MAC Cosmetics' Ruby Woo Lipstick Makes Me Feel Like a Retro Movie Star

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MAC Cosmetics Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo

Mac Ruby Woo Product Shot

Khera Alexander

What We Like
  • Long lasting

  • Highly pigmented

  • Layers well

What We Don't Lie
  • Can be drying

  • Not Byrdie Clean

Ruby Woo is a classic for a reason. This blue-based red gave me bright, gorgeous lips that dressed up my face and made me feel put together with little effort.


MAC Cosmetics Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo

Mac Ruby Woo Product Shot

Khera Alexander

We put MAC's Ruby Woo to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

I’ve always been drawn to the Hollywood starlets of the 1950s. When I first fell in love with beauty, I was amazed by the fact that makeup trends that were decades old were still relevant and widely seen in the magazines and fashion websites I would frequent as a teen. One trend that I was consistently obsessed with in my adolescence was the bold red lip and flirty lash aesthetic, popularized on the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Dorothy Dandridge. Flash forward to today, this retro makeup look is still one of my favorites; I just do this look with a modern twist. So much so, in fact, that—save the hairstyle—it’s become my go-to look, though I use different colors in my lipstick rotation. Since I love this look so much, I decided to put on the MAC Cosmetics Ruby Woo Retro Matte Lipstick to the test and give you my honest thoughts. Check out my full review below.

MAC Ruby Woo Retro Matte Lipstick

Best for: Bold, high-impact red lips

Byrdie Clean?: No; contains paraffin. 

Potential allergens: Mica, yellow 5 lake, yellow 6 lake.

Price: $19  

About the brand: Founded in 1984 by Frank Toksan and Frank Angelo in Toronto, what was initially a cosmetics line to service professional makeup artists quickly turned into a global phenomenon. A consistent pioneer in the beauty industry, MAC Cosmetics has been making waves for more than 30 years, providing high-quality products to professionals and consumers alike.

About My Lips: Relentlessly dry

My lips are chronically and relentlessly dry, regardless of the time of year. I’ve committed to increasing my water intake to see if that would help—upwards of two liters a day—but that hasn’t made a difference. While the dryness is frustrating, I don’t stress about it; I put lip balm on throughout the day, exfoliate my lips, and put a thick coat of balm on my lips before I go to bed. Right now, I put the Lip Wrap Hydrating Mask from ILIA Beauty on before bed every night, and my lips are pretty soft in the mornings. Ironically enough, though you’d think that I would prefer to wear moisturizing, creamier lipsticks and glosses. I don’t. I love matte lip products, and the more matte, the better. I really like to wear liquid lipsticks from Colourpop or Anastasia Beverley Hills. Of course, mattifying lip products don’t help my dry lip problem, but, I can’t deny my aesthetic preference for full coverage, shine-free lips. Super familiar with MAC’s line of Retro Matte Lipsticks, I knew Ruby Woo well and couldn’t wait to write a review on it.

How To Apply: Prep your lips with a lip primer

Ruby Woo Swatch

Khera Alexander/Design by Cristina Cianci

I’ve experimented with different ways to keep my lips moisturized underneath more drying lip products throughout the years. Lip primer has proven to be one of the best products that will create a protective barrier between your lips and lipstick. First, I like to put a touch of lip balm on first, I blot my lips to take any extra product or shine off and then apply my lip primer. The MAC Cosmetics Prep + Prime Lip Primer pairs really well with Ruby Woo for obvious reasons, but if you already have a primer from a different brand, that will work, too. I gave my lips a minute or two for the primer to feel a little tacky, and then I applied the lipstick. Because I used the primer, even with its matte texture, Ruby Woo glided onto my lips easily and felt comfortable once it was on. In my opinion, a matte lip isn’t complete without a liner. I took my ‘Cherry’ lip pencil—also from MAC Cosmetics—and finished my look off with that.

