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What color lipstick was big in the 80s?

The 1980s were known for bold, vibrant makeup trends. When it came to lips, bright and saturated colors were all the rage. Though glossy nude lips became popular later in the decade, the most iconic 80s lipstick shades were unapologetically bright. Reds, pinks, oranges and corals in creamy or shimmery finishes defined the decade’s audacious beauty aesthetic.

The Rise of Bright, Saturated Lip Colors

In the early 1980s, the punk rock movement brought dark, dramatic lip colors into the mainstream. However, saturated shades in brighter hues soon took over. By the mid-80s, bright pinks, oranges, reds and corals dominated the lipstick landscape. While pops of color had existed before, they took on a new level of audacity in 80s makeup trends.

Vibrant lipstick reflected the decade’s over-the-top approach to fashion, music and culture. From ripped jeans to big hair, the 80s celebrated exaggerated glamour. Lipstick was no exception. Bold, fearless pigments let people make a brightly-colored statement.

The Most Popular 80s Lipstick Shades

Though people experimented with different brights, a few specific shades emerged as quintessential 80s lip colors:

  • Blue-toned reds – Cooler, more blue-based reds were huge in the 1980s. Lipsticks with a berry tone were especially popular, like Revlon’s Cherries in the Snow. Elizabeth Taylor also made this lip color famous.
  • Orangey reds – Warm, orangey reds were another go-to. Lipsticks with a retro pin-up vibe, like Revlon’s certainly Red, caught on big time. Neon orangey reds were bold even by 80s standards.
  • Hot pinks – Vibrant pinks with a touch of red or fuchsia were everywhere in the 1980s. Magenta-tinged hot pink lipsticks made a statement. Cyndi Lauper’s exotic lip colors helped fuel this trend.
  • Corals – For a tropical look, bright corals hit the big time. Peachy orange shades of lipstick brought fun, summery vibes. Coral lipstick paved the way for the neon trend.

Within these broad color categories, lips could be matte, satin, glossy or frosted, depending on the finished texture. Shimmery metallics also emerged later in the 80s.

The Shift Toward Neutrals

Although vibrant lipstick defines the decade’s makeup style, softer, more natural lips gained ground by the late 80s. As fashions moved away from the over-the-top excess of early 80s style, muted lip colors reflected this changing aesthetic. Browns, rosy browns, mochas and pinkish nudes became more common toward the end of the decade.

Neutral lipstick paired with stronger eyeshadow or focus on the cheeks. The fresh-faced look of lip balms and glosses took off. Brands like Chapstick and Bonne Bell Lip Smackers fueled the trend. Though bold lips didn’t disappear, balance between eyes, lips and cheeks became more important.

Long-Lasting Formulas for Statement Lips

In order to achieve flawless, vivid lip color all night long, 80s lipsticks focused on longevity. Matte finishes provided intense, saturated color with serious staying power. By the end of the decade, liquid lipsticks also helped create thinner, sleeker lip lines.

To avoid bleeding or feathering, lip liners became essential. Dark, sharply defined lips were the standard. Primers, sealers and setting powder added extra insurance for perfect lip wear. The 80s lip demanded commitment and work, but delivered major impact.

Must-Have 80s Lipstick Shades

While people expanded their bright color horizons, these specific shades represent some of the most iconic lipstick colors of the 1980s:

Brand Lipstick Name Color Description
Revlon Cherries in the Snow Deep blue-red
Revlon Certainly Red Orangey red
L’Oreal Le Fuchsia Bright pink-red
Cover Girl Hot Coral Vibrant reddish coral
Bonne Bell Pink Grapefruit Semi-sheer pink
Maybelline Sandy Beige Peachy nude brown

These iconic products represent the diversity of options, from brights to nudes to shimmers. The decade’s makeup technology let cosmetic companies create lipsticks with intense pigmentation. Both drugstore and high-end brands contributed major 80s lip color trends.

How 80s Lipstick Trends Reflected Pop Culture

Musicians, celebrities, television and movie characters inspired the bold colors that defined 80s style. Pop culture icons served as beauty trendsetters rocking vibrant lips.

  • Madonna embodied the eclectic, avant-garde makeup vibe with dark lined lips and crosses or hearts as beauty marks.
  • Cyndi Lauper’s outrageous eye and lip combinations in exotic shades created an edgy pop/punk aesthetic.
  • On TV shows like Dynasty, characters wore glossy fuchsias and red lipsticks indicative of 80s makeup.
  • Molly Ringwald’s lip color in Sixteen Candles inspired teens to experiment with bright oranges and pinks.
  • Prince’s glossy purple pout in Purple Rain captured the decade’s fearless color story.

Lipstick trends followed the era’s bold spirit across boundaries of gender, race, and age. Expressing individuality with makeup took center stage in youth culture. Popular media celebrated boundary-breaking style.

How 80s Lip Trends Impacted Beauty Culture

80s lipstick put a revolutionary stamp on cosmetics. Traditions and conventions were challenged.

  • More makeup options for darker skin tones emerged, including deeper reds and richer corals.
  • Punk rock makeup pushed the envelope with metallic colors and black lipstick.
  • Men adopted lip gloss and color, inspired by rock stars. Makeup became more gender fluid.
  • Teens gained increasing access to trendy mass market makeup.
  • DIY, creative self-expression shaped the lipstick landscape.

The decade diversified lipstick in an irreversible way. Today’s inclusive beauty culture was forged in the 80s. Self-expression through makeup took on new meaning.

The 1980s Lip Lives On

Contemporary makeup trends continue to take inspiration from the most iconic lip looks of the 1980s.

  • Matte liquid lipsticks promise intense color saturation with maximum longevity.
  • Retro orangey reds and frosty pinks make regular comebacks.
  • Overlined lips and lip art put a new spin on the defined lip.
  • Bold lips remain a staple of avant-garde runways.

Yet no matter how lipstick evolves, the 1980s represent a milestone of bold self-expression. The decade’s daring colors and commitment to dazzling looks serves as a benchmark. Whenever people want to make a wildly colorful statement, 80s lipstick leads the way.

In just ten years, lipstick transformed from symbol of femininity into vehicle for bold individualism. A swipe of fuchsia, orange or jet black lipstick encapsulated the 80s spirit. Lip color became an extension of personal identity. In many ways, the 1980s painted the future of lipstick culture.


1980s lip trends broke conventions in audacious, rebellious style. Bright, saturated lipsticks in cool reds, neon corals and hot pinks defined the decade’s makeup. Though natural, neutral lips gained ground later in the 80s, vibrant color made the enduring mark. Musicians, celebrities and pop culture inspired dynamic self-expression. Lipstick trends opened doors to inclusivity and fluidity. The 1980s lip will live on wherever people aim to make a bold, colorful statement.