As a makeup artist, I go through a lot of lipstick. At each wedding alone, I apply once during the initial service, again at touchups time and I give each client a little container of some lipstick I’ve scraped out of my palette for touchups throughout the wedding. At bridal trials, my clients sometimes want to try a few different lipsticks to see what their options are, and when I’m on a commercial or full day corporate shoot, there can be multiple people who need lipstick as well as frequent touchups. Because of all of this, I can easily go through an entire tube of lipstick in three or four weeks.
I don’t do much with pure black, blue, green, white and orange lipsticks due to the type of jobs I usually do, but there is not a shade in the nude, pink, red or berry color families that I haven’t used or created by combining shades. But it’s not just about that base (color). Undertones, textures and finishes are just as important when choosing the right shade for someone. It has to work with their coloring, their natural lip color and their preferences as well. What, you thought lipstick was easy???
I’m not brand loyal in the sense that my pro kit has products from probably 20 different brands, but I do use a lot of MAC. The majority of my lipsticks are MAC (with Lipstick Queen coming in second), and it’s because they’re damn good. There are tons of shade options and finishes, and they’re pigmented as all get out. I’m going to walk you through my 27 most used shades, giving you MAC’s color descriptions and my take on who they work best on/what I use them for. So if you’re in the market for a new lipstick and you’re considering MAC, read on.
Angel. This light, soft pink has a frost finish so it can be a little intense on its own. I use it more as a mixer lipstick. So if I’ve got a matte darker pink that I want to lighten, or a brown nude that I want to soften, I’ll add in some Angel. It can go Barbie pink easily, so just keep that in mind if you’re considering it.
Brave. This pinky-beige with white pearl has a satin finish, which means it’s shinier than a flat matte but not frosty. Satins tend to be comfortable to wear. This shade looks beautiful on light and medium skintones. AB Beauty makeup artist, Jen, recommended Brave to me a while back, and I’m glad she did because I use it at almost every wedding.
Cherish. This soft, muted pinky beige with a satin finish is a nice nude for fair, light and light medium skintones.
Creme Cup. Creme Cup is one of MAC’s Cremesheen lipsticks, which means it’s semi-glossy and feels more like a thick balm than a lipstick. I use this light blue pink on fair and light skintones. It tends to get chalky and a little jarring on medium and deeper skintones.
Creme D’Nude. This pale muted peach beige is another Cremesheen, and it’s a good nude for fair and light skintones. Like Creme Cup, it can appear chalky on medium and deeper skintones.
Faux. A lot of clients tell me they prefer a mauve-ish lip color, so it’s no surprise I go through a lot of this muted mauve-pink satin shade. It looks pretty on light and medium skintones. My friend Jennie Kay of Jennie Kay Beauty originally recommended it to me, and I trust her opinion so I bought it and haven’t looked back.
Film Noir. I bought my first tube of this at the MAC store on Newbury Street in Boston. I put it on while my friend, Carina, was driving my car (because we knew parallel parking was coming up, and that’s not something I do). I remember saying “Ooooh!” as I was applying it, because it looked very 1940s femme fatale (makes sense with the shade name) and I love that. MAC says it’s an intense brown, but there’s some deep reddish purple there in my eyes. It’s easiest for deeper skintones to wear, but you can pull it off it you have a lighter skintone if you aren’t afraid of an intense lip.
Fresh Moroccan. This frost finish, brick red with golden pearl lipstick is gorgeous on medium deep and deeper skintones. I’ve used this many times at Indian weddings, and it looks beautiful against some of the sari colors I’ve seen.
Honeylove. This matte lipstick is one of my most used shades on fair, light and medium skintones. It’s a light beige toned with rose, which means it’s a nude with a little pink to warm it up. That makes it flattering and easier to wear, as a nude with no pink can come off a little too stark.
Kinda Sexy. MAC calls this a matte neutral pinky rose, but it looks more peachy to me. It’s beautiful on medium skintones. This is one of those shades that clients often really love and ask me the name of.
Lady Danger. You might have heard of this pro makeup artist and celebrity favorite vivid bright coral red. It’s a matte showstopper and it can work on a variety of skintones. I don’t use it often at weddings, but I usually have a tube of it in my purse.
