So you’ve read Part 1 and you’re feeling good about your lipstick knowledge base. Great! Now you’re ready for Lipstick 202. Get that (lip) pencil out and take some notes.
It’s time to talk about color choices. Remember that time your friend was wearing a lipstick than looked so good on her, then you tried and it made you look sallow, tired and dull-skinned? That doesn’t mean you can’t wear lipstick, boo. It just means it wasn’t the right color for you, which could be due to several factors. Such as:
- Your Brow Color. Those face framing arches have their own color, and if that color (or the warmth or coolness of it) is different than the lip color you choose, it can look off.
- Your Hair Color. If you are someone who has tried a myriad of hair colors over the years, you already know that makeup looks different when your hair is lighter or darker than its natural color (does anyone even know their natural color anymore?). So that lipstick that makes you look sexy-vampy as a blonde can make you look like a straight out vampire when you’re raven-haired.
- The Rest of Your Makeup. Especially with a bold or bright lip color, the rest of your makeup has to be complimentary. A gray smokey eye might look perfect with a nude or light pink lip, but if you add an orange-red lip, it all goes to shit. The general rule is (and I’ll admit this can be broken if you do it right) that you should put the focus on one feature at a time. So if you want to do a watermelon pink lip, this isn’t the time to also do a glossy eye, electric blue winged liner and thick brow. (For what not to do, see: Instagram beauty influencers.)
- Your Skin Undertone. In the most basic sense, there are three skin undertones: warm, cool and neutral. Within those undertones, your skin can be more yellow, pink, beige, golden or peach. If your skin undertone isn’t the same as or complimentary to a lipstick undertone, sometimes it can work, depending on your hair, brows, the rest of your makeup and your outfit. But other times, it will look way off. When you are starting out with lipstick, it might be easiest to figure out your undertone then stay with lipsticks that have that undertone. This might need to be a blog post of its own…
- Your Natural Lip Color. We all have a natural lip color. Lips contain a small amount of melanocytes (the cells that produce pigment and give our skin color) compared to the rest of the body, so blood vessels show through and give us a pink, red, brown or purple toned lip color, depending on our physiology. Consider it Nature’s Lipstick. But when you put a man-made lipstick over whatchu already got, that underlying color is going to change the way the lipstick looks. If your NL is a reddish pink or brown and you put a sheer or shimmery pale pink over that, the pale pink won’t be so pale or pink anymore. You can cancel out your natural lip color with the tiniest bit of foundation or concealer over your lips, but give that practice run or two before you debut it to the world.
- The Top You Are Wearing. Go grab a bold or bright lipstick you have as well as a white shirt and a black shirt. I’ll wait…. Okay, thanks. Now put on a black shirt and look at the lipstick. How does it look? Perfect or scary? Take a note of that, and repeat with a white shirt. Friggin’ game changer, right? The color that is closest to your face makes a big difference as to how your makeup looks (that’s why I ask brides to wear a shirt similar to the color of their wedding gown to their makeup trial). Play around different shirt and lipstick colors to see if there are combinations that work with each lipstick color. Sometimes there won’t be. Not every lipstick is for you. Think of it like dating, except easier and you don’t need to enlist your best friend’s help to decode texts your lipstick sent.
- Contrast. This is a real basic rule, but something to keep in mind–lighter colors are more of a contrast on dark skin, and dark colors are more of a contrast on light skin. A deep wine lip color is going to be way more obvious on someone who wears the lightest foundation shade than the darkest, and that pale pink lipstick from before–even if it’s applied after your NL has been cancelled out–is going to be more obvious on a darker skintone. So if you try that lipstick that looked fly on your friend but it doesn’t pop as much on you (or it pops too much, and not in a good way) it might be because of the contrast.
- Your Hair Style. Ok, so your brow color, hair color, the rest of your makeup, skin undertone, NL, skin and lip color contrast and clothing are all working beautifully together, but somethin’ ain’t right. Is your hair pulled away from your face? Take it down. Is your hair down? Put it up. Your hair style is part of your overall look and sometimes it needs to be tweaked to work with everything else. For example, I have dark brown, almost black hair with blue ends. My eyebrows are black and my eyes are hazel, veering towards the green side most days. If I go for a dark berry, burgundy or oxblood lip color and my hair is down, things can get Elvira-y real quick. But pull my hair up into a top knot? The Halloween feel disappears. If you have short hair, this up or down thing won’t be an option, but for the rest of us, keep it in mind as you dabble in the lipstick arts.
Here are some very general lip color choices that work on a different eye and hair color combinations. Take the eight factors above into consideration too, but this can be a good starting point if you don’t have any lipsticks, or any lipsticks that look right even after trying different hair styles and clothing colors.
- Brown Eyes & Brown Hair: Deep pink, fuschia, coppery tones.
- Brown Eyes & Blonde Hair: Peachy nude, deep pink, mid-tone pink.
- Brown Eyes & Red Hair: Peachy nude, pinky nude, sheer wine tones.
- Blue Eyes & Blonde Hair: Petal pink, orange red, oxblood.
- Blue Eyes & Brown Hair: Deep red, blue toned pink, petal pink.
- Blue Eyes & Red Hair: Peachy nude, coppery tones, orange red.
- Hazel Eyes & Brown Hair: Coral pink, berry tones, wine tones, true red.
- Hazel Eyes & Blonde Hair: Peachy nude, mid-tone pink, wine tones.
- Hazel Eyes & Red Hair: Peachy nude, coppery tones, berry tones.
- Green Eyes & Brown Hair: Berry tones, deep red, pinky nude.
- Green Eyes & Blonde Hair: Wine tones, petal pink, peachy nude.
- Green Eyes & Red Hair: Peachy nude, coppery tones, orange red.
If you’re more of a visual learner, I found a few good articles with pictures to show you how different lip colors can look on different people.
- This Buzzfeed article does a good job showing four different skintones and coloring, although I wish they threw a redhead in the mix. It’s partly a review of certain lipsticks, but the pictures alone tell the story of how different the same lipstick can look on varying skintones and coloring.
- There is some bad makeup and heavy editing in some of these pictures, but this article shows several different colors on different skintones.
- These two girls with totally different hair, eye and skin colors have an Instagram account dedicated to showing how different lipsticks look on each of them! I love this idea.
- This article shows several women wearing one of MAC’s most popular lipsticks.
- And one more from across the pond.
I think you’re now ready to find the right shades for your coloring, and figure out which shades look better with certain shirt/dress colors and the different hair styles you rock. The right color lipstick can emphasize your eye color, brighten up your face and make you sing “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me” to yourself. (Here’s the video if you’re feeling nostalgic for 2005.)
Have a beautiful day 🙂