For women of color, buying makeup often feels like something you need an advanced degree for. Undertones, ingredients, formula and wearability are all factors that can zap the fun out of finding a new product. But thankfully, there’s also a subculture of women who’ve been creating brown girl-friendly vegan beauty—long before it was a trend.
Long gone are the days of compromising healthy formulas for colors that actually work. Thanks to a new crop of lippies that are as clean as they are pretty, we no longer have to. If you have a go-to hue, great. If you’re still looking, makeup artist Tara Lauren shared some insight how to find the right colors for your shade of deep.
Go blue with reds. “There is something about a red with a subtle blue undertone on melanin-rich skin that just works. It creates just the right amount of depth and makes a statement,” says Lauren.
Pick the perfect plum. Currant and merlot tones are also great for women of color. Her application tip: “Lipsticks can be blotted to create a slight stain or applied regularly for a rich berry lip.”
Feel the fire. “Orange is a color that I feel is sometimes over looked by women of color,” says Lauren. Warm against warm undertones helps bring out the richness in brown skin. “If you’re not ready to commit to color full on, use a lip liner close to your [natural] lip color, apply and blend to desired look,” Lauren says.
Choose a finish. “Going glossy or matte is definitely based on mood for me,” says Lauren. Yes, there are an abundance of matte shades on the market, but a gloss can be carefree and subtle. It’s all a matter of preference.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up 12 vegan lip colors that check all of these boxes and won’t disappoint.
Kat Von D Beauty Farm Sanctuary Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Hilda
This creamy milk chocolate brown will work across a range of deeper skin tones, without any washout or ashiness.
$20, at Kat Von D Beauty
Photo: Kat Von D Beauty
Clove + Hallow Lip Glaze in Prep
Pinks can be tricky on darker skin, but the warmer undertones of this deep rose are soft and pretty. Plus, the formula is more of the sheer side, so it’ll just compliment your natural lip color.
$15, at Clove + Hallow
Photo: Clove + Hallow
Ilia Satin Cream Lip Crayon in Tainted Love
Mauve is generally one of those shades that look good on everyone—but it can easily take an icy turn that just doesn’t work with warmer skin tones. Here’s an option that’s both flattering and festive, no matter what time of the year.
$24, at Ilia
Dose of Colors Matte Liquid Lipstick in Berry Me 2
Plums are generally flattering across all shades of the skin tone spectrum, but this magenta berry is particularly good against brown skin. It shows up more vibrant than other purpley shades, even on rich, dark skin.
$18, at Dose of Colors
Photo: Dose of Colors
Civilized Cosmetics Liquid Lip Suede in Blood Orange
When choosing a coral for darker skin, look for shades that look a little more red, like this one. The more peachy or pink the color is, the more likely it is to show up ashy.
$19, at Civilized Cosmetics
Photo: Civilized Cosmetics
Note Cosmetics Mattemoist Lipgloss in Notisme
Even in more sheer satiny finishes, reds with a bit of blue in it work best on darker skin, like this crimson option.
$9, Note Cosmetics
Photo: Note Cosmetics
Luscious Pout Marker Lip Contour Crayon in Fierce
If you’re looking for a hot pink that isn’t too shocking, this deep berry is a nice switch-up from a classic red.
Photo: Luscious Cosmetics
Ciaté London Glitter Flip in Iconic
You may think a dark color against dark skin doesn’t work, but it’s actually quite the opposite—especially if there is shimmer involved. Swipe on this near black metallic, then press your lips together and watch it transform into the most gorgeous navy ink blue.
$19, at Ciate London
Photo: Ciaté London
This red reads a bit more brown than it does burgundy, but not in the brick red kind of way that can look dated. The matching liner will help add some needed definition on darker skin.
$13, BH Cosmetics
Photo: BH Cosmetics
Nars Velvet Lip Glide in Area
Finding a true nude if you’re on the dark chocolate end of the spectrum can be beyond frustrating, but this chestnut brown should is a perfect match. It’ll give just enough contrast without blending completely into your skin.
$26, at Nars
Photo: Nars Cosmetics
ColourPop Lippie Stix in Who Run This
Rusty reds can go all the way wrong on dark skin, but this deep apricot has just the right mix of brown, red and orange and a slightly satin finish to keep it looking fresh and not horribly old school.
$5, at Colourpop
Spela Matte Liquid Lip in Happy Hour
If you do prefer more of a traditonal burgundy, this creamy color will basically make your mouth look like you were sipping on a glass of red wine.
$18, at Spela Cosmetics
Photo: Spela Cosmetics