Warning: This might trigger an emergency lipstick run.
Every Southern woman knows that a signature lipstick shade is about more than just finding your perfect color. It’s about finding confidence in a tube, moxie in a swipe. While Southern ladies often feel limited to labeling just a single lip shade as their signature color, we think it’s completely acceptable, if not totally necessary, to have a few shades that work for any and every occasion. A power red for holiday parties and fancy affairs, a creamy nude for weekday coffee dates, a bold pink or berry for nights out with the girls, and a sheer rose for faking a natural flush even on your dreariest day. Each shade has a personality and power of its own. For that reason, some classic lipsticks have made their mark throughout the years as the most reliable and most likely to be found at the bottom of any Southern woman’s pocketbook. From the audacious Revlon “Fire & Ice” to the subtle Clinique “Black Honey,” you’ll run into some longtime friends, and perhaps some you’ve not yet been introduced to, in this definitive list of lipstick shades Southern women will never retire from their beauty arsenal.
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire & Ice
Buy It: $6; amazon.com
Every Southern woman knows the power of a classic red lip, and this shade is about as vintage and classic as it gets. Since 1952, Fire & Ice has graced the lips of many a sassy Southern woman. We remember seeing Mama swipe this on, anxiously awaiting the day we could rock our first red! The bright red shade possesses coral-pink undertones that will push through depending on your skin tone, usually veering either more coral or pink. It makes this shade perfect for spring and summer with its pop of vivid satin-finish pigment.
L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Lipcolour in Fairest Nude
Buy It: $6; amazon.com
This rich, creamy nude is your everyday shade that never fails to add a bit of style in the subtlest way, while keeping lips nice and hydrated. It has the slightest pink tinge within the true nude color, and you’ll find over 1,000 five-star reviews for the shade on Amazon alone.
Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey
Buy It: $17.50; sephora.com
Sadly, we can’t celebrate the 30-year anniversary of this iconic lip product until next year; but we’ll be patiently waiting. This sheer, deepened raisin “almost” lipstick deserves every ounce of praise it has received over the years. While the color looks borderline gothic in the tube, it goes on as a natural tint to your lips for a subtle look that is truly remarkable. From daytime to nights out, this color is a staple.
Dior Rouge Dior Lipstick in 999
Buy It: $37; sephora.com
This shade is nothing less than iconic. It’s an absolute, perfect true red that works on any skin tone and makes its incredible quality known upon first swipe. In 1953, Christian Dior desired to create the perfect red for his models to wear on the runway, no matter the outfit, and came out with two shades, 9 and 99. These two reds were later combined and perfected into the single 999 shade. The stunning red is now synonymous with Dior as a brand, and every Rouge Dior Lipstick, no matter the shade, features 999 inside the cap.
Estée Lauder Pure Color Love in Proven Innocent
Buy It: $22; esteelauder.com
This brand knows how to capture elegance, and its line of Pure Color Love lipsticks shows it. While every easy, long-wear shade is stunning—with finishes including matte, shimmer, crème, and chrome—this smooth, matte lightest pink shade takes the cake for everyday sophistication and barely-there color. It looks fresh and feminine, perfect for brunches, luncheons, and anything Mama would put on a pretty sunhat for.
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Toast of New York
Buy It: $5; amazon.com
Not only does this red-brown shade give amazing 1990s supermodel flashbacks (Cindy Crawford made us covet the color more than once), but it goes even further with its depth of pigment and slightly glossy finish to ensure there are no blah lips here! This warm lipstick is the perfect fall and winter staple, and we’ve whittled down our tube this season a little too much for comfort…
Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra Lipstick in Honeysuckle
Buy It: $24; elizabetharden.com
Go ahead and set this lipstick to auto-replenish every three months, as the website recommends, because you’ll be finishing up the tube by then. This perfect shimmery nude makes your lips look plumper and defined with its hydrating Ceramide Triple Complex. It has a little more warmth to the tone than your average nude, making it one of our all-time favorite everyday shades to add a little natural glow to your face.
Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Lip Colour in Rouge Vie
Buy It: $37; nordstrom.com
Coco Chanel once said, “If you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack.” Too bad you don’t need to reapply this revolutionary formula. Because there’s matte lipstick, and then there’s this matte lipstick that goes on as smoothly and softly as velvet, creating the perfect non-drying finish with an insane amount of vivid pigment. This shade, Rouge Vie, got a fast pass to classic thanks to its deep red-plum-brown tone that somehow works almost like a bold neutral.
L’Oreal Paris Infallible Le Rouge Lipstick in Enduring Berry
Buy It: $6; amazon.com
We’re the first to admit that it took a while to embrace berry lips; they seem so bright and, well, polarizing for those who stick to the old classics. However, we’ve learned the power of a truly stunning, long-wear berry lip shade thanks to this L’Oreal treasure. When you’re visiting a bustling new city or hitting a trendy restaurant with your girlfriends, swipe on this most subtly gold-flecked berry shade for instant confidence and sass. You can dab lightly or blot after applying to mute the pigment a little bit if you’re going for a more subdued statement.
Lancome L’Absolu Rouge Lipstick in Fleur Impressionniste
Buy It: $32; macys.com
Honestly, we can’t find an outfit or occasion that this shade doesn’t work for. Not only does Lancome lipstick stand out with its amazing pigment and lasting ability, but this hydrating, “shaping” lipstick gives you amazing results. This shade in particular is a burnt rose with subtle shimmer that we’re obsessed with. It’s not frosted or shimmer-heavy; it’s just luxurious and rich on all skin tones.
Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Peach Parfait
Buy It: $6; amazon.com
What makes this modern lip product an instant classic is its versatility. The sheer, shimmery nude has a slight peachy-pink tint with gold-toned shimmer that gives laidback glamor to any look. Even better, we love layering this hydrating lip butter over nude lip liner or lipstick for a luscious, shimmery nighttime statement.