lipstick swatches

Review: M.A.C. Russian Red Matte Lipstick (with swatches)

As longtime readers of this site (Hi, both of you!), may recall, I’m a huge fan of red lipstick, and for a while now, my go-to red has been MAC’s Ruby Woo. I happened to walk past the MAC counter in Harvey Nichols this week (OK, OK, I went in deliberately for that very purpose. I’ve never been able to resist MAC . lipsticks…) and ended up picking up a couple of new colours, one of which was the classic ‘Russian Red’, which I can’t quite believe I didn’t already own. (I actually really wanted to get this in the Wonder Woman packaging, but of course, I left it much too late for that and it’s all sold out, so I had to settle for the regular version.) Here’s my MAC Russian Red lipstick review…

This lipstick is so well-known in beauty circles that I’m sure it needs no introduction from me, but just in case you’ve never heard of it, it basically enjoys a reputation as THE red lipstick from this brand, and it’s a very deep, blue-toned red, which, ironically enough, is much more of a “ruby” shade than its fellow M.A.C. red, Ruby Woo:

Also like Ruby Woo, this is a matte formula, but it’s much, much easier to work with than the former lipstick. Ruby Woo (I promise I’ll stop the comparisons between the two soon…) is very matte, and very dry (I normally have to wear lip balm under it because it’s so dry), but Russian Red is very creamy, and has a slight sheen to it: it glides on easily and is really comfortable to wear – in fact, in terms of application, etc, it’s pretty much perfect.

As for the colour, well, it’s one of those classic, “retro” reds, as seen on pin-up girls and old movie stars:
MAC Russian Red lipstick review

MAC Russian Red Lipstick review

And,well, bloggers. Yes,

It’s also bright. That’s one of the reasons I like it so much, but every so often I get comments/emails from people who say they’d love to try red lipstick, but are a bit daunted by the thought of it, and all I can is that if that sounds like you, Russian Red probably isn’t the colour to start out with, because it’s not exactly subtle. It’s a red that’s designed to stand out, and as much as I love my red lipstick, it’s maybe a little too bold even for me to wear as a day-to-day colour (Because I have very pale skin, this lipstick looks very dramatic in contrast. I love the look, but it’s not for the faint hearted.) although perfect for evenings, special occasions etc.

So far I’ve been really impressed with how long this lasts, too. One problem I’ve always had with Ruby Woo is that I find I need to reapply it constantly or it will disappear. This made it through a couple of glasses of wine and a snack last night without looking too much the worse for wear, although it’s yet to be tested for longer periods of time (I’m wearing it right now, though, so will report back!).

Overall, I love this, and think I’m going to have to name it the Holy Grail of Red Lipstick. In fact, yes, I am. Move over, Ruby Woo, we have a new favourite!


Frequently Asked Questions About MAC Russian Red Lipstick:

MAC Russian Red is known for its classic, timeless red shade that complements a variety of skin tones. It has a matte finish, offering a bold and long-lasting look, and it’s known for its good staying power.

  1. Does the lipstick have a strong fragrance?
    • MAC lipsticks typically have a mild vanilla scent, including Russian Red.
  2. Is Russian Red suitable for all skin tones?
    • Yes, Russian Red is versatile and tends to complement a wide range of skin tones.
  3. Can MAC Russian Red be easily layered for a more intense color?
    • Yes, the lipstick can be layered for a more intense and dramatic red hue.
  4. Does it transfer easily onto cups and clothing?
    • While it may transfer, the matte formula minimizes transfer compared to glossier finishes.
  5. Is MAC Russian Red Lipstick drying on the lips?
    • Some individuals may find matte lipsticks slightly drying, but prepping the lips with balm can help. This one isn’t nearly as drying as the aforementioned Ruby Woo, which is one definite point in its favour!
  6. What is the best way to apply and achieve a precise look with Russian Red?
    • Use a lip brush for precision or apply directly from the tube for a bold look.
  7. Can it be worn as an everyday shade or is it more suitable for special occasions?
    • It can be worn both casually and for special occasions, depending on personal preference. I wear red lipstick day-to-day, so I’m probably the wrong person to ask about this, though!
  8. Does MAC Russian Red Lipstick contain any animal-derived ingredients?
    • MAC is known for cruelty-free products, but it’s advisable to check the current product information for details.

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  • Looks nice! I love red lipstick, I think I’ll go and buy this one! Or would you recommend Ruby Woo during daytime (because you say it’s a little bit too bold)?

    April 4, 2011
  • I have a draw full of red lipstick, It’s pretty much all I wear (when I do wear Lipstick). Yet I do not own (or have tried) any MAC. Mainly due to limitations in stockists around.

    My favourite at the minute is an Esteé Lauder signature Rich Red.

    April 4, 2011
  • I just purchased the Russian red a month ago (in the spectacular wonder woman packaging) I also found that it lasted quite a while, I wore it to a wedding and it seemed to stay pretty perfect throughout the entire evening.(from 4p.m. to around midnight)

    April 5, 2011
  • Nikki G


    The red lip suits you. Very classic.

    April 5, 2011
  • Amy


    It’s so girly of me to notice this, but you have lovely eyebrows. Do you do them yourself?

    That red makes your teeth look SUPERMODEL white. Amazing.

    April 5, 2011
  • rachel


    The Russian was my first lipstick!! still go back it when I need a reliable classic!

    April 5, 2011
  • Megan


    OMG a friend of mine got me the Wonder Woman Limited ed of Russian Red! Im soooo happy!

    April 5, 2011
  • domogurl


    hey your teeeeth look rly white and i love tht lipstickk

    April 6, 2011
  • I am so tempted to try this now, having recently started wearing red lipstick – a nice retro red like that is just what I’m looking for.
    And as an aside, you look so adorable in that last photo. Pretty, pretty lady 🙂

    April 6, 2011
  • Sandy


    (Sorry I’m laaaaate!)

    I have the Russian Red and love the colour but find it really drying, the one that I find is more daytimey is Lady Bug (not even sure if they still do it! LOL!..hope so…or my recommendation is pants!) it’s not a matte so less drying but the colour is good. (IMO!)

    May fave-fave though is L’oreal Color Riche Super Gelee in Strawberry Juice…however it would seem L’oreal have stopped making that colour so I’ve just bulk bought some, it may seem sad to some but to me it’s forward planning!! LOL!

    April 9, 2011
  • Shannon


    Amber, you are hot!

    April 9, 2011
  • I have Russian Red AND Ruby Woo- I pretty much haven’t worn Russian since I bought Ruby, which is because I think it looks a little too gothic on me. I like my red lips bright bright bright and not a shade too dark. Then again, I wear red lipstick almost exclusively during the day, and don’t have much in the way of fancy night occasions.

    And I also actually prefer the Ruby Woo ‘retro matte’ formula, which I’m convinced makes me a crazy person, because day by day use of it pretty much BLISTERS my lips. I just love how it looks and the staying power.That said, Russian Red survives pretty much anything but a full-scale meal on me.

    April 10, 2011
  • Sally


    I think it looks very good on you! My colouring is somewhat similar to yours and I have been afraid of red lipsticks but I might try and be brave now!

    April 16, 2011
  • Alice


    You look so pretty and pin-up-like! Thanks for the review 😀

    September 27, 2013