In the world of beauty, nothing has stood the test of time quite like red lipstick. While our penchant for foundation finishes shifts between matte and dewy, and our preferred eye makeup alternates between natural, fluffy lashes, and bold, statement shadows, one thing that just about every beauty aficionado can agree on is that red lips will never date. That, and the fact there's one brand, in particular, that does them particularly well: MAC.
To say MAC has a monopoly on the lipstick scene would be a serious understatement. Last year, more than 60 million MAC lipsticks were sold globally. That's two lipsticks per second. Impressive, right? What's even more incredible is that the top-selling MAC lipsticks in 2019 were Devoted to Chili, Chili, and Ruby Woo—all shades of red. So yes, it seems makeup lovers all around the world are pretty obsessed with their MAC red lipsticks.
Here in the UK, Ruby Woo is the second best-selling MAC lipstick, coming in just behind the universally-adored neutral Velvet Teddy (£18), but it's safe to say that popularity of MAC red lipsticks still outweighs all the other colours in its vast offering.
But what is it that makes MAC red lipsticks so special? "Red lipstick has been a staple cosmetic item in most people's makeup drawer since the mid-19th century and there's no denying why, and the impact that a red lipstick can make to its wearer both visually and internally," explains Lesley Keane, global senior artist of MAC Cosmetics.
"Firstly, it's a comparatively inexpensive way to add an instant boost in confidence, mood, and attitude in an application; whether it's wanting to feel sexy or professional while looking fashionably on-trend in a classic timeless way. MAC red lipsticks come in a range of tones that suit any skin tone, and they can universally be worn by all ages, sexes, races, and genders, bringing its magical mood-boosting powers to all."
The fact that it has inclusive appeal is certainly one of the reasons why MAC red lipsticks are held in such high esteem. "Red comes in a range of various tones that can be worn as a stain to full impact or glossy to matte finish depending on the wearer's taste, but there are also guidelines you can follow to get the perfect tone for your skin," reveals Keane. "There is what we call a universal red that has an equal amount of warm orange, or blue-red to create a shade that suits most skins, like MAC's iconic Ruby Woo or Russian Red lipsticks. It's down to personal taste but, classically, it is said that warm orange-reds look particularly incredible on an olive sallow skin tone (I'd recommend Lady Danger). Cherry reds always look gorgeous on pale skin (I love Feels So Grand). For deeper skin tones, I always think a darker cherry shade (something along the lines of Dubonnet) looks incredible. This, however, is just a guide and really, there are no rules—anyone can wear whatever shade they please, as long as it makes them feel confident."
MAC red lipsticks are so iconic that they've even garnered quite the celebrity following. Madonna wore Lady Danger religiously on her lips during her infamous Blonde Ambition tour in 1990. Miley Cyrus is also said to be a fan of this vibrant shade. As for Ruby Woo, you can count Taylor Swift and Rita Ora as regular wearers of this suits-all shade of red.
Born in 1999, Ruby Woo was part of a line called Retro Matte Lipsticks, along with five other shades. While the others have since been discontinued, Ruby Woo, however, has become an instant success. Today, seven tubes of MAC Ruby Woo are sold every minute. This is second only to Chili, a rich, orangey-red, which is reported to be MAC's worldwide best-selling lipstick.
If you don't already have a collection of MAC red lipsticks your disposal, we think now is an excellent time to start amassing your collection. Keep scrolling to see some of the best-selling MAC red lipsticks we've talked about while discovering some of our additional favourites.