Review: M.A.C. Russian Red Matte Lipstick (with swatches)

As longtime readers of this site (Hi, both of you!), may recall, I’m a huge fan of red lipstick, and for a while now, my go-to red has been MAC’s Ruby Woo. I happened to walk past the M.A.C. counter in Harvey Nichols this week (OK, OK, I went in deliberately for that very purpose. I’ve never been able to resist M.A.C. lipsticks…) and ended up picking up a couple of new colours, one of which was the classic ‘Russian Red’, which I can’t quite believe I didn’t already own. (I actually really wanted to get this in the Wonder Woman packaging, but of course, I left it much too late for that and it’s all sold out, so I had to settle for the regular version.)

This lipstick is so well-known in beauty circles that I’m sure it needs no introduction from me, but just in case you’ve never heard of it, it basically enjoys a reputation as THE red lipstick from this brand, and it’s a very deep, blue-toned red, which, ironically enough, is much more of a “ruby” shade than its fellow M.A.C. red, Ruby Woo:

Also like Ruby Woo, this is a matte formula, but it’s much, much easier to work with than the former lipstick. Ruby Woo (I promise I’ll stop the comparisons between the two soon…) is very matte, and very dry (I normally have to wear lip balm under it because it’s so dry), but Russian Red is very creamy, and has a slight sheen to it: it glides on easily and is really comfortable to wear – in fact, in terms of application, etc, it’s pretty much perfect.

As for the colour, well, it’s one of those classic, “retro” reds, as seen on pin-up girls and old movie stars:

It’s also bright. That’s one of the reasons I like it so much, but every so often I get comments/emails from people who say they’d love to try red lipstick, but are a bit daunted by the thought of it, and all I can is that if that sounds like you, Russian Red probably isn’t the colour to start out with, because it’s not exactly subtle. It’s a red that’s designed to stand out, and as much as I love my red lipstick, it’s maybe a little too bold even for me to wear as a day-to-day colour (Because I have very pale skin, this lipstick looks very dramatic in contrast. I love the look, but it’s not for the faint hearted.) although perfect for evenings, special occasions etc.

So far I’ve been really impressed with how long this lasts, too. One problem I’ve always had with Ruby Woo is that I find I need to reapply it constantly or it will disappear. This made it through a couple of glasses of wine and a snack last night without looking too much the worse for wear, although it’s yet to be tested for longer periods of time (I’m wearing it right now, though, so will report back!).

(I promise I’m not that shiny in real life, it’s the flash bouncing off my forehead!)

Overall, I love this, and think I’m going to have to name it the Holy Grail of Red Lipstick.  In fact, yes, I am. Move over, Ruby Woo, we have a new favourite!

This is £13.50 at M.A.C.: click here to buy it.