The Perfect Lipstick Color For Every Phase Of Your 20s

by Zara Barrie

I'm a 29-year-old girl creature who can't even believe, can't possibly wrap her brain around the fact that she's going to be 30 YEARS OLD in three months.

What?! 30?! I feel like I've been in my 20s my ENTIRE LIFE. I don't remember much before the age of 20, to be perfectly frank with you. (Maybe I'm repressing some massive childhood trauma that's caused me to forget life before 20, maybe not. Who knows? Who cares?)

But alas, my sweet purring kittens, it's happened. I'm about to kiss this complex, dark, screwy, fun, haphazard, mistake-ridden, reckless, anxiety-inducing decade goodbye and enter a more stable, sexy, hopefully-still-fun decade.

When I reflect on the last decade, I define it not by "late 20s" vs "early 20s," as we like to do here at Elite Daily, but by "phases." And I define phases by lipsticks because I believe lipstick is the most primal makeup of all. It's on our mouths -- where we eat, and kiss, and do other dirty things.

Also, lipstick is emotional. Lips are emotional. They represent secrets, and sexuality, and FINDING YOUR VOICE.

That being said, the color in which we choose to adorn our lips says everything about what we're going through, don't you think?

This is why I decided to create a list of the perfect lipstick color for every phase of your 20s.

The Dive Bar Phase: dark burgundy

I went through this phase when I was about 22 and still flirt with it to this day. Oh, you know the phase: the "I don't DO clubs; I PREFER dive bars" smug, chill girl phase.

This is the perfect time to wear a really f*cking sexy, dark, vampy burgundy lip.

It's your social responsibility to make a dive bar a little bit, well, sexier. Plus, there is nothing hotter than a badass chick in recklessly ripped denim, a torn vintage tee, beat up converse and an impossibly sexy vixen lip.

It's all about the juxtaposition, Kittens. It's all about the juxtaposition.

Zara's Pick: Manic Panic Lethal Lipstick in "Black Rose", $10, Amazon

The "Holy Sh*t, My Entire Life Is Falling Apart" Phase: hot pink

I've learned in my 29 years gracing this fine planet that you will always -- at some points more than others -- feel as if your life is falling into a million tiny shards of glass. Even when you're technically "peaking."

There is always going to be an underlying fear that it's all going to blow up in your face. It sucks, but it's just part of being in your f*cking 20s. (GOOD NEWS: I hear this subsides in your 30s!)

Fortunately, you can pull off your melodramatic "my life is falling apart" lippy at any given moment. In a world defined by inconsistency, I find that wonderfully comforting.

So what lip color just screams "MY LIFE IS FALLING APART!?"

Hot pink, babies. Hot PINK. Nothing says "I'm having a meltdown, but I'm still chic AF" like HOT PINK.

It says, "F*ck it, I'm owning my breakdown." It's obnoxious and unapologetic. Just like us.

Zara's Pick: Candy Yum Yum by MAC, $17.50, Nordstrom 

The Festival Chick Phase: pastel pink

I went through this phase for one year, and a lot of my girlfriends did, too. It's the phase (usually in early college before you can legally drink) when you're "not really into drinking right now" and live in the puffy pastel blue clouds of sweet marijuana bliss.

This is when you wear flower crowns and bralettes as tops and base your entire year around Coachella.

This is when your chipped little fingernails clutch a faux suede fringe purse bought on This is when you take a stab at veganism (RESPECT TO THE REAL VEGANS). This is when you pierce your nose and stop brushing your hair.

It's a wonderful, short-lived phase for most of us, but a life-long phase for the true bohemian babe.

That being said, a vegan pastel pink lipstick is perfect for this phase of your life. Pastel pink is young, and free, and innocent, and adorable, and slightly annoying -- just like you, you gorgeous little festival princess.

Zara's Pick: Lime Crime Unicorn Lipstick in "Pink Planet" 

The Club Girl Phase: magenta

Clubs are dark, scary places. Bad things can happen in DA CLUB. But what is your 20s without a healthy dose of DANGER, really, Kittens? I don't want to know.

However, you need something really bright and shiny in order to stand out in the abyss of nightlife darkness. This is when you're sporting silver shiny tube tops, platinum blonde hair and MEGA platforms. (Real club girls don't wear stilettos. Girl has to DANCE).

What clashes beautifully against the sea of silver strobe lights and expensive bottle service velvet ropes, you ask? MAGENTA, babe.

You will be seen in even the darkest, dirtiest of clubs.

