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Which brown lipsticks are best?

If you’ve had your fill of pink, red and coral lip color, it’s time to change up your look with a brown lipstick. While it might not be the first color you reach for, you might be surprised at how many flattering shades there are.

Like other lipstick colors, there are countless brown lipstick shades. The color is well-received as a neutral option, and for many wearers, brown becomes their signature shade. MAC Matte Lipstick in Velvet Teddy, for instance, is of the bestselling shades on the market. 

What to know before you buy a brown lipstick

Popular brown lipstick shades

Like other lipstick colors, brown lipsticks have an impressive shade range. Some of the most popular shades include sand, beige, taupe, caramel, toffee, coffee and chocolate brown. Other shades are more complex with pink, plum, red or purple undertones. If you research some of the lipsticks you already wear, you may be surprised to find that they have brown undertones. Brown is actually a more common lipstick shade, in some form or another, than most people think. 

Why you should wear brown lipstick

If you’re looking for a new neutral lipstick, brown emerges as a formidable option that can be worn with a wide variety of makeup looks. Medium-toned browns, like toffees and caramels, are bold options that are both sophisticated and modern. Deeper brown lipsticks include some statement-making shades that often become the focal point of makeup looks.

What to look for in a quality brown lipstick

Formula varieties

Most brown lipsticks are available as bullet, liquid and lip stain formulas. Generally speaking, you’ll find more through-and-through brown shades in classic bullet lipsticks. However, liquid lipstick continues to grow in popularity, and it’s common to find a few shades of brown in many brands’ collections. There are some, but not many, lip stains that come in brown. If anything, you’ll usually find brown-toned pink or red lip stains. 


The most common finishes for brown lipsticks are cream, matte, satin and metallic. Cream and satin lipsticks both have glossy, shiny finishes that reflect light. Matte lipsticks, on the other hand, have flat, one-dimensional finishes that are often preferred for dramatic looks. Metallic finishes, which have an edge to them, are multidimensional finishes with shiny gold, silver or rose gold undertones.

Long-wearing brown lipsticks

While it might be easy for fading red or pink lipstick to go unnoticed between touch-ups, brown lipstick is pretty apparent. For that reason, many people prefer long-wearing brown lipsticks. Depending on the formula, they stay put anywhere from 8-24 hours. They also tend to have more saturated color than regular lipsticks. Generally speaking, most matte bullet and liquid lipsticks have longer wear times than other formulas and finishes. 

How much you can expect to spend on brown lipstick

Most brown drugstore lipsticks cost $5-$12, with a few outliers. Lipstick minis from premium beauty brands start at $14, whereas full-size brown lipsticks cost $21-$58.

Brown lipstick FAQ

Is brown lipstick more popular during colder months?

A. Not necessarily. While many people gravitate toward brown-toned lipsticks during the fall and winter months, they often find that certain shades are suitable to wear for spring or summer. Light brownish-pink shades, for instance, tend to be more popular in warmer weather. Deeper browns, like terra-cotta or coffee, are often preferred in colder weather. More than anything, it’s a matter of personal preference. 

How do I find a flattering shade of brown lipstick?

A. If you’ve never worn brown lipstick before, be prepared to try on several shades before finding the right one. It’s helpful to wear them with a few different makeup looks, as well. Another option is to head to the beauty counter and speak with an experienced makeup artist to help you find the best options for your complexion. It’s also worth experimenting with different finishes and formulas; if you normally wear matte red shades, try a cream brown lipstick to achieve a totally different look. 

What’s the best brown lipstick to buy?

Top brown lipstick

MAC Matte Lipstick in Velvet Teddy

MAC Matte Lipstick in Velvet Teddy

What you need to know: Velvet Teddy, a deep-toned beige, is one of MAC’s bestselling matte shades of all time. 

What you’ll love: The long-wearing lipstick lasts all day with minimal touch-ups, if any at all. It’s an understated beige shade that works well with natural and heavier makeup looks. The formula is a true matte lipstick that photographs well. 

What you should consider: Some people indicated the formula was unusually drying and required reapplication. 

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta and Macy’s

Top brown lipstick for the money

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Lip Lingerie XXL Matte Liquid Lipstick in Deep Mesh

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Lip Lingerie XXL Matte Liquid Lipstick in Deep Mesh

What you need to know: NYX’s Deep Mesh, a dark chocolate brown, is well-received as a rich, sultry color that is universally flattering. 

What you’ll love: The teardrop-shaped applicator offers precision application, including around the bow and corners of the mouth. It lasts for up to 12 hours and won’t transfer during eating or drinking. While it has a high color payoff, it’s a lightweight, comfortable formula. 

What you should consider: The long-wearing formula may require a waterproof makeup remover to take it off. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Ulta and Macy’s

Worth checking out

Clinique Even Better Pop Lip Colour Foundation Lipstick in Suede

Clinique Even Better Pop Lip Colour Foundation Lipstick in Cuddle

What you need to know: This is a medium-deep chocolate lipstick that is suitable for daytime and nighttime wear alike.

What you’ll love: The creamy formula is infused with vitamin E to keep lips soft and moisturized. Because it’s a neutral color, it works well with many neutral or dark-toned lip liners. The formula is free of harsh chemicals like gluten, alcohol and laureth sulfate. 

What you should consider: The lipstick may have a shorter wear time than matte lipsticks, which means more frequent touch-ups. 

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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