The MAC Matte Lipstick in Whirl Creates the Ideal '90s Look

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MAC Matte Lipstick in Whirl

MAC Whirl Matte Lipstick

Celeste Polanco

What We Like
  • Blends well

  • Not too drying on the lips

  • Versatile shade

  • Solid lasting power

What We Don't Like
  • Dry lips may need to add balm for comfortable wear

  • Not Byrdie Clean

The MAC Matte Lipstick in Whirl is a versatile shade, perfect for any '90s aesthetic or day-to-night looks. This comfortable, creamy product will have your lips standing out no matter what your plans are.


MAC Matte Lipstick in Whirl

MAC Whirl Matte Lipstick

Celeste Polanco

We put the MAC Matte Lipstick in Whirl to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

Summer was all about the glossy '90s look, but now that fall is upon us, it’s time to welcome matte formulas while keeping the same throwback energy. These nostalgic trends are still going full force, and as a '90s baby, I'm fully here for it. The era takes me back to bold eyeshadows, thin eyebrows, and lips that made a statement, and the return of its makeup trends has me feeling inspired for the first time in a while.

As a beauty writer and makeup enthusiast, I must say there was a point in time where I felt less engaged. Complex beauty looks that looked like art (contour, for example) slowly became mundane and hard to keep up with. Now that the trends have evolved yet again, I'm inspired to challenge myself in the beauty space by creating my own '90s-inspired makeup look. It’s only fitting I start my new mission by finding the perfect '90s lip. 

MAC Cosmetics is one of many brands at the forefront of ’90s memories. The makeup brand created VHS makeup tutorials, iconic looks, and even later paid tribute to the era in collaboration with Teyana Taylor. MAC's Matte Lipstick in Whirl is just one iconic product that has the power to instantly bring you back, and its neutral rose shade works well across varying skin tones and aesthetics. So did this lipstick live up to its stellar reputation and help to fulfill my '90s beauty dreams? Keep reading for the full review.

MAC Matte Lipstick in Whirl

Best for: Most skin tones and types.

Uses: A matte lipstick that's guaranteed to enhance your lips with a '90s flair for everyday or day-to-night looks.

Price? $19

About the brand: MAC Cosmetics was founded in 1984 by Frank Toscan and Frank Angelo, who are both known for making essential go-to products for professional makeup artists. The brand is now a global industry leader in high-quality products for professionals and amateur beauty enthusiasts alike, and its iconic products have often been featured across the editorial and digital space.

About My Lips: Full and plump

All my life, I've been blessed with beautiful, full lips. I haven’t always appreciated my lips, but I'm now eternally grateful and celebrate my naturally bold shape.

One thing I appreciate about the '90s era is the embrace of all lip shapes and sizes. As a little girl, I admired all the women in entertainment who truly accepted their lips for what they were. I remember finding inspiration in Aaliyah’s glossy lip, Drew Barrymore's iconic matte look, and the statement lip colors of Hilary Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. These are the looks I think of when I’m putting on a product and dare to question if my lips are good enough—they are, and they always will be. 

How to Apply: Use a light hand and blend well

MAC Whirl Matte Lipstick on Hand

Celeste Polanco

The day finally came, my doorbell rang, and I aggressively ran to meet the FedEx delivery person (if you’re reading this, sorry for scaring you). My dream '90s lip color had arrived, and I wasted no time putting my new MAC Whirl Matte Lipstick to the test. I began by applying the color to my hand rather than my lips, as I wanted to achieve a particular look and figured it was best to test out the pigmentation first. And I’m glad I did—the matte lipstick is very pigmented and more on the mauve side, which helped me to know what to do to make it work for me. 

Although the color wasn’t the exact Pinterest '90s aesthetic I had been envisioning, I knew I could work with it to achieve a similar effect. I applied the product to my lips using a light hand, then lightly blended the color with my fingers. My blending technique allowed the color to naturally align with my lips and create the natural '90s lip I was seeking. The color gracefully worked with me, and the formula isn't too drying. However, I did prep my lips with Carmex lip balm to be sure they stayed hydrated. The application was easy, and just like that, I was in a new era.

The Results: Subtle '90s dreams

MAC Whirl Matte Lipstick Results on Celeste Polanco

Celeste Polanco

While the color was different than I thought it would be, because of the technique I used, I got the job done. I loved how the shade blended so seamlessly and was flexible to work with. MAC's Whirl Matte Lipstick can deliver a range of looks, and it’s all because of its neutral-mauve shade.

But although the color is a standout, my favorite quality of this lipstick is its ability to last. I wore it on a day that was full of activity for me: food, drinks, and time with friends until late. The lipstick survived drinks, laughs about the past, and intimate conversations, but it couldn’t quite stay on through dinner. I reapplied it after I finished my meal and still found myself in awe of the color's effortless beauty. The application process was a breeze and didn't come off cake-y or too drying. We ended the night together singing '90s throwbacks and wishing friends a safe journey back home—it was the perfect night filled with a whirl of memories.

The Value: Worth it for the quality

At $19, the MAC Whirl Matte Lipstick cost less than dinner and drinks with friends that night. The shade and formula are high-quality, which definitely made it well worth it for me. But as for whether it's an investment or a steal, that's up to you to decide. If this product is within your budget and intrigues you, it's definitely worth a try. If not, plenty of other options are out there to help you achieve your '90s beauty goals.

Similar Products: You've got options

NYX Extra Creamy Round Lipstick: If you're looking for a deeply affordable option to help you make a statement, look no further than this NYX lipstick ($4). Although it's more on the creamer side than matte, the Thalia shade is an impeccable dupe for MAC Whirl. The formula is great for drier lips or the winter months, and the color can play multiple roles.

Maybelline Sensational Matte Lipstick: This product ($7) will have all of your friends fooled into thinking you spent more than you did on your stunning lipstick. Maybelline has a solid track record for affordable quality, and the hydrating matte formula creates a finish that you won't regret. The color, Nude Nuance, is a simple nude with just a hint of mauve, making it a great alternative to MAC.

Final Verdict

I honestly had the best time playing around with MAC's Whirl Matte Lipstick. It's been a long time since a lip product has challenged and inspired me to take my look to the next level, and I’m happy that I could achieve my '90s dreams—this definitely won’t be my last time wearing the shade. The formula is light, easy, blends well, and will need a quick touch-up after a few hours, but overall stays on beautifully. The color can achieve multiple looks and will look stunning on a variety of skin tones. If you're a fan of the '90s aesthetic or appreciate a unique nude shade, I definitely recommend giving this product a try.


  • Product Name Matte Lipstick in Whirl
  • Product Brand MAC
  • Price $19.00
  • Weight 0.1 oz.
  • Full Ingredient List Octyldodecanol, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Silica, Tricaprylyl Citrate, Ozokerite, Isononyl Isononanoate, Paraffin, Phenyl Trimethicone, Microcrystalline Wax / Cera Microcristallina / Cire Microcristalline, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax / Cera Carnauba / Cire De Carnauba, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopherol, Vanillin, Acrylates Copolymer, Polyethylene Terephthalate, Stearyl Stearoyl Stearate. May Contain: Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Carmine (CI 75470), Red 6 (CI 15850), Red 6 Lake (CI 15850), Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), Red 21 Lake (CI 45380), 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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