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The 50 Most Classic Lipstick Colors of All Time

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Retailers

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There are certain lipstick shades known by sight or name or number alone. Think 999. Schiap. 400. Or a very, very matte blue-based red that shows up out on the town more often than the most ambitious Instagram influencer. Although hundreds of lip shades cross our desk every day, the Cut Shop is often drawn toward the cult and classic.

To compile a list of the most iconic shades of lipstick out there, we not only tapped some of our very favorites, but we spoke to five makeup artists — Beau Nelson, Lupita Nyong’o’s makeup artist Nick Barose, Jaime Diaz, Ayaka Nihei, and Allan Avendaño — and scanned Instagram and TikTok alike to find the top 50 lip shades of all time.

The Reds | The Oranges | The Nudes | The Pinks | The Plums and Browns

The Reds

Jungle Red by NARS

Celebrity makeup artist Beau Nelson explains why this shade is Old Hollywood (and used by him in our GIF tutorial): “In addition to a glamorous The Women reference, this shade of bright, slightly blue-based red is perfect for an Old Hollywood power pout.” Makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes also says that this is another one of those shades that looks good on everyone.

Rimmel London in 111

Photo: 12 months, US Only, all media

Kate Moss and Rimmel London teamed up to create a line of lipstick shades — and 01 is billed as the perfect red, worn by Moss in the ads. It’s one of our favorite drugstore lipsticks of all time for its intense color payoff and hydration. Amazon reviewers agree, and some also see this as a stand-in for M.A.C’s Ruby Woo.

999 by Christian Dior

Rumored to be the lip color worn at the first-ever Christian Dior runway show (then known as 9), this is Dior’s best-selling, classic red. It’s often referred to by its other name: “Iconic.”

Ruby Woo by M.A.C

This shade is beloved for its ability to look good on virtually everyone. Nelson explains its appeal: “It’s a vivid, matte, matte, matte red.” (Yes, he said matte three times for emphasis.) “It takes a little effort to get on, but the velvety-red look is worth it.” It’s also known for being virtually indestructible, lasting from morning to night with meals in between.

Pirate by Chanel

A classic red with blue undertones, this was one of six shades formulated to mimic Coco Chanel’s signature red lip.

Fire and Ice by Revlon

“Fire and Ice was maybe the first Hollywood-red lipstick (and matching nail color),” says Nelson. “The ads asked readers questions and warned that you were only bold enough to wear the shade if you answered at least eight of them with ‘Yes.’”

Le Rogue No.1 by YSL

 Lupita Nyong’o’s makeup artist, Nick Barose, calls this is one of his favorite red shades. “It’s a classic red that’s creamy with a hint of sheen, and glamorous and sexy,” he says.

No. 400 by Armani

Photo: Roger Cabello

This classic red is what is known as the Armani Red, and the same shade as seen in the brand’s signature red lipstick case. Allan Avendaño describes it as “the most perfect red that looks great on every single skin tone. It looks so luxe and it’s a timeless red!”

Uncensored by Fenty Beauty

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

This is Rihanna’ s version of a universal red and some already think it’s a replacement for M.A.C’s Ruby Woo. In its liquid form, it’s lighter and easier to apply than a typical tube of lipstick.

Elson by Pat McGrath

This shade is what Ayaka Nihei calls “adult red.” Designed by the legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath, Elson is named after the model Karen Elson, and is a crimson blue-red color that had everyone asking, “What is that shade?” at Prada’s resort 2018 show. Nihei describes it as “smooth and silky” and says, “The package is everything.” We wholeheartedly agree.

01 Always Red by Sephora

Don’t sleep on the house collection by Sephora. I found out about this shade through makeup artist Benjamin Puckey, who found out about it on set. The bright red has become an internet favorite.

Viva Glam 1 by M.A.C

Nelson explains the historical significance behind this color: “The first makeup product ever to be promoted by a drag queen. RuPaul made history by declaring ‘I am the M.A.C girl’ in the advertising for this life-saving lip shade.” Every single penny of this lipstick and its successors goes to AIDS research, and so far, they have raised over $500 million dollars.

Beso by Stila

The iconic red lip that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sports is none other than Stila’s Liquid Lipstick.

