Before I wised up to the racket that is "free shipping when you spend X!", I would toss things I didn't really want or need in to my shopping cart to hit that shipping minimum. When it came to MAC's website, I usually picked another tube of Strobe Cream or a new lipstick. On one occasion, I decided a red eyeliner seemed like a good idea...probably because the pencils were on sale or something of that ilk. I'd tested the MAC Chromagraphic Pencils in the nude shades before and found them to be pigmented and creamy, so I figured I'd have the same luck with Basic Red.
It turns out red eyeliner isn't exactly the best look for a professor. I wore scarlet wings to class once, received a snippy comment from a higher-up, and retired the pencil to the back of my collection. And at the time, I had such a huge collection that this one pencil was quickly lost in the mix.
I've since downsized my collection dramatically, all the while becoming more and more aware of what I do and don't need to achieve certain looks. Only two red pencils have stuck with me: NYX Auburn, which I've owned for far too many years but refuse to quit because it works so well with deep bordeauxs and bold crimsons, and MAC Basic Red.
Top: Besame 1941 Victory Red and 1920 Besame Red. Middle: MAC Chromagraphic Pencil in Basic Red. Bottom: MAC Scarlet Ibis and Besame 1931 Carmine.
Basic Red is the cleanest, most neutral red lip liner I've ever found. Some people say it leans a little warm, but honestly, I think it depends on which lipstick you pair it with. I wear it with all four of the shades above: the cool toned and saturated Victory Red, the more muted Besame Red (which appears outright purple-ish here because it's so muted in comparison to other three shades, but is clearly a soft, slightly blue red on the lips), the slightly warm Scarlet Ibis, and the orange-red Carmine. In every case, lining my lips with MAC Basic Red, then bringing the lipstick right to that pencil line always gives me the sharpest, fullest look I can get sans lip brush.
I've also worn Basic Red on its own with just a hint of balm or gloss on top, as in my Best of 2016 video. The formula is smooth enough to apply evenly to the lips and feel comfortable, but waxy enough to stay put. (The standard MAC lipliners, I find, are a bit too dry and flaky to be worn all over the lips.)
This truly versatile pencil deserves far more hype than it gets. That said, I'm not so much encouraging you to rush out and buy it as I am encouraging you to think very carefully about the products you already have. It's the stuff we tend to reach for automatically, without fanfare or fuss, that's truly deserving of "Holy Grail" status.