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Name a makeup brand more iconic than MAC—go ahead, we’ll wait. It’s arguably one of the most omnipresent, heritage brands in the beauty industry, and, if you’re anything like us, is probably one that’s associated with some of your earliest makeup memories. It also always has been (and we’re willing to bet always will be) a staple among professional makeup artists. There’s no shortage of cult classic MAC products to pick from, but their plethora of lipsticks really takes the cake.
“You can’t beat the color range that MAC offers, with over 150 shades of traditional lipsticks plus almost 40 shades of liquid lipstick. There is literally something for everyone,” says celebrity makeup artist Bryan Cantor, who also raves about the high quality of all the formulas. Per the point of the options being super extensive, we went ahead and made things easy for you by narrowing it down to a dozen of the best MAC lipsticks out there.
Below, find the best MAC lipsticks, according to the Byrdie editors.
Best for All Skin Tones: MAC Lipstick in Twig
“This muted, brownish-pink, is ideal for those who don’t want a super bold lip and it works on all skin tones,” says Cantor. (He adds that it’s one of his universal bridal go-tos.) It should come as no surprise that it’s also one of the brand’s best-sellers.
Best Red: MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo
Your hunt for the perfect, classic red lippie ends here. Cantor says it’s truly a perfectly-balanced red, with undertones that are neither too cool nor too warm, again, flattering on all complexions. Fun fact: It consistently ranks as the brand’s number one best-selling lipstick in the U.S., says Cantor.
Best Beige: MAC Lipstick in Velvet Teddy
The matte texture coupled with the super pigmented, nude beige hue screams the ‘90s to us—in the best way possible. It’s also one of those rare beige tones that looks equally as beautiful on fair complexions as it does deeper ones.
Best Red-Orange: MAC Powder Kiss Lipstick in Style Shocked!
Byrdie Editor Holly Rhue loves this MAC lipstick formula, which boasts a weightless and moisturizing, yet still matte, texture. Cantor calls out that it’s also one of the brand’s more buildable options, easily layered depending on how pigmented you want the result to be. There are 23 shades to choose from in this variant alone, but we’re partial to this vibrant red-orange, a perfect summer shade that makes a serious statement.
Best Brown: MAC Lipstick in Viva Glam III
One of our all-time favorite fall hues, this is the third iteration of the brand’s Viva Glam line, first launched in 1994 to help men, women, and children affected by HIV/AIDS. In fact, 100% of the proceeds still go to the cause. The tone hits just the right balance of brown and plum, without ever appearing muddy.
Best Berry: MAC Cremesheen Lipstick in Créme in Your Coffee
Lip balm devotees will appreciate the uber hydrating texture of MAC’s Cremesheen lippies, made with shea butter and olive oil, says Cantor. The cushiony feel makes them extra comfortable and they have a glossy finish. That sheen looks especially pretty on this gorgeous berry shade, a mid-tone pink with the perfect amount of brown undertones.
Best Nude: MAC Lipstick in Kinda Sexy
Another one of Cantor’s favorites, he describes this shade as a “neutral, peachy rose color.” Think of it as the perfect everyday color to reach for when you want to give your lips a little something-something, but not necessarily look like you’re wearing a ton of lipstick.
Best Neon: MAC Lipstick in Candy Yum-Yum
Another one of the brand’s more iconic hues, this neon, bubblegum pink is as in-your-face ‘80s as it gets. Nostalgia factor aside, Cantor says it’s the perfect tone to help you nail the neon makeup trend that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Best Pop of Color: MAC Amplified Lipstick in Girl About Town
“The Amplified lipsticks contain finely milled pigments, allowing for three times the pigment payoff of other formulas,” explains Cantor. “They’re full coverage with a creamy texture and semi-lustrous finish.” He’s partial to this vibrant Fuchsia, whose blue undertones have the added benefit of making teeth appear whiter, he says.
Best Burgandy: MAC Lipstick in Diva
“This is my go-to color for a vampy lip,” says Cantor. The deep red/burgundy tone, coupled with the matte finish, does indeed make for the perfect pairing when you want to go dark and dramatic, and, yet again, works well on all skin tones.
Best Pink: MAC Frost Lipstick in Angel
If you prefer your lipstick to have a touch of sheen, consider the brand’s Frost lipsticks. “They have medium, buildable coverage and a semi-lustrous finish that ranges from pearlized to metallic,” says Cantor. When it comes to pink options, he loves this one, a soft, baby pink with a slightly pearlized finish.
Best Liquid: MAC Retro Matte Liquid Lip Colour in LadyBeGood
For those who want to think outside the standard tube, Cantor suggests checking out the brand’s liquid lipsticks, which have the added benefit of having some of the longest staying power. He’s especially partial to this warm, mid-tone nude. Bonus points for the doe-foot applicator, which makes it easy to outline your lips with the tip, then fill in the color with the flat side.
You really can’t go wrong with a MAC lipstick. But if you’re overwhelmed by the sheer array of options there are to choose from, here are a few top contenders. MAC Lipstick in Twig is a universal fail-safe, a wearable nude that flatters all skin tones. Prefer a classic red? Check out MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo and you’ll quickly see why everyone is obsessed.
What to Look For in a MAC Lipstick
Cantor says this is the most important thing to consider when choosing a MAC lipstick (since they all come in such a wide array of shades). They differ when it comes to everything from the finish to the texture to the pigment level. For example, the Matte, Retro Matte, and Liquid options are great for long-lasting, high-impact color that doesn’t require a lot of touch-ups, while the Lustre or Powder Kiss formulas are great for those who want more sheer color for everyday wear.
What is the best way to apply lipstick?
The answer is equally confusing and relieving: there is no best way. Just like the rest of our bodies, all lips are different and there is no universal rule to application. As the age-old saying goes, practice makes perfect.
What is the best lipstick for my skin tone?
The first step to identifying the best lipstick for your skin tone is understanding your undertone. Blues and purples complement cool undertones, while reds and oranges complement warm. From there, finding the perfect shade comes with testing products on your skin to see what makes you look and feel at your best.
What is best way to remove lipstick without staining your face?
There are a few best practices to help your skin stay stain-free. Use an oil-based cleanser, which will dissolve the makeup from the skin. If your skin does not react well to oil, micellar water can work as an alternative. Pro tip: Keep your lips hydrated throughout the day for easier removal and healthier wear.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Meet the Expert
Bryan Cantor is a global celebrity makeup artist based in New York City (and a former MAC employee). He brings his impressive knowledge of skincare, makeup products, application techniques, and professional tips and secrets to clients and companies in New York City and across the globe.
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She’s a devoted lipstick collector (MAC lipsticks included, of course) and visiting the MAC counter at the mall is one of her earliest beauty memories.