Banned Red by NARS

“I love this shade on most people because it looks like their natural lip tone but emphasized,” Avendaño says. The satin finish is smoother than a matte one, and it’s more moisturizing.

714 by Urban Decay

Make-up Artist Ayaka Nihei says that this shade from Urban Decay “is brighter than M.A.C Ruby Woo so you see more color in pictures”and that it “fits with any skin tones.” While it goes on creamy, it has a nice-matte finish.

The Oranges

Russian Red by M.A.C

M.A.C Little Lipstick

One of the three best-selling reds by M.A.C (the others being Ruby Woo and Lady Danger), this is a cherry red that leans the slightest bit toward orange.

Coupe by Glossier

The Gen-Z favored brand is no stranger to a good lipstick, and this blood orange shade is amazing. Made to combine all the favorite aspects of lip products into one, this is the ideal lipstick to try out a new shade, like an orange.

Trafalgar by Christian Dior

In every beauty range, there’s a classic red that’s a best seller, and a second best seller that’s a more quirky red. This red has a jolt of orange through it — no less pigmented than the 999, but just as vibrant.

Orange Boite by Hermès

When it comes to a bold lip color, this bright orange is the perfect look and will stay all day. It’s our senior shopping editor, Bianca Nieves’s, favorite to wear when going out.

Boy Trouble by The Lip Bar

If you prefer a liquid lipstick to a solid, the orangey-red shade Boy Trouble from the Lip Bar is the answer. Junior beauty writer Asia Milia Ware says that while “it dries matte, the application is glosslike and it leaves my lips feeling smooth.”

Thrill Seeker by Smashbox

This bold color, appropriately called Thrill Seeker, is one of our beauty editor, Maya Allen’s, favorite shades of lipstick. It’s waterproof and liquid-matte, made with a primer oil complex, and comes with a precision-tip applicator for the perfect pucker.

The Nudes

Pillow Talk by Charlotte Tillbury

Hailey Bieber is not secretive when it comes to sharing her makeup routines, all thanks to TikTok. In one recent video, she shared her go-to lip combo which featured the Anywhere Caffeine Lip Liner from Make Up For Ever and the Charlotte Tillbury Matte Lipstick in Pillow Talk, which Bieber loves because it matched the natural colors of her lips. This is also one of Allen’s favorite nudes.

Fairest Nude by L’Oreal

Described as a perfect nude (especially for those with olive complexions), this is an amazing under-$8 drugstore nude.

Myth by M.A.C

This a nude that’s praised for not being too nude. It’s a frequently sold-out best seller.

Intense Nude by Estée Lauder

Pure Color Envy Lipsticks is Estée Lauder’s line of ultrahydrating lipsticks, formulated with hyaluronic acid and intense pigment. (Each tube clicks closed with a satisfying magnetic snap.) This balanced nude has emerged as one of the line’s best sellers.

Nude Kate by Charlotte Tilbury

Amal Clooney’s makeup artist, Charlotte Tilbury, says that for years people used to beg her for the nude shade that Kate Moss (incidentally, godmother to her children) always wore. Tilbury used to custom-mix it for her, using a mix of concealers. When she finally debuted her own line, she produced Moss’s shade as one of her first lip colors.

Hevyn by Surratt Beauty

This shade is Troy Surratt’s homage to his late mentor, Kevyn Aucoin. Called a Lipslique, this product’s texture is akin to what would result if lip gloss and lipstick had a baby.

Wild Rose by Ilia

“When you feel like you need something on your lip, this is the one,” says Nihei. The creamy beige finish gives the lips a light rosy look, and it’s easy to wear.

Litchi by Sisley-Paris

This lip crayon is Kristen Stewart’s makeup artist Jillian Dempsey’s favorite. For a nice nude lip, she loves the ease the crayon gives to apply.

Taupe by M.A.C

What do you get when you mix red with a dark, gray-brown color? This taupe matte lipstick from M.A.C that doubles as a great neutral that is sure to stay all day thanks to the brand’s top-notch formulation.

