NC or NW?

I'm pretty sure all you makeup fanatics out there know just from the title of the blog, what it's going to be about.

Walk into any MAC store and many a potential customer would feel completely out of their depth with all the many, different colours which lay in front of them.

More so the foundations. Where do you start? There are so many. And what on earth does NC or NW mean?

From the fairest of them all, to the deepest, warmest skin tone. You want it? MAC have it.

Now I have been asked this question alot this week, in fact, pretty much since I can remember! What is the difference between an NC and NW?

It can be kept very simple, or made very complicated.

Let's keep it simple........

I'm looking for a foundation, to suit my skin.........

Okay. So, this isn't a blog on MAC foundations, but to try and help the many of you who email and just ask generally. What is the difference between the two tones, and which would I use?

It seems many girls feel if they had some insight, themselves into the NC - NW wonderland, they would have a little more confidence when asking to be matched.


NC - Neutral Cool. Now, cool for MAC, means more of a yellow/golden/olive undertone to the skin.
NW - Neutral Warm - Again, for MAC. Warm means more of a pink, red, warmth to the skin.

So - you know your skin better than anyone.
Are you more an English rose? Or are you more of a Mediterranean Bronzed beauty?

Would these well known Celebrities be matched up to an NC or NW?
What do you think? Answers below.

Michelle Williams - NW
Kim Kardashian - NC
Kate Winslet - NW
Rhianna - NC


Now, it can get complicated. But, again, it's all to do with colour theory.

Maybe. like me, you have reddy undertone skin in your face, but your chest is yellow? What do we do? Arghhhhhhhh!!!!
No need to panic.

I match a lot of girls to the colour of their chest. Especially if they have a big night out, or they are getting married.
You want your skin ON SHOW to look as uniform as possible.

Classic examples:

Bride: She is an NC on the face. So, she is cool toned. But the skin on her chest area is very red and flushed, all the time. So her chest is an NW.
If I match her to a NC on her face - her face will look extremely yellow against the warm NW tone of her chest.
Making sense?

So, ideally. I will want to match her face colour to the colour of her chest. So use an NW on her face.
Now her face and chest match. Both NW! Boom!
Team it up with a little pink blush and a little pink lippie. (To keep all the tones the same ) She's ready, and off to go get her hubby!

Maybe you have more of an NC tone skin? Say an NC35? Yet you have much warmer skin around your mouth, chin, and forehead. So when you put your foundation on. It looks great everwhere, but these particular areas?
Do you tend to find the mouth, chin and forehead go light, even an ashy, sort of grey undertone?
That's because these areas are NW. They are warmer, so your NC will not sit correctly.
Great little tip? Buff a little NW concealer on top. Voila. You will look uniform allover. 
Flawless beauty girls!

So, foundations are more than just a mask to cover. They can be used to correct skin tones and bring balance to the skin.

Take the time to really find YOUR perfect colour. Bearing in mind the tones of your skin, and which parts of your skin you will be showing off. It really makes all the difference.
Use the NC or NW tones to either, balance, enhance or correct.

And another little tip for all your fake tanning lovelies out there. Fake tan, will always, always, have a yellow undertone to it. So stick to your NC tones.

I hope now you all feel a little more confident with your NC and NW worries.  See there was nothing to be worried about!

Till next time my lovelies
RuthE x

*images of celebrites taken from google images


  1. THANK YOU!!!! this made my day, I always wondered that should I choose, and you explained very very beautiful.

  2. You´re finally someone who explained it in a simple an comprehensive way! THANK YOU :)