In beauty, there is no category more timeless—or quintessential—than lipstick. As an enduring symbol of power and femininity, the transformative swipe of classic lipstick is never to be underestimated. Over the decades, brands have met perennial demand with a dizzying menagerie of offerings, leaving no color, undertone, or finish unturned. But despite the scale of options, there are those strikingly universal shades that women keep coming back to. From true reds to nuanced nudes, here, a dozen classic lipstick shades with that certain something loyal masses can’t get enough of.
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire & Ice
In 1952, Revlon launched its Fire & Ice ad campaign, starring Vogue cover girl Dorian Leigh, and caused a stir with its kitschy quiz supplement designed to decide if one was, in fact, suited to this tried-and-true bold red.
It was in 1991 that makeup legend Bobbi Brown’s debut line of lipsticks hit the Bergdorf Goodman counters. Of all the shades, her Lip Color in pink-tinged Brown caused the biggest sensation, helping to usher in the ’90s nude lip look still being referenced today.
There was a time in the late ’90s and early noughties when blue eye make-up reigned supreme. In schools up and down the nation, eyes were ringed with the cool colour in every shade – inspired by Cameron Diaz, Christina Aguilera, and Christina Ricci in Buffalo 66. While the craze did eventually die down, now blue is back and trending again. In fact, sales of the frosty blue MAC Tilt Eyeshadow ballooned to two and a half times what they had been between March and May this year, according to sales statistics from John Lewis.
“There is definitely a desire in beauty to wear less make-up but with more interesting shade choices, hence why a wash of fresh colour is becoming more desirable than heavily structured neutrals,” says director of make-up artistry at Mac Cosmetics, Terry Barber. “Blue eyeshadow is one of the shades undergoing a renaissance, and it’s being reinvented as something flattering and chic, rather than the kitsch, clownish image it might have had in the past.”
Whether it’s a sheer veil of a matte blue shade or a full-on molten blue disco hue, the world of blue eyeshadow is yours for the taking. A stellar recent example of the trend could be seen recently on Nicola Coughlan, who wore a striking cobalt blue to the BAFTA TV Awards. The make-up artist behind the look, Neil Young, previously told Vogue that he loved the shade as “it’s the perfect antidote to black and yet it still defines the eye, makes every eye colour pop ,and works on every single skin tone”. He added that you can wear it graphic and bold, or in place of a traditional black eyeliner.
So how to make the look work? Barber believes it’s all about creating a painterly, low-maintenance appearance, rather than anything too “structured” or overly technical. “That leads to an immediately retro ’80s look when there is blue involved,” he says. “It’s also important when wearing blue on the eyes that you don’t use colour elsewhere, as it can make it look garish or dolly.” He recommends pairing with a bronzed cheek and a fresh nude lip or clear gloss, to create the ultimate low key ’70s look, as well as several coats of mascara.
When it comes to colour, seek out tinted eyeshadows with a soft, shimmery finish and those with a more delicate colour pay-off (these are more likely to suit all skin tones and eye colours). While strong shades like cobalt are great for statement red carpet looks, Barber is a fan of soft, glamorous shades like duck egg, bluebell, Wedgewood and teal for daytime eyes, or for those who like to keep things minimal.
Below, British Vogue’s edit of the blue eyeshadow shades to try now.
Ever wondered what the Duchess of Sussex uses in her beauty routine? Whether it was during her days of playing Rachel Zane in Suits, or while she was a working member of the British royal family following her marriage to Prince Harry in 2018, Meghan has always been a woman with immense style in the beauty department. Rarely erring from a fresh face, nude lip and smoky eye combo, the Duchess also serves excellent hair inspiration – and she’s revealed some old favourites in the past. Here British Vogue takes a look at her go-to beauty products, from the ultra-cheap body lotion she loves, to a number of cult favourites you might just have in your make-up bag already.
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Very Victoria
A matte suede-taupe nude lipstick which is made with a blend of oils to help nourish lips, it is thought Meghan wore this lipstick in her engagement photos with Prince Harry.
Nivea Skin Q10 + Vitamin C Firming Hydration Body Lotion
The Duchess has previously said she uses this body lotion “religiously”, and praised it for its affordability and the fact it makes her skin look and feel amazing. With antioxidants Q10 and vitamin C, it sinks in quickly and helps firm the skin.
“For my flyaways, I spray this hairspray on a small boar bristle toothbrush (a regular toothbrush also works great) to lightly brush them down or smooth the hairline – this is especially good for a sleek bun when I’m off camera,” Meghan previously shared.
One of Meghan’s favourite facialists is Kate Somerville, who is based in Los Angeles, and the Duchess also uses her skincare line to “maintain that glow”. This serum is excellent for deeply hydrating the skin, and contains an array of antioxidants to fend off external aggressors, too.
“I love Nars blush in Orgasm,” Meghan previously told Allure. “I use it on and off camera because it gives you a nice glow from within.” Universally flattering, this blush is a favourite of beauty editors, make-up artists and celebrities alike.
A cult classic, the Duchess included YSL’s concealing and brightening pen as part of her “five minute face”. From lifting under-eye circles to adding a highlight here and there, it’s a multi-tasking wonder.
Having worked closely with hairstylist George Northwood over the years, including on her wedding day, it is likely that the Duchess will be using his new line of hair products. The latest are these tongs, which make achieving his signature beachy waves a breeze.
To get that dewy finish on cheekbones a la Meghan, her wedding day make-up artist Daniel Martin previously said it was all about layering textures; Aquaphor, he said, helped highlight the skin and impart the right texture “especially in a photo [when applied] on the high points of the face”.
In her Suits days, Meghan used to swear by Laura Mercier’s discontinued Illuminating Primer – she wore it on her days off instead of foundation. While it’s no longer available, the brand now offers this formula, which helps bring a similarly dewy finish to skin.
Studio Fix Fluid SPF15 – a modern lightweight, natural matte foundation with shine-controlling, medium-to-full buildable coverage and 24-hour wear – available in an all-inclusive, colour-true range of 63 shades.
Studio Fix Powder – a one-step pressed powder and foundation that gives skin a 12-hour ultra-matte finish while controlling shine and without causing acne.
#170 – a best-selling foundation brush with a rounded, slanted shape and densely packed fibres that applies, buffs out and blends any foundation or primer.
& #150 – a full and dense brush for dusting loose or pressed powder onto the face or body.