The Age of the Cult Lipstick

Thanks to Helena Rubinstein we’ve long had cult creams, then came cult makeup artists, facialists, and we find ourselves in the the age of the cult lipstick. Enter MAC x Sam & Nic Chapman.

Lipstick - Makeup

It wasn’t very long ago that I was admiring a different gold wrapped lipstick bullet – and also recognising it’s cult status.  When Lisa Eldridge debuted her lipstick line in 2018, it joined an exclusive group of lip products that have an indescribable magic about them.  There are new lipsticks that you’re excited to pick up or dream of being gifted; perhaps a new summer pick from Tom Ford or a Christmas release from Chanel, and then there are those that are so hyped – so coveted – that they sell out within hours of release date, that have eBay listings demanding ludicrous prices, that send Instagram hashtags trending and are on the wishlists of makeup lovers worldwide. Most often, they’re accompanied by the two words Limited Edition and are the making of a collector’s item. So, it’s with a certain cosmetic gravitas that I mention Sam and Nic Chapman’s MAC lipsticks and consider their cult status. 

Makeup isn’t only about the colour or the product, or even the brand anymore. Cult status no longer necessarily comes from the celebrity who endorses it, or the star who wears it – think Taylor Swift and MAC Ruby Woo. Products that have been created by people we connect with, follow, and are inspired by, bring with them a whole new level of desirability.  In the age of Instagram, we’re invested in their careers, their lives and jump at the chance to support them and share in a little piece of the magic in the form of makeup.  In the case of Sam and Nicola Chapman – the sisters behind Pixiwoo – these are two of the Originals. So many of us who first discovered the online community of beauty did so by devouring it in the original format that was (and is) YouTube makeup tutorials. Before influencers were influencers, before Instagram likes became important (and subsequently unimportant), and before MOTD and GRWM meant anything – there was Pixiwoo.

As former MAC artists themselves, it seems full circle – somewhat kismet perhaps – that their lipstick would come in the forms of a collaboration with the MAC Maker line.  Beautifully packaged in gold bullets – an appropriate elevation from the classic black – and with the recognisable MAC vanilla fragrance and taste, these lipsticks are both familiar and novel.  The two shades look back to 60’s cinema for inspiration but the formulas very much look forward to the now – when dry, matte lips are out of favour and creamy, pigmented colour are in order. The colours feel considered and perfected, as though a serious level of detail has gone into this release – right down to the inside colour of the box matching the corresponding lipstick shade.


Sam Chapman’s creation is a gorgeous pinky red. In the bullet I thought it more a true red, but on the lips there’s a notable pink shift. The texture is creamy, intensely pigmented, and lustrous without being glossy. If a true classic red lipstick is just too bold against your skin tone, Sam’s shade is somehow more wearable.  It’s a statement for sure, but toned down to just the right level that I feel comfortable despite not being a red lipstick person. If you like reds, you’ll love it, if you like bright pinks, you’ll love it.  If you want a Christmas party lipstick – you’ll love it. Check out Sam’s Instagram for the inspiration behind the shade and recommended lip liners – MAC Cherry and Beet are among them.

Nic Chapman’s lipstick, by contrast, is a muted nudey pink. A chameleon of a colour, this lippie really varies depending on your natural lip colour. For some it is more nude, others quite peach, and some a more salmon pink. I’ve seen it referenced to Holly Golightly’s cult back-of-the-taxi shade featured in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, and there is a certain likeness but on me this is more muted – a touch more nude, a touch less coral. It’s not as straightforward as declaring this just an everyday colour – there’s more to this shade than everyday. The peach shift keep it modern, while also feeling vintage and the nude isn’t so beige that it washes you out. There’s enough pink to lift the complexion, but not too much that you can’t wear it with a smokey eye. It’s a very easy lipstick to wear; but it’s in no way dull.  It’s creamy in texture, applicable even without a mirror handy, and the colour not as dreary as a brown, not as preppy as a pink.

I’ve written before about the Lipstick Effect that often sees us splashing out on a new one as trouble (read recession) hits. In 2020, the age of the lipstick looks a little threatened as the world dons face masks to shield us from the global pandemic, and the timing of a lipstick launch looks less than perfect.  But that’s the funny thing about a cult product; it defies rule and reason and once the flurry takes hold – the Midas has touched – the effect is irreversible.  Even as our lips are covered by face marks, the knowledge that a bold red lip hides behind the mask can be enough to ignite a spring in your step. And then there is the uplifting and transformative effect of makeup that we’ve all experienced as we struggle through various stages of lockdown and isolation. The application of makeup can truly lift one’s spirits – and no product more so than the swipe of a favourite lipstick.

In the disaster of a year that is 2020, I find myself reaching more and more for those special items in my makeup drawer. When going out is very much staying in, putting on makeup isn’t so much about the end result but the therapeutic process of application. I’ve found myself digging out sparkly eyeshadows, spending the time (when time we have a plenty) perfecting liquid eyeliner and reaching for lipsticks I keep in the bottom drawer “for special occasions”.  What the good china might have been to my grandmother, a Lisa Eldridge collection is perhaps to me. When it comes to special lipsticks, you can’t ignore Hermes Beauty’s seasonal collections. The bullets alone are things of beauty, and the unique shades and colour-block packaging is enough to lift my lockdown spirits. While an in-depth review of Hermes’ latest trio is still in the works, I’m asking myself whether it’s their limited edition status that fuels this cult lipstick fire?

When it came to the Chapman sisters’ MAC launch, availability struggles may have frustrated a wallet-ready fanbase, but they in no way curbed the buzz.  In fact, the cult lipstick and a lack of availability seem to go hand in hand. Sam’s shade is lauded as one of the most wearable reds while Nic’s has become the instant everyday nude women search decades for – raise your hand if you bought a back-up. While the global launch didn’t go at all to plan, and many countries have been denied the chance to purchase these lipsticks from MAC outlets, those willing to pay the shipping costs turned to online retailers. And when it comes to determining whether these have reached cult lipstick status, perhaps all those paying £25 for international shipping of a £17.50 lipstick have just answered the question.

What are your cult lipsticks? Let me know on Instagram.


Find the MAC x Chapman lipsticks at Selfridges

Find Lisa Eldridge at

Find Hermes Beauty at Hermes

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