MAC Retro Matte Lipstick Swatches and Review

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Looking for MAC Retro Matte lipstick swatches & an honest review? Check out ours below!

MAC retro matte lipstick 
There is nothing in the world like a good surprise. I’m not talking a Tiffany-blue box under the tree kind of surprise (though there ain’t nothing wrong with that!), I’m talking the sweeter, gentler, quarter-in-the-cup-holder-when-you-need-another-fifteen-minutes-on-the-meter surprise.

The new MAC Retro Matte Lipsticks (available here) are my quarter-in-the-cup-holder surprise.

MAC retro matte lipsticks

Based on the hugely popular and widely copied Ruby Woo, Retro Matte seek to capture an era.

These new colors take us back to the age of Tokyo Rose with their intense, almost powdery pigments, while ushering in a new era of smooth finish and long-lasting, even–wearing opaque color.

So what is that surprise?

The surprise is that I was warned that I may not love these.

MAC Retro Matte lipstick Review


Dry, dry, dry.

The truth is that I do love these…and that they are dry, dry, dry.

The dryness wasn’t a big issue for me since my lips rarely chap. If yours do, exfoliate and make sure to use some balm before trying these.

The application can tug and drag a bit, but dimethicone, a silicone-based polymer made for lubrication, is the number one ingredient and serves to facilitate the application process.

I actually found Retro Matte to be less dry and/or drying than some of my other favorite matte lipsticks for this reason.

MAC All fixed up retro matte lipstick

I also love Retro Matte Lipsticks (available here) because of the intensity of the color. One swipe and you will see color that is bold, intense and will not budge for hours.

There is virtually no transfer (just try to blot) and liquid is actually repelled. MAC Retro Mattes are like a bright raincoat for your lips!

MAC Retro Matte Lipstick Swatches

MAC Fixed on Drama retro matte lipstick

All Fired Up – bright raspberry
Fixed on Drama – dark wine
Steady Going – bright bubble gum pink
Dangerous – bright tomato orange-red

MAC retro matte lipstick swatchesAll Fired Up, Fixed on Drama, Steady Going, Dangerous

MAC Runway Hit retro matte lipstick

Runway Hit – light nude coral
Flat Out Fabulous – bright fucia
Relentless Red – bright yellow red

MAC Relentless Red retro matte lipstick swatchesRunway Hit, Flat Out Fabulous, Relentless Red

One thing that is not retro about Retro Matte is the scent. MAC’s vaguely vanilla scent is a million times better than the waxy scent of grandma’s lipsticks.

My how lipsticks have grown!

MAC retro matte lipstick swatchesAll Fired Up, Fixed on Drama, Steady Going, Dangerous, Runway Hit, Flat Out Fabulous, Relentless Red

I’m digging on Dangerous and Runway Hit in particular right now.

The bright orange toned Dangerous gives the darker fall colors in my wardrobe a real wakeup call. While Runway Hit is just a perfect nude for me—slightly darker than my skin tone and not too pink nor too brown.

MAC Pro Longwear lip pencil

Also included in MAC’s Retro Matte Collection are Pro Longwear Lip Pencils ($19.50). Like the lipsticks, these are packed with intense color and are truly long-wearing.

Shock Value – brighter bubble gum pink
High Energy – bright orange-red

MAC Pro Longwear lip pencil Shock value swatch That’s Shock Value lip pencil shown above Steady Going lipstick, and High Energy above Dangerous

Normally, I don’t use a lip pencil for lining but I do highly recommend doing so with such intense, highly pigmented mattes such as these.

While I haven’t known these lipsticks to bleed, the perfectly sculpted lip is key to the retro look and coloring within the lines is important for a clean finish.

Thankfully, the color I tried was High Energy, a bright orange-red cream that made Dangerous a little less so.

Ladies, do you like to see old styles reinvented or do you think the past should stay in the past?

