Never thought you could pull off a red lip? That’s about to change.

By Zoe Denenberg
January 15, 2020
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A few weeks ago, I conducted an experiment in which I wore red lipstick for a week straight. While the trials left my lips dry and chapped, a few standout shades made the week of excessive ChapStick application worthwhile. Charlotte Tilbury produced a few favorites and some drugstore options rose to the occasion, but my resounding favorite was the first shade I tried: MAC Ruby Woo.

MAC consistently produces some of our top lipstick picks, and this tried-and-true shade is so popular that the brand designed a whole collection of complimentary products after Ruby Woo’s signature hue. Now, you can execute a full monochromatic look with Ruby Woo Lipglass (the matte lipstick’s glossy counterpart), high-shine Ruby Glitter, and matte Walking Heartbeats Eye Shadow.

Of course, the pièce de résistance of the collection is the Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo. This vibrant matte shade strikes the perfect balance between a bright, poppy red and a slightly deeper, more scarlet hue. It’s bold without being too candy-apple red, and it shines even against my pale winter skin. On the wide spectrum of bargain drugstore brands and high-end designer tubes, this lipstick—priced at $19—sits somewhere in the middle. If you're not quite ready to commit, Ruby Woo is one of a few cult-favorite shades that's available in a mini size for just $12.

MAC Ruby Woo
Zoe wearing MAC Ruby Woo
| Credit: Zoe Denenberg

Here’s what I had to say about the shade in my red lipstick chronicles: “This lipstick made a great first impression; it applied smoothly but resulted in a strong, bold red-blue color. There was little excess (the blot only printed a faint outline) and no smearing.”

But don't just take it from me. After the article went live, multiple readers wrote in to say that this color is one of their personal favorites. On MAC's website, one enthusiastic reviewer dubs Ruby Woo "the best shade of red ever created!!!" Even red lip queen Taylor Swift says Ruby Woo is one of her go-to shades.

SHOP IT: ulta.com, $19

Yes, the color is sensational, but what about the actual lipstick formula? Luckily, all of the MAC shades I tried (Ruby Woo, Werk Werk Werk, and Chili) stood up to the test. Among the lipsticks’ accolades are their deep, long-lasting pigment—all the shades lasted for hours with barely any touch-ups—and their smudge resistance. MAC’s Ruby Woo even survived a morning of excessive sneezing (yes, Mom, I forgot to take my Zyrtec again). If that’s not the ultimate test, I don’t know what is.

While Ruby Woo simply hits all the right notes, a few of MAC’s other shades also emerged as front-runners. Werk Werk Werk, a poppy red-pink “was bright, but not too bright; it toed the line between red and a cool pink, and like Ruby Woo, it stayed all afternoon with minimal smudging.” My coworker Rachel—a pronounced minimalist when it comes to lipstick—tried MAC Chili, and ever since she’s been branching out into the world of bold, bright lip colors.

This experiment just goes to show that there really is a red lip for everyone. If you haven’t found yours yet, MAC Ruby Woo might just be your perfect match.