The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Perfect Shade of Brown Lipstick
If you're struggling to snap out of a makeup rut this Winter, a sultry brown lip might be just what you need. This smoldering look warms up a tired complexion, accentuates your delicate features, and complements a contoured face — even more than a classic crimson pout can. Thanks to the '90s beauty revival and grunge renaissance we saw last Fall, shades like tawny roses, deep brick reds, rich colors of mocha and coffee, and dusty mauves are back in the lipstick spotlight. These rich, wonderfully nostalgic colors picked up even more steam with Kylie Jenner's original lip kit launch, which featured three shades of brown lip liners and lipsticks.
You don't have to worry about looking like a blast from the past wearing these chocolate shades. Today's spectrum of latte, caramel, and raisin have softer undertones that you can mix and match to your liking. The reinvented plump pout doesn't require precise lines, either: overdraw your lips with a pencil just outside the edges of your pucker's outline and fill it in with the liner and a lipstick.
But just like finding the perfect red, there are multiple variables that play a role in how to nail your best burnt-sienna smooch, says Lauren Cosenza, beauty and style expert and creator of DIVAlicious.nyc. "Finding the best shade of brown lipstick for you truly depends on your skin tone, undertone, eye and hair color, and your personal style," she explained.
To help you find your true match, whether you're looking for a matte or glossy finish (or anything in between!), we got the chocolate lip scoop from Cosenza and other top makeup artists. Read on!
Porcelain-complected and ivory-toned beauties like Jennifer Lawrence want to look for a deep brown lipstick with red undertones and earthy nudes with tints of pink. Cosenza also likes stone brown for girls with cool undertones, but make sure they're several shades darker than your natural skin tone so you don't appear washed out.
Romy Soleimani, makeup artist and beauty director at large for Beauty.com, recommends that women with fair skin should go for pinkish-brown shades. The underlying warmth to this color family will create a nice contrast with your delicate complexion. It will also bring out the natural flush in your cheeks and the brightness in your eyes.
If you have pale skin, avoid browns that lean heavily toward gray. These colors are often too light and feature frosty finishes that could make you sickly.
Medium Skin With Cool Undertones
Those with skin tones like Camilla Belle have more options when it comes to finding the right shade of cocoa, but don't just grab any lipstick off the shelf! While your medium complexion has a warm aspect to its tone, the peachy hues in your skin call for a lip color with a cool, taupe undertone, says Laura Geller, founder of Laura Geller Beauty. Geller also advises against brown lipsticks with red or green undertones. Because these clash with your complexion, they can make your face look flushed.
Because of their cool undertones, dusty mauves and tawny roses are your most flattering colors — they'll bring out your natural glow. Consider trying chestnut browns with reddish hues and warm caramel with beige tones, too. Cosenza says to check out pinky concrete-browns, icy mochas, and cafe con leche colors. Sounds yummy to us!
Medium Skin With Olive Undertones
If your skin looks like Shay Mitchell's, you are the luckiest girl in the bunch: you can wear virtually any shade of brown. Your olive and yellow undertones pair well with warm, coral browns, says Soleimani.
Cosenza suggests also trying moody red-based or vampy browns. Bold, berry-brown colors bring out your golden glow and add more warmth to your complexion. For a nude, go for colors that are sheer and reflect light with either shimmer or gloss. This look is quintessential, understated sexy on olive skin.
It can be a little tricky to find the right shade of cocoa for beauties with complexions like Christina Milian. The key is to find a shade that has a distinct contrast to your natural skin tone and has shine to help reflect light off of your lips. This way you won't look washed out!
Soleimani recommends a glossy mauve brown for tan skin. Cosenza’s trick: use a nude brown lipstick, then apply a darker lip liner on the outer edges to add a bit of dimension and create an ombré look. Just remember to blend!
Deep Mocha Skin
Burgundy-brown shades of lipstick almost have a regal effect on deep complexions like Lupita Nyong'o's while creating the effect of a plump pout. This is all because of the contrast between your skin and your lip color. According to Cosenza, you can rock dark, moody shades or go much lighter with colors like a metallic nude.
"Contrast is crucial when it comes to wearing brown and neutral lip shades," notes Geller, "so for dark skin tones, pale, nude browns and mauves look amazing." The shimmery highlights in these shades play beautifully off deeper skin tones. Additionally, colors like coffee and tan help bring out the natural brightness of your skin and play up your features.