All of us have wondered, at one point or another, or have asked ourselves, “what is the best lipstick match for me?” Or even, “what is the perfect lipstick shade to go with my look/outfit?” It can be hard knowing what to choose when there are so many shade options available.
We totally understand, but you don’t have to wonder anymore. Here at Red Apple Lipstick, you can say we know a thing or two when it comes to lipstick and how to choose the right shade of it. So, we got you! And this article is all about how to get the perfect lipstick match.
What to Know When Choosing the Perfect Lipstick Shade for You
To get the perfect lipstick match for whatever look you want – follow our method of narrowing down your best shades.
Step 1: Look at the hues & shades that are best according to your skin tone (how light or dark your skin is).
Step 2: From that list of hues, determine what shades are best for your undertone (how warm, cool, or neutral your skin is).
Step 3: Decide what vibe or outfit you’re going for out of the shades that are best for you – and you’ll have your perfect match. Keep reading below for all these specific recommendations and guides.
Example: Warm, medium skin wants a natural looking lipstick for everday. Here’s how to find that: Note all shades good for Medium skin, then note which of those shades also works for warm skin – and note the hue within the shade you’ll be looking for (like warm brownish pink)…then find a shade that’s 1-2 shades darker than your natural lip color – would lead you to dusty rosey brown shade in Ooh La La.
In our opinion, every makeup bag should at least have 3 types of shades: My lips but better (natural looking, no-lipstick-lipstick), Pop Of Color shade, and a Just-Right-For-You-Red-Lipstick. Once you have these three, then you can start having fun with nudes, power shades, and other fun colors that make your skin vibrant and your smile big!
Know Your Skin Tone
Skin tone is the natural color of your skin, your surface skin color. Your skin tone will be generally light, medium, or dark – described below.
- Fair Skin and Light Skin Tone: Fair or light skin tones will usually look best in lighter shades. Shades such as dusty pink and light pink as well as light shades of peach, coral, nudes, and dusty reds.
- Medium Skin Tone: Medium skin tones include a broad range from medium light to olive skin, to tan complexions. Medium-toned skin can rock just about any lip color when it’s the right lipstick shade. Shades such as rose, bright pink & deep pink, mauve shades, berry shades, corals, and even bright red shades (like cherry red) look great on medium skin. However, tan skin tone ladies may not always look the best with brown and purple shades.
- Dark & Deep Skin Tone: Deeper and bolder, even bright lipstick shades will look amazing on darker/deep skin tones. Wine and plums are perfect on deeper skin, and they can rock caramel and blue-red shades amazingly.
Know Your Undertone
Skin undertone is the color tone or hue underneath the surface of the skin.
- Cool Undertones- having pink, blue, or even red undertones to the skin. Skin tones with a cool undertone will have blue or purple veins on the inside of their wrist. They look better in silver jewelry rather than gold jewelry and usually will burn when in the sun for too long. In general, cool skin tones will look best in cooler lipstick undertones. The best lipstick shades will be those with blue or purple undertones as well as pink undertones. Head on over to Lipstick Colors for Cool Skin Tones article for more on this. Or click here for a gallery of lipsticks for cool undertones.
- Warm Undertones- having peachy or golden/yellow undertones. Skin tones with warm undertones will have green veins on the inside of their wrist and gold jewelry complements their skin better than silver. They will usually tan easily. The right lipstick shade for those with warm tones to their skin will be warm shades, with warm undertones. Think of shades with orange/yellow undertones like peaches and corals. Also, shades with brownish undertones like golden beige and burnt sienna. Head to Lipstick Colors for Warm Skin Tones article for more on this. Or click here for a gallery of lipsticks for warm undertones.
- Neutral Undertones- neutral tones are a mixture of both warm and cool undertones. Skin tones with neutral undertones will have veins that appear to be both blue and green or will not be able to tell what color they are. Both silver and gold jewelry will look good on a neutral skin tone. Those with a neutral undertone to their skin have it the easiest when it comes to selecting a lip color. Lipstick shades of just about any color, with either cool undertones or warm undertones, will look great on anyone that has a neutral skin undertone. And If you are neutral – keep reading below to use your hair color or special needs of your lips!
- Olive Undertones- having either warm or neutral undertones (warm & cool) mixed with a green undertone/olive hue. Just like those with a neutral undertone, they often cannot tell if the veins are green or blue and they have an overall green or grayish cast/tint to their skin. Depending on which undertone they have, either warm or more neutral, olive skin will look its best in lipstick shades such as corals, pinks, reds, wine, and nude lipstick.
More Tips to Help Choose the Best Lipstick Match
Knowing your skin tone and undertone is very important to find the best lipstick match. However, they are not the only things that should be taken into consideration.
Here are some tips that a makeup artist, and the beauty industry in general, finds to be just as important when helping you choose the best shade of lipstick.
Do You Want Your Lips to Look Bigger, or Smaller?
Yes, this is a thing. Certain lipstick shades will make your lips appear smaller than they really are while other shades can make your lips appear larger. This can be a good, or bad thing – depending on your persepctive.
Darker and deep lipstick shades will make the lips appear smaller – and they tend to make you look older (could be a good or bad thing, you decide).
As we age, our lips usually simply become less plump and appear thinner. A lighter lipstick shade is appreciated once this change occurs. Mainly this is due to Collagen Loss – and the lighter and brighter the lipstick, the fuller lips will appear. You can still wear deep hues, just lighten up on the intensity or darkness in which you apply.
