I'm a bare-lip kind of girl. Most days I'm in too much a rush to even bother with lip balm. But every once in a while, I'll swipe on a statement color before a special occasion (like holiday parties!) for mega-impact. (Studies show it makes you appear more daring, according to The Psychology Behind Your Lipstick Color.) But for me, it's rare.
So when a heap of brown lipsticks landed on my desk, I couldn't yet articulate my growing fascination. It's true; the color has been practically nonexistent since its booming popularity in the '90s. And I don't exactly love a vibrant lip. Yet each of these cocoa shades offer something you just can't find in a classic red or pink: they're subtle and eye-catching, without all the sexy implications. Don't just take my word for it. We're now seeing a range of tawny hues everywhere—on celebrities like Kylie Jenner, on runways, and, as of late, on me.
It's a fairytale story, really. I have finally found my meet-in-the-middle color—you know, the one between totally bare and downright bold—and it really is all that and a bag of chips. (Couldn't resist.) Take Burt's Bees Lipstick in Suede Splash ($9; burtsbees.com); the color looks chocolate-y in the tube, but swipe it on and you'll find the sheer texture reads effortlessly gorgeous. Trust, it's a color you'll want to apply (and reapply, then re-reapply).
Still don't think toffee-colored lipsticks are for you? As if! In the words of Dean Fournier, pro makeup artist for LORAC Cosmetics: There are ways to make it wearable.
"You want it to look natural and fresh, so avoid the harsh lip lines circa 1995 Pamela Anderson," he says. "You can either skip lip liner altogether, or, using your fingers or a lip brush, blend any harsh edges in with your lipstick to soften the color. That creates a more modern effect."
And when it comes to picking the right brown hue, consider your skin tone. Fairer types should stick to deep nudes and avoid orange-based colors, "which can look unflattering and brick-like," says Fournier. Darker complexions have a little more wiggle room; you can pull off those rich, pigment-packed browns. "Just stick to neutral shades that aren't too warm or too cool."