Light in coverage, but heavy duty in skincare – MAC Prep+Prime Beauty Balm SPF 35

As lover of MAC and of Tinted Moisturizers, I was delighted when they jumped on the band wagon and released their very own Beauty Balm a few years ago.

I didn’t even bother to test in in store, I ordered the color „Light“ online without second thoughts. At this time there were only three shades to choose from („Light“, „Medium“, „Dark“) as opposed to 12 nowadays.

MAC Prep+Prime Beauty Balm SPF 35

The last squeeze I saved for the purpose of writing a review.

What MAC claims:
This lightly tinted Beauty Balm comes in a nearly sheer beige tone to work with different complexions. It creamily re-texturizes the skin, moisturizing and reducing fine lines while providing high everyday UVA/UVB defense.

The Beauty Balm comes in a squeeze tube, containing 30 ml (1.0 fl oz) and retails for 32 € here.
There are 12 shades to choose from, ranging from Extra Light to Dark Deep.
When first applied, it smells a little like paint, but luckily the smell doesn’t linger.

Favorable ingredients:
– Tocopheryl Acetate: Vitamin E, antioxidant
– Sodium Hyaluronate: Moisturizing
– Glycerin: Moisturizing
– Lecithin: Smoothing
– Urea: Moisturizing
– Wheat Germ Extract: Moisturizing, contains Vitamin A, E and D (antioxidants)
– Barley Extract: Soothes and moisturizes, contains Linoleum acid
– Cucumber Extract: Soothing, depuffing, antiinflammatory
– Laminaria Saccharina Extract: Brown algae, fights impurities, controls sebum (also used by La Mer)
– Apple Extract: Natural AHAs that fight impurities
– Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract: Skin Whitening, contains flavinoids
– Oryzanol: Antioxidant
-Trehalose: Moisturizing

The sunscreen:
This BB Cream contains chemical sunscreen (Octinoxate, Oxybenzone) as well as physical sunscreen (Titanium Dioxide), with the emphasis on the chemical sunscreen, so the risk for flashback is low.

Unfavorable Ingredients:
– Silicones
– Silica (can lead to breakouts in some people)
– Preservatives

The finish is semi-matte, the coverage light to light-medium, and it lasts throughout a working day without settling into fine lines. I usually use a Beauty Blender or my fingers, both work equally well.

1. No foundation.
My skin is behaving well, no active blemishes, but some discoloration and scars.

No foundation, just under eye concealer

2. MAC Prep+Prime Beauty Balm SPF 35.
I applied a second layer on my cheeks for more coverage, but the discoloration still shines through.

Two layers of MAC Prep+Prime Beauty Balm SPF 35

3. Four hours later.
Scarring and discoloration are more visible, and there is shine on my cheeks and nose, but the overall appearance is more even than without the foundation.

How it wears, four hours later.

Does it live up to its claims?
Yes, with some minor exceptions.
The coverage is light, as claimed, it is moisturizing, but suitable for slightly oily skin, too. There are enough antioxidants to support the anti-aging claims and on the other hand AHAs and algae extracts to prevent breakouts.
The minor exception is the claimed „beige tone“. On my neutral to warm skin the product is a little pink, but as the coverage is sheer, it is barely noticeable.
As far as sunscreen goes: I wrote about it before, but just as a reminder: You will not get a SPF of 35 from this product, unless you apply about three times the amount you need for foundation purposes. Chemical filters spread a little easier than physical ones, but nevertheless, don’t rely on a foundation to give you sun protection.

Will I rebuy?
I like the product, but I am looking for a little more coverage to hide my discolorations and acne scars. If I could build it to medium coverage, I would repurchase for sure.

Who do I recommend it to?
People with minor skin concerns, just looking for a light base.
You really get a lot of skincare goodness, given this is a Tinted Moisturizer, but if you have multiple problem areas and are to impatient to work with concealer, you should probably try something else.
As far as skin type is concerned, it sits well on normal to slightly dry or slightly oily skin. If you are either dry or oily, another product might be better.

Have you tried this product before?
Do you prefer Tinted Moisturizers or are you a Foundation-Fan?

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  • it broke me when i tried it in the store ..hence never purchased …u r right the silica might be the one which made me break out
    nicely reviewed … currently loving Bobbi brown and Dior bb creams …both r lovely and gives me nice coverage

  • I had a Dior sample and really liked it, so maybe I will try this one next.
    Silica seems to affect many people. Too bad it is frequently used. Do you have issues with powders breaking you out as well?

  • Have you tried comparing the ingredient lists, to get a hint on what might break you out?
    Sticking to trusted products is always a safe bet, I would never try anything new before a big event.

