beauty lessons:

5 takes on the
’90s brown lip

Fresh variations on an iconic look, starring Serge Lutens’ new lip stain.


No lip wardrobe is complete without a powerhouse brown. The endlessly seductive ’90s signature—once synonymous with Linda, Cindy, et al.—has returned as a 2016 beauty staple on the lips of ingenues like Lily Rose Depp and Léa Seydoux. And the right shade of brown will flatter all who call upon its charms. Should you need further convincing, Serge Lutens, luxury makeup visionary, just launched his own take on the color, 5 Terre d’Ombres. This water-based gel stain has a unique, natural, satiny finish, and is available exclusively at VIOLET GREY. Consider it the modern woman’s chocolate-colored pout of choice.

In celebration of the occasion, The Violet Files has enlisted in-house makeup artist Jamie Keller for advice on how to make the most of the fabulous stain. (A word to the wise: Steer away from the gunmetal eyes and heavy foundation of the grunge era, and instead opt for polished, minimal makeup to keep the lip au courant.) Read on for five different ways to wear the brown lip.

5 takes on the
brown lip

Jamie Keller offers distinct ways to wear the lip stain of the moment. 

1. The Velvet Effect

Control the saturation of your color by moderating how many layers you apply. “Three coats of the 5 Terre d’Ombres offers the ideal opaque, velvety finish,” says Keller. Wait a few seconds for the stain to dry between applications. The result? The 2016 version of the Evangelista lip you loved in high school, but with a natural, born-this-way texture. 

2. The Glossy Approach

For a high-shine look, combine the staying power of the Serge stain with the lustrous finish of Hourglass lip oil. “The oil amps up the pigment for added drama,” says Keller. “Your lips look wet, but they do not feel sticky.” For extra gleam, Keller proposes adding a touch of RMS Living Luminizer to the center of the lips to enhance their shape and make them appear more full.

3. Bold and Beautiful

To play up the vampy effect and add depth to the color, Keller suggests first darkening lips with Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Honey pencil. “I fill my lips in completely before applying the stain,” says Keller, who prefers a bold brown. An added benefit of this approach: “The waterproof pencil formula guarantees that the lip stain stays put from morning to night.”

4. Make it Matte

Modernize the ’90s trend with a demure finish. “Soften the look using the La Mer lip balm,” advises Keller. “It is an invisible layer of hydration that dries matte—moisture without the shine!” For best results, apply the lip balm over the stain.

5. Barely There

For those who like their lipstick light, get the effect without the commitment by a painting a one-and-done coat of the Serge Lutens onto the lips for a barely there brown. “Use your finger to smudge and diffuse the color,” Keller says. The key to this look: “Blend, blend, blend! There should be no harsh edges.”

the ’90s

Get more lip inspiration as Kira Nasrat
re-creates Winona Ryder’s look from the
1994 Golden Globe Awards.