MAC Retro Matte Lipstick – Review, Photos, Swatches
Ah Ruby Woo, what a polarizing muse you are. Much like a spicy jalapeno pepper, MAC’s ubiquitous red lipstick is loved by many and loathed just as passionately by others. There’s one thing, though, that gets pretty universal agreement–once on, Ruby Woo lasts forever.
That’s why, along with MAC Cosmetics’s recent emphasis on long-wearing products, they chose to release a small collection of retro matte lipsticks–the same formula as Ruby Woo (supposedly, but more on that later). Before now, Ruby Woo has been the only permanent retro matte, and it was only recently joined by limited edition shades inspired by Rihanna. Information is somewhat conflicted at the moment, but supposedly this new collection is all permanent. (Even if this is true, my counter, at least so far, only has the amount of each shade that usually releases with LE collections, so hurry.)
Bottom line (if you’re in a rush): I really like this collection, and I believe it will more than satisfy all the matte finish lovers out there.
On to the goods:
L to R Fixed on Drama, Steady Going, Flat Out Fabulous, Runway Hit, Relentlessly Red, All Fired Up, Dangerous, Ruby Woo
I’m going to talk about the shades as they seemed to me. In my opinion, MAC’s website has some of the worst color distortion I’ve ever seen, and their shade descriptions are also a bit off sometimes.
Fixed on Drama is a deep, vampy shade with a lot of purple in it. I think this kind of color works particularly well as a matte, because the flat finish gives the feel of classic drama, but the wearer also has the option of more modern glam if she wants to top it with a lipgloss.
Steady Going is a light, blue pink, very vibrant and a bit like a mattified version of Viva Glam Gaga. This is a type of shade that I usually avoid because it makes me look dead, but if bubble gum pinks are your thing, it’s a nice shade with good pigmentation.
Flat Out Fabulous is a bright purple pink. It’s cool-toned, but with enough pink to keep it from being overly formal. To my eyes, it reads a lot like Catfight from the new Urban Decay lipstick collection.
Runway Hit is a peachy pink nude/neutral. I strongly considered a purchase, since it looked much better on my pale skin than a beige nude. I decided against, however, because of the matte finish. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE a matte finish, but there’s just something about a totally dimension-less nude that I found a little bit strange. It was like I’d painted tile grout onto my mouth. Granted, it could have been worse, but I realized that I prefer more sheen and dimension to anything that close to a nude lip. However, if you like matte nudes, it’s a very flattering one.
Relentlessly Red is…not red. In fact, on me it was a matte dupe for the limited (but frequently repromoted) Amplified shade Watch Me Simmer. I didn’t swatch them together, but this one looked very close when I tried it on at the counter. It’s a BRIGHT neon coral pink. I adore bright colors, but as with Runway Hit, I felt like the matte texture didn’t do this one any favors on me. It’s rare that I ever think a lipstick is too bright for me, but something about the combo of neon and matte just didn’t work on my face. I looked like my entire head was a mouth. If you have darker skin (or different toned skin) than mine, I’m sure your mileage will vary, and it’s worth giving it a shot.
Dangerous is an orange red, somewhere between Lady Danger and So Chaud, and similar to Nars’s Heatwave and Jungle Red. It has a beautiful burnt mutedness to it that makes it very wearable. This is one where I think the matte shade really took it to the next level of awesomeness. The only reason I didn’t purchase is because I have too many similar shades in matte and semi-matte textures.
Ruby Woo is a classic red that skews both cool and warm, depending on lighting and wearer. It’s been reviewed approximately 3 million times. It’s the shade that inspired this collection, and if you’re reading this, you most likely know all about it.
All Fired Up is a true raspberry pink that is bright but muted enough to be day-wearable (at least for me) and has a rosy red undertone (definitely warm). I saved this one for last because it’s the shade I purchased.
I’ve worn this for two days, so here are some thoughts on product usage:
* These lipsticks supposedly have the same retro matte formula as Ruby Woo, but I’m pretty convinced MAC has actually improved it. I have a tube of Ruby Woo from a past purchase, and it’s much drier and more difficult to apply than any of these colors were when I swatched them, including the Ruby Woo from this collection. All this to say, if you haven’t enjoyed the formula in the past, you might consider giving it another try.
*These lipsticks wear a long time. I have a medical issue that means I have to drink water constantly, and these last through that and even through meals. I get several hours of wear time, and even when I touch up, I usually still have pretty good color. For me, this makes them great for work.
*I definitely recommend trying these in store before buying if at all possible. As I mentioned above, the matte finish does different things to different shades.
*Are these drying? MAC retro mattes contain Kaolin Clay. Much like the Tarte Amazonian Clay lipsticks (at least, they’re similar on me), they tend to form a clay-like layer over the lips that dries quickly and lasts a long time. For me, they’re neither moisturizing nor drying. When the beauty world has things like Revlon Lip Butters and Chanel Rouge Coco Shines available, it’s easy to label anything “drying” that isn’t incredibly emollient. My own standard is that drying means visible and feel-able unpleasant dryness and/or peeling on my lips, not just the absence of moisture. These do not feel moisturizing, but even after several hours, I do not find the sensation on my lips unpleasant. (I do recommend conditioning lips beforehand, a good idea with any matte formula.)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this review. Have you or do you plan to pick up any shades?