mac lipstick

MAC Lipstick Swatches and Dupes

Lately, I’ve been fixated on lipstick.

As more of a lip balm and gloss kind of gal, I confess that when I used to think about lipstick it seemed like a dated, matronly part of the makeup world– something that survived cosmetics counters only because 50-somethings relied on them for the perfect pout.

Despite the aversion I had for lipstick, the cult following for MAC Cosmetics piqued my interest. Although I enjoy buying, testing and blogging about makeup, I’m far from a cosmetics expert. Sure, I once bought a one-off Dior Addict lipstick for $30 (I’m a sucker for packaging), but for whatever reason, I couldn’t bring myself to buy MAC lipstick. MAC was a brand that was financially out-of-reach, at least, I thought it was.

I came across another blog called, LipstickDupe, and learned with great delight that there are well-known MAC lipstick dupes from drugstore brands, like e.l.f., Maybelline, Milani and Wet n’ Wild.

I was ecstatic.

Popular MAC Lipstick Dupes

Being completely unfamiliar with the MAC cosmetics line, I first sought to find out which colors were most popular and which hues could compliment my skin tone. I have warm, olive skin and based on my late-night web browses, I settled on testing these colors:

MAC Angel (dupe: Maybelline Born With It), MAC Rebel (dupe: Milani Uptown Mauve), MAC So Chaud (dupe: Wet n’ Wild Purty Persimmon), MAC Ruby Woo (dupe: Wet n’ Wild Red Velvet), MAC Cherish (dupe: Wet n’ Wild Bare It All), MAC Creme Cup (dupe: Wet n’ Wild Think Pink), MAC Mehr (dupe: Rimmel Kate Moss #104)

MAC Lipstick Swatches

All colors in natural lighting.

When I wore MAC Cherish, MAC Angel and MAC Creme Cup, all three looked nearly identical, with Creme Cup being the brightest pink of all three. Overall, I thought MAC Mehr was the better everyday option for my skin tone, but Angel gave off a nice pinky nude on my lips. The latter three colors (So Chaud, Rebel and Ruby Woo) were also fun, bold hues for special occasions.

Here’s where the fun really starts. I looked into common MAC lipstick dupes for all colors above and a couple were flops in my opinion, but some were admirable copy cats:

MAC Lipstick Dupes Cherish Angel Creme Cup

All colors in natural lighting.

Bare It All ($2) vs. MAC Cherish – Very similar color comparison. I found that many of the Wet n’ Wild dupes had very creamy (almost drying) formula that made me want to lick my lips or slap on a layer of lip balm. Regardless of the formula, Bare It All is a nice, muted nude that I can wear to work (with gloss), so it’s a keeper.

Born With It ($7) vs. MAC Angel – Hands down identical color. For me, both products offered similar pigment, with Maybelline’s version offering added moisture. Some beauty blogs I’ve read also said that e.l.f. Classy was an exact match, but I’ve yet to try that MAC dupe; in the meantime, I’m very impressed with Maybelline Born With It.

Think Pink ($1) vs. Creme Cup – Oh, boy. This one is definitely a return in my books. First of all, Think Pink is a lot more neon/bright/opaque pink than Creme Cup, making it a poor dupe. Secondly, this is a wildly unflattering color on me. I got Think Pink on a BOGO 50% off sale at CVS; maybe I’ll try something else post-refund.

Kate Moss #104 ($6) vs. MAC Mehr – Side by side, the two colors look similar, and as a swatch, are practically the same color. Personally, I find Rimmel’s Kate Moss #104 a deeper mauve than Mehr, but are exact dupes on the lips. I actually wore Kate Moss #104 when swatching at my local MAC store. When I asked a MAC associate about Mehr, she said it would actually look like the color I was wearing– and it did. Victory.

MAC Lipstick Dupes Mehr So Chaud Rebel Ruby Woo

All colors in natural lighting.

Purty Persimmon ($2) vs. MAC So Chaud – Holy crap, these two are so identical my frugal feels are tingling. I love the orangey-red on my lips, and the pigmented color and finish of the cheaper Wet n’ Wild dupe can’t be beat. This is a great springtime color for a night out, particularly for my skin tone.

Uptown Mauve ($6) vs. MAC Rebel – A color that so many makeup fanatics swear by, there are actually a few MAC Rebel lipstick dupes available in drugstores for less. I tried to find Wet n’ Wild’s Sugar Plum Fairy, which I hear takes the lead among Rebel copies, but it was out of stock. Womp Womp.

Then, I heard that Milani offers two dupe-worthy colors: Sangria and Uptown Mauve. Sangria looks like the same color as Rebel from the tube, but I decided to try Uptown Mauve, because I’m a wimp when it comes to dark colors and Uptown Mauve appeared lighter compared to Rebel. When swatched on my skin, however, the two colors became one. I’m thrilled with my pick; it’s a gorgeous color that mocks MAC Rebel, seamlessly.

Red Velvet ($1) vs. MAC Ruby Woo – While I loved Red Velvet on my lips, it’s distinctly different from MAC’s Ruby Woo when swatched and worn. MAC’s version is said to be a universally flattering red, with its bluish undertones. Red Velvet is staying in my new lipstick collection, but I can’t bring myself to say it’s even a contender among other MAC lipstick dupes.

With all said and done, I spent about $25 for seven drugstore brand MAC lipstick dupes. Not a bad experience!

Let me know if any of these dupes worked for you, or if you have other suggestions in the comments below. 🙂

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