MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50 Review & Swatches

I am a huge fan of MAC Prep + Prime products because everything I’ve tried so far has been a hit (reviews: MAC Prep + Prime LipMAC Prep + Prime 24-Hour Extended Eye Base, and MAC Prep + Prime Natural Radiance). Now that I am crazy about experimenting with different sunscreens I though I’d give the Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50 a try. Is it another hit product for me? Read on to find out!

MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50
MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50
MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50
MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50
MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50
MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50

First thing first, let’s talk appearance. MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50 comes housed in a sparkly, shiny black squeezable inverted tube. There is a small opening that allows you to control the amount of product to dispense easily. What I appreciate also is the size of the rubbery screw-on cap. Seriously, there are so many squeeze-y tube products out there that come with such a tiny, slippery cap that most of the time results in it slipping off my hand or rolling off the table! Having a cap half the size of the product tube like this is so nice because you’ll never ever lose it!

MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50
MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50

But then I’m starting to think that the reason for having a cap so large is just so that the whole tube doesn’t look to be too small. I’m not going to lie, the moment I saw how small it is, I was taken aback! For reference, the length of the tube starting from the base of the nozzle dispenser is only 7 cm (2.75 in)! The tube is wider at the base, then sharply tapered towards the top. The amount of product given is 30 ml (1 fl oz) for US$30 so basically each ml is worth a dollar. Quite pricey! Then I thought to myself: This better be the best sunscreen I’ve ever used or else! ;D

Active ingredients

MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50
MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50

MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50 contains broad-spectrum chemical absorbers as follow:

Avobenzone 3.00% protects against UVA1
Homosalate 5.00% protects against UVB
Octisalate 5.00% protects against UVB
Octocrylene 2.70% protects against UVB
Oxybenzone 3.00% protects against UVA2 and UVB

Additional ingredients include a blend of mineral-rich nutrients, including red and brown algae extracts and iron and potassium to help the skin retain its moisture.

I’m blessed that my skin does not react to chemical or physical filters so I can use either of them safely. I’ve been using the Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50 for about 3-4 weeks now and it hasn’t caused me breakout or irritation of any kind.


MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50
MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50

Texture-wise, it is very similar to a thick creamy lotion. It is white in color but applies invisible without leaving a ghostly white cast. It has a certain but very mild scent that dissipates soon upon application. The formula does not contain any shimmery particles but upon applying, it leaves a subtle shine so your skin appears dewy (but not greasy). It does not have a mattifying effect at all (unlike the old formula) and does not seem to help control oil production during the day. The finish is on the tacky side initially but will set to a more comfortable, lightweight feel once fully absorbed. I usually let it dry for about 5-10 minutes before following with my makeup.

MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50
MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50

It really does feel like applying a lotion because my face instantly feels silky and moisturized. From my research, it seems that in the old formulation, the product doubles as a primer that mattifies the skin a great deal and that’s why it’s well-loved by oily skin wearers. However, as I mentioned above, this new formulation does not have the same matte finish. It does not cause my skin to over produce oil but it does not help prolong or control it, either. That’s why I still need a mattifying primer before continuing with my foundation or powder.

MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50 dispensed (L) and blended (R)
MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50 dispensed (L) and blended (R)

Everyone has their own favorite sunscreen either because it is so light in texture, or has a mattifying finish, or applies silkily, or absorbs instantly. I can’t say there is anything in particular that stands out about the newly formulated Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50. Surely it is a good and effective sunscreen, no doubt, but in a sea of great sunscreens on the market, it evidently lacks novelty or uniqueness. Plus, given the high price tag, it’s hard for me to justify a repurchase. Still, those whose skin is dry or dry-to-normal, you may benefit greatly from the moisturizing formula of this product!


US$30 at Nordstrom ○ Macy’s ○ Dillard’s ○ MAC

At MAC counters

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  1. says: Lena L

    Thanks for the in-depth review, Jaa!
    I might be wrong but the old one didn’t contain avobenzone and looked ideal to me, but still 30ml for $30 deal is too much. If we apply sunscreen “correctly”, that means it would only last a month!
    We often neglect a necessity of moisturizing primer, but I see many people would be disappointed in this.
    Currently I’m using Kao Biore Aqua Rich, and add some silicon based primer when needed. :)

    1. says: Jaa

      Too costly I agree! I love those Biore Aqua Rich sunscreens! They have so many different ones here. Which one are you using?

  2. says: Liz

    I also liked the old one quiet a bit and haven’t tried the new one yet! My friend who also has oily skin doesn’t like the new formula. I might give it a go in winter when skin can use the extra dew. :)

    1. says: Jaa

      See now I’m just CURIOUS about the old formula! What was so great about it? Why did everyone love it? And why did they decide to just up and change the formula that was so well-loved by everyone?!

  3. says: Lily

    I just bought 2 Avene sunscreens today. One is the white bottle, mineral sunscreen and the other an orange bottle, a chemical one. I like both. I’m going to use the Mineral Creme on my face and the other on my arms when I drive. I’m beginning to get a tan line on my arm and I don’t like it!

    1. says: Jaa

      I still have a tan line on my legs from wearing shorts to the water festival 3 months ago! Is it ever going to go away??!! Hmmmph!!! Ohhh new sunscreens? When can we expect the review?! I always love hearing about new sunscreens! :D

  4. says: Kimmy

    I don’t need Sunscreen just yet but this one doesn’t seem appealing to me. Thanks for the heads up about the formula difference in this new version. :-)

    1. says: Jaa

      Now I’m just curious what the old formula was like! Since so many people loved it and were disappointed (read: furious) when they found that the new one has been reformulated!

  5. says: Lulle

    The tube basically looks like it’s wearing a platform shoe, lol! It’s true that a larger cap is easier to handle, but here it looks really oversized on this tiny tube. The formula sounds nice enough but I think there are many more affordable options for a similar product.

    1. says: Jaa

      Hahaha at a platform shoe! Why didn’t I think of that! Yeah, with so little amount in the tube, and with so many great sunscreens out there, I will probably try something else before I repurchase! :)

  6. says: Alicia

    I’ve been using the old formula for many years and before it was discontinued :( and I haven’t been able to find any like it since.

    Reasons why I think that primer was so good was because

    – it gave softness to the makeup without the make up looking over done

    – I could go 10 hours straight with this primer even longer and my make up wouldn’t be oily.

    – even great when you going for a night out at a club and i see girls hours later looking all hot and sweaty and I checked make up hours later it’s like I’ve just had it done. No sweat patches insight lol
    Girls couldn’t believe how good make up looks after a night.

    – even when I go on holiday to hot country and I feel hot and sweaty my make up still looked fresh.

    – and also this is only primer that I know works well with different make brand. I wear sleek foundation as my every day make up and when I’m out some where nice I wear mac. And the primer works so well with both. I’ve tried other primers and it would work well with one foundation but not the other.

    These are things I’ve experience and notice when using the old formula. And tha is why I love it so much and I’m so gutted they have stopped doing it. I will never find a primer like it :(

    1. says: Jaa

      Hi Alicia! Thank you for sharing your experience with us! Such a shame that MAC would discontinue such awesome product! From what you said, it did sound like a wonderful sunscreen + primer in one!

  7. says: yvette

    Hi I have been using this new primer for 3 months now. My Mac foundation makeup stays on all day and gives a nice smooth finish. However, freakishly, I am now experiencing my eyebrow hair is falling out and suggest not to put over eyebrows although that is where the sun hits. That is the only new skincare makeup product I have added to my daily routine over the last 6 months

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