I am a person who is typically game to test just about anything makeup-related, but when it comes to lipstick, I don’t often switch things up. Once I find one that complements my skin tone with a not-too-drying formula, it tends to reside in my makeup bag for …well, years. There are thousands of lipstick shades and formulas, which can make shopping for them especially overwhelming. So about once a year, I go to Sephora and swatch just about every lipstick in the damn place. Sometimes I leave empty-handed and other times I leave with one or two lipsticks that I can really picture myself wearing on a weekly basis.
Below, I’ve compiled my six holy-grail lipsticks, each of which has been in my makeup bag for at least six months: my absolute-favorite-of-all-time bright red, dark red, mauve, brown, berry, and pinky nude. Full disclosure: I tend to fall hard for lipsticks with brown and berry undertones, so if you’re more of a peachy-pink or orange-leaning person, this might not be the list for you. But I happen to think that ’90s brown Cindy lip and vampy Naomi Campbell lip are gorgeous and look good on just about everyone.
I absolutely love Fenty Beauty’s Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored. But sometimes, I just don’t want to commit to that full-on, liquid-lipstick, bold glam. This Make Beauty lipstick in the Scarlet shade is the most beautiful high-pigment blue-red color, and it goes on super smooth for a more casual, blotted look. It’s is definitely comparable to the cult classic Ruby Woo by Mac, but it has a less drying effect on my lips, which truly makes all the difference when I’m wearing it out all day or night. Color-wise, it’s a bit brighter than Ruby Woo, but the formula is more opaque — which means it’s easier to dab onto your lips for a subtle red pop. For a more intense red lip, keep swiping, it builds easily.
No one does lipsticks quite like Pat McGrath. Yes, her products are on the pricey side, but she’s a legend for a reason: her formulas are intensely pigmented and flawlessly smooth, and her packaging is so gorgeous it makes me scream. This deep plum lipstick is quite simply the most beautiful, rich dark red I have ever tried and worn. This formula goes on creamy, but, as it dries, becomes matte-ified. The formula is so pigmented I tend to reserve it for nights out and special occasions.
This color is a true, saddle brown. Although I do tend to lean generally more toward the matte side with my lipsticks, this one from Milk Makeup is a lovely demi-matte — meaning it has a slight, nourishing shine to it. With true brown colors, I feel like that little kick of shine is important, because nothing is less flattering than a cracked brown lip. For daytime glam, I like to tap this on the center of my lip and blend it out with my fingers.
I wear this deep berry color almost every day. The diffused matte lipsticks from Glossier’s Gen G collection are magical: they give this blotted, smudged effect I just haven’t been able to find elsewhere. And this color, Jam, is the most gorgeous, soft pinky-purple berry color — I think it’s flattering on just about everyone.
This is kind of like Fenty’s Thicc but with more pink. I wear this color on days when I want a lipstick that is most like my natural shade and when I want to pretend I’m Candice Swanepoel. (Yes, this is actually the color Charlotte put on all of the Angels’ lips at the Victoria’s Secret show.) Often, pinky nudes will wash me out, but this color has a hint of dustiness that makes your lips look sultry and pillowy. I wear this often during the day (blotted a bit), and pack it on for nights out when I want a sexier look. This is my absolute go-to lipstick for weddings (and what I would probably recommend to a bride to-be) because it’s so natural, pretty, and flirty.
This, from Fenty, is the newest lipstick addition to my makeup bag. It’s a gorgeous mauve-y color, with dusty rose undertones — making it the perfect candidate for when you want a rich nude with a little kick. The super light formula feels weightless, and despite going on incredibly matte, it never dries my lips out. This crimson-y nude is my daytime go-to for when I want something a touch more bold than my Glossier Gen G lipsticks, and it’s a no-brainer for evenings out (seriously, if you see me out at night I’m probably wearing this lipstick).
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