10 Ways to Ride the Brown Lipstick Wave—Inspired by Our Favorite ’90s Movies

Rachel Krause

Don’t get us wrong, we love the ’90s. Flannel, mini-backpacks, and the rise of Generation X? Yes, please! But we’ve always believed that wearing the decade’s signature brown lipstick seemed better left in the past. Until recently, that is. From pale neutral nudes to deep, dark, vampy shades, muddy lipstick is back. We’ve spotted it on the runway, on celebrities, and on regular (cool) girls everywhere, so we can confirm that it’s very much a thing.

And who better to inspire us than the actual stars of our favorite ’90s movies? From Fairuza Balk in The Craft to Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, actual ’90s ladies truly pulled off brown lipstick.

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Liv Tyler as Corey Mason in Empire Records
When she wasn’t ringing up customers at Empire Records, Corey was basically defining our ideal of ’90s beauty. For her reddish, just-bitten brown lip, try Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture the Mats in 206 Grenat Satisfaction ($36).

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Winona Ryder as Lelaina Pierce in Reality Bites
We didn’t envy Lelaina’s post-graduation existential crisis, but her rusty-red lipstick is a different story entirely. NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen ($5.99) is the perfect brick shade.

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Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction
Miss Mia Wallace is bold in every way—why would her lip color be any different? This film made the now-discontinued dark brown/red Chanel Vamp a cult obsession, but you can get a very similar look with Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte in Burgundy Blush ($7.49).

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Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer in Fight Club
There are a lot of things that are wrong with Marla, but her on-point brown lipstick is not one of them. Look for something that’s a little plum-tinged, like Buxom Big & Sexy Bold Gel Lipstick in Vampy Plum ($22).

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Sarah Michelle Gellar as Kathryn Merteuil in Cruel Intentions
We love to hate Kathryn, but we love to love her frosted medium-brown lip color. MAC Cosmetics Lipstick in Plastique ($17) is pretty much identical.

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Fairuza Balk as Nancy Downs in The Craft
Nancy: terrifying. Nancy’s goth-inspired lipstick game: sick. Her base lipstick is definitely a dark-brownish maroon, but there’s a lot of even darker lip liner going on there. Try applying NARS Pure Matte Lipstick in Volga ($27) before outlining with MAC Cosmetics Lip Pencil in Nightmoth ($16.50).

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Julianne Moore as Maude Lebowski in The Big Lebowski
Maude notoriously stole a rug, and we want to steal her lipstick (and that ridiculously shiny bob, but that’s besides the point). For a similar true medium-brown lip color, try the impressively matte Urban Decay Matte Revolution Lipstick in 1993 ($22).

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Larisa Oleynik as Bianca Stratford in “10 Things I Hate About You”
Her sister, Kat, may have no time for vanity, but Bianca has all the time in the world—and the brown-leaning nude lip to prove it. Marc Jacobs Beauty Le Marc Lip Crème in J’Adore 230 ($30) is the perfect match.

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Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz in Clueless
As if we’d want anything more than to copy Cher’s exact look to a T, including her glossy, totally of-the-moment brown lip color. Lipstick Queen Seven Deadly Sins Lipgloss in Avarice ($24) has the opacity of a lipstick and a soft, shiny finish that’s totally fitting for the most popular girl in school.

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Sharon Stone as Ginger McKenna in Casino
Let’s be real: Ginger kind of sucked, but for a while there she looked incredible while also being the worst. Her dedication to lipstick was strong—a big fan of frosted finishes, she’d love Too Faced Melted Metal Liquified Metallic Lipstick in Debutante ($21).

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