MAC lipsticks have pretty much been with us—in our bags, our cars, our jackets, and our carry-on luggage—for as long as we can remember. The brand is so pervasive in the industry, it’d be difficult to think of a time or a memory when we didn’t have a least one MAC product in our arsenal. As we’ve grown up, so has its collection of lipstick shades and formulas.
Because the brand seems so omnipresent, I decided to ask my fellow editors for their favorite shades—the best-ever MAC lipstick shades, past or present. Immediately after the words left my mouth, paragraphs of responses came in, with specific memories and explanations for why each shade meant something to each person. Below, find the best MAC lipstick shades, according to the Byrdie editors. DM us on Instagram to share your own lipstick story.
A favorite of assistant editor Erin, this ultra-creamy, shiny-finish lipstick offers a really pretty salmon shade that is just pinker than her natural lip color. It’s classic, simple, and perfect for everyday wear. “I’ve been using this shade of lipstick since college, and regardless of the massive number of formulas I’ve tried since, I still come back to this one again and again,” she says. “I naturally have darker lips, and this one manages to flatter their berry tone without looking too pink. It’s my true my-lips-but-better shade,” Erin notes.
Candy Yum-Yum is iconic, and while it’s super pink in a bubblegum type of way (a color we haven’t necessarily been into in a few years), it’s nostalgic and lovely nonetheless. In our opinion, you can bring it back in a fresh way courtesy of all the ’80s-inspired makeup trends making the rounds this season. It’s matte, it’s pigment-rich, and the color payoff is as intense as you’d want it to be.
“Funnily enough,” Erin says, “I actually picked up this shade in college during the same makeup run in which I discovered Brick-o-La. They’re pretty similar, except this one veers a little more pinky-purple (while still looking exceptionally natural). I gravitate toward this stick in the cooler months, so I’m looking forward to pulling it out soon just in time for the holidays. MAC describes it as ‘a burst of plum,’ which I would wholeheartedly agree with,” she says.
I started wearing this matte, bright-purple shade right after college when lipstick really became my thing. I’d switch off shades daily, usually gravitating toward dark, plum options. Heroine is otherworldly. It’s kind of weird but really unique and cool-looking, the perfect accent to a cold-weather outfit. I love it, and, to me, it’s timeless.
This was the first dark color I attempted to wear, wooed by its rich, moody, saturated color and soft-satin, semi-matte finish. It’s an intense reddish-purple, the kind of almost-black shade you want to wear as soon as the temperatures drop. When I first bought it, I had just landed my first writing job (the name Media felt too perfect).
This travel-size, portable mini lipstick offers up the same signature colors in a less bulky size. This one, an all-matte finish in a pink shade, is a favorite managing editor Lindsey’s. “My lipstick collection is a sea of rosy-pink hues,” she says. “I’d love to say that I can wear any lip color I want, but whenever I try to err on the side of daring, I look like I’m wearing a costume. So instead, I stick with what works. One of my favorite variations of this shade is Mehr by MAC. It’s a little pinker than most of my tubes, so I especially love it for warmer months. It also stays on through drinking and meals, which is a huge plus,” Lindsey notes.
“When it comes to nude lipsticks, I struggle,” Erin says. “Since my lips are dark, most nude lip colors kind of wash me out, so when I shop for something that’s on the more neutral side, I try to find something that looks like my exact lip color but with a little extra edge.” She continues, “I found that in this cult-classic shade. The brand calls it a ‘dirty blue pink.’ It’s cooler, which makes it look a little more special on my lips than if I were to go bare or opt for a hue with a warmer undertone. I like to line my lips with the brand’s iconic lip pencil in Whirl before using this stick to fill in the rest of my pout.”
MAC’s new soft-focus lipstick, a weightless, moisture-matte formula, was made specifically to replicate that editorial, blended-out effect that took the runways by storm. It’s a blend of moisture-coated powder pigments that offer up cushiony coverage and hydration. “It’s the perfect powdery pink—not too babyish, not too dark, with cool undertones—which makes it perfect for fall,” gushes our editorial director, Faith. “I love the texture of the lipstick—one swipe, and you get that diffused, just-bitten look,” she says.
“Ruby Woo might be one of the most infamous Mac Lipstick shades of all time,” says Erin, “and it’s not surprising why.” In fact, Rihanna even created her own limited-edition Ruby Woo shade, as she’s a fan of the blue-red as well. Erin adds, “This is one of my go-to shades of red. It’s the perfect blue-red, so it’s flattering on just about everyone, and it manages to look fresh or retro with just one swipe. It’s magical.”
MAC began reintroducing the lipsticks I’ve been missing most with its throwback collection, and it’s been sending chills up and down my spine. One of my all-time favorites, Shrimpton, is an homage to Jean Shrimpton, an English model who became one of the world’s first supermodels. The shade is a light-medium peach with warm undertones and a satin finish, perfect for slicking on and feeling mod.
So Chaud is one of the only orange-reds I’ll wear. I’m much more of a blue-red type of girl. But MAC just got it right. It’s totally matte, creating this really velvety, intense color payoff that is practically perfect. It’s really amazing on vacation, sun-kissed skin and all but also works to brighten up your face (and mood) on a colder day.
This shiny, pretty, kaleidoscopic collection offers up metallicized packaging as well as a frosted shimmer-and-shine finish. It makes me think of the holidays and sugar cookies and all that warm and fuzzy stuff associated with that time of year. I love to wear it with sparkles elsewhere, on my lids or cheeks, to keep the effect going.
MAC celebrated Aaliyah, the late, iconic R&B singer, with a new collection of lipsticks inspired by her signature style. Street Thing, a pure black with shimmer is my favorite of the bunch, as it’s both soft and strong at the same time. The frosted finish catches the light and creates such a gorgeous, high-shine look.
This deep-tone beige is one of the most ubiquitous options from the brand. It’s a matte, pigment-rich lipstick that offers up a ’90s-inspired, nude look that reminds us of J.Lo, Kim Kardashian West, and Beyoncé all at once.
One of the best-ever fall shades is this terra-cotta plum lipstick with a pearl finish. It reminds me of a steamy latte and a soft, plush scarf, but the collection also has an important message. Every cent from the selling price of MAC Viva Glam Lipstick goes toward helping women, men, and children living with and affected by HIV/AIDs.