The Results: Effortlessly gorgeous

Ruby Woo B&A

Khera Alexander/Design by Cristina Cianci

This wouldn’t be an honest review if I didn’t mention that Ruby Woo has been a staple lipstick of mine for at least 8 years. When I discovered Ruby Woo back in 2011 as a new MAC Cosmetics employee, I couldn’t believe what I had just found; at the time, it was the red lipstick of my dreams, and honestly, much of that still rings true today. Every single time I put Ruby Woo on, I feel confident and amazing. It’s that hero product I can use when I don’t want to put too much makeup on but want to look put together. Its matte finish and zero shine is the exact texture and finish I love, and the lipstick won’t budge unless you fidget with your lips too much or eat something greasy and messy. In the near 7 years I worked at MAC Cosmetics, I sold hundreds of Ruby Woos to customers of all complexions. It’s truly that quintessential red lipstick that legitimately looks good on everyone. Some people don’t like how matte this lipstick is and prefer creamier formulas; if that’s you, you may not enjoy it as much. If you’re like me and you love bold color and matte texture, you won’t just like Ruby Woo—you’ll love Ruby Woo.

It’s truly that quintessential red lipstick that legitimately looks good on everyone.

The Value: Worth it

For $19, a lipstick like Ruby Woo is priced well not only because of the amount of product you get but also because of the texture and coverage. A matte lipstick with 3 grams of product will last you a really long time. You don’t need to use as much product or reapply often since it’s matte and long-lasting.

Similar Products: You've got (lots) of options

Pat McGrath Labs Mattetrance Lipstick: Legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath created a line of supremely luxurious and drool-worthy cosmetics, so it’s no surprise that her Mattetrance ($38) lipsticks are some of the best ones you could buy. With their rich and creamy texture, ability to last for hours, and gorgeous packaging, you’ll have a bold pucker that is worth every penny.  

Maybelline New York SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick: A super affordable option, Maybelline New York’s line of SuperStay Matte Ink ($10) liquid lipsticks will give you bright lips without having to worry about the cost. Ranging from soft nudes to bold oranges and purples that feel comfortable on the lips, there’s a color available for every taste.

Melt Cosmetics Ultra Matte Lipstick: With their daring shades and vivid pigment, Melt Cosmetics is a great brand to check out if you’re in the mood for an obscure color but still want the same quality and integrity in terms of formulations and packaging. In addition to the unique colors, the Ultra Matte Liquid Set ($19) lipsticks are also available in traditional shades that are long-wearing and can be applied easily.

Final Verdict

MAC Cosmetics’ Ruby Woo is a product that can elevate your look, regardless of whether you opt for a retro aesthetic with mascara and a winged eyeliner or go for a full glam look with a smokey eye and bold lip. If you’re concerned about how bright this color is, Ruby Woo can be used with several different lip liners as well. All in all, it’s a product you’ll be happy you purchased.


  • Product Name Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo
  • Product Brand MAC Cosmetics
  • Price $19.00
  • Color Ruby Woo
  • Full Ingredient List Dimethicone, Isoeicosane, Kaolin, Ceresin, Paraffin, Isononyl Isononanoate, Microcrystalline Wax \Cera Microcristallina\Cire Microcristalline, Silica, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax\Cera Carnauba\Cire De Carnauba, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Vanillin, Tocopherol, Glyceryl Linoleate, Glyceryl Linolenate, Pvp/Hexadecene Copolymer, Methicone, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, [+/- Mica, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Iron Oxides (Ci 77491, Ci 77492, Ci 77499), Blue 1 Lake (Ci 42090), Bismuth Oxychloride (Ci 77163), Carmine (Ci 75470), Orange 5 Lake (Ci 45370), Red 6 (Ci 15850), Red 6 Lake (Ci 15850), Red 7 Lake (Ci 15850), Red 28 Lake (Ci 45410), Red 30 Lake (Ci 73360), Red 33 Lake (Ci 17200), Yellow 5 Lake (Ci 19140), Yellow 6 Lake (Ci 15985), Yellow 10 Lake (Ci 47005)]

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