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Best Brown Lipsticks for Every Skin Tone

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Years later, ‘90s-inspired trends are still going strong. And that’s why every fashion-conscious beauty lover needs a brown lipstick or two in their makeup collection.

When you hear the word brown lipstick, you might think of the warm-toned, grungy brown lippies that are all the rage with an edgy, autumnal vibe. But a few years back, it was all about the “greige” trend with cool-toned taupe browns. 

No matter your preference, we’ve put together a list of the best brown lipsticks for every style and skin tone. We’ll show you exactly how diverse brown lipsticks can be to help you find your dream shade.

Best brown lipsticks overview:

How we chose the best brown lipsticks

To compile this list, we searched for brown shades in high-performing lipstick formulas to create a short list of the top brown lipsticks. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, swatches, and reviews to find the best brown lipsticks for each category. As you go through our list, keep in mind that the same brown lipstick can either look subtle and nude or dramatic and vampy, depending on how it interacts with your skin tone. 

Our picks for the best brown lipsticks

1
Best overall
MAC Matte Lipstick in Whirl
$27

What we love

  • Creamy, smooth formula
  • Versatile and flattering rosy brown
  • Excellent pigmentation

What we don’t love

  • Hard to predict how it’ll look

Our top brown lipstick comes from MAC, which won’t surprise most makeup lovers. The brand’s bullet lipsticks are worldwide bestsellers known for their creamy formulas and excellent pigmentation. 

With over 200 lipstick shades, there’s no shortage of browns to choose from, but Whirl is our top pick for its universal appeal. This rosy brown is unusually versatile and exceptionally flattering for a brown. It’s not a pink lipstick, but it has just enough pink undertones to liven up the skin. 

The shade can also dramatically shift from brown to nude to rosy, depending on skin tone, the lighting, and any other makeup you might have on. This means it’s hard to predict how it’ll appear on you, and it may not register as a true brown on everyone.

2
Best budget
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Toast of New York
$8.99

What we love

  • Budget-friendly
  • Flattering on warm and neutral skin tones
  • Moisturizing and glossy

What we don’t love

  • Not a true brown
  • Not long-wearing

From budget-friendly brand Revlon, Toast of New York is one of those brown-meets-red shades that were all the rage in the ‘90s. We mean that literally — this shade, along with some of Revlon’s other bestsellers — has been around for decades. 

It’s not a true brown, though. On warm skin tones, it registers as more of a red. But this is why it has such a glam factor! It’s very flattering on neutral and warm skin tones, and it’s a great option if you worry that brown might wash you out. It’s non-cakey and buildable, so while it won’t be super intense in one swipe, it’s easy to manage. 

The formula is glossy with a dose of avocado oil to moisturize the lips. Like many other creamy lipsticks, it’s not super long-wearing, but it’s comfortable enough to apply that touch-ups shouldn’t be a hassle.

3
Best red-brown
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in So 90s
$34

What we love

  • Warm, multi-dimensional shade
  • Buildable formula
  • Luxurious packaging

What we don’t love

  • Pricey

Formerly known as Birkin Brown, this is a glamorous medium brown with reddish warmth. It’s expensive, but it feels luxurious with a gold-toned tube. 

The formula goes on the lips effortlessly and isn’t too saturated on the first swipe. You can build it up for a little more intensity, and even though it has a matte finish, it’s infused with some reflective pigments to add dimension to the lips. 

We also love the shape of the bullet for its slightly tapered tip that allows you to apply your lipstick more precisely.

4
Best true brown
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Dubai
$6.47

What we love

  • Velvety finish
  • Excellent for medium and deep skin tones
  • Buildable formula

What we don’t love

  • Not ideal for those with pale skin

If you’re after the best brown lipstick, we owe you at least one shade that’s inarguably and truly brown. Dubai is that shade: a medium dark brown with a velvety matte finish. There are no pink or red undertones to muddy its brown cred.  

On deeper skin tones, this shade registers as a true nude that won’t make your lips look too pale. On medium skin tones, it can look sophisticated and flattering. But if you have fair skin, tread carefully. It’s not off-limits, but you’ll want to ensure your application and contouring are on point to avoid a washed-out look.

The formula is buildable, which offers versatility with your application. You can pack it on for more drama or aim for a soft wash, especially if your skin tone is deep and you want a natural look.

5
Best neutral
Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in 1993
$19

What we love

  • Very modern pinkish brown
  • Flattering on all skin tones
  • Creamy, pigmented formula

What we don’t love

  • On the pricier end

This brown lipstick represents the ‘90s reimagined by Urban Decay’s nude, modern aesthetic. It’s a medium brown with a hint of pink. It’s a little warm, but it’ll still work for most skin tones. 

The neutral formula is a winner — even though it has a soft matte finish, it still feels creamy and nourishing on the lips. It’s very pigmented for an easy, one-swipe application, and its longevity is impressive. That said, it’s certainly not the cheapest product on our list.

6
Best dark brown
Milani Color Fetish Matte in Sensual
$9.99

What we love

  • Rich and dark chocolate shade
  • Affordable
  • Matte but nourishing

What we don’t love

  • Intense for beginners

Much like a good bar of chocolate, this brown lipstick is rich and dark with the most subtle cool-red undertone. It’s an affordable choice that feels luxurious thanks to its funky, deluxe geometric tube.

On deeper skin tones, it registers as more than just a nude; for those with medium and light skin, it’ll look dark and edgy. Because it’s so pigmented, it’s intense in one swipe, although it might be difficult for beginners to work with. 