  • I've been trying the neutralize CC cream from this line for the past few days and unfortunately it's not doing everything I had hoped it would do either. It's too bad.

  • not yet Linda but I need to do it 🙂

  • Neha Mishra

    Hmm….doesn't sound like somethng worth tryin…I need something that hides all my flaws…
    Thnx for sharing ur views… 🙂

  • Your skin without foundation is perfect! I love it. I think this coverage works beautifully on you, but I totally understand wanting something more. I have quite a few freckles and I like to keep them covered up, and a BB Cream can't do that for me (though I do love them).


    Jenny // Mish Mosh Makeup

  • Swati Sharma

    You look pretty 🙂

  • I think the coverage is great on you and looks very natural. Personally, I am not a fan of anything heavy coverage so this sounds right up my alley, will check this out.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

  • Hey Linda, I think this looks great on you! For me it really depends. Most of the time I want something light and quick (meaning I can blend with my fingers), but when I am out and about, especially for press launches and so on, I want to look as good as I can so only a foundation will do! I haven't really tried this one. For the moment I am a little obsessed with Guerlain Baby Glow, although that one is also rather light in terms of coverage so I'm not sure it's what you're looking for.

  • LilyMint

    I have this- I have to agree that the coverage could be a little heavier, but its absolutely great for summer when you just want to even out your complexion slightly! Check out my blog?xx

  • Tinted moisturisers don't ever work for me. Ever! I usually find that it looks like I'm wearing foundation, but have crap skin, does that make sense? Like, you can still see discolouration BUT you can see product too. I think I'm just a medium coverage girl to the bone.

  • Thats the worst of both worlds, I can understand why you shy away from them.
    Medium coverage is what I aim for, too, because my acne scars are my number one concern.
    Which foundation do you use at the moment?

  • Yes, if you can get away with that, it is really great. But my scars need a little more coverage or me using more concealer, and I usually have no time for that in the mornings.
    Which color do you use?

  • I need something I can cover my scars up with, so medium coverage is what I am looking for. If it weren't for the impossibility to built it up, I would gladly repurchase, because I love the finish and the skincare benefits.
    For major events I rely on foundation, but for everyday it has to be quick and easy. I prefer my Laura Mercier TM coverage wise.
    Is the finish from Baby Glow as dewy as it sounds?

  • The finish is very natural, I really like that, too.
    Do you use Tinted Moisturizers/BB Creams everyday?

  • Thank you. Only took about 40 pictures to achieve that 😉

  • My skin is far from perfect, but I remember us having the same conversation regarding your skin…
    Just a little more coverage is what I want, like the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer I own. Or the time (and patience) to use concealer in the mornings.
    But nothing can beat a BB Cream when you are in a hurry. I´ll choose my scars shining through over ill-blended foundation any day.
    Is it difficult finding BB Creams being as fair as you are?

  • Than this is not the one for you. Which foundation do you go for?

  • Had this on my list, too, but am hesitant now I heard you are not getting along with each other. What was the problem? Or will there a blogpost soon?

  • Yes, but to be fair, I could have swatched in store first and realized the coverage wasn't buildable. And I used it completely, so it wasn't a complete waste of money.
    Have you tried any BB Creams lately?

  • Me too. I keep telling me I will start, but then forget until the next product breaks me out…

  • No, I wasn't planning on reviewing it. It's not a bad product per se. I just can't make it work for me 🙁 It doesn't look right on my skin.

  • Baby Glow has an interesting finish. It is glowy and matte at the same time. With a lot of glow-enhancing base products, I could see from the first 30 seconds that they won't work. Baby Glow actually stays put without making my face too shiny! I still powder it down a little, but I have to powder literally everything down so that's normal.

  • Back in the days before I was beauty blogger I apply makeup only when I have to go to office and it was BB cream all the way. But these days I am testing different foundation every week. LOL!
    I've never been a fan of heavy coverage so BB creams have always been my favourite but there are so many light foundations available now that it doesn't make any differences anymore.

  • Powder to go with everything here, too.
    Maybe I´ll try and get a sample to see how I like it. Usually the word "Glow" makes me run the other direction.

  • I totally agree! I have BB Creams with heavier coverage than my foundations, you can't go strictly by the name anymore.

  • Hm, okay. I´ll swatch it in store then before I decide on a purchase. No blind online action this time.

  • Same here. I was like "OH NOES" when I received it, but I read Tracy's review and decided to give it a go. Now I reach for it often!

  • Neha Mishra

    My current fav is L'Oreal True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous… 🙂

  • I heard great things about that one. It sits on my seemingly endless to-try-list…

  • I think you look beautiful without any coverage, btw. Absolutely beautiful. So yes, I also think the product does a good job at giving light coverage – makes it look natural with a healthy glow. Perhaps instead of buying something with medium coverage you could try using a color corrector or concealer for the discoloration that bothers you. BUT that is only a suggestion, hey!

