I grew to appreciate the power of a good lipstick during my time at Estee Lauder. In the 1940’s – and before her rise to beauty mogul status – Mrs. Estee Lauder sold her products in New York hair salons. She had just three items in her assortment at the time: a face powder, an eyeshadow, and a fiery red lipstick. In an era when most lipsticks were sold in plastic thanks to wartime shortages, Estee insisted on maintaining metal packaging and believed in the little luxury of lip color.
Between 1940 and 1945, the US female workforce grew by 50% while many men fought in the war, and I’ve always loved the idea of women taking male-dominated industries by storm. Whether it’s fact or my literal interpretation of Rosie the Riveter and her cherry-stained lips, I’ve always imagined these confident, trailblazing women rocking bold lip colors, shattering glass ceilings and looking fabulous through it all. It’s hard not to feel both inspired and indebted to these women after reading the history of the red lip — definitely worth the read if you have a few minutes!
With that, here are my three favorite lip combinations — the perfect nude, a bold Rosie-worthy red lip, and a drugstore duo I love for everyday wear.
Look #1: The Perfect Nude
My wedding makeup artist introduced me to the first two products on my list, and after wearing during our ceremony and reception, I had to get my hands on this duo. I’ve always struggled to find a nude that doesn’t blend with my pale complexion, and this combo delivers the perfect amount of color and shine.
Lipgloss. This sheer lipgloss is mint-flavored, lasts for hours, and plumps without the traditional “sticky” feeling most glosses leave behind. The bad news about this discovery? Either it’s discontinuing this season or Marc Jacobs Beauty is going out of business. Either way, this product is 50% off for a limited time — less than $15!
Lip Liner. Just as worthy of holy grail status, this best-selling lip liner features two tools — a waterproof pencil on one end and a blending brush on the other. I love that it can be worn alone or used as a traditional liner.
Lancome Le Lip Liner
Marc Jacobs Enamored Lip Hi-Shine Gloss
Color: Sugar Sugar
Look #2: The Best Red Lip in the Game
I’ve been wearing this next lipstick since my early college days, and I know it will remain a staple in my makeup bag for years to come. I really do think of all the badass women of the WW2 era when I wear it!
Lipstick.Featuring the iconic formula that put MAC on the map, this long-wear (8 hour!) lipstick offers the perfect matte coverage and a color you can’t help but feel amazing in. I specifically love that it doesn’t transfer or fade during a dinner date or night out.
If you’re looking for a darker red finish, try MAC’s Chili Shade – it’s a bit warmer and less intense.
Lip Liner: The coordinating Ruby Woo liner is a must to keep this bold color from bleeding. Although too dark for this combo, Spice is another favorite MAC liner I’ve owned for years and will continue to replenish.
MAC Lip Pencil
Color: Ruby Woo
MAC Retro Matte Lipstick
Color: Ruby Woo
Look #3: The Drugstore Duo that Delivers
To round out this list I’m sharing my go-to, everyday drugstore combo. This is the typical duo I reach for if I’m running to a shoot or pulling myself together in a crunch. It’s easy, affordable (less than $6 for both and available on Amazon), and a perfectly subtle pink/nude for day to day wear.
Lip Liner. Starting with the best $4 lipliner to ever exist, this NYX staple won an Allure Best of Beauty Award in 2020, and it doesn’t take more than a single application to see why. It’s long-lasting, doesn’t dry or flake like other drugstore liners, and comes in dozens of gorgeous shades perfect for any skin tone.
Lipstick. Many call this next $1.99 lipstick a dupe for MAC’s best-selling Velvet Teddy. This creamy lipstick is not only incredibly affordable, but its hydrating, semi-matte finish makes it suitable for everyday wear. It’s a little on the pink side, so I tend to go heavy on the liner to neutralize the color.
NYX Makeup Slim Lip Pencil
Color: Peakaboo Neutral
Wet n Wild Megalast Matte Lip
Color: Bare it All