Lighter lipstick shades will give the appearance of bigger and plump lips.
So, for those with thin lips already, we suggest rocking a beautiful light nude color or any light to medium shade that has some sheen or shimmer to it that suits your skin. If you have really thin lips, avoid the dark & vampy lipstick shades. If you have thick lips and you want to minimize their size (which some people want to do, but not all) then wearing a darker shade will minimize while a light and bright shade will maximize. You choose what’s best for you!
What if your lower lip is bigger than your upper lip, or vice versa?
For a bottom-heavy lip: choose a color that suits your skin that isn’t too dark. Then apply a light nude shade to the center of the upper lip.
For a top-heavy lip: try a bright lipstick shade on the bottom lip and a slightly darker shade of that same color on the upper one.
When Choosing an Everyday Shade
Are you looking for a more subtle everyday lipstick shade? Then try a shade that is one or two shades darker than your natural lip color. Avoid any shade that is very different or way darker than your natural color if you’re going for a more natural everyday lipstick color.
Don’t Match Too Closely with Your Outfit – Or Match Precisely.
As a rule of thumb, you do not want your lipstick color to match your clothes exactly. Even if you are going for that beautiful monochromatic scheme, your lip color should not be identical to that of your outfit.
The goal, when matching lipstick to your clothes is complementing and not so much matching. If you are wearing more neutral clothing, play up your lips with bold or bright lipstick. However, if you are wearing bold colors or a loud print, perhaps a more natural lip color would be a better choice.
There are exceptions sometimes though, after all, a sultry deeper red lipstick can look amazing with an animal print. And if you do want that monochromatic look, pick a lipstick that is in the same color family but not the same shade as your clothes. Go with a shade a little darker or a little lighter so that it’s cohesive but not so matchy-matchy.
If you DO want to match your clothing, being precise is the ticket. you can even blend two lipstick shades to shift the tone of lipstick to more closely match your outfit.
When Wearing Red Lipstick
Anyone can rock red lipstick; you just need the right shade. If you don’t know what that is for you, use your skin tone and undertone as a guide to help you find it. There are two great articles that can help you find your perfect red lipstick shade.
More Things to Keep in Mind:
Consider the Color of Your Teeth
If your teeth are white, you can wear any shade that suits your skin. The tricky part can be when your teeth are not as white. Certain shades can make teeth appear even more yellow, but some shades can help them appear whiter. It’s impossible for me to tell you which shades will make teeth appear more yellow as everyones teeth are so different.
However, If your pearly whites aren’t so white, avoid colors with too much of a warm undertone to them and stay away from shades such as oranges, browns, bright scarlet reds, or reds with orange undertones. Try lipstick colors with cooler tones such as a red with bluish hue/undertone.
Consider Your Hair Color
Certain features can also be of great help when choosing a good shade of lipstick. Your hair, for example, can be a great guide to help you pick the best lipstick shades.
- Dark hair with fair and light skin- bright pink, cherry or scarlet red, and plums.
- Dark hair with tan and deep skin- try shades such as golden beige, burgundy, and terracotta.
- Brown hair with medium skin- go for deeper dusky pinks, peachy pinks, corals, and beige colors.
- Blonde hair with fair or light skin- light and dusty pinks, scarlet red shades, and purply pink shades.
- Blonde hair with tan and deep skin- colors such as warmer pinks, peachy pinks, warm browns, and caramel.
- Red hair with fair skin- try a burnt sienna, terracotta, corals, or peachy pinks.
Consider Your Eye Color
Another feature to keep in mind is eye color. Lipstick shades that complement your eyes are also good choices.
- Blue Eyes- shades of cherry and scarlet reds.
- Brown Eyes- browns, soft mocha, light pinks, and bright shades of red.
- Green Eyes- pinks and terracotta.
- Hazel Eyes- any shades good for brown and green eyes.
- Grey Eyes- plums and nudes.
Consider The Rest of Your Makeup
Always keep in mind the rest of your makeup. You want only one facial feature to be the focus. So, if you want the lips to be the focus, keep the rest of your makeup neutral or more natural and go for a bold, brighter, or deeper and richer lip color.
What if you want your eyes to be the focus? Then go bolder with eye makeup and go for a softer, neutral, or nude lip. It’s all about that perfect balance.
Remember, there are no set rules in makeup. This is just a great guide to help you but don’t be afraid to play around with different shades, even if they do not fall under the ones specifically for your skin tone and undertone. Wear what you like and makes you feel comfortable.
Want more lipstick suggestions? Head to the Lipstick Shade Suggestions section.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do you know what your lipstick undertone is?
The undertone of a lipstick is the color that shows through when the lipstick is applied or even when spread on paper. If the color coming through is red, pink, orange, or yellow, it’s a warm undertone. If it’s green, blue, or purple, it’s a cool undertone.
Head to the “How to Tell the Difference Between Warm and Cool Lipsticks” article for more on this topic.
How do I find my natural lip shade?
Look for a shade close to your natural lip color, just a shade or two deeper. Look in the mirror at your base lip color without anything on. If it leans pink – then look for a soft light pink 1-2 shades lighter or deeper. If your lips are brown or tan – look for a brown/tan/nude lipstick shade with just a hint of peach or pink which will look natural but add a tinge of color. And if your lips are dark brown, look for deep brown or even burgundy shades that complement your skin tone and blend well WITH your base lip color. Purple or plum base lip colors will want to look for a sheer plum or berry to let their natural purple shine through and just amplify the natural beauty