A Guide to the Best MAC Reds (For When You're Excited To Go To An Office and Wear Pants and Lipstick Again)

When emerging from a bunker, don't you want to be wearing the perfect red lipstick?
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Publish date:
November 5, 2015
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work, mac, lipstick, red lipstick, lipsticks

I've been wanting to make a list of my favorite MAC Reds for awhile now, but I haven't had much legitimate reason to put on lipstick.

Being stupid in love comes with the constant threat of another person's mouth touching mine, so I kind of stopped bothering to put lipstick on before spending time with my preferred make-out partner.

And our little xoJane team has been so tiny and spread-out for so long now that we started spending the majority of our week working remotely. Forget lipstick, I have trouble making myself take a shower when I'm just hanging out with my laptop on the couch.

A natural depressive, I'm not a great worker-from-homer. Despite the perks of being able to make the occasional gym or post office run while at home, I really like getting dressed in the morning and leaving my house to work in an office with other people who have similarly gotten dressed.

I know I made that joke in the headline about not having to wear pants, but if I'm being totally honest, I'm not really comfortable just hanging out partially naked, even around my house. While I'm not a full-on Never-Nude, I am an extremely shame-based former Southern Baptist who still sleeps in my bra every night.

Plus it's just practical: Stuff gets in the way when you're trying to work naked. Who wants to type with a couple of dangling boobs in the way or put an overheated laptop near their crotch?

The point is, I'm excited about the post-sale possibilities of putting on cute dresses again and having the occasional conversation partner over the age of 4. Try comparing notes over last night's episode of "Game of Thrones" with a toddler. He's not allowed to watch it, because it's very violent.

Here I am making my best "just emerged from the bunker" face:

And of course, I need to choose the perfect red lipstick to accompany me on my return to the outside world. Red lipstick used to be kind of my signature, before my signature became washing my pits and vagina with a rag before my boyfriend comes over.

And when it comes to a red lip, I'm a MAC girl through and through. I've tried a lot of brands with a lot of great shades, but in the end I always come back to the saturated tones and retro matte finish of a MAC Red.

Here are the 6 essential shades for anyone who who feels the same.

1) Lady Danger

[UPDATE: I reused three sentences about Lady Danger in the article linked above, but I dumbly didn't place it in quotes before, which commenters have pointed out is self-plagiarism. I apologize and everything that should have been attributed is now in quotes.]

My long-standing all-time favorite lipstick shade, Lady Danger not only has an awesome name, but is also the perfect 40s-esque matte orangey-red.

As I've written before, "For awhile, I would actually start to feel nervous if I didn't have a tube of Lady Danger in my possession and panic-buy it, which is why I now have 3 or 4 tubes in various locations. Like all my favoritest favorite reds, it's bright and tomato-y and coral-tinged and basically pops off your face."

"Because I am into a vintage look, I don't want much shine or gloss on my mouth," which is a large part of the appeal of the MAC reds in general and Lady Danger specifically. LD is matte while still being relatively creamy compared to some of other MAC reds.

Now that I'm a redhead, I don't think Lady Danger is as flattering as it once was, but the vivacity of the shade still makes me feel cheery and ready to face the day. And for a brunette, it's dynamite.

2) Russian Red

Russian Red is probably my least worn of the shades here, as I'm just not sure my face can pull off the intensity of the shade. But it's a cult classic for a reason: The deep blue-red delivers serious drama.

I throw it on when I'm going for a slightly intimidating bombshell look, ala Natasha Fatale.

Upon further consideration, I think maybe I take lipstick shade names too literally.

3) Relentlessly Red

A newer addition from the "Retro Matte" line, Relentlessly Red quickly eclipsed maybe even Lady Danger as one of my favorite MAC shades.

This red is tinged with pink and coral, again giving me that neon but retro pop I look for in a red lip. A pinky red works great for my skin tone and this one is the creme de la creme. (Although allow me to also recommend the Sephora brand Creme Lip Stain in Always Red for a similar vibe.)

By the way, I crouched on the sidewalk with some make-up remover and a compact to apply each shades like some sort of weird lipstick hobo, so please forgive me any shoddy application. And try not to be jealous of my glamorous world of high-fashion photo shoots.

4) MAC Red

I don't hear as much buzz about this shade as some of the more cult-y ones, and I'm not sure why. This red is called MAC Red, so putting it on is sort of like ordering the burger named after the bar. You know it's probably one of the best things on the menu.

MAC Red is a really straightforward vivid red, and of these shades, the one I think works best with my currently red hair. It's also fairly creamy (gross word?) and easy to apply.

5) Viva Glam I

Described as an "intense brownish blue red," Viva Glam I is my idea of a perfect fall red -- a little darker, but still bright and vivid like an autumn leaf. (Yep, just went there with that autumn leaf simile like this is a 7th grade English assignment.)

As a bonus, all the proceeds from the Viva Glam line to go the MAC AIDS fund.

6) Ruby Woo

Oh my god, I was a Ruby Woo denier for soooo long. I know everyone and their dog loves this shade, but for some reason I just didn't think I was into it.

But I am! I am into it! I still concur that the vivid matte blue-red doesn't look quite the same on me as it does on those I've seen look amazing in this shade like Marianne.

But it's definitely grown on me, and it's supposed to be the one red that works almost uniformly across various skin tones and overall coloring, so it has definitely earned its place on the essentials list.

It is however, even more matte (matte-ier?) than the already-matte other shades, meaning this shade can be hard to apply and may dry your lips out, so try exfoliating your lips and/or applying a lip balm first.

Tell me lipstick stuff! What's your go-to red? Did I miss a MAC red you think is mandatory? Do you become a creature when you work from home? Most importantly, do you keep your pants on?