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TikTok’s Cherry Cola Lip Trend Replaced All My Nude Lipsticks

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Finding the ultimate nude lipstick that suits your skin tone to a tee is no mean feat. It's not an exaggeration to say that I tried hundreds before landing on Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in Runway Royalty $49, the ultimate cool nude. But I'm ready to shelve it entirely in favour of TikTok's cherry cola lip trend.
If you're a Beauty In A Tik regular, you'll know that I'm always putting my lips on the line for one hack or another. Lip slugging? My chapped lips are thanking me. Semi-permanent lip liner using eyebrow tint? I'm sorry to say it's a flop. TikTok's cherry cola trend is more of a makeup movement than a smart hack, but it intrigued me all the same — not least because 'cherry cola lips' has 117 million mentions on the app (and counting).
The look is simple and consists of lining and filling in your lips with a burgundy, brown or nude lip pencil. The trick is to apply this all over, rather than leaving a space in the centre. The next step is to enlist a bold red lip gloss, again applied all over. I wouldn't have paired these shades naturally but the way the red tweaks the brown to a just-bitten, ruddy scarlet really does bring lips to life.
The cherry cola vibe is so pretty, it's kind of mesmerising. I first came across the look on TikToker @blendsbypouja, who used NYX Professional Makeup Butter Lip Gloss in Red Velvet over a brown Buxom Cosmetics lip pencil. Since then, makeup artists like @musthavesxt and @soulsophiamua, as well as beauty content creators such as @ringaroundtherosy and @__jzaa, have followed suit and amassed heaps of compliments. The look is a variation on the trending douyin lips, a lush, berry-toned lip hack that originated in China and has since swept through Korea, Japan, the UK and now Australia.
@musthavesxt More like black cherry pepsi cola.. Tarte maracuja juicy lip plump honey suckles #glossybalm #cherrylips #lipstick ♬ original sound - Tanem
The technique isn't exactly groundbreaking and, to state the obvious, makeup looks involving brown lip liner are nothing new either. The product is a timeless classic championed by women of colour especially, and has seen us through the '90s and beyond. But instead of a clear gloss or something nude in the centre, TikTok's beauty enthusiasts are leaning into vivid reds. Perhaps it's something to do with our newfound obsession with mixing our own lip gloss combos, or having fun with colour theory. I think it's the ultimate lip look to complement our preoccupation with dewy blush and juicy skin ahead of spring.
I try to use up my makeup products before I look to new ones so I reached for the Morphe x Ashley Strong Lip Pencil in Gilded Spirit to recreate this look. (The brand's Lip Pencil in Honeymoon, $6, is a close match.) You can't go wrong with a MAC Cosmetics Lip Pencil, $34, though, as the shade range is more extensive than others. One thing to note is that if you're applying lip liners all over your lips, they tend to become pretty dry. Before I go in with any lip pencil or even lipstick, I slather my lips with The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + PhytoCeramides $35.50. This is an excellent moisturiser, which I use most days, but I've found that it makes for an even better lip base.
I didn't have a very pigmented red gloss to hand but I really rate the new NYX Professional Makeup Fat Oil Lip Drip Gloss in Newsfeed, $19.95, which is a sheer red. I used the chunky doe foot applicator to swipe on a little extra red lipstick (Valentino Beauty Rosso Valentino, $51, the same product I used for last week's 'dewy dumplings' blush hack). I slicked this onto the brown lip liner, leaving the space around the edge of my lips free from gloss.
I'm a devoted makeup wearer and I can't quite believe that I hadn't thought to combine these two lip colours until now. I get why TikTok has coined it 'cherry cola lips': the brown tones down the vibrant red to lend it a burnt quality that errs on burgundy but feels fresh and juicy for spring, rather than autumnal. I much prefer it to my signature nude, which feels a little outdated in comparison.
@refinery29 Cherry cola might be our new favorite (lip) flavor #beautyinatik #makeuptutorial #beforeandafter ♬ Sleepy - Gui
"Brown and red is a powerful combo," agrees makeup artist Mira Parmar. "They actually complement each other as the brown gives the definition and the red lends the punch. What I love in particular is that there are so many shades to play with, and there is something for everyone's skin tone."
Mira prefers to use a brown eyeliner pencil to define and fill in the lips, namely Charlotte Tilbury Rock 'n' Kohl Eyeliner Pencil in Barbarella Brown, $37. If you'd rather stick to lip liner, her favourite is Vieve Modern Lip Definer in Bark, $31.68. (There are lighter and darker shades to choose from depending on your skin tone.)
"For the red," says Mira, "I love By Terry Lip Expert Shine in My Red, $56, and Lisa Eldridge True Velvet Lip Colour in Velvet Ribbon, $49, with a clear gloss for maximum cherry coke drama." The key, adds Mira, is to blend (which you can do using a lip brush) to create that ombré lip. But I found that within a few minutes of wear, the gloss pretty much did this for me, melting into the brown lip liner to create a diffused effect.
If TikTok is anything to go by, this rusty, cherry lip suits everyone but I have one issue: loading up on gloss means it's not the most practical makeup trend. Throughout the day, the gloss spilled over my lip line and collected in the outer corners of my mouth. Yet I can't help but be sold on the cherry cola colour. Since my first attempt, I've been doing this regularly but with Vaseline, $5.99, which is thicker in texture and therefore less likely than a gloss to slip and slide.
The best thing about this slightly vampy lip look? It garners a hell of a lot of compliments.
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