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How to Choose a Lipstick Color For Your Skin Tone
I truly believe going through the wrong lipstick shades is a rite of passage for everyone.
We’ve all been there. Before I knew how to choose the right shade of lipstick for my skin tone, I was walking around with too-bright pink hues and mismatched reds thinking maybe I just had an odd color that didn’t work with the lipsticks all my friends and peers raved about.
But that was before I knew all of these tips that we’re about to share with you below. Before I was introduced to the difference between warm undertones, cool undertones, medium skin, deep skin, and the nuances of choosing the perfect nude, I was definitely just as lost as you might be if you looked up this article.
Even now when so much information is just a few clicks away, many makeup hacks become outdated pretty quickly. Others are plain confusing. That’s why we want to demystify and simplify all the best tricks in this area. You definitely don’t have to be an expert makeup artist to learn them.
Stick around and we’ll give you the best and most practical tips on choosing the right lipstick color for your skin tone!
What color lipstick should I wear?
Nowadays, makeup is less about what traditionally looks right and more about thinking outside the box and finding new ways to play with existing concepts. If that means wearing bright blue lipstick on a sunny day, go for it!
But for those who want to play by the rules first, you should know that there are a few ways to determine what lipstick shade will work for you. A lot of it has to do with knowing your own skin tone and skin undertone first.
Knowing your skin’s undertone is a useful trick for almost anything beauty-related. Want to know if purple shades of makeup will look good on you? Determine your skin undertone. If you have fair or light skin, you may have cool undertones and flatter cool shades. Do you have warm undertones on deep skin? Warm shades such as gold jewelry and accessories are your best bet.
Another problem is the diversity of lipstick shades for medium skin and darker skin. It was only fairly recently that makeup brands started making more shades for dark skin tones, which is why many people who don’t have fair skin often found it difficult to color match their makeup. Thanks to more inclusive beauty brands, Filipinas have a wider set of options to choose from.
8 Tips for Choosing the Right Lipstick for You
Ready to change your lipstick game forever? Here are all the things you need to consider when choosing a lipstick shade for your skin tone.
Know Your Skin Tone – Dark, Light, and Medium Skin
Your skin color is a great jumping-off point for knowing the best lipstick shades. Whether you have fair, light, medium, tan, or dark skin, identifying colors that flatter you can help immensely. This is a trick that you’ll see a makeup artist apply to their clients.
If you have fair skin, choose a shade that can bring a pop of color. You want to bring some warmth into your skin tone, and deep colors with a blue or purple base can provide a great contrast to pale skin.
If you’ve got a medium skin tone or olive skin, pretty much anything will look great as long as you color-match it with your undertones. Even better if you have neutral undertones because it means you’ll look great with both warm and cool shades.
For deep skin, a pastel lip shade can work wonders, as will a darker color like plum or velvet.
Identify Your Undertones (Warm Undertones and Cool Undertones)
Skin tone plays a part in choosing a lip color, but what I’ve learned is that it is less about your skin tone than it is about your skin’s undertone. You can have a cool undertone, a warm undertone, or neutral undertones.
Identifying your undertones is pretty easy as there are many ways to assess if you have a warm undertone, a neutral undertone, or a cool tone.
You’ll know you have cool undertones if…
- your skin has a pinkish, red, or bluish hue
- your wrists have bluish veins
- your skin tends to burn rather than tan
- silver jewelry flatters your skin
In this case, go for blue or purple undertones. These cool skin tones usually flatter fair and light skin, but the same rule applies for darker skin or a tan skin tone with cool undertones. A lip color with a cool undertone such as cherry red and cranberry will look the best on you, as berry shades go well with your skin’s undertone.
On the other hand, you’re warm-toned if…
- you have yellowish, gold, or olive-hued skin
- tanning comes easily to you
- you have green veins under the skin on your wrist
- gold jewelry suits your skin better than silver
If this sounds like you, pick deep lipstick colors with a red or yellow base like nudes with golden tones, brick reds, and terra cotta hues. Brighter shades with peachy undertones can work too as their base complements warm undertones.
If both silver and gold jewelry flatters your skin, or if the veins under your wrists look a mix of blue and green, then you most likely have a neutral skin undertone. People with neutral undertones usually have the best of both worlds, as they can rock brighter shades, darker shades, and everything in between – finding the perfect shade is probably a cinch for you. Go for mauve shades, deep plum hues, cherry red, or even light shades. The best part about having a neutral undertone is definitely the many lip color choices you have, so take advantage and have fun with them!
Line Your Lips
One of our favorite tricks in order to make any lipstick color work for you is lip-lining. You can line with a light nude color or a dark one. This trick is especially helpful for people with warm skin, tan skin, or a deep skin tone who want to try bright lipstick.
Lining your lips first with a slightly darker shade helps match the bright lip to your natural lip color, turning what could be the wrong color into the perfect lipstick shade in a cinch. Now you can go for cool lipsticks like light pink and light nudes without worrying about a makeup mishap.
Day or Night?
Choosing the right shade for your skin tone isn’t the only factor to consider – you should also coordinate with the occasion. Choose the right lipstick shade for daytime or nighttime. Dark red shades and glittery lips are perfect for a night out, while a daytime event should be paired with lighter shades that are more natural.
Match Your Eye Makeup to Your Lipstick Shade
Another way to pick the best lipstick shades is by coordinating with your eye makeup. And if you’re unsure which colors to pick for your shadows, the rule of undertones still applies. Shades with warm undertones go well with your own warm undertones, while neutral undertones pretty much flatter anyone.
Consider Your Hair Color
Yes, even hair color plays a large role in wearing lipstick. Those with dark hair and light skin can rock bright pink and cherry, while someone with dark hair or brown hair and olive skin will look amazing with beige, ochre, or terracotta. If you’ve gone blonde but have medium or deep skin, try salmon and caramel hues as this color family will flatter the tones in both your skin and hair.
This is also a great tip for those with a neutral skin tone but seem to find that their recommended colors don’t work too well.
Finding the right shade of nude can be a hassle, but remember to find a color that matches your lips, not your skin tone. Medium skin tones should go for warm tones that are a shade darker than their skin, while those with deeper skin tones benefit from brown nude colors. People with lighter skin tones will naturally look best with light shades of nude.
Consider Your Lip Shape
If you’ve got thin lips, lighter shades can help them look plumper as well as lip gloss and lip balm. Avoid dark colors if you can as they tend to shrink your mouth. You can also go for overlining with a lip liner for a plumper look.
Those with bigger lips look best with dark shades. Many beauty gurus also advise against gloss and shimmer, but we think they look great on certain occasions.
If you’ve got top-heavy lips, balance them out by applying a bright shade on your lower lip and a slightly darker shade of that same color on your upper lip. For bottom-heavy lips, adding a light nude in the center of your upper lip works wonders.
You don’t have to be a makeup artist to find the perfect lippie shade. With these tips, you’ll be able to confidently choose the best shade from the makeup counter and achieve your beauty goals in no time!
Want more content on all things beauty, fashion, and skincare? Check out our website for all the best tips and tricks.
Joey is an AB Psychology graduate of the University of St. La Salle – Bacolod. Her life’s passions include writing, film, and spending hours on end binge-watching fashion vloggers on Youtube.