Mehr. Oh, this matte dirty blue pink? I go through loads of it. It’s a gorgeous shade that works well on light and medium skintones. It looks especially pretty on people with blue eyes, which may sound strange until you remember (or learn) that blue and pink are complimentary colors, and the lip color you have on can enhance your eye color. Something about the undertones in Mehr make it really bring out those baby blues, so this might be a good one for you if you have light to medium skin and blue eyes.
New York Apple. I’ve always wanted to wear this muted red with pink shimmer, but I find it looks best on medium deep and medium deep skintones. It has a frost finish, but it’s not overpowering. It looks more pink than red on deeper skintones, so if your skin falls into that category and you want more a full red, I’d try a different shade.
“O.” This purplish red with golden pearl is probably MAC’s most interesting lip color. It looks bronze in the tube, but comes out purple-brown on some people and reddish-brown on others. The golden pearl of this frost lipstick is strong, but it still somehow gives more a sheen than a frost finish. It works best on deeper skintones.
Patisserie. This is one of MAC’s Lustre finishes, which means it’s lightweight and has a shine to it without being frosty or glossy. It’s a sheer creamy neutral pink. It’s the most flattering on fair and light skintones, but can sometimes work on medium skin. It’s a very pretty color for wedding looks.
Photo. This beautiful golden brown satin shade is great on deeper skintones. I also sometimes use it as a mixer when customizing a nude shade.
Please Me. This matte shade is a muted, rose tinted pink and it has a pop to it. It’s not that it’s bright or intense, but it definitely stands out. I love the way it looks against a yellow dress or top. It’s pretty on fair, light and light medium skintones.
Rebel. This midtonal cream plum is gorgeous on deeper skintones. I once used it on an actress who you’d definitely know if you watched The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and she loved it so much she asked me to give her the name so she could buy it.
Ruby Woo. This MAC classic is from their Retro Matte line. It’s mega matte, so make sure your lips are hydrated before you apply it. It’s a vivid blue red, and it screams vintage. This is another of my personal favorite reds and it can work on a variety of skintones.
Russian Red. I want to say this intense bluish-red matte was a favorite of Madonna’s. Like any red, it’s bold, but it can work on skintones from fair to deep. I think this was the first red lipstick I owned, and I used to try to get my friends to buy it because I loved it so much.
Sin. In the mood for a deep, dark blue red? Look no further than Sin. This matte shade is stunning on medium and deeper skintones. I think it got popular in the non-pro makeup artist YouTube world for a while, but trust me, it’s good.
Syrup. This cloudy pink Lustre shade has a purple undertone, and I find myself using it a lot on light and medium brunette clients. Just like Mehr works extra well with blue eyes, Syrup somehow looks especially good on brunettes.
Twig. I once won an actress’s trust by using Twig on her, because that’s the shade she wore in her everyday life (and it just happened to work perfectly for her character). It’s a soft muted brownish pink in a satin finish, and I’ve used it on light, medium and medium deep skintones.
Vegas Volt. This full power coral is from the Amplified line, which means it’s bold, pigmented, full coverage and has a semi-lustrous finish. It’s not so strong that it’s all you see, but it definitely packs a punch. I’ve used it on light, medium and medium deep skintones.
Velvet Teddy. This matte deep toned beige might have been my most used lip color at weddings in 2019. Many of the people I used this on liked it so much that they asked me the name of the shade so they could buy it. It works on light skintones, but it’s really flattering on medium skintones.
Viva Glam III. This matte muted brownish-plum is one of my favorite MAC lipsticks. It’s as close to a universally flattering shade as you get. And every cent of a Viva Glam purchase goes to the MAC AIDS Fund, so you can buy something pretty and support a charity at the same time.
Whirl. Whirl is a matte dirty rose that looks beautiful on medium, medium deep and deeper skintones. It became a cult favorite a few years back (I want to say due to Kylie Jenner wearing it). I’m usually wary of cult favorites, but this one is good.
That’s all, folks. Feeling ready to buy a MAC lipstick? I’m not saying you need to, but if you want to (or if you want to buy one for someone on your holiday shopping list), hopefully this gave you a good start.
Have a beautiful day 🙂