MAC Retro Matte Lipstick

Steady Going – light pink matte
Runway Hit – light nude matte
Dangerous – orangey-red matte
Relentlessly Red – bright pinkish coral matte
All Fired Up – bright fuchsia matte
Flat Out Fabulous – bright plum matte
Ruby Woo – very matte vivid blue red
Fixed on Drama – rich wine matt

MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil

In Anticipation – soft yellow pink
Staunchly Stylish – pink beige
Shock Value – bright pink cream
Dynamo – bright peony
High Energy – bright orange-red cream
Trust in Red – bright cool red cream
More To Love – intense bluish pink
Fashion Boost – bright purple cream

photo: we heart this, shown on NC 25/30 skintone


  • sherrishera

    Sherri is a writer, dog lover, old movie fanatic, history detective, political junkie, fashion pundit and social media consumer advocate. “A fancy dinner and expensive champagne are better than writing a rent check any day of the week.” skin tone: NC 25 skin type: oily/sensitive favorite beauty product: anti-aging anything


  1. I tested Relentless Red – and wow – was I pleased! First of all, when I read the word matte – I was thinking it would be super-dry…to my surprise, it was nowhere near as dry as I thought. It applied rather easily. I felt sexy, and it did remind me of a different time period. The scent was pleasant. I applied this delicious lipstick yesterday, put on a sexy new pair of heels, a dress, and went to visit my hubby at work! He wanted to introduce me to everyone – it was adorable!

  2. These are so pretty! These are SO pigmented and I bet they last forever since you wont need as much product per application. Great review @sherrishera!

  3. well I guess when it comes to retro, we’re talking back in the day before formulas were, well, perfected, so no surprised these are dry. this is the retro collection so they are staying true to the name, I guess! haha.

  4. All these uber-pigmented shades are awesome! As a Ruby Woo devotee myself (thank you very much for the excellent recommendation @Stef) I’m excited to try more of MAC’s retro shades!

    @sherrishera – haha, grandma’s waxy lipstick! I actually have one of my grandma’s old lipsticks and I know exactly what you’re talking about!

    Now if only someone can bring back those gorgeous decorated metal tubes!

  5. Love Runway Hit, looks like a Mad Men color for sure : ) These do look like they will last a long time and get great coverage.

  6. These all look fab–I am thinking I’m due for some “treat yo self” time with one or two of these. Also, I adore the “quarter in the cup holder surprise” idea–what a great way to describe the small joys in life!

  7. These are great for long wearing color and I like them more and more each day. Dangerous is on my lips right now! I do want to add that while exfoliation and balm may help those with dry and chapped or cracked lips, it does diminish that staying power greatly (and transferability, etc.). If your lips are drier I’d suggest exfoliating and moisturizing them at night to take advantage of all these have to offer.

  8. The reds in this collection look amazing, and Runway Hit would be a nice matte nude to add to my collection. I want the whole set!

  9. The texture is definitely DRY–it really tugs at your lips. Use lipliner and a brush for sure! However, I agree with @sherrishera that paradoxically, it isn’t as DRYING to my lips as some lipsticks! The pigmentation is incredible on these. And there really isn’t a whole lot of transfer either, which was impressive.

  10. Hey all, get ready for Debbie Downer to bring this lovefest to a grinding halt. I do not like these. I love the pigment, I love the shades (really, both are absolutely stunning) but they are dry, dry, DRY. (I was the one to warn @sherrishera above!)

    And here’s the thing, the new MAC matte formula is AMAZING. I sing its praise often for reinventing “matte” – you still get the shine free finish, but in a creamy texture that doesn’t make your lips feel like they’re a desert. It made me forget every dry matte formula I ever tried. Then back comes retro matte to make me remember again!

    I can say that retro matte sticks around like a champ. You apply once and your set for at least 4-5 hours. No touch ups ness. But personally, I just can’t get past the dryness.

  11. It is true that @stef warned me that I would probably not care for these but I love that these stay bone dry…dessert dry…yet, thanks to that silicone, keep moisture from escaping. I think I’ve worn one of these colors every day since I received them and my lips are as soft as a puppy nose. There is some paradoxical witchcraft happening here like @lipglossandspandex suggests. It must be the season for it…

  12. All Fired Up is certainly a gorgeous shade. Unfortunately, I typically shy away from matte lipstick as I can’t handle the dryness. Too bad!! Maybe one day I will find one that really works for me.

  13. Runway Hit… What lip pencil could be a match for this lipstick?

    1. Staunchly Stylish looks like the closest match in the Pro Longwear pencil, but I think the In Synch Lip Pencil looks closest overall.

      Thanks for your comment!

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