When it comes to lip color shopping, brown always seems to get overshadowed by its brighter, lighter, or redder cousins, partly because many people still think it looks very ’90s. (Cue flashbacks to the overdrawn, dark brown lip.) But why limit our lipstick options because of a short-lived trend?
Tired of hoarding the same pinks and reds, I was inspired to explore the world of brown lipsticks--and it is beautiful! In the right shade and tone, brown can go from simple, barely-there nude to vampy, almost-black espresso. So there’s no reason why it can’t be wearable these days. Here, I show you three brown lipstick looks that’ll make you rethink the shade.
Look 1: Deep Nude Lips + Smoky Eyes + Peach Cheeks
An easy way to sport a brown lip is to think of your favorite nude lip color and then look for a shade that’s a slightly deeper version. Here I used Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Brazilian Tan, an orangey light brown.
Since the lip color is very subtle, I paired it with a soft, smoky eye by applying NARS Shimmer Eye Shadow in Ashes to Ashes, a shimmery taupe, on my mobile lid, then adding Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Naked, a matte light brown, to my crease and blending. A coat of mascara, curled lashes, and a peachy pink blush finishes the look.
Look 2: Vampy Brown Lips + Smoky Eyes + Bronzer
Treat vampy brown lips as you would a deep red or black lipstick--with extra attention to undertone and neatness. Here, I put concealer around my lip line before applying Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Choco-Liscious, an aptly named moisturizing and cool-toned chocolate brown. Since the shade alone tends to look harsh on my complexion, I patted a bit of Shiseido Lacquer Rouge in RD607, a blue-based red lip color (if you’re more warm-toned, use your favorite warm-toned red) onto the center of my lips and blended with my finger to add dimension (it also leaves for a cool ombre effect up close). Lastly, I added another layer of Choco-Liscious to go over the red. For a toned-down version of this vampy shade, try Lancôme Rouge in Love Lipcolor in Cocoa Couture, a highly-pigmented deep reddish brown.
With a vampy lip, you’ll want to keep the rest of your makeup simple, but you can still subtly play up your cheeks and lips as well. Here, I kept the same eye makeup from the first look and added thin brown liquid liner. To avoid looking too pale and goth, I swapped the blush for a skin-warming bronzer.
Look 3: Warm Brown Lips + Bronze Eyes + Coral Cheeks
If you’re working with a warm medium brown, bronzes and corals will balance and complement the shade wonderfully. Bronze and brown are in the same color family, and the brown and coral both have warm tones. Here I used Clinique Long Last Lipstick in Sugar Bean, a highly moisturizing lip color.
On my lid I used Half Baked, a bronze shade from the Urban Decay Naked Palette. Then I applied Smog, a shimmery dark brown from the same palette all the way along my crease using a crease brush to create small circles. I then blended the shade and added Smog to the outer half of my lower lash line. I finished my look with mascara, liner and a ginger-colored blush.
Ready to rethink brown? Here are some do’s and don’ts for choosing and wearing the right shade.
- DO consider undertone. If you’re a cool tone, an espresso shade may look better than you than a warm chestnut shade, which warm-toned ladies would look amazing in.
- DO start with a gloss if you’re unsure of which brown shade to go for. The sheerness makes it more forgiving.
- DO layer on a flattering-on-you sheer lipstick, gloss, or concealer on top of the brown to adjust the shade if the lip color alone doesn’t suit you.
- DON’T combine dark matte lip color formulas, an overdrawn lip and heavy eye makeup unless you’re going for the ’90s brown lipstick look.
What do you think? Is brown lipstick a '90s trend to bring back?