• Jade Hiller

The Hunt for Red October


Ruby Woo vs Russian Red


When people mention red Mac lipsticks they invariably mention either Ruby Woo or Russian red. Both lipsticks are touted as ‘universal’ shades, that will suit anyone, regardless of colouring. Mac, of course, have other reds, a whole plethora of them, but these two are their best-sellers. I see a lot of questions online discussing which red is ‘better’, so, after years of using both, I thought I would give you my thoughts.


Ruby Woo

Let’s start with Ruby Woo. For a start, it’s part of their ‘retro matte’ collection. The formula of Ruby Woo puts a lot of people off. It can be hard to apply if you’re not used to the dry, almost claggy texture. The retro matte formula is closet to those ultra-matte lipsticks from the forties and fifties. If you’re after a Besame style lipstick, but can’t get hold of them, Ruby Woo is your closest bet for that vintage feeling red. The best way to apply Ruby Woo is with a lip liner (I use the matching Ruby Woo liner but I’m sure it’s not hard to find a dupe), and a lip brush. Once Ruby Woo is painted on and blotted it won’t go anywhere, and it’s staying power is legendary for a bullet lipstick. The colour of Ruby Woo is a vivid blue-toned red. It is very bright, and I tend to wear it more in summer than the dull days of winter. I will admit, for a bullet lipstick, it does take work, but for me, that’s part of the charm.


Russian Red

Russian Red is part of the matte range, hence it’s more slippery and more likely to move around. This is another lipstick you’ll need a liner for. I believe Cherry from Mac is meant to be a match. Russian Red is one lipstick you will need to blot. It has good staying power, but not quite as good as Ruby Woo. It’s an even-toned true blue-toned red. This is my grandmother’s favourite lipstick of mine, and that’s not a mark against it, as it reminds her of the starlet style reds that she wore as a young woman in the fifties. Russian Red is less in-your-face than Ruby Woo. As it’s darker, I also find it’s just as suited to winter as summer. I find I can make Russian Red pinker or darker depending on what lip liner I use. It’s a true workhorse.

Final Verdict

Both of my bullets are almost used up, and of the two, Russian Red has seen more use. Of the two shades, I believe Russian Red is the more universally flattering. It looks equally good on me, or my mother, who has completely different colouring from me. If you're only planning on buying one red shade from Mac, Russian Red is what I would recommend.


Above from top to bottom: Ruby Woo, Russian Red, Ruby Woo lipliner.

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