Few make-up brands have dominated the lip game for so long – here are the formulas worth buying MAC.
Make-up Art Cosmetics, better known as Mac, is one of the most well-known make-up brands in the world. Since it was founded in 1984, the brand has expanded into a cosmetics empire that is now sold in over 105 countries.
Its most popular products are by far its lipsticks. Mac is behind some of the most famous shades in the history of make-up – such as its matte red “ruby woo” or balmy nude, “creme cup” .
With over 200 lip products to choose from, in seven different categories, ranging from matte to creamy, satin to liquid, you’re sure to find something for every look. But which shade reigns supreme?
How we tested
In a bid to find the best of the best, we’ve spent almost two months putting as many Mac lipsticks to the test, and have narrowed it down to the top nine. We looked at shade range – trying everything from nudes to reds and vibrant pinks – as well as making note of their staying power, finish, texture and pigment. We also paid close attention to how they handled hours of wear while eating, drinking and face mask wearing.
Our round-up has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a vibrant pop of colour, a sheer tinted balm or the perfect nude.
The best mac lipsticks for 2021 are:
Best overall – Glow play lip balm in “rouge awakening”
Best nude lipstick – Matte lipstick in “velvet teddy”
Best red lipstick – Retro matte lipstick in “ruby woo”
Best pink lipstick – Powder kiss lipstick in “sexy, but sweet”
Best nude lipstick for fair skin – Viva glam (satin) in “viva glam II”
Best cremesheen lipstick – Cremesheen in “creme cup”
Glow play lip balm in “rouge awakening”
If you like a sheer wash of colour, the glow play lip balm range is well worth exploring. We tried “rouge awakening” which looks like a vibrant coral, but once applied, gives a glossy tint of pink. It’s a very hydrating formula, blended with shea butter, jojoba seed and mango oils, and is so sheer you can easily apply it without a mirror. It’s not sticky or gloopy and is the perfect compromise between wearing lipstick and keeping dry, chapped skin at bay. We loved how it looked both with a full face of make-up as well as when we opted to go barefaced and has become our handbag essential.
“Velvet teddy” is one of Mac’s all-time greats, the perfect nude for fair and medium skin tones that’s flattering, long-lasting and comfortable, despite being matte. It glides onto skin with a rich pigment, we find two coats is enough. It’s a deep-tone beige shade that faded ever so slightly when we tucked into a burger over dinner, but didn’t smudge, nor leave our lips looking patchy. It’s the perfect companion for lowkey and bold make-up looks, complimenting eyeshadows and graphic liner work well. No wonder it’s consistently a bestseller.
Few lipsticks have had the impact that “ruby woo” has. The blue-based red shade has an instant brightening effect, and the matte formula is exceptionally reliable for staying in place throughout multiple rounds of cocktails. This is a full-coverage, one-swipe’s-enough, to finish off your make-up.
Our reviewer has worn this shade for years and it’s a real confidence boost that makes you feel immediately more polished. It’s universal appeal lies in its skin-flattering shade that suits all skin tones. It’s the ultimate red lipstick in our opinion. As with most matte formulas, they can be drying, to avoid this, we’d recommend applying a lip balm first to keep skin supple and hydrated.