We’d be lying if we said we weren’t basking in every nostalgic trend returning to the hair, makeup, and fashion spaces. If you’re a ‘90s rom-com fanatic, brown lip gloss (one of the prevailing lip makeup trends of the ‘90s) is probably already on your radar. If not, you may be experiencing this trend for the first time—and you’re in luck, because it’s one well worth trying, thanks to its versatility.
If brown gloss sounds slightly outside of your comfort zone, don’t worry. From subtly nude to sultry and dramatic (or even glittery), there’s a formula to flatter everyone. Here’s what you need to know about wearing a brown lip gloss look, including finding the best gloss for your skin tone, how to apply it, and advice for taking it from day to night.
Choosing the Right Brown Lip Gloss for Your Skin Tone
If you’re reading this, you’re likely wondering, “What skin tone does brown lipstick look good on?” Well, as we mentioned, anyone can rock a brown lip—it’s all about finding the right shade of gloss. Tailoring the hue to your skin’s undertones helps achieve the most flattering effect.
Before we dish out suggestions on creating a brown glossy lip, here’s a quick breakdown of understanding your skin tone and undertone.
Skin Tones vs. Undertones
Although similarly worded, skin tone and skin undertone are completely separate things. Your skin tone refers to the surface color of your skin (fair, light, medium, or dark) and can redden or deepen with sun exposure. On the other hand, your undertones are the consistent tones that lie beneath your skin. These underlying pigments fall into three categories: cool, warm, and neutral.
How to Find Your Undertones
Looking at the veins inside your wrist can help you determine your undertone. Blue to purple indicates cool undertones, green-tinted points to warm, and a mix of blue and green suggests neutral.
Another way to identify your undertone is with the white T-shirt test. Hold the fabric up to your skin in bright, natural light and examine how your skin appears in comparison. You’re likely cool-toned if your skin looks rosy, whereas you may be warm-toned if your skin skews more yellow. And, generally, if you think both pure and off-white equally flatter your skin, you have neutral undertones.
The Best Brown Lip Gloss for Your Undertones
Now that you’re acquainted with your undertones, how do you decide which brown lip gloss shade pairs best with them? Matching like with like is key.
Those with cool undertones can wear bluish shades (read: cool) well. This includes taupes and rosy browns. For warmer skin with golden, olive, or yellow undertones, deeper chocolatey shades can be especially flattering.
As for neutral undertones, there are many shades you can pull off, so try a few out and see what you love. As a general rule of thumb for all undertones, you’ll often find that the darker your coloring, the darker your makeup hues can be. For a more exhaustive list of lip colors and undertones, check out our article How to Find the Best Lip Color for Your Skin Tone.
5 Brown Lip Gloss Looks We Love
Brown lip gloss can be worn in any number of ways, and it’s really up to you to decide how you like to rock it best. But if you need some inspiration, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading for a quick breakdown of five brown lip gloss looks we can’t get enough of.
Sheer Caramel Gloss
Those new to brown gloss can experiment with the trend by applying a sheer brown lip gloss, such as Fat Oil Lip Drip in Scrollin, over bare lips. This caramel-colored gloss offers a hint of brown pigment—and the hydrating, shiny formula leaves your lips glossy without a sticky or tacky finish. Wear the subtle lip gloss with bronzer and highlighter for an everyday look that doesn’t require a ton of effort to execute.
Mahogany Gloss and Bold Brows
Looking for a sophisticated shade that you can wear to a formal event? Try our Shine Loud High Shine Lip Color in Boundary Pusher. The warm, mahogany lip gloss has a pigment-packed formula that offers up to 16 hours of wear without budging, bleeding, or fading, making it well-suited for big nights out. We love pairing this sultry gloss with dewy skin and bold, laminated brows for a dose of low-effort, high-impact glam.
Dark Brown Lip Gloss
Black lipstick is undeniably cool but can look a bit harsh on some skin tones. But that doesn’t mean you can’t rock a dark, vampy lip. Instead, we recommend opting for a deep espresso gloss, such as Butter Gloss in Brownie Drip. Wear the bold, pigmented gloss alone to make your dark lips the focal point of your look, or pair it with softly-contoured cheeks and jet-black mascara for a modern take on classic goth makeup (so trendy).
