6 Ways to Wear Lipstick in 2021 (and 1 Look We’re Happily Retiring)

We’ve got good news for folks who never quite caught on to the matte lipstick trend that dominated the past few years. The reign of zero shine shades is over—or at the very least, it has taken a backseat to the softer, balmier and downright glossy lip looks of 2021. We’ll show you what we mean ahead.

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1. Do: Popsicle-stained Lips

This summery look is especially easy to recreate because it’s intentionally smudged, so you don’t have to worry about creating crisp lines. Just apply the color straight from the tube, then use your index finger to softly blend it out just past the lip line. Add a touch more to the center of your bottom lip to finish the look.

Get the look: Rare Beauty Lip Souffle Matte Cream Lipstick

2. Do: Try A Satin Red

Red lips are forever classic, but to make them pop in 2021, opt for a satin finish over a matte formula. You want just enough shine that your lips look juicy but not so much that it looks like you’ve just eaten a turkey leg at Disneyland.

Get the look: Hourglass Confession Ultra Slim High Intensity Refillable Lipstick

3. Do: A Barely-there Tint

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a clean, nearly nude lip is also very current. Skip the more pigmented statement shades (which are fun but require a lot of touchups) for a low-maintenance tint instead.

Get the look: Ilia Balmy Tint Hydrating Lip Balm

4. Do: A Soft Peach Monochrome

With equal parts warm and cool undertones, a peachy coral is the rare shade that looks good on everyone—no matter their complexion. All the more reason to wear the flattering shade on both your lips and cheeks. (Tip: A liquid lipstick or cream formula works best for this application.)

Get the look: Clinique Chubby Stick Intense Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm

5. Do: A Just Bitten Brown

ICYMI: Brown lipstick is back, baby. If you’re intimidated (or, um, triggered) by the polarizing shade, we’d like you to reconsider. A rosy brown that has subtle, warm undertones will keep things fresh and not wash you out. Bonus points if you add a touch of gloss or balm to complete the look.

Get the look: Kosas Weightless Lip Color Lipstick

6. Do: Add Some Shine

Speaking of added shine, no matter what color you decide to wear, you can give your lips a quick refresh just by adding a hint of gloss along your Cupid’s bow and the center of your bottom lip to accentuate fullness (and minimize dryness).

Get the look: Tower28 Beauty ShineOn Jelly Lip Gloss

ways to wear lipstick kylie
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

7. Don’t: Go Overly Matte

Because the one look we’re happy to bid adieu to in 2021 is the overly matte (and overly drawn) lips that dominated the past several years.

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Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...