Most Iconic Lipstick Shades Throughout the Decades & Their Modern Day Counterparts

In honor of National Lipstick Day, it's only natural to look back on the best lipsticks throughout history. Women have been stashing, swiveling, and hydrating since the beginning of the 20th century, way before Marilyn Monroe graced us with her pouty lips. No matter what style you possess, there's a lipstick (or lipgloss) for every woman. We all have our own go-to personal colors (mine's red-orange), but that doesn't mean we haven't tested, tried, and yes, even failed with the trends over the years.

From flappers to Old Hollywood glamour to '80s neons, there isn't a color in the universe that doesn't have a lipstick to go with it. Even today, every trend you will see in this slideshow is still alive and well in the aisles of Ulta, Sephora, and your local drugstore. Only a true beauty junkie, though, will dedicate themselves to collecting every iconic product in the book. Shall we begin?

Just don't forget: while we remember how far we've come in the world of modern day beauty, let us never forget frosted lipgloss, butterfly clips, nor scrunchies.

1920s: Classic Rouge

The lipstick tube was invented in 1915, so naturally lipstick became all the range in the roaring twenties, as women were able to easily carry their tubes around in their purses for the first time ever. The go-to color was the classic cherry red we know and love today and represented the boldness of the flapper . The “Cupid’s Bow” (i.e the sharp lining of the upperlip) also became popular due to actress Clara Bow.

1930s: Dark Plum

As the economy darkened in the 1930s, so did the makeup. Women started to stray from the classic red and embraced darker, deep plum and burgundy colors.

1940s: Cherry Red

Besides inspiring the pin-up look we know and love today, women of the ’40s were hard at work during wartime. Whether they were off to university or going to work in the factories, makeup had to be done in a breeze. They often used their lipsticks as blush, and dabbed on Vaseline to add a bit of shine to their lip color (yeah, that’s where the age old trick comes from). Women were encourage to wear the reddest of the reds to keep up morale during the war, and thus the bright, red orange shade was born.

Image: genibee/Flickr

1950s: Brick Red

While pinks were starting to rise in the ’50s, actresses like Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball and Elizabeth Taylor stayed true to the red roots. Brick red, a slightly darker version than the classic 1920s red, was the go-to choice. It was all glamour in this decade.

1960s: Pale Pink

Things took a turn for mod during the ’60s, when women began to shy away from reds and go with more neutral pinks. Women during this decade still kept their lipstick clean and defined, though. This editorial from a 1967 Woman’s Day is the perfect example.

1970s: All Shine

Women of the ’70s played around with volumous hair and dramatic eyes, so they often kept their lips neutral with peaches and pinks – but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t hip. The ladies of this decade ditched the matte lip and embraced the frosted, glossy texture of lipgloss. Can you say psychedelic?

1980s: Hot Pinks and Fuschia

This dance party decade was nothing but neons. Of course women were still versatile during this age and still played around with reds, but these were the years when the hot pink lip was born.

1990s: Dark Mauve

While the deep red-brown lipstick paired with pale skin was definitely a big 90s trend, it’s the dark mauve that most ladies were donning during this decade. Paired with fresh blow outs, the pasty color was all the rage. You know SJP rocked it.

JON LEVY/AFP/Getty Images

2000s: Glitter Galore

Lipgloss came back at the turn of the millenium to give a more futuristic spin to beauty. While it was every bit as shiny and frosty as the ’70s, it was also glittery. The colors stayed neutral, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t turn heads.

Every beauty product was doused in metallic specks and glitter during this decade, so every cool tween just had to have a lipgloss. Well, that and a million Lip Smackers.


2000s: Glitter Galore

NYX Glam Lip Gloss in “Last Party,” $6; Ulta