MAC's New Shadescents: The Hits and the Misses

It's a cute idea to pair lipstick and perfume, but does it work?

In the bajillion (OK, like four) years I’ve been writing for this here website, you’ve probably figured out that my two biggest beauty passions are lipstick and perfume. I have massive amounts of each; generally, when new boys come over to my apartment, the first thing they remark upon is my collection of perfume, which is at press time about 30 bottles deep. (Thankfully they don’t see the lipstick drawer of my desk, which holds more than 50 tubes of red.)

MAC, the beloved purveyor of some of my most favorite reds, has now united my passions with their Shadescents collection, and the concept is genius. They took six of their most popular lipstick shades, from the palest nudes to the deepest purples, and created fragrances to reflect the “personality” of every color. Awesome, right?

Included in the collection are two nudes: Velvet Teddy and Crème d’Nude, and four mattes: Ruby Woo, Candy Yum Yum, Heroine and Lady Danger. Each bottle retails for $57, though the corresponding lipsticks are not included. This launch came just in time for the holidays, which I'm pretty sure was planned; after all, perfume is one of the best gifts to give and get, especially when it's inspired by your favorite lipsticks. Did MAC succeed in this ambitious undertaking? Well, yes and no.

Ruby Woo

Ruby Woo is my #1 most favorite red lipstick of all time (RiRi Woo, which was too beautiful for this world, is #2) so I was most excited about this fragrance. MAC describes it as a “woody floral,” but to be honest, all I get from it is a synthetic blast that smells like when my aunt would spray Glade to cover up her cigarette smoke. So while Ruby Woo the lipstick is pure perfection, her perfume counterpart leaves a lot to be desired. I would’ve liked to have seen a spicy vanilla Oriental in its place, or a really loud, brash rose.

Lady Danger

Everyone loves the orange-red matte Lady Danger lipstick, and the corresponding perfume is pretty great too. Is it groundbreaking? No. But it’s a pleasant vanilla-based gourmand that reminds me of Calvin Klein Euphoria. It's the one I've been spritzing on most frequently, probably because it's the most suited to this "kind of chilly, kind of autumnal" weather we're having. Lady Danger is a cozy scent that doesn't quite live up to its name but is pretty and wearable nonetheless.

Candy Yum-Yum

The neon pink Candy Yum-Yum matte lipstick was so popular in its limited-edition iteration that MAC made it permanent, and they hit the nail on the head with its Shadescent. In news that will surprise absolutely no one, the Candy Yum-Yum perfume is a fruity, sweet punch of a perfume with a syrupy note that works. If you weren’t familiar with the lipstick, the fragrance probably wouldn’t make as much sense, but they work really well together. It’s basically Barbie in a bottle; MAC actually tapped Blac Chyna, a modern-day Barbie if I’ve ever seen one, to be the face of the Candy Yum-Yum fragrance.

Crème d’Nude

I never wear nude lipsticks, ever. I don’t like them at all, which is why I was so surprised that both nude fragrances were my favorites. Crème d’Nude is a pretty, simple “skin scent” of light musk and amber that wears close to your skin and doesn’t feel intrusive or loud. It’s what I call a Sunday scent, something easy that you can reach for anytime and feel appropriate. Kacey Musgraves, one of my favorite country crooners, is a Crème d’Nude girl. The lipstick is a go-to with a smoky eye, but the fragrance is better for casual weekend mornings.

Velvet Teddy

The Velvet Teddy lipstick, is a Kylie Jenner fave, and the Velvet Teddy perfume smells a lot like I imagine Kylie does. MAC calls it a “wild honey,” but I call it “slightly trashy teenage babysitter who invites her boyfriend over to make out after the kids go to sleep.” In a good way. Velvet Teddy is a sweet, sexy vanilla frosting treat of a fragrance. Sometimes, you just want a trampy perfume that smells like candy, OK? If you were that babysitter, this might bring you back to your teenage glory days.

My Heroine

While My Heroine's lipstick is a gorgeous, badass matte purple, My Heroine — the perfume — is kind of a mess. It's supposed to be a smoky leather, but it's way too smoky to be wearable. I like leathery scents (more on that later), but this version was just entirely too much. It's a shriek-y, loud scent that wants to be a niche favorite but just can't get it together. Grab the lipstick, which rules, but skip the perfume.

In short, the Shadescents aren't the most amazing fragrances of all time; in the case of Ruby Woo and My Heroine, I wish they'd been a bit more thoughtful. There's a lot of potential with an idea like this, and when your lipstick shades are that iconic, you kind of owe it to them to think it through a little more. I think both colors deserved a little better than they got. However, when the Shadescents work, they really work, and they're a very cute gift for the MAC-obsessed friends on your list.

  • Which lipstick do you wish they'd turn into a perfume?
  • How do you think Ruby Woo should smell?
  • Will you be grabbing any of the Shadescents? Which one?