Can you hear that? The '90s are knocking, and they’re here to deliver a very special beauty trend from the past: brown lipstick. We may have tried to leave it behind in our teens, but from conker reds to shades reminiscent of your morning flat white, this trend has been thrown into the beauty arena once more thanks to the catwalks, Instagram and celebrities alike.
And there’s a reason it's at the forefront of beauty (and the top of our makeup bags) once more—brown is one of those elusive universally flattering shades that suits every single skin tone it's applied to. Just take these brown lipstick–wearing celebrities as proof.
According to Benefit Cosmetics Head Makeup Artist and Brow Expert Lisa Potter Dixon, the reason brown lipstick is so universally flattering is simple: “Browns are an earth tone. They tend to suit everyone as they warm up the look of the complexion.” We're ready to dive back in to this '90s trend and we're sure you are too. Keep scrolling to discover how to make brown lipstick work for you.
CHOOSE A SHADE THAT SUITS YOU
Getting this trend right all lies in the careful selection of your shade. "The danger with brown lipstick is if you go too close to your skin tone, you may look washed out," explains Potter-Dixon, whose simple rules are as follows:
Fair skin tones: Choose a taupe-like tone to flatter cool undertones in the skin.
Light-medium skin tones: Opt for something with a red or orange undertone, like shades of terra-cotta and burnt red.
Olive skin tones: The warmth already present in the skin will allow you to go for dark or vampy chocolate shades.
Darker skin tones: Ensuring there's a contrast between your skin tone is important to getting this look right and so pale brown, coffee or tan tones look great.
As for the lipstick finish, Bobbi Brown PRO and Artistry Manager Hannah Martin has words of advice are this: "If you're going for a strong brown colour then a matte finish is preferable, not least to ensure it looks good but to make sure it stays on the lips and doesn’t transfer." But if your chosen brown is a little lighter, those look great in moist, glossy finishes. You'll be happy to know we've already compiled all the best brown lip gloss looks.
APPLY YOUR BROWN LIPSTICK LIKE THIS
Haphazard application won't work here, you'll need to factor in a couple of extra minutes to apply than your usual swipe and go."Use a creamy concealer over the entire lip first to give the lipstick a smooth, pigmented base." Knocking back your natural lip colour will help the brown on top stand out. We love Benefit's Boi-ing Airbrush Concealer (£18).
"For extra-long wear, outline and fill in the entire lip with lip pencil first," adds Martin. "Then lay your lip colour on top using either a lip brush, or for the most intense pigment, apply straight from the bullet." A bit scared? Apply more of a wash of colour using your fingertips to pat the lipstick on.
MAKE IT MATCH
Paying careful attention to the rest of your makeup look will help frame the brown lipstick. "It's advisable that you pair brown lipstick with other warm neutrals so you don’t look too washed out," recommends Martin. So opt for pinky-brown blushers and soft, caramel-toned eye shadows.
"Brown-based colours can also make the face look a litte flat, so you might need to add shape and dimension to the face," she adds. "Pair your look with an eyeliner at least the same colour or a shade darker than the brown lip colour you chose." If you've chosen a matte lip colour, Potter-Dixon suggests contrasting textures and trying a slick of clear gloss on the eyelids to give brown lipstick a modern twist.
Want more? These are our favourite dark lipsticks that won't crack or fade.