I Tested MAC's New Skincare Line, and It's Been a Game-Changer for Applying Makeup on My Dry Skin

The legacy makeup brand is branching out with a new skincare line designed to sit well under makeup 

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MAC Hyper Real Skincare Is Worth the Hype
Photo: People / Alli Waataja

As it turns out, the key to radiant makeup doesn't hinge on the perfect foundation or a fancy makeup sponge.

MAC Cosmetics knows that smooth, even skin and a glowing complexion are what really help its makeup shine, which is why it recently launched a makeup-friendly skincare line, Hyper Real. Designed to be used with or without makeup for glowing skin, the lineup includes the nourishing Serumizer Hydration Serum, the SkinCanvas Balm Moisturizing Cream, and the Fresh Canvas Cleansing Oil, and it's available directly from MAC's site, as well as Ulta.

Let's cut to the chase: After testing all three products (courtesy of the brand), my dry skin looked moist and dewy, and my makeup truly lasted all day — just when I had resigned myself to the facts that skincare layering under base makeup will inevitably pill and end-of-day dryness is a hopeless fate.

MAC Hyper Real Skincare Products

The MAC Hyper Real Skincare line is meant for everyone, according to the brand. Tested on all skin tones, each product has a non-greasy, lightweight formula that is both deeply nourishing and breathable for skin types both oily and dry (and everything in between). MAC highlights Japanese peony extract as the star ingredient in all three products for its ability to visually brighten the skin and heal it over time.

"After secretly using Hyper Real for the last six months in my kit, I can honestly say I've never seen skin like it," MAC global senior artist Dominic Skinner tells PEOPLE. "The results have been astonishing, with a lit-from-within glow that has left models desperate to know what I've used."

When it comes to skin prep, not just any old moisturizer will do for MAC professionals, says Chantel Miller, MAC's director of artistry and content. "One of the challenges we run into in the makeup artist community is that not all skincare has been designed to be used in conjunction with makeup," she tells PEOPLE.

Formulated with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to deeply hydrate the skin without leaving a greasy film, MAC Hyper Real Skincanvas Balm Moisturizing Cream was specially designed to play beautifully with makeup. The lightweight and breathable texture of the Skincanvas Balm feels more like a moisturizer than a primer, which might be what I love about it most — no tacky finish here. Using the cream right before applying my makeup left me with a smooth, dewy finish that's typically impossible for my Sahara Desert skin.

MAC Cosmetics

Buy It! Hyper Real Skincanvas Balm Moisturizing Cream, $49; maccosmetics.com

Part serum, part moisturizer, part glowy primer, the Hyper Real Serumizer Skin Balancing Hydration Serum softens and strengthens the skin barrier, leaving behind a subtle sheen. It's formulated with brightening niacinamide and a cocktail of ceramides to hydrate and smooth skin for a glowing finish with or without makeup. Miller was involved in testing the Serumizer, and she discloses that she's currently on her fourth bottle of the stuff.

For me, the Serumizer feels lightweight and absorbs quickly without any tacky residue. And as soon as I applied it, my skin felt bouncy to the touch. MAC describes it as a "serum-moisturizer hybrid," but for my dry skin this time of year, I still need a thicker cream layered on top.

MAC Cosmetics

Buy It! Hyper Real Serumizer Skin Balancing Hydration Serum, $55; maccosmetics.com

The process of double cleansing — starting with an oil-based cleanser to loosen up surface gunk and then going in again with a standard cleanser — helps to thoroughly remove the acne-causing remnants of your day. The MAC Hyper Real Cleansing Oil makes for a great first cleanse, with a light and soothing scent and a slippy formula that won't tug.

It feels gentle on my sensitive skin and removes most of my makeup without imparting that dreaded post-cleanse tightness. The cleanser's herbal scent is so luxurious and spa-like that I now actually look forward to washing my face at the end of the day.

MAC Cosmetics

Buy It! Hyper Real Fresh Canvas Cleansing Oil, $48; maccosmetics.com

As someone who's tried countless skincare and makeup products, I won't stand for those that don't do what they claim. The MAC Hyper Real line actually delivered its promise of dewy skin and smooth makeup application — so only buy this if you're ready for an onslaught of compliments.

Cai Cramer is a commerce writer for PEOPLE.com who covers the best and buzziest products across beauty, fashion, health, and lifestyle. She occasionally receives products to review and writes about her personal favorites.

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