Women Reveal The Go-To Lipstick Shades That Elevate Them To Boss Status

There's just something about lipstick that ties your makeup look together - it instantly elevates you.

Beauty & Fashion

Being a #BAWSE nowadays may not be easy. Waking up early, staying up late, working that corporate job, that side hustle, or even that dream job, supporting your tribe and being there for everyone while also taking care of yourself? Yeah, not always the easiest.

Despite its challenges, there's nothing like waking up and slaying your day in style and grace! For me, nothing gets me into "go mode" and ready to tackle the day like finishing my makeup off with my favorite lipstick. Seriously, think about it: have you ever noticed how you just instantly look more put together once you throw that lipstick on? There's just something about lipstick that ties your makeup look together - heck, even when going out bare face, it instantly elevates you.

These days, you may be looking for some color inspiration to add to your beauty arsenal. I grabbed 10 women killin' it in their industries to share what's their go-to lip shade:

Renae Bluitt


What She Does:

Founder of InHerShoes / Executive Producer of SheDidThat / Beauty PR Consultant

What She Wears:

"Boy Trouble" by The Lip Bar & "Ruby Woo" by MAC

Why She Loves It:

"My favorite winter (spring, fall, and summer) lip combination is The Lip Bar's 'Boy Trouble' mixed with 'Ruby Woo' by MAC. I rarely step out into the world without a lippie and have always loved statement-making colors against my brown skin. There's something about a bright and bold lip that makes me feel pulled together in any and everything from sweatshirts to sequins. My approach to life has always been put on some bold lipstick and handle it!"

Karleen Roy

What She Does:

Founder of The Vanity Group

What She Wears:

"Toosie" by Scoobie West & Company

Why She Loves It:

"I love this color because it's the color of fire! It makes me feel like the fly women in the 70's/80's who always wore red lipstick and wore long red nails. Bianca Jagger style! Even if you do not have on a full face of makeup, red lipstick instantly pops and give you a polished look."

Delina Medhin


What She Does:

Celebrity Makeup Artist

What She Wears:

"Obsession" by Iman Cosmetics

Why She Loves It:

"I love a dark lip in the winter! One of my favorites is this pigmented brown lipstick. It's a creamy consistency that glides on to the lip and wears comfortably. To give this lip longer wear, pair it with Mac Cosmetics lipliner in the color 'Chestnut.'"

Dana Oliver


What She Does:

Beauty Director at Yahoo Lifestyle

What She Wears:

"Rock With You" by NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment

Why She Loves It:

"During the cold-weather months, I like to accessorize my cool gray and crisp black winter outfits with vampy matte lipsticks. And NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment in 'Rock With You' is my new favorite for four fabulous reasons: 1) This is one matte lip product that doesn't dry out my lips. 2) It goes on super smooth — I don't even need a mirror to apply flawlessly, thanks to the precise doe-foot applicator. 3) The rich mulberry pigment is long-lasting, even with drinking several cups of almond chai. 4) The name reminds me of my favorite Michael Jackson record."

Shantel Rousseau

What She Does:

Style, Travel & Beauty blogger / YouTuber

What She Wears:

"Icon" by Hourglass Cosmetics

Why She Loves It:

"I'm pretty exclusive to either Red or Nude lips and, in the winter, it's no different. I like to give it more depth during the cooler season by opting for a richer red than a typical bright one. 'Icon' is one I've been using for 7+ years!"

Africa Miranda

What She Does:

Actress / Spokesmodel / Founder of Beauty by Africa Miranda

What She Wears:

"Media" by MAC

Why She Loves It:

"I LOVE a dark lip in the winter. 'Media' gives great coverage and doesn't dry out your lips, which is a huge plus in the cold. I also love that it is both edgy and glamorous."

Leila Noelliste


What She Does:

Founder of Blackgirllonghair.com & BGLH marketplace

What She Wears:

"Goldie" by Colourpop

Why She Loves It:

"I rarely ever wear makeup. And that isn't, like, a stance or anything. It's because I never learned. But 2017 was the year I decided to step out of my comfort zone, and that included doing a photoshoot in my new Bed Stuy storefront. My publicist asked how I wanted my makeup to look, so I browsed Tumblr and saw a woman wearing this beautiful shade of maroon. I instantly knew that was what I wanted. When the MUA arrived, she brought a bunch of maroon lippies and I picked 'Goldie' by Colourpop. When the pictures came back, I was amazed at how incredible I looked!"

Camara Aunique


What She Does:

Celebrity Makeup Artist & Beauty Expert

What She Wears:

"#NoFilter" by AJ Crimson Beauty

Why She Loves It:

"The color works on all women of color! It's the perfect nude that lasts and keeps your lips conditioned, oh, and it's perfect for kissing!"

Ylorie Taylor


What She Does:

Vice President at Eden Bodyworks

What She Wears:

"Oh Lady" and "High Drama" by MAC

What She Does:

"As a working wife and mom with a very full life, when I have the opportunity to get glam, I allow the makeup artist to make me her palette. I trust her judgement to bring my lips to life! I am always pleasantly surprised at the final look and very appreciative because it accentuates me so well. I rarely wear makeup, but when 'in front of the camera' work calls or a special occasion arises, I make sure to treat myself to a glam session. It's just one more way I take care of me (#selfcare) to put my best foot forward."

Kéla Walker


What She Does:

TV Host / Producer Style Authority

What She Wears:

"Bawse Lady" by The Lip Bar & "Berry" by Kami Cosmetics

Why She Loves It:

"I'm never without a red lipstick. I love it year-round. It's a part of my signature style but, in the colder months, I prefer it to be a little deeper, with a warm undertones like 'Bawse Lady.' Save the bright reds with cooler undertones for the warmer month.

"There's nothing like layering on a deep plum color in the winter. This oxblood berry color provides just the right amount of warmth to the season's cool styles and trends. I love wearing the dark bold color with neutral tones for a great contrast. I also love the edge it gives any look. Either way you pick it, both colors require you to wear in confidence."

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Originally published January 7, 2018

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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