want to try Studio Fix powder plus foundation, but it only comes in NW30 which is too pale, or NW35 which is far too orange for me. Any suggestions??

  57. Ankita

    hello I went to ur stores looking perfect match but i end up with nothing sales gal there cannot give me my perfect shades and i m also confuse what shade is shud have please help

  58. Vickie

    Hi, I was using clinque superfit 05 but has been taken off the market, could you please recommend the MAC alternative shade?

  59. SC

    Okay I have a question. I get the NW/NC concept. My question has to do with shades that are either C or W, such as C5 etc. According to the table within the post “C” is best for yellow/olive undertones and W is best for pink undertones.

    However, in the explanations for NC and NW within the article and subsequent discussions, it is clearly stated that NW means “neautralizes warm” with “warm” being any yellow tones and NC mean “neutralizes cool” with “cool” defined as pinkish tones. Therefore, NW is pink in color to downplay warm yellow tones and emphasize the cooler pink in one’s complexion, and NC is golden in color to downplay cool pink tones, thereby emphasizing the wearer’s golden warmth toned skin.

    That said, why would foundations that are just C be for strong golden tones and just W for strong pink tones? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? If W truly equals WARM tones, and yellow is warm, shouldn’t W be for stronger golden toned people, and C be for stronger pinkish tones, since pink is considered Cool?

  60. JessicatheMUA

    After years of being a makeup artist. The rule stands true. There are no rules to makeup, only rules of thumb. Nothing called “too anything”.I disagree with telling anyone how to wear their foundation/blush/powder/eyeliner/eyeshadow. Makeup is subjective. Everyone has their own makeup style. Many light people tend to go light/lighter or mix it with a luminzer to make themselves brighter/radiant/porcelin like. A great example of this would be dita von teese, who even stays out the sun to maintain her light skintone and wears light foundation. Others prefer to be dark/darker and darken in the sun or use bronzer all over their skintone. Different people have different preferences. If I spelled “Horse” “Howrse” than there is no “ifs” “and” or “buts” because grammar isnt subjective. What is wrong is wrong!However. Makeup is subjective. I hate nude lips. Does that mean its right to say “dont wear nude lips” ? No.
    I might not like it but someone else might. There is no rule to makeup. Thats the beauty of being a makeup artist. There are soo many different styles.
    I hate bronzer. But maybe there is someone who loves that deep bronzed look. I cant go to them and say “dont go soo deep in the bronzer” and say its “constructive”. There are soo many different styles.who is anyone to tell someone theyre wearing a too light or too dark foundation, because there is no such thing. Nicole and Sam from pixiwoo(huge makeupartists in Britain) sometimes wear paler or darker foundation and it looks gorgeous! as long as people blend it to the neck its fine….some people prefer to look bright and radiant.
    You will personally know for yourself! this is 100% common sense and good judgement. IF YOU PERSONALLY DONT THINK IT SUITS YOU AND YOU DONT FEEL CONFIDENT IN IT! than go buy something else.
    I would like to thank the site owner for letting viewers get their point across

  61. KR

    =<is article helped me a lot. with this in mind I already knew I was going to be macthed to nc I'm light skin with yellow undertone. I got matched to nc37 for studio tech but my also my skin is really oil, so I had to find something that would be good for oily skin so went back and got studi fix and got matched with C4. She told me I have really yellow skin undertonand honestly this color matches perfectly!!!

  62. carliee

    i have very pale skin and dont know what my undertone would be , i buy the lightest colour foundations and still end up orange or pink help please wich mac foundation would be best xx

  63. danielle

    hello, im needed some help like really bad, i wear makeup from time to time. when i do it seems it it’s right. mu lower cheeks are a lil red tinted and then my face is a tat bit dark so my neck is lighter. but i really cant wear anything lighter that i already have then i will look like a ghost or pinkish. i wear ‘mary kay”. but ive always what to buy other makeup but again i dont want to waste my money. i just need some type of an idea for what i can do. or nothn

  64. Arianela


    i have a question… i’m using the Mac Studio fix powder and foundation C7 and i want to but a Mac Studio Finish SPF 35 concealer, but i’m not sure which tone should i pick. Does anybody knows which tone of the concealer matches better with this powder. By the way, my purpose is to cover up my acnes dark spots.


  65. Melanie

    Hi, I currently use C4 Face & body foundation. i would like to find a select coverup consealer and would like to know which would be good.