Zara's Pick: Kat Von D Studded Lipstick in "Lullabye", $21, Sephora 

The Ambitious Assistant Phase: coral

We all go through the phase when we're nothing but a mistreated assistant to a cruel, cutting, narcissistic boss.

But we will NOT be discouraged. We are eager to please.


This is when we are ready to rule the world in our coral lipstick. It's POWERFUL, but it's not lewd like red -- that would piss off the boss, and we don't want to step on any toes, now do we? Plus coral is frenetic and screams "I'M A GROWN-UP!"



Zara's Pick: Lime Crime Velvetines in "Suedeberry", $20, Amazon

The Young, Fabulous And BROKE PHASE: classic red

Babes, kittens, vixens.... when are we NOT in this phase?!

However, this usually comes into full force when we get a "creative" job for the first time.

Maybe you're assisting at Vogue, maybe you just scored the lead role in an edgy off-Broadway play, maybe you're freelance editing music videos for indie bands.

Whatever it is, you finally have a coooool, fabulous job you can show off about.

"I work for Vogue,you will boast, leaning your back against the exposed brick as you take an aloof drag of your hand-rolled cigarette.

What you'll fail to mention is, your job is cool, yes, but it pays about $22,000 a year. And of course you'll live somewhere horribly expensive -- New York, LA, Miami...wherever. You're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.

You're fab, but you're broke.

This is why you need classic red lipstick. Nothing is more fabulous than a luxurious red lip. You might be broke, but you don't look broke, babes.

Zara's Pick: Urban Decay: Gwen Stefani in "Rocky Steady." Pair it with this liner.

The "I'm Peaking" Phase: nude

Oh sh*t, lady. After years and years of your life being a SCALDING HOT mess, you're finally on top of everything.


You're in love. You have a fantastic job that could lead to a real career. You have friends you can actually stand for once in your life.

You're not vying for validation or trying to "find yourself," so do a NUDE lip. You won't distract from your awesomeness.

To be perfectly honest, this is the phase in which your friends will find you sort of boring, and banal, and basic. You've got more of an edge when you're life is falling apart.

Zara's Pick: Viva Glam II by MAC (All proceeds go to AIDS research!), $17.50, Nordstrom

The "I'm At My All-Time Low" Phase: brown

This is when you accidentally catch a glimpse of your reflection in the dirty window of a dirty bar.

"Who is that girl?" You drunkenly ask yourself as you gaze at your own jarring image staring back at you.

Your hair is a wreck. Your eyes are bleary. Your shirt might even be inexplicably off. (You will wonder to yourself, When did you take your shirt off, you tramp?).

Best of all, there is BROWN lipstick smeared across your face because you got hammered, and you borrowed lipstick from a random 45-year-old divorcee in the bathroom, and you were too f*cked-up to realize it looks awful.

Zara's Pick: Lime Crime Velvetine liquid to matte in "Salem", $20, Amazon 

The "F*ck It -- I HATE YOU" Phase: black

Black. Nothing alienates people like a BLACK lip. It will secretly turn on the f*ckboys, but they won't talk to you because they're f*ckboy wimps who fear real women in dark lipsticks. This is exactly your intention at this point in your life.

It's a shame this phase doesn't last longer. It's super gothy, and in a world of baby blondes, we need a little goth flavor.

Zara's Pick: Satin Black by Makeup Forever

The "I Can't Find A F*CKING JOB" Phase: orange

You have two master's degrees, and you can't even get a job as a cocktail waitress in a gross basement club on Avenue D. Welcome to New York, honey.

This is when you start to look really good in ORANGE lipstick. Controversial, I know, but orange lips are positive, and bright, and cheerful while you are anything but positive, bright or cheerful.

At least your lips can overcompensate for the dark storm swirling in your brain.

Zara's Pick: Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick By Too Faced in "Melon" , $7, Too Faced 

The My First Real Love Phase: no lipstick

Nothing. You've lost your sense of identity and style because you're in love. So you don't wear lipstick. Plus you wouldn't want to (GOD FORBID) get a little lipstick on your darling boyfriend's (or, in my case, GIRLFRIEND's) precious little face.

Zara's Pick: Get over yourself, and put some lipstick on. Your bare lips make me sick. JUST KIDDING! Sort of.

The My First Passion Job That Pays Phase: violet

Few of us actually get here in our 20s. But when we do, we feel oh so powerful and comfortable in our usually uncomfortable skin for the first time. This is when we stop caring about what people think and own our fierceness without fear of scaring off the masses.

This is our prime badass phase. This is when VIOLET LIPS ARE IT. No one f*cks with a confident woman in a violet lippy, do they now, Kittens?

Zara's Pick: Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in "Rich Violet"