Looking for that perfect lipstick? The one that makes you feel fabulous and pulled together? The one that looks effortless, classic and the antithesis of “trying too hard”? The one that enhances your natural beauty (and doesn’t distract from it)?
Let’s be honest: It’s tough.
If you’ve been hunting long enough, you’re probably convinced that it’s easier to find a unicorn in the wild than it is to find your perfect shade of lipstick. You can invest years of your life looking for that one magical (mythical?) lipstick, only to come across almost or not quite.
But you have standards, and you won’t quit until you find the perfect match. In fact, you have a list. To be perfect, your lipstick must meet the following criteria:
- It applies smoothly
- It appears to whiten your teeth
- It produces glowing skin
- It doesn’t wash you out
- It doesn’t age you
- It looks amazing on your lips
- It stays on
- It doesn’t bleed
- It doesn’t destroy the environment
- It lasts
So, how do you find that perfect lip shade? Here are our favorite tips:
Step #1: Know Your Skin Tone
The first step to determining your perfect lipstick shade is to discover your skin tone. There are four main skin tones:
Fair skin tones are lighter and often described as alabaster, pale, or almost transparent. It’s fairly easy to see veins through fair skin. People with fair skin are often natural redheads or golden blondes. Fair skin may also have freckles, may burn quickly, and rarely tan.
Medium skin tones are more tan than those with fair complexions. Those with this complexion can and often do achieve tans in prolonged exposure to the sun. However, medium is not deep enough to be considered olive. People with medium skin often look best when wearing hair that’s a warm, honey brown.
Olive skin tones tan easily in the sun. This complexion is often described as a light bronze with greenish or yellowish undertones. People with olive skin are often born with dark brown or black hair.
Deep skin tones also tan easily in the sun, but rarely, if ever, burn due to the high concentration of melanin. This complexion is often considered brown or golden. People with deep skin are typically born with dark brown or black hair.
If you’re not sure exactly what your skin tone is, look at the skin around your jawline. This skin is the least affected by sun damage and should help you determine the right tone.
Step #2: Know Your Undertone
Once you’ve accurately accessed your skin tone, it’s time to look at your undertone. Your undertone is really the most important part of finding your perfect lipstick shade.
Your skin will have one of the following three undertones:
Do you look good in gold jewelry? Do you tan easily? Do you look better in crisp white clothes (instead of off-white)? If you answered yes to these questions, you likely have a warm undertone.
Your skin looks best in warm shades like olive, gold, and yellow.
Fair, warm skin looks best in: Coral, blue-ish red, pale pink, peach, nude
Medium, warm skin looks best in: Orange, bronze, nude, copper, coral
Olive, warm skin looks best in: Coral, pink, nude
Deep, warm skin looks best in: Wine, orange, blue-ish red, bronze
Do you look good in silver jewelry? Is it difficult for you to tan? Do you burn before you tan? Do you look better in off-white clothes? If you wear white, do you look washed out? If you answered yes to these questions, you likely have a cool undertone.
Your skin looks best in cooler shades with blue or purple undertones.
Fair, cool skin looks best in: Pink, beige, coral, bold red
Medium, cool skin looks best in: Cranberry, red, coral, nude
Olive, cool skin looks best in: Red, wine, nude
Deep, cool skin looks best in: Berry, plum, wine, cooper, cool red
Do you look good in both silver and gold jewelry? Do you look good in both white and off-white? In fact, do you look good in all colors? Is your skin olive toned? If you answered yes to these questions, you likely have a neutral undertone. This means that you can look best in whatever color you choose to wear. Yay you! Pick and choose from any color that makes you feel good about you, but give serious consideration to orange shades (from soft to bold) that play up your natural golden shine.
To find your skin’s undertone, take the following steps:
- Grab a handheld mirror
- Stand in front of a window during a bright, sunny day
- Turn your hand over, palm facing you
- Look at the veins in the wrist area
- Do your veins look blue? If so, you have cool undertones
- Do your veins look green? If so, you have warm undertones
- Do your veins look both blue and green? If so, you have neutral undertones
Other Tips for Finding the Perfect Shade for Your Lips
Here are a few more tips for finding the perfect shade of lipstick:
- Every woman needs a bold, red lip. If you have paler skin, choose a classic cherry red. If you have deeper skin, go for a deeper red that will compliment your skin tone.
- For yellow teeth, don’t reach for oranges, which can make your teeth look ever yellower. Instead choose a shade with a bluish undertone, such as pink or some reds.
- Choose whether you’ll focus on your lips or your eyes. If you want to focus on your lips, opt for a bolder color lipstick and go light on the eye makeup.
- If you’d like to plump up your lips, choose a liner and bold lip color to draw attention (no pun intended). Opt for bright shades and/ or glossy finishes to make your lips pop.
- If you want to make your lips look fuller, steer away from darker colors that minimize their size.
- When going nude, go either two shades lighter or two shades darker than your skin tone.
Although these tips are here to help you find your perfect lipstick shade, remember that they’re only guides. At the end of the day, you should wear what speaks to you the loudest.
Remember that confidence is the most beautiful thing you can wear. If a certain lip color makes you feel more confident, embrace it and don’t worry about “the rules.” Choose the one that you like the best and don’t worry about the rest.