Of all the ’90s makeup trends we never thought we’d revisit, brown lipstick layered up with lashings of high-shine gloss has long been up there with over-plucked eyebrows and blue hair mascara. It’s not that it was a particularly “bad” look—unless of course it was teamed with the ’90s signature of lip liner two shades darker. It’s just that finding the right brown to flatter your skin tone can be a tricky business. We’re not all blessed with the wear-anything genes of Gisele, after all.
But if the current makeup preferences of Gigi Hadid, sister Bella, Rihanna, Cara Delevingne and Emily Ratajkowski are anything to go by, glossy brown lips are back. Only this time, they’re a lot more wearable. Of course, Kylie Jenner has been working hard to revive brown lipstick since 2015, but the latest iteration of the trend comes with a lot more shine and, thankfully, a wider and kinder spectrum of shades.
“There’s something really empowering about a brown toned lipgloss,” says Dominic Skinner, MAC Senior Artist. “It resonates strength, power, attitude and all things ’90s. The best thing about brown though, is that it comes in subtle shade differences, which means there’s one out there to suit everyone.”
Think warm coffee colours, milky nudes that flirt with chocolate tones, and pale bark hues with just the slightest hint of grey—trust us, it looks better than it sounds, case in point: Gigi. If you’re already feeling the cold sweat of yet another ’90s revival, however, take heart—we’re not throwing you into this trend without a foolproof guide.
Keep scrolling for expert tips on finding the right shade for you, plus the Byrdie edit of the best high-shine brown lip glosses to try now.
If you’re fair like Gigi Hadid, cool shades of brown with a hint of grey or lilac work brilliantly—just take care not to go too pale or you’ll risk looking washed out.
As always, Rihanna knows how to rock a bold lip. Dark skin tones look incredible with a slick of deep chocolate gloss—look for metallics or golden highlights to really glam things up.
If you’ve got an olive skin tone like Emily Ratajkowski, try rich browns with a pink or red undertone—they’ll really set off a tan, too.
Cara Delevingne carried the smoky-brown shades of her eye makeup onto her lips, thanks to a super-wearable milk chocolate hue that’ll suit everyone.
Bella Hadid keeps things casual with a rose-tinted chocolate shade, perfect for her peaches-and-cream complexion.