12 Must-Have Lipstick Colors For 2021, According To Experts

Including an unexpected red shade.

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The 12 must-have lipstick colors for 2021, according to experts.
Photos: Uoma Beauty; Buxom; Urban Decay
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It's hard to have just one tube of lipstick in your makeup bag. The product is a lot like Beanie Babies: It's fun to collect as many as you can fit into your home (er, beauty cabinet). In the spirit of adding to your pigment collection, these are the 12 lipstick colors for 2021 that experts predict will be must-haves this year.

Bustle spoke with top makeup artists, like Fenty Beauty's global makeup artist Hector Espinal, Sephora Collection’s national artist Helen Phillips, and makeup pro and Armani Beauty ambassador Mai Quynh (to name a few) to find out which shades will make the perfect year-round lippies. Their take? The pros are seeing some '90s-style hues, some classic shades, and some unexpected colors in the mix for 2021's makeup looks. Basically, there's a lipstick (or two or three) for everyone's color preferences.

If you're ready to spice up your makeup collection, here are 12 expert-approved lipstick colors for 2021 that are worth swatching.

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Celebrity makeup artist Kate Synnott, Melodie Reynolds, makeup artist and founder of Elate Beauty, and Espinal all predict that neutrals will be big this year. But that doesn't mean boring: Synott points out that there are "many different tones, shades, and textures" to choose from.

Espinal echoes this, noting that the style focuses on a natural enhancement of your lip color. His pick? Fenty's Gloss Bomb Cream Color Drip Lip Cream in Fenty Glow, which he dubs a "universal rose nude." For lighter skin tones, Reynolds says to look for rosy shades like Elate's Better Balm in Poise while darker complexions should opt for "rich tans and plums."


"Bitten" Pink

Gucci Westman, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Westman Atelier, says a "bitten" pink will be on trend in 2021. "With us still wearing masks and focusing on our eyes more, an amplified, natural-looking lip is such a pretty compliment," she tells Bustle. For a soft flush of pink, Dior's Lip Glow is a good choice as is Westman Atelier's Lip Suede in Dusty Rose.


Classic Berry

If you're looking for something more vibrant, Westman also says that bold berry tones will also be trending this year. "I do think we’ll be craving color, and a bold lip instantly brightens the complexion," she says. A perk of a vivid berry? It pops on Zoom (which is obviously important).


Earthy Red

According to Phillips, 2021 is all about earthy red tones. "Russet, earthy reds are super flattering and a unique way to bump up a nude," she tells Bustle. She recommends the Sephora Collection Jelly Melt Glossy Lip Tint, which is just $10.


Translucent Plum

Similar to the classic berry hues that'll be big this year, Phillips also predicts that translucent plum tones are worth watching out for. According to her, berry shades "will range from translucent to opaque, which gives a huge selection for anyone who wants to try something new." If you're not used to deep pigment, opt for a sheer gloss in the shade for a lighter but still gorgeous pop.



Quynh tells Bustle to expect to see deep brown tones this year (which are very '90s). "These will stay on trend for 2021 because, with all the mask-wearing, eyes have become front and center," she says. Choose from deeper chocolates, caramels, and cinnamons to get the look.


Deep Pink

Another must-have pink, according to Phillips, is a deeper berry variation. These shades are more of a bold pick, so they're perfect if you're looking to do a statement lip. Look for darker pinks that have notes of raspberry, crimson, and velvet rose.



Christy Coleman, celebrity makeup artist and Beautycounter chief artistic officer, also has a bold shade in mind for 2021: fuchsia. The shade is already slated to be popular for spring, and Coleman tells Bustle it'll help to "awaken" the face. (And, let's be honest — who doesn't need the help in a 9 a.m. Zoom call?) She particularly likes Beautycounter's Give Em’ Lip Color Intense Lipstick in The Fuchsia Is Clean, though MAC's Make It Fashun provides a darker pop of the shade.



Of course, the classic red will remain a must-have in 2021, according to Coleman. Her take? Wearing the shade is all about your application technique. To do it properly, she recommends blotting with a tissue, reapplying, then blotting again. "This application will give you more of a stained look and will help prevent the transfer of your lip color onto your mask," she tells Bustle.


Warm-Toned Gloss

Coleman also sees a shift to warm-toned glosses for the second half of the year. Look for medium brown shades for "warmth and sheen," she says, in a gloss or tinted oil. Mented's Gloss in Send Nudes is an on-point pick.


Clear Gloss

For the minimalist, or for your more natural makeup days, Reynolds says that a classic clear gloss will add an elevated finish. "People are not embracing full makeup faces when at home, but focusing on the details," she tells Bustle. "The trend will focus on enhanced beauty, which is about highlighting individual features."



Steve Kassajikian, Urban Decay's global makeup artist, predicts that mauve will be popular throughout the year, which falls right in the middle of the neutral to berry color spectrum. It's a hue that combines brown-toned neutrals and darker pink that works as a more non-traditional everyday look. He recommends Urban Decay's Vice Lipstick in Backtalk, and Pat McGrath's LuxeTrance Lipstick in shade Madam Greige is another gorgeous choice.

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