How to Wear Brown Lipstick Without Looking Like a ’90s Throwback

Alle Connell

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The ’90s are back in a big way, and as far as we in the beauty world ar concerned, we couldn’t be happier. matte skin! Big hair! Curls galore! Yep, we’re into it.

But there’s one trend that we’ve been a little slower to embrace: brown lipstick. Even though it’s been all over the red carpet, we’ve had a hard time working it into our daily makeup routine. We rocked it back in the day, okay? Isn’t it a little dated?

No way; when deployed correctly, brown is actually the perfect lip color—and we’ve got proof. Here’s exactly how to wear brown lipstick without looking like a ’90s throwback.

pink brown lipstick

Photo: IMaxTree

1. Mix it with pink.
Not all browns are created equal—if you’re looking for a soft and pretty way to ease into this trend, consider looking for a shade with a hefty dose of pink. These rosy colors are really easy to wear (not to mention flattering on every skin tone). We love MAC Lipstick in Twig ($17, MAC Cosmetics), a beautifully warm rosy brown with a satin finish that is truly stunning.

brown lipliner

Photo: IMaxTree

2. Embrace liner.
Brown lipliner doesn’t have to be totally Pam Anderson—if you choose a rich shade and blend it correctly, it’s the perfect way to add dimension to your lips. Trace the perimeter of your lips with a rich brown shade, blending it inward with short, feathery strokes. Add a touch of pink-brown lipstick to the center of your mouth, and press your lips together to blend. The two shades will blend together to create a stunning ombre lip that nods to the grunge look of the ’90s without looking like you’re wearing a costume.

light brown lipstick

Photo: IMaxTree

3. Smudge.
If brown lipstick is still a little too intense for you, tap some of the color from the bullet onto your finger, and then onto your lips. This wash of brown looks especially amazing with a smudgy, smokey eye in shades of slate and grey—you don’t want anything too perfect!


copper brown lipstick

Photo: IMaxTree

4. Copper!
If traditional red-brown lipstick shades aren’t quite right for you, try a copper-brown instead. Slightly sparkly orange-brown shades like Lancome Color Design Lipstick in Check Me Out ($22.50, Lancome) are especially flattering on deeper skin tones.

how to wear brown lipstick

Photo: IMaxTree

5. Get glossy.
Though they don’t have the staying power of other lip colors, a high-shine gloss can be the perfect way to wear brown lipstick. We love NARS Lip Gloss in Supervixen ($26, Sephora), which isn’t just the perfect glossy brown, it also adds some subtle sparkle to our kissers—talk about the perfect party lip! Make sure your outline is especially perfect before (and after) applying your lacquer—one teeny smudge can really detract from the lip look you’re trying to create.

matte brown lipstick

Photo: IMaxTree

7. Make matte work.
So you’ve gone for it and are rocking a flawless brown lip—now what other makeup do you pair it with? No matter the shade you land on, we love the look of clean, dewey skin and defined (never clumpy) mascara worn with amazing brown lips. A little carefully placed highlight on the cheekbones and above the Cupid’s bow of the lips, and you’re set!

dark brown lipstick

Photo: IMaxTree

8. Embrace your dark side.
If you’re going for a really advanced level of difficulty, a very deep brown lipstick could be for you. We especially love a vampy near-black shade paired with metallic copper eyelids and amazing skin—simple, sleek, unbelievably elegant.

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