Ahh, the '90s. There were so many beauty and fashion trends (both good and bad) that we thought we left in the past: overplucked eyebrows, slip dresses, the "Rachel" cut, pastel eye shadows, mini bags, glitter everything… If you lived through the '90s, you've probably sported at least one of these trends.
But because everything seems to circle back, a lot of these trends have made a comeback. We're not surprised about some of these and have really embraced them, but we're still getting used to others. One beauty trend that we've seen making the rounds in the 21st century is brown lipstick. The look was so popular with celebs from Drew Barrymore to Jennifer Lopez to Tyra Banks. We thought it was a dearly departed beauty trend, but now, it's back. And we're not really mad about it.
"Once a younger generation wasn't alive for the trend the first time around, it then feels new and exciting because they don't remember the horrors of looking back on it in old photographs," says celebrity makeup artist Quinn Murphy, whose clients include Karlie Kloss and Dakota Fanning. "Hopefully, each new generation can learn from the previous one's mistakes—which leads us to brown lipstick! These 20-year-old girls love a brown lip and defined lip liner with a black flicky liner. Sound familiar? Like any trend, it all comes down to how it is done and on who, except for shoulder pads. No one should wear them (except maybe Elizabeth Warren)."
Photo:Steve Granitz/Getty Images
We're not hating on this recycled trend because it's a pretty universally flattering shade. You can go for a really subtle lip or lean into the dramatics. "Brown is a color that has many undertones and variations," Murphy says. "It's flattering when the hue is complementary to the person's overall coloring (warm or cool, light or dark, how much gray in the color, or soft). This is true of all colors but will especially show in browns."
To choose the right shade for you, Murphy says the general rule is the darker your coloring, the darker your makeup colors. Pay attention to your undertone as well. "If you have a warmth to your coloring, choose a brown with a yellow/orange undertone," he recommends. "If you have a cool undertone, go for a red-based brown. Stay away from too much gray in the brown. That's what makes browns look harsh and dated. The mauve browns and taupe browns look sickly and dull."
And as for pairing it with certain makeup looks, there's a lot of versatility with brown lipstick. You can wear it with a daytime look or on a big night out. "It really depends on the amount of saturation in the lipstick," Murphy explains. "The stronger the statement, the more you want to soften the other areas of makeup."
Ready to take a time machine back to the '90s and sport some brown lipsticks? Here are some picks.
This chestnut lipstick is a medium brown that has a saturated, satin finish. The cool thing about this one is the gold applicator can be reused with refills.
"It's a mid-tone, warm nude brown. The warm, golden undertone makes it happier than a gray-death brown. This could also be a great nude/natural lip color on deeper skin tones," Murphy says.