Dressing like Cher Horowitz from Clueless is no longer just an excellent Halloween costume (seriously, who wouldn’t trade half their wardrobe for that red Alaïa or Calvin Klein slip dress?). The fashion pendulum has swung back—a little more than two decades—to the ‘90s. A quick scan of the runways and red carpets shows that the era is influencing beauty, too—especially lip color.
“In the ‘90s, women wanted to look polished but not too done,” says Dior celebrity makeup artist Daniel Martin. Sweet, feminine (maybe frosted) shades of pink gave way to “flat, matte, brown-based lip colors,” notes Martin, who grew up in Seattle and had a front row seat for that much mythologized grunge glamour period.
Today, these nudes have a little more life and depth to them (see the rusted raisin at Kenzo's spring show, above right); there are more shades to choose from, and better formulas too. Matte no longer means dry. But, says Martin, if you’re skimping on the shine lip-wise, “keep the rest of your skin radiant and dewy. You don’t want your whole face to look so flat.” Most importantly—do not line your lips before applying lipstick. Do it after, says Martin, so the liner blends into the lipstick (visible lip liner isn’t making a comeback, thankfully) and “you can cheat and make the border bigger or tighten the corners.” The trickiest part is just choosing a color that suits your complexion, so below, Martin breaks down his favorite formulas by skin tone:
“Fair skin tones have a lot of pink in their lips naturally, so adding just enough yellow pigment in lipstick, like this one, brings down the pink without making you look washed-out. It’s a demi-matte, so when it photographs, it photographs matte, but in person, it looks softer.
Honest Beauty Lip Crayon in Honey Kiss, $18; honestbeauty.com
“Women with medium skin tones often have a blurred lip line. This velvety matte, reddish taupe works so well because it gives a little more definition and color but still comes off nude.”
Dior Diorific Lipstick in Glory, $36; dior.com
“Deeper tones need a little peach in a formula like this creamy matte to counteract the blue undertones in their lips and keep it from coming off gray. This is 90% pigment, so it really gives you great coverage."
Lipstick Queen Sinner in Nude, $24; lipstickqueen.com