While it’s fun to buy trendy and random lipstick colors, stocking up on the classics is a must for those who want hues that will never go out of style. How many shades have you bought that now just sit in your drawer? And now you’re stuck with a lipstick hue you won’t ever use anymore? The classics are classics for a reason — because they are tried and true, look great on a variety of skin tones, and have proven to be beauty essentials.
There are a handful of lipsticks that every self-respecting makeup artist has in their cosmetics arsenal, and that are personal favorites for women everywhere. From MAC’s Ruby Woo to L’Oréal’s Fairest Nude, we have put together an essential list of lip colors that you can rest assured will be popular forever. While many publications focus on just reds or nudes (be sure to check out our roundups on each!), we included a variety of hues that will suit a variety of tastes, skin tones, and budgets — check em out!
Bobbi Brown Lip Color in Brown
The first classic lipstick that we are going to highlight is Bobbi Brown’s Brown. Sure, brown colors were big during the ’90s, and they’re experiencing a comeback with all the latest ’90s trends, but the iconic shade will always look cool. The medium pink brown works great as a nude color for those with a matching complexion, and offers a light wash of brown that looks a bit moody, without going too goth.
Bobbi Brown Lip Color in Brown, $29, Available at Bobbibrowncosmetics.com
CLINIQUE Almost Lipstick in Black Honey
Sometimes, you just want a wash of color, instead of a full-on lipstick. CLINIQUE’s Black Honey is that timeless berry flush that makes so many women’s lips look amazing. The great part of it is that you can layer it to achieve a richer color or just swipe a single layer for a little shine and tint.
CLINIQUE Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, $18.50, Available at sephora.com
MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo
You can’t have a roundup of classic lipstick colors without having a grouping of rich reds. MAC’s Ruby Woo is one of the brand’s best sellers and for good reason. It’s a retro matte lippie that offers the richest pop of blue-red that just screams Old Hollywood glam.
MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo, $18.50, Available at maccosmetics.com
NARS Semi Matte Lipstick in Schiap
Just because a color is bright and bold, doesn’t mean it has staying power as a classic. NARS’ Schiap is named after iconic fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, and her equally-iconic “shocking pink.” It’s a look-at-me neon pink in a semi-matte finish, that gives off both youthful and vintage-like vibes.
NARS Semi Matte Lipstick in Schiap, $28, Available at narscosmetics.com
MAC Lipstick in Velvet Teddy
Light neutral lipsticks, usually known as nudes, are great everyday colors, and the perfect balance for a smokey eye at night. There are all sorts of versions of nude, so make sure to find the one that works best for you and perfectly suits your complexion. MAC’s Velvet Teddy is a best-selling classic nude the brand describes as a “deep tone beige.”
MAC Lipstick in Velvet Teddy, $18.50, Available at Maccosmetics.com
MAC Lipstick in Heroine
Sometimes what starts as a cool trend proves to have enough staying power to become a loved classic. Just take MAC’s Heroine, for example. The best-selling bright purple hue became a permanent part of the brand’s collection in 2013.
MAC Lipstick in Heroine, $18.50, Available at maccosmetics.com
L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lipcolour in Fairest Nude
Not all classics are of the pricier department store variety. Drugstore classics are timeless and affordable —win-win! Just like L’Oreal’s Fairest Nude. This color pops up on many best lipsticks ever list, and plays a pretty balance between beige and pink — and all for under $10!
L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lipcolour in Fairest Nude,$8.95, Available at lorealparisusa.com
Dior Rouge Dior Couture Color in 999
Dior has its own iconic red lipstick — 999. It’s a modernized version of the red shades Christian Dior created for runway models in 1953. You can shop several lip products (including the lipstick, in both a metallic or matte finish), as well as the nail polish in this classic shade.
Dior Rouge Dior Couture Color in 999, $37, Available at Dior.com/beauty
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Very Victoria
Beautiful on an array of skin tones, Charlotte Tilbury’s matte Very Victoria is a taupe nude that has earned its place among the best-selling, best-loved lipstick classics. It’s a pretty, natural hue that works as the perfect neutral for a soft look, or as a supporting player to a dramatic eye.
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Very Victoria, $34, Available at charlottetilbury.com
MAC Lipstick in Sin
You didn’t think we were going to leave out the striking, vampy, almost-black shades, did you?! Those are also incredible classics in their own right. MAC (who has so many classics, we could make a whole article just on them) has a deep dark blue-red in the name of Sin that instantly brings to mind 1920s flappers, ’80s and ’90s goth, and overall moody, romantic inspiration.
MAC Lipstick in Sin,$18.50, Available at maccosmetics.com
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire And Ice
This lipstick classic goes back to 1952. It was that year that Revlon released their now legendary Fire & Ice color. Available in both a lipstick and nail polish, the orangey red is a throwback that is loved and widely worn to this day.
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire And Ice, $8.49, Available at ulta.com
Dior Addict in Lip Glow in Pink Glow
Available in a variety of colors, Dior’s Lip Glow definitely has a classic in their much-raved-about Pink Glow color. The satin finish sheer lip balm gives just a rosy flush of color to the lips, for that perfect MLBB (my lips but better) look.
Dior Addict in Lip Glow in Pink Glow, $34, Available at sephora.com
Urban Decay Vice Lipstick Comfort Matte in 1993
This 1993 lipstick is just that — a totally ’90s matte medium brown lipstick. Since all things ’90s are back in style, Urban Decay has provided us with one of the makeup items we can use with nostalgic abandon, but also reuse again years from now with the same stylish result.
Urban Decay Vice Lipstick Comfort Matte in 1993, $18, Available at Ulta.com
CHANEL ROUGE ALLURE Luminous Intense Lip Colour in Pirate
Chanel, however, still has a ton of fabulous shades in current production. One of these is the celebrated blue-red classic, Pirate — one of the best-selling red lipsticks of all time. It was formulated to look like the color Coco Chanel wore.
CHANEL ROUGE ALLURE Luminous Intense Lip Colour in Pirate, $38, Available at Chanel.com
Tom Ford Lip Color in Bruised Plum
Tom Ford lipsticks are known for being luxurious little investment pieces for any beauty aficionado’s vanity. One of their best sellers is the beautiful shade, Bruised Plum. The dark plum color is luxe, rich, and bold, a classic that will add drama to any look.
Tom Ford Lip Color in Bruised Plum, $55, Available at tomford.com