Finding a good lipstick is not easy. It has to be that perfect mix between glossy and matte, look nice with virtually any outfit, and not slide off your lips the first chance it gets. And finding a shade that complements a variety of complexions is even more difficult. Everyone’s different — that’s something we should always celebrate — and luckily there are tons of different makeup brands and shades that cater to a variety of different women.
Still, if you’re looking for a shade that will work wonders on yourself, your roommate, and your best friend, you’re in luck. We did a little bit of research and compiled a list of five universally flattering lipstick shades every woman needs on hand. Go ahead, have yourself a scroll.
1. Red carpet red
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: A sweep of bright red lipstick can transform any outfit from drab to fab. But with all the blue and yellow undertones to worry about, finding a shade that flatters tons of different skin types can be difficult. Until now, that is. Cosmopolitan tested Smashbox’s Always On Liquid Lipstick in Bawse on 10 different girls — ranging in hair type, complexion, and even lip shape — and the hue managed to look absolutely fierce on all of them.
Part of a collaboration with comedian and vlogger Lilly Singh, Bawse is the perfect shade for a girl’s night out. It’s a liquid lipstick, so it offers a little shine if you want to make a statement, plus it stays on nicely for at least eight hours. This color is bright, so you should only wear it if you’re looking to make a statement.
2. A little sheen
If you’re the type of woman who’s all about the barely-there look and are in the market for some subtle color, Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in Black Honey may be for you. This shade isn’t like the rest of those sheer lipsticks that pack on more pigment than we’d like: When on your pout, it looks more like a gloss. Not only does it give you a pretty sheen without being too sticky, but it also has the most interesting color. Before you apply it on your lips, the actual stick looks like a gothic bordeaux, but it only adds enough color to enhance your lips’ natural color. Whether you pair it with a minimalist slip or a T-shirt and pair of jeans, you are bound to get a lot of mileage out of this option.
3. A versatile rose
Consider rose the perfect hue for anyone who wants to add some color to their lips but doesn’t want to create a huge statement with a bordeaux, red, or brown. Since some women are blessed with an enviable tan year-round while others have fair skin, finding a rose shade that can flatter everyone in between is tricky. But makeup artist Kirin Bhatty, whose client list boasts Hollywood heavyweights like Kiernan Shipka, Freida Pinto, and Abigail Spencer, thinks she’s found the perfect solution. “The one lipstick I cannot live without is Charlotte Tilbury’s Lipstick in Stoned Rose,” Bhatty told beauty website Byrdie. ” It’s the perfect nude-y rose and looks good on almost everyone!” Charlotte Tilbury is known for her lasting formulas and exquisite colors, so there’s no doubt this one will provide that perfect pop of color.
4. Gothic purple
If you’re a true beauty risk-taker, traditional reds, pinks, and neutrals might feel outdated. A dramatic purple color, on the other hand, packs on the drama but can still be worn with several different outfits. When it comes to picking out the best dreary shade for you, NARS’ Audacious Lipstick in Liv is a fail-safe option. “This shade is one of my favorites because it works on all skin tones,” makeup artist Kayleen McAdams told InStyle “The creamy texture adds dimension and makes it more wearable than a matte or something more sheer.”
As we mentioned before, wearing a darker lipstick can age you a couple of years, so be careful about your process. To keep your look fresh, McAdams tells the publication to select a lip liner slightly darker than this shade to draw your pout slightly fuller than usual.
5. Bright and bold pink
Not every woman naturally gravitates toward the exact shade of pink Barbie wears, but maybe they should. Real Simple tested out NARS’ Semi-Matte Lipstick in Schiape, which is as pink as it gets, finding it looks good on everyone. Yes, even those with fair skin. One woman with this type of complexion tried out the lipstick and said, “Even though this one was bold, it wasn’t over-the-top.”
If you opt for this color, just be sure to keep the rest of your makeup minimal to avoid entering costume territory. Trust us, this lip color makes enough of a statement on its own.
Additional reporting by Christine Skopec