There are certain lipstick colors that are undeniably cool and sultry. A classic red lip, for example, can instantly make anyone feel more put-together or powerful. A brooding, blotted wine shade is just begging to be smeared off with a kiss. A baby-pink hue feels sly and playful, especially when paired with smudged black eye shadow. You get the idea. Coral, on the other hand, has never been one of the cool kids. It's dated and a little out of touch. If red is a slinky black slip dress and Alexander Wang naked heels, coral is a Hawaiian-print shirt and socks with Birkenstocks worn on a Florida vacation.
I don’t know exactly why I’ve always avoided coral lipstick—maybe because I’ve seen too many instances (including on myself) where it's looked too bright and garish or, on the flip side, made the wearer look washed-out and sickly. It just seems like there's so much room for error when it comes to coral, and it's never really had it's "moment," unlike its more attention-grabbing peers. Lipsticks with cool undertones have always seemed easier to pull off.
And yet, here I am, writing this very important story about my newfound obsession with coral lipstick. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow, it’s the only shade I want to wear during this sweltering New York summer. Maybe it's because I cut back on my everyday makeup when it's hot outside and need a lipstick that gives my lips life without looking too intense with a mostly bare face. Maybe it's because I'm going through something. Either way, I feel like I’m falling in love with the invisible kid from high school who ends up blossoming into a Timothée Chalamet type. How have I overlooked you all of these years? I’m ashamed of myself for dismissing you without getting to know you and all you have to offer. You make me look tanner, you somehow make my eyes look brighter (I swear), and swiping you on just makes me feel happier. Forgive me, coral, for not giving you the time of day. You're special to me (at least for the summer). Keep scrolling to see the five best coral lipsticks for summer that I have on constant rotation—and the one I love the most.
I fell in love with the coral version of Dior's cult-classic color-adjusting lip balm during Coachella this year. I loved how juicy and hydrated it made my lips look (and feel), and how the bright-orange shade from the tube morphed into a super-flattering peachy-pink shade on my lips. Out of all the lip colors I've been wearing this summer, this has been my everyday go-to (mostly because I treat it more like a lip balm and can apply it easily without a mirror but still get noticeable color payoff). I took a trip to Vermont a few weeks ago and thought I dropped a tube of this in the river (along with most of my things and my dignity) and almost went hysterical. Luckily, I found it in my wet, soggy shorts a day later. And yes, I still use it.
Another juicy option (albeit this time a bit more pigmented), Marc Jacobs's new lip gloss stick in P(r)each looks Day-Glo orange in the tube but actually goes on surprisingly sheer and is more of a flattering warm pinkish hue than anything neon. There's the slightest hint of shimmer, but it's barely noticeable (I hate shimmer). Instead, it makes your lips look hydrated, smooth, and more akin to a ripe apricot.
Like most human beings, I enjoy compliments—and this $10 liquid lipstick from Burt’s Bees has earned me quite a few, which makes me treasure it dearly. This is probably the truest coral shade of the bunch (with a slightly satiny finish, no less), which made me wary of it at first. But it's surprisingly wearable and doesn't make me look like a clown! I also love that, like all Burt's Bees products, the ingredient list is free of sketchy stuff and I can apply knowing I'm not putting crushed red beetles on my lips (it's a thing, it's called carmine, and it's a popular ingredient in a lot of lipsticks). Lastly, even though it isn't matte, it still lasts forever and practically screams, "Get me to the beach, Alfred, at once!" (Alfred is the name of my future butler who I like to practice bossing around at times.)
Few things are more luxurious than a Tom Ford lipstick, and this shade especially makes me feel like a rich housewife touching up her lipstick after lunch at Hotel Bel-Air. I'm obsessed with the fact that the formula glides on as smooth as a balm, and one swipe leaves a subtle hint of color that you can make more opaque with every reapplication. I actually have the tiny version of this that I received in a gift set a while back, and the fact that this lipstick is smaller than a triple-A battery amuses me greatly. Luxury, darling, ever heard of it?
If Charlotte Tilbury had a fan club, I would be president. Seriously: Everything she launches is just so good in terms of quality, shade selection, innovation, and overall luxuriousness (the most important factor, obviously). I've already written a literal love letter to her Matte Revolution lipstick in Bond Girl, but her newest launch, Sunset Lover, might dethrone it as my number one—at least for the summer. It's a dreamy sherbet shade that instantly brightens up my face in just one swipe. Out of all of the lipsticks I'm waxing poetic about, this one comes in at the number one spot. The formula is just so good, it never flakes or fades strangely, and the color is perfect. It's the breeziness of summer in a tube. I also think I love it the most because it's the least likely shade I'd wear out of the bunch. What can I say? I like to surprise people.
Now click here to find the best nude lipstick for your skin tone.