  66. sherri

    I usually wear studio fix fluid spf15 nw35 cause in the summer im outside and I tan a bit so im darker but since its winter I don’t tan much and nw35 is to dark and makes my face look orange I need help finding out what color foundation to try now

  67. Jessicamakeupartist

    In general,I disagree with telling anyone how to wear their foundation,blush/powder/eyelin­eretc. Everyone has their own style. Many light people tend to go light/lighter or mix it with a luminzer to make themselves brighter/radiant/porcelin like. An example would be dita von teese, who stays out the sun to maintain her light skintone and wears light foundation. Others prefer to be dark/darker andsunbathe or use bronzer all over their skintone. Different people have different preferences. I hate bronzer. But maybe there is someone who loves that deep bronzed look. I cant go to them and say “dont go soo deep in the bronzer” and say its “constructive”. There are soo many different styles.who is anyone to tell someone theyre wearing a too light or too dark foundation, because there is no such thing. Nicole and Sam from pixiwoo(huge makeupartists in Britain) sometimes wear paler or darker foundation and it looks gorgeous! as long as people blend it to the neck its fine….some people prefer to look bright/light/white/porcelain/bronzed/darker/suunkissed and radiant. Live and let live! also, many people’s necks or faces are lighter/darker than other parts of their body! some people choose lighter or darker foundations in respect to that! leave it be.I would like to thank the blog owner for letting readers get their knowledge across.

  68. samantha

    Wwould you be able to help me? I don’t have a mac store near me to find this out. I currently use collection 2000 colour match ivory 1 or revlon photoready airbrush 030 nude, which mac foundation and number would be the best for me. I have light/slightly golden skin tone and my skin is sensitive to some things.

  69. Clare

    I’m pale, have rosacea and freckles and I always have troubles with my foundations being too dark and not good coverage. I’m thinking i should go for the NW20 but my mum thinks i should go the 25. I don’t have a shop anywhere near me so I have to but it online. HELP PLEASE!!!

  70. ailyana

    i have very fair skin, auburn hair, and green eyes. i’m seen as a “cool” to most people. but in MAC i’m a NW. to be honest, i think they’re just making everyone alot more confused than necessary. they should just stick with cool being pink undertone and warm being golden undertone.

  71. macvirgin

    Hi! I use a L3 shade in Smashbox and I want to know what shade would be the closest to this for a Mac liquid foundation? Can someone please help me with this? I tried the foundation finder in the site and I got a NC27. Also, what would you recommend as a liquid foundation as an everyday wear for the office that would last 10-12 hours with minimal touch-ups? Thanks in advance to anyone who can respond.

  72. Jodi

    im still not sure of my shade and im not able to find a store where i currently am to match my skin color here. In black opal i wear beautiful bronze can anyone suggest a mac colour that would be similar to this please and thanks in advanced

  73. Jeani

    I just recently went to MAC but the color they chose for me is way to dark. they gave me NC42 studio fix foundation and NC40 Studio Fix powder and NC35 concealer. I think that i might be 3 shades lighter. my skin tone is a mix between Kim Kardashian and Jlo. I dont want to go too light, but I feel my color is waay to orangy or dark for me. Makes me look reddish. I’m looking for a concealer that will help with my dark cirles and a foundation that will make me look flawless and medium.

    I need help please! im thinking I’m between either NC35-40 in the foundation and powder and N30 in conealer. I also heard somewhere that NC’s arent good for concealers.

  74. Lina Kim

    ” Renee says:
    January 13, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Rie: like the article explains, people say NW is “cool” because it balances out the pink in cool skin, and the opposite for NC. I’m cool-toned, but I wear NW because the yellow balances out the pink tones in my skin.

    It’s color theory. You match a color with its opposite to neutralize it and balance it out.”

    Hi, you said you wear NW because the yellow balances out the pink tones in your skin, I’m sorry but I believe that NW foundie in mac has a pink undertone and NC (despite stands for Neutral cool), it has a yellow undertone.

  75. Socky

    I want to know what color match with the color stay revlon golden caramel.
    Please I want to bay a Mac because a friend recommended

  76. Agnes

    I am quite new to all this make up talk, and I have assessed myself as neutral but I could’t for heavens find anything that only states N (as you imply!) on Mac powders, all of them will be labelled NC or NW. I finally purchased Nw25, which is for cool ladies and it is a bit too cool for me!

    I am neutral light to medium and still looking for my perfect press powder!

    I am very happy with my foundation – Laura Mercier tainted moisturiser in bisque!

    Could you please recommend?

  77. meg

    hey…. im looking for a good mac foundation… i am usually the lighest foundation going or sometimes ivory… any ideas what colour i would be anyone? thanks :)

  78. Irene

    Hi….I have been using the Studio Fix Fluid Foundation on NC35 but I noticed it made me look orange. I recently went to a Mac store and gave told me I was a NW25 but I still think its too dark for me. Can you recommend anther color to try???

  79. Case

    I’m so glad I came across this page. I currently use a C 4 in face & Body by MAC. Please recommend a powder. Thank you soon much.

  80. ros

    explanation was v.good – now understand the way MAC works it out – I’ve used their foundation for quite a while and have always found the girls at the counter helpful and well-informed – and usually accurate when judging your skin tone and the right make-up shade to balance it – I have slight pink undertones and NW20 was suggested – as you said, picking a neutral/warm tone to balance skin which has a naturally cool tone

  81. preciee

    I’m currently using black opal nutmeg foundation, what match of mac powder and foundation will please be perfect on me? Thank I great people.


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