The Pinks

Preferred Pinks Palette by M.A.C

Makeup artist Jaime Diaz loves a lip palette for the versatility it offers, and the M.A.C Pro Lip Palette is his favorite. “The formula is so versatile for bold lips to an eye shade or even blush,” he says.

Schiap by NARS

Named for designer Elsa Schiaparelli, it’s one of the brightest pink lipsticks with blue undertones. Maggie Gyllenhaal wore the shade with her Dries Van Noten to the 2010 Oscars.

Lady Danger by M.A.C

No. 19 Fuchsia Rouge by YSL

This shade was the first shade created by Monsieur Saint Laurent in 1979.

Angel by M.A.C

In 2011, Kim Kardashian proclaimed this as her favorite lipstick shade, so you know it has been popular ever since. This pink lipstick (with a touch of frost) is a best seller that won’t let you down.

Casablanca by Tom Ford

Although he’s best known for his more vibrant color choices, this is Tom Ford’s most commercially successful lipstick shade.

Cherries in the Snow by Revlon

Nelson explains the cult appeal of this shade: “Cherries in the Snow is a pink-based red that has literally been around for decades and is a timeless classic.”

01 Pink by Dior

This sheer, moisturizing lip balm magically changes color on everyone and is one of the products that has blown up thanks to TikTok. However, if you want to spend less than $38 on a lip balm, count on the app to share some really good dupes, too.

No. 52 by YSL

A cult favorite that sold out everywhere worldwide after its appearance on a Korean TV drama in 2014 is still a fan favorite in 2022.

Dare to Bare by Terry

By Terry’s best-selling shade worldwide, a pink-based nude that glides over the lips, with a blend of moisturizing hyaluronic acid and something called “filler spheres” (which promises plump, moisturized color that won’t settle).

Enchantress Blush by CoverGirl

The second of CoverGirl’s best-selling shades, Enchantress Blush is a purple-based pink.

Chocolate Raspberry by Fashion Fair

The brand’s top-selling lipstick, Chocolate Raspberry, is a nostalgic classic for many Black women, and with the relaunch of Fashion Fair this year, it has thankfully returned to our counters.

Resilience by Valde Beauty

When it comes to investing in a lipstick, Valdé is the brand to consider. Each lipstick is refillable with superfine pigments that give stunning coverage and color when applied. Plus keep the amazing armor and switch out colors when you please.

The Browns and Plums

Soft Brown by Anastasia Beverly Hills

This is one of Allan’s favorite shades. “Love this brown nude shade. It’s a little bit of a ’90s shade but modern. Looks great on most skin tones and the texture is so smooth and has a satin finish. Makes the lips look plump and healthy!”

Foxy Brown by Mented Cosmetics

This deep shade of brown is one of our beauty director, Maya Allen’s, favorite lipsticks.

Spice by M.A.C

M.A.C Lip Pencil

This cinnamon-brown lip color, which Linda Evangelista once publicly praised, was sold out for most of the ’90s. Nelson explains: “No iconic products list would be complete without this ’90s supermodel favorite.”

Black Honey by Clinique

A freebie in makeup gift sets in the ’80s, Clinique’s Black Honey Almost became a cult favorite in the ’90s as a lipgloss/lipstick that, in oft-repeated beauty parlance, looks good on almost everyone. It’s now one of the best-reviewed plum lipsticks everywhere, and people buy it in bulk, including our previous fashion editor-at-large.

Brown by Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown started her makeup line with ten lipstick shades and this was one of the originals — a color that helped make brown lips a trend in the 1990s.

1990 by Merit

Another one of Nieves’s favorite lipsticks and actress Cameron Diaz’s too. Not only is it clean and sustainable, but it’s super-hydrating, making it one of the best lipsticks out there for all-day wear.

Gifted by Rare Beauty

Though celebrity beauty brands can sometimes be a miss, Selena Gomez’s brand Rare Beauty is known for its viral blushes and overall great products. One of its newest launches, the matte lipstick is pigment-rich and buttery, and recommended by Milia Ware.

Train Bleu by NARS

This cult-favorite delivers the same result as a matte lipstick in a pencil format, making it a great option if you prefer this application method. Plus it can be paired with other lip products for more dimension or used as a base color.

The 50 Most Classic Lipstick Colors of All Time