Grungy Taupe Gloss
If there’s a single color that we’d pick to embody the grunge era, it would be taupe. Perfect your ‘90s vibes by lining your lips with a taupe lip liner, such as our Slim Lip Pencil in Nude Truffle, and top it with Butter Gloss in Ginger Snap. You can rock this cool-toned taupe lip solo, or pair it with an abundance of smoked-out brown eyeliner to really lean into the rock-n-roll aesthetic.
Ombré Brown Gloss
We love the ombré lip trend—not just because it’s fun (which it is), but because it can be done with virtually any lip color. And yes, that includes brown. To achieve the look, line your lips with a dark brown lip liner, such as Line Loud Vegan Longwear Lip Liner in Rebel Kind. Use your finger to buff the liner toward the center of your mouth to create a subtle gradient effect. Then, complete the look by applying an even coat of a slightly lighter brown lip gloss (we love Butter Lip Gloss in Fudge Me), concentrating the color in the center of each lip.
How to Apply Brown Lip Gloss for a Flawless Finish
We’re here to let you in on a little secret: preventing premature lip gloss fade is totally possible. For a saturated and longer-lasting brown lip gloss look, we recommend having the following on hand:
- Lip scrub
- Lip balm or oil
- Lip liner
- Lip gloss
Once you’ve gathered the essentials, follow our step-by-step tutorial for gorgeous, brown glossy lips.
Step 1: Prep Your Lips
Whether swiping on matte red lipstick or clear brown lip gloss, an exfoliating scrub is a must-have for creating a clear lip canvas. It’ll help remove dead, flaky skin, ensuring your brown lip gloss glides on smoothly and evenly—not patchy.
Buff your lips with a pea-sized amount of our #ThisIsEverything Lip Scrub, a jojoba oil-infused scrub that hydrates as it exfoliates. Rinse with warm water, then apply a thin layer of #ThisIsEverything Lip Balm for sheer, silky hydration. Let the balm absorb before moving on to your liner.
Step 2: Line Your Lips Step 3: Apply Your Gloss
Like face primer grips your foundation, layering lip liner onto your pout will give your brown gloss more staying power. One like our Slim Lip Pencil is available in 31 versatile shades, including brown hues that range from Nude Beige to Espresso.
If your goal is to prevent your brown lip gloss from bleeding, carefully trace the outline of your lips. Or, you can gently smudge the lines with your fingertips for a more natural finish. If you want a super long-lasting look, shade the whole of your lips with the liner.
Now you’re officially prepped and ready for the lip gloss magic to happen.
Step 3: Apply Your Gloss
Shoes, restaurants, lip glosses—we love having options, and the latest gloss formulations ensure you have plenty to choose from.
Our fan-favorite Butter Gloss Non-Sticky Lip Gloss offers 29 sheer-to-medium coverage shades for a pop of gorgeous color and high shine. After all, with delicious names like Caramelt, Fudge Me, and (of course) Cinnamon Roll, how can you go wrong?
For a burst of 12-hour hydration with a soft tint, you’ll love the Fat Oil Lip Drip. Universally-flattering brown shades like Scrollin and Status Update are infused with raspberry oil, cloudberry oil, and vegan squalane and deliver moisture, protection, and high shine.
You can also pick up a dual-ended gloss, such as Shine Loud High Shine Lip Color, to customize your brown lip. Simply swipe on the pigment-packed base coat for a pop of loud color, let dry, then add the top coat—a long-lasting lip gloss—for a non-sticky finish. (Hint, hint: Check out Total Baller and Boundary Pusher.)
For the most saturated look, match your brown lip gloss closely to your liner. Or, to make your lips appear bigger, opt for a light brown lip gloss two to three shades paler than your chosen liner. The color contrast creates the illusion of fuller lips. Not to mention, the multi-tonal combination is a true ‘90s throwback.
Another way to add volume to earthy lips is to apply a clear brown lip gloss to the center and lightly blend it out with your fingertip. The light will bounce off of it and add dimension.
How to Make Brown Lip Gloss Last Longer
If you’re wearing your makeup from sunup to sundown, chances are you’re going to have to go in for a few touch ups here and there to keep it looking fresh. But if you want to minimize how often you’ll need to touch up your gloss, follow these tips:
- Prep your lips well
- Opt for long-wearing formulas
- Apply your brown lip gloss over lip liner or lipstick
- Avoid eating while wearing lip gloss
- Sip through a straw when drinking
If you follow these tips, you’ll likely find that you only need to touch up your gloss after eating and drinking (or quite a bit of time has passed). Just remember to stash your staples in your bag so you can apply a fresh coat of gloss as needed.