    Honestly, I haven't found a tinted moisturizer that looks great on me. I should give the one by Bobbi Brown a try though. I have tested it.. but I forgot what I think of it. This is what happens when you don't write things down. 😛

  • That is what I do sometimes, but usually I can't be bothered to spend the time pin point concealing my scars, as they are distributed over both cheeks. Even a medium coverage doesn't cover them completely, but they don't bother me any more.

    The Bobby Brown one is on my list, too.
    Do you always write down your thoughts? And if so, where? I keep forgetting lots of stuff all the time, so I was looking for a way to note things without writing a full on blogpost every time.

  • Allison @neversaydiebeauty

    You look fabulous, but thanks for the honest review. This wouldn't provide enough coverage for me either.

  • Yeah, I made the mistake of only trying it on my hand before buying.

  • YSL Le Teint Touche Élcat mixed with some Face Atelier Zero Minus. I reviewed 'em last month, if you're interested!

  • I´ll have a look, thank you! Isn´t mixing a hassle?

  • So maybe use it as a hand pefector? They say hands tell your age, so maybe this is going to be the next big thing.

  • Thank you Allison.
    What coverage and finish do you prefer?

  • I really love that this gives a glowy but not shiny finish. You look lovely, and I'd totally try this!

    Erin | Erin and Katherine Talk Beauty

  • The finish is lovely, although I prefer my base a little more matte.
    What do you use at the moment? Any holy grail recommendations?

  • Dressed With Soul

    Oh, habe ich noch nie getestet, aber nach Deinem ehrlichen Review werde ich das sicher auch nicht. Und Du siehst klasse aus, auch ohne Foundation, ich hoffe auch Du siehst, wie schön Du bist!

    xx Rena

  • Danke, liebe Rena. Ich bin inzwischen sehr zufrieden mit meiner Haut, nur die alten Narben nerven eben manchmal.
    Aber mit dem Alter kommt auch eine gehörige Menge Selbstliebe, die in jüngeren Jahren fehlt.
    Was benutzt Du denn im Augenblick?

  • Dressed With Soul

    Das freut mich sehr, dass Du mittlerweile zufrieden bist mit Deiner Haut. Und Narben haben wir wohl alle, manche davon sind einfach mehr sichtbar als andere … Du bist auf jedenfalls liebenswert und Dein Selbst hat Deine Liebe ganz sicher verdient.
    Danke für Deine Nachfrage: Ich benutze die ganz simple BB Creme von Garnier (für helle Haut).
    Alles Liebe von Rena

  • Hmm, no holy grails yet! However I've really been liking the Dr. Perricone's No Foundation Foundation – it's very light on the skin. 🙂

  • Jaa

    I tried this one when it first came out and wasn't thoroughly impressed with the coverage, either. I guess it's fine for good skin days but usually I need something a little thicker to cover my acne scars. For TM, my current favorite is the NARS one. The coverage is so good it could pass for a foundation! 🙂

  • Allison @neversaydiebeauty

    Medium to full coverage. I've been wearing BB and CC creams most often, but my HG foundation is MUFE 🙂

  • Looks lovely 🙂 Your skin looks very radiant and dewy

  • Diana Cloudlet

    Just found your blog and I’d like to say that it’s amazing! I like your photos and style
    of writing! Great job! Keep doing it!


  • I love BB creams and tinted moisturisers, especially for S/S. I don't mind that the coverage is light but I agree it's nice to have the option to build it up to a medium coverage if / when needed. Have you tried the one from Estée Lauder? It's lovely and got great coverage for a BB cream. 🙂 x

    Renata | Speaking Beauty UK

  • Ah, die kenne ich. Im Sommer mag ich sie sehr gerne, im Winter ist sie mir ein bisschen zu dunkel leider.

  • So I will add NARS to the list. How is the finish on this one?

  • Thank you, Diana.

  • No, I never tried the Estee Lauder one. I am currently testing their concealer and I like it very much.
    How is the finish on the BB Cream? Very dewy?

  • Thank you, Laura. I prefer matte over dewy, but I really like the finish on this one with a little powder through the T-Zone.
    Do you powder or do you prefer a dewy finish?

  • Okay, I will see if I can get may hands on a sample of that one.

  • If I remember correctly, it's satin finish but on the dewy side. Not much though. I think it'd be good for all skin types. 🙂

  • Satin finish sounds great. Thank you!

  • LilyMint

    Sorry for the super late reply! I use the shade 'light plus' xx

  • No worries, thanks for sharing.