If you’re a fan of the matte look but you don’t like the feel of liquid-to-matte formulas, it’s the perfect option. It comes in a creamy bullet form, with a touch of hyaluronic acid to moisturize the lips.

7
Best light brown
Buxom Full Force Plumping Lipstick in Goddess
$20

What we love

  • Great for pale skin tones
  • Plumps lips
  • Satin finish adds dimension

What we don’t love

  • Tingling may feel odd

If you’d rather keep it light, this gorgeous lipstick is a brown that verges on beige. If you’re very pale, it’s a safe brown that won’t overwhelm, while on medium skin tones, it’s more of a nude. For deeper skin tones, it’d be an ideal highlight shade for ombre lips but may not work as an all-over shade. 

The formula is lip-plumping, so give it a try if you want fuller-looking lips, but you should know that the accompanying tingle isn’t for everyone. The glowy satin finish will also help the lips look fuller.

8
Best cool tone
ColourPop Ultra Matte Lip in Beeper
$16.98

What we love

  • Excellent for cool skin tones
  • Long-lasting and transfer-proof
  • Comfortable to wear

What we don’t love

  • Not for warm skin tones
  • Can emphasize dry patches

Cool taupes were trending a few years back, but today, they’re harder to find. Thankfully, Beeper is still around. It’s a rare cool brown, with just a hint of pink, that suits cool-toned skin beautifully. If your skin is warm, however, it can seem a bit gray, which might not be the color you’re going for.

This liquid lipstick has a long-lasting and transfer-proof formula. Reviewers liked that even though it’s very matte, it doesn’t feel dry or crusty on the lips even after hours of wear. That said, make sure to apply it to well-moisturized lips, so it doesn’t highlight any flakiness.

9
Best long-wearing
Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick in Amazonian
$10.79

What we love

  • Long-wearing
  • Great for all skin tones
  • Natural-looking, demi-matte finish

What we don’t love

  • Difficult to remove
  • Can feel sticky

Looking for a lipstick you can swipe on in the morning and feel confident that it’ll stay put until the sun sets (and beyond)?  Super Stay Matte Ink delivers just that, making it one of the longest-wearing formulas we’ve tried.

Despite the name, the finish is demi-matte, which looks more natural and prevents it from looking dated. The shade Amazonian is a medium brown with a hint of reddish warmth. It’s a flattering brown on lighter skin tones and a perfect nude for deeper skin tones.
It can feel a little sticky on the lips, but despite that, it’s transfer-proof. Whether you’re wearing a mask or doling out kisses, you can wear it with confidence. Removing it is a process, though — you’ll need a quality makeup remover.

10
Best splurge
Dior Rouge Dior in 400 Nude Line
$42

What we love

  • Deep, rich shade
  • Matte but not drying
  • Refillable tube

What we don’t love

  • Expensive
  • May require touch-ups

This dark brown lipstick is luxurious, rich, and deep to fit both goth-inspired and elevated looks. It also features a subtle red undertone that adds a touch of glam. It shows up as a dark brown, even on deeper skin, and is neutral enough to work whether your skin has a warm or cool tone.

The velvet finish is matte and elegant, but as with any good bullet lipstick, it doesn’t make the lips feel dry. Dior promises 16 hours of comfortable wear with this long-lasting blend, but we still think it might need a touch-up or two after you eat or drink. 

We love that this lipstick is refillable, which makes it more eco-friendly and allows you to save money when you repurchase. 

Brown lips are back (maybe they never left!)

Narrowing down this list of the best brown lipsticks wasn’t an easy process. Lipstick is very personal, and brown shades can look wildly different from one another, depending on their undertones. We selected MAC’s Whirl as our top pick, thanks to its ultra-flattering rose undertone, but several other shades were major contenders for our best overall spot. You really can’t go wrong with any of the brown lipsticks on our list. 

How to pick the right brown lipstick for you

You should feel empowered to choose whatever brown lipstick appeals to you, but it’s also important to know how different shades of brown will register against your skin tone. 

Undertone

  • Warm. Brown lipsticks with red or orange undertones will flatter you most, but you can also wear more neutral brown shades. 
  • Neutral. You should have no problem rocking all brown lipsticks since brown is fundamentally neutral. 
  • Cool. Taupe shades with pink or purple undertones will suit you best. Avoid brown lipsticks with strong orange undertones. 
  • Olive. Brown lipsticks were made for your skin tone, and you really can’t go wrong. The only shades to watch out for are cool taupes. 

Skin depth

  • Pale. Light and medium brown lipsticks will suit you best. If you do want to wear a darker brown shade, remember to contour and add blush to avoid looking washed out.
  • Medium. Most medium and dark brown lipsticks will be a good choice. A brown that matches your skin tone too closely may wash you out. 
  • Dark. Dark brown lipsticks are the easiest choice, as long as they don’t match your skin too closely. Going either a little darker or a little lighter than your skin tone will create a nice contrast. 

FAQs

Which skin tones can wear brown lipstick?

Regardless of your skin tone, you can absolutely wear brown lipstick if you want to. Brown lipsticks tend to be dark and very neutral, which looks effortlessly balanced against medium or deep skin tones. But even if you’re pale, you can still find a lighter brown with some red or pink undertones to flatter you.  

Which lipstick is best for all skin types?

Demi-matte bullet lipsticks are a solid choice for all skin types. They have a creamy formula that’s comfortable on the lips, yet they dry down just enough to offer decent wear time. 

Does brown lipstick look good on pale skin?

Yes! Those with pale skin look especially good in lighter brown lipsticks that lean a little pink. But if you’re rocking a dark or grunge-inspired look, you can also go darker as long as the rest of your makeup balances it out.