The Best Everyday Lip Look You Need to Master
The iconic lip-lined look from the '90s is back — here's how to recreate it in six steps.
From fanny packs, to dreamy boy bands, iconic rom coms, and glittery makeup, there’s something about the glamor of the ’90s that continues to have a chokehold on us. Honestly though, doesn’t a hearty dose of nostalgia always bring the good vibes in a world of uncertainty?
So really, it’s no surprise that many trends from our favorite decade eventually circle back around — and if you browse TikTok and Instagram these days, you’ll quickly notice one ’90s makeup look that’s back and better than ever for 2023: the brown supermodel lip.
Taking cues from Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell, this look rose to fame on ‘90s red carpets and runways, featuring super juicy, brown-nude lips contoured with lip liner.
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“It’s become so popular again because it plays into the ’90s nostalgia trend and pays homage to the glamor of that time in a way that still feels effortless,” says David Birdwell, Celebrity Makeup Artist and BUXOM Cosmetics Executive Director of Global Education and Artistry.
Plus, it’s a look that works on everyone for a variety of occasions. “It’s about accentuating your lips so that they are at their optimal shape and dimension,” explains Birdwell. “It’s also a very versatile look that works from day to night and can be totally customized.”
Arm yourself with your favorite lip liner and these pro tips, and it’s easy to recreate this sexy-meets-everyday makeup look from decades past in six simple steps. (Blasting ‘MMMbop’ while you do so is highly encouraged.)
Just like with your skincare regimen, exfoliating is the ultimate prep step for creating a smooth canvas for your lip look. To begin, gently buff away dry, dead skin with a lip scrub to prevent chapped lips and create a canvas for a long-wear, even lipstick application.
Immediately following exfoliation, it’s just as important to replenish lost moisture back into your pout. Here’s a pro tip from Nick Lujan, Director of Artistry & Education at Kevyn Aucoin Beauty: apply an ultra-nourishing lip mask as soon as you wake up, allowing your lips to soak up the conditioning benefits while you’re getting ready for the day.
Just don’t forget to blot off all the excess mask before you go in with your lip liner — this will ensure the color adheres directly to your lips for maximum wearability.
Next, select a lip liner that is around the same shade as your natural lip shade and does not have pink in it (depending on your skin tone, this could be a peachy brown, light brown, taupe, caramel, or deep brown). Think of this step as a form of contouring and sculpting for your pout. Starting with the cupid’s bow and working outward to create symmetry, begin lining just outside the area on your lips where the natural pigment ends.
“When it comes to lipliner, slightly over-lining looks better than exactly tracing your natural lip line with liner,” explains Donni Davy, Half Magic co-founder and head Euphoria makeup artist. “This liner is going to make a little shadow around your lips, which will (if you trust the process) make your lips look fuller in the end.”
We love Half Magic Sculptitude 2-in-1 Lip Liner ($14) for this step.
For the main event, carefully color in your lips with your favorite lipstick or liquid lip formula in that iconic brown-ish tone; apply generously, then smack ’em together to ensure a full-coverage look. The texture and finish of your lip product is up to you: matte, satin, glossy, or sheer will help you achieve that ’90s moment.
Pro tip from Davy: for that super-sculpted, contoured effect, your lipstick color must be lighter than your lip liner.
Try NUDESTIX Gel Color Lip & Cheek Balm, in Mocha Mami ($27), Make Up For Ever Rogue Artist Lipstick, in 112 Chic Brick ($25), or Thrive Causemetics Glossy Lip Hydrating Serum in Pamela ($26).
The ’90s lip look is all about wearable definition, so the little “light-catching” details matter.
“Highlight the center of the lip with a bit of light nude lipstick or a tiny dot of concealer,” says Lujan. “Use your lip brush to apply the highlighting color to the very center of your mouth and then stretch it outwards, but don’t go all the way to the edges.”
After all your artistry, you want to make sure your color is here to stay. Lujan suggests setting your liner and lipstick with a super-thin layer of translucent setting powder, which will help keep your gorgeous color in place, prevent messy smudges, and create a strong base for your lip gloss.
We recommend Kevyn Aucoin Beauty Loose Setting Powder ($42).
And finally, it’s your time to shine. Create that juicy, plumped-up lip effect that we knew and loved from the ’90s by applying an all-over coat of wet-shine lip gloss. The color should be at least a shade lighter than your lipstick, but the finish is up to you–sparkle, shimmer, or sheer gloss will add the perfect pop of delicious dimension.
Going for a nostalgia home run? Swipe on a thick, sticky, and iconic Lancome Juicy Tube Lip Gloss ($24) that grips your hair with magnetic force when the wind blows.