The Most Iconic Red Lipstick of All Time Now Comes in 2 New Formats—Here’s What Happened When Our Editors Tried Them

Photo: W+G Creative
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Ask any beauty enthusiast to name the most iconic red lipstick on the market, and they'll immediately namecheck MAC Ruby Woo. The shade has been a bestseller for more than 20 years (it launched in 1999), and is beloved for its ability to flatter all skin tones. And now, after three decades, the brand has relaunched the shade in two entirely new forms—which team Well+Good got the chance to test out for ourselves.

The color

Ruby Woo is what color specialists call a "true red," meaning that it doesn't have any hints of blue or orange in it. Because of this, it works on all skin tones, regardless of their undertone—which explains why it's such a staple in so many makeup artists' kits. "Our most famous Lipstick icon—Ruby Woo—is known around the world as THE universal red that’s radiant on everyone," says Aida Moudachirou-Rébois, global chief marketing officer at MAC Cosmetics.  "It’s one of those shades that looks good on everyone, regardless of your style or skin tone, making it a fan-favorite." A few notable fans? Taylor Swift, Janet Jackson, Rita Ora, and the entirety of Well+Good's beauty team.

This same shade has now been repurposed into two new formulations, called Ruby You and Ruby Do!. "Since launching in 1999, we have received tons of requests from our community around the world for more of Ruby Woo and as their wishes peaked, we started the work to expand this shade into our other iconic MAC lip products," says Moudachirou-Rébois.

The formulas

The original formula is the last-standing shade in MAC's Retro Matte line, and has a semi-matte finish that stains lips without making them feel dry. "It is what we call a true full coverage, long-wearing matte," says Moudachirou-Rébois. Last year, the brand expanded its Ruby Woo offerings into three new matte formats: Ruby Phew, which has a high-impact velvety finish; Ruby New, a powdery stain;  Ruby Ruby Boo, a soft-focus tint. "There are now myriad matte finishes suitable for any preference, from full-coverage matte to soft-focus moisture matte, so everyone can find their perfect matte," says Moudachirou-Rébois.

With the launch of Ruby You and Ruby Do—the two newest members of the Ruby Woo family—the brand is now bringing its classic red into shinier territories. "In addition to matte, we are truly excited to bring our favorite red in formulas with more sheen," says Moudachirou-Rébois. "Both are from our Love Me collection, and deliver an instant hit of powerful color and all-day moisture in a luxurious satin finish."

What happened when we tried them

Ruby You

"Ruby Woo was my first-ever red lipstick (I still have it somewhere, even though it's approximately 15 years old), so when I learned MAC was expanding the Ruby Woo collection and launching Ruby You (a satin finish vs. the original matte) I did a literal happy dance," says Gina Vaynshteyn, Well+Good's senior commerce editor. "While Ruby Woo is matte and highly pigmented, Ruby You is a bit more buildable. You could easily swipe on once for an effortless, reddish-pink finish, or apply several more coats for a deeper red. Like Ruby Woo, this is a red-blue shade that truly does look good on everyone—even if you think 'red lipsticks don't look good on me.' It's got lasting power, and the classic shape of the tube makes it feel fuss-free when I apply."

"Although Ruby You and Ruby Woo are technically the same color, I find that Ruby You's glossy finish allows it to read a tad more neutral than Ruby Woo," says Kara Jillian Brown, Well+Good's beauty writer. "On my complexion it doesn't stray blue or orange—it's the perfect red. Though I still love an orangey-red, Ruby You has definitely earned a spot in my rotation. It's got a gorgeous sheen and leaves my lips feeling good."

"I like the color but I think I like the original matte finish better," says Francesca Krempa, Well+Good's commerce writer. "This feels like it's going to get on every wine glass I come in contact with (aka, a lot.) I think next time I wear I’ll use a lip primer to help set it in place.”

Personally, I loved that this shade is totally customizable—I can layer it on to give my lips exactly the type of pigment I'm looking for. On my skin, it reads slightly more blue than the classic Ruby Woo (which is funny, because as mentioned, they're technically the same color!), but still looks stunning.

Ruby Do!

"Ruby Do! is the liquid lip version of the new Ruby Woo satin formula," says Vaynshteyn. "As you can see, the color is more intense. You don't have that same option of applying a couple of times to get that buildable coverage—this one POPS—but I've never worn a more hydrating liquid lipstick (and I've tried hundreds). It's that same flattering red with a gorgeous satin finish. I've been wearing it all day long, and it hasn't budged... even after coffee number three."

"I'm not the biggest fan of Ruby Woo as a red lip," says Brown. "I prefer my reds with a bit more orange and feel like neither Ruby Woo nor Ruby Do! particularly pop against my skin tone in a way I'd like. That being said, the formula of Ruby Do! is perfection. It's hydrating yet extremely long-lasting."

“I can't really see undertones very well, but I can tell this is warmer, a little bit more orange than the other two. I like it!" says Krempa. "The texture is nice—not glossy but no too matte. The applicator also makes it easy to get a little bit more strategic with placement compared to a normal lipstick tube.”

As someone who loves a liquid lip, I'm a big fan of the glossy finish that Ruby Do! leaves behind. Plus, it's got major staying power and doesn't smudge all over my teeth immediately after I apply (which, it's worth noting, is pretty hard to find in a liquid red lip). It feels smooth and looks shiny, and I'd go so far as to name it my favorite format in the #RubyCrew.

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