How To Choose The Right Lipstick

Buying new cosmetic products is fun. However, it‘s not always easy.

I own tens of different lipsticks and yet still, I usually end up using just a few of them.

Why? Because some of them look horrible on me!

Have you noticed that some colors make your skin look super pale? Even make it appear ashy? Or that others are so intense that all your facial features seem to vanish?

You probably already know what fits you better, but sometimes even a slightly different shade can look completely unfavorable. And don’t get me started about those times when all of a sudden you decide to try a new color because it’s just so beautiful to look at.

So, are there any ways to make choosing the right lipstick just a bit easier?

Way of Shopping

Online shopping makes our lives more comfortable. The convenience of buying an item with a few clicks is appealing – through the whole shopping process, you don’t have to step a foot out of your home. You don’t even have to lift yourself from a comfy chair.

Well, that is if you do not count that moment when your item is delivered to your door.

But as much as it’s comfortable, is it also the best option for shopping for cosmetic products, especially decorative ones?

One of the biggest drawbacks is that you can never be entirely sure what you will get. When ordering a lipstick, the chances are that you’ll receive a slightly different shade or even a completely different color. For example, last month I got a warm-toned purple lipstick with some reflective golden pieces even though I originally ordered a dark, cold toned purple lipstick.

A few things could have caused this to happen. First off, your electronic device’s display settings may influence how you see an image – I, for example, like to keep my devices’ screen brightness and contrast levels high, which may make all the colors look lighter. So, if I’m ordering online, I might end up with an item that’s significantly darker than in the pictures.

Moreover, the image itself might be overly edited – it’s possible to completely change the look of a product. The color itself may be made lighter or darker, the tone can be modified, and even the gloss can be removed or added.

Basically, you won’t know for sure what you’re getting until your item arrives.

On the contrary, when shopping at a store, you already know what you’re getting. You can check out the lipsticks in real life and, since just looking at it usually isn’t enough, you can even try on the makeup testers. However, be careful and apply them on the back of your hand – applying makeup samples directly on your face may be dangerous to your health. You can never know who else used it before and how contaminated it is!

Additionally, buying at the store means that you get your lipstick immediately – you don’t have to wait days or even weeks before trying it on.

The only drawback is that you have to choose it from the limited assortment of the local stores. Meanwhile, shopping online allows you to buy products from many different brands around the world, which all but guarantees that you’ll find exactly what you were looking for.

Even though both ways of shopping have their drawbacks, they also have undeniable benefits, and to make shopping not only fun but also efficient, it’s important to know how to make use of them. For that, you need a bit more knowledge about yourself!

Importance of Your Skin Tone

Knowing your skin tone and undertone is an important factor in the search for the right lipstick. Imagine yourself trying to find a complementary painting for your living room without knowing the color of the walls. It’s pretty hard, right?

You also know that the room isn’t empty. There are some furniture and other decorative details, but you don’t know how it looks like. You only have a general knowledge of the space but is it enough?

Of course not.

All colors interact with one another. The surrounding colors will affect the color that you see. For example, if you hang a painting on a dark wall, it will seem lighter. Similarly, a light colored monochromic painting hanging on a bright wall gets overshadowed. The right painting on the right wall not only complements its surroundings but also looks better itself.

The same applies to a lipstick.

By using the right color, you can create the desired atmospheric look – from making a bold statement to perfectly matching your mood.

Determining your skin tone isn’t too difficult and you probably already know it.

However, knowing the exact skin type will definitely benefit your appearance – it becomes much easier to find flattering makeup and match hair color or even outfit combinations.

Fitzpatrick scale is a scientific skin type classification that was developed in order to predict the risk of sun damage and skin cancer. There are six main groups of human skin:

I Type Very Light Skin – You burn easily and never tan in the sun.

II Type Light Skin – You usually burn and almost never tan in the sun.

III Type Light Medium Skin – You sometimes burn, but you let yourself tan in the sun.

IV Type Dark Medium Skin– You occasionally get burnt, but you tan well in the sun.

V Type Dark Skin– You almost never burn, and you tan even in the sun.

VI Type Very Dark Skin – You never burn.

All the other facial characteristic also go from light to dark. If you’re a type I, you probably have blonde hair and light colored eyes – blue, green or gray. And if you’re are a type VI, you probably have black hair and dark brown eyes.

However, remember that your skin tone may change according to the season and exposure to the sun, so more different lipsticks will look flattering on you!

You can learn more about skin types and determine your own by taking The Fitzpatrick Skin Quiz.

What Is Your Undertone?

While skin type is important when choosing a lipstick, a skin undertone isn’t any less essential.

Skin’s undertone is the color that lies underneath the surface. It doesn’t matter if you get tanned during the summer or paler during the winter, your undertone always stays the same and knowing it provides you a powerful tool!

If you know your undertone, choosing a lipstick, blush, foundation or even clothes becomes easier. Why? Well, because you recognize what fits you the best.

There are three major skin undertones:

Cool Warm Neutral


Cool Undertones

Have you noticed that orange-hued lipsticks just don’t look that good on you? Do you prefer silver jewelry over the gold one? It may be that you have a cool undertone.

To be sure you can take a quick test:

  • Check out the color of the veins on your wrist. Do they seem purple/ blueish?
  • Look at your face in the mirror while holding a white sheet of paper next to it. What dominant tones do you see? Do you see pink, red or blue tints? Make sure that your skin is clean and there is enough natural

If you answered positively to both of the questions, you probably have a cool skin type. But maybe you have already noticed that cool tones look more flattering on you?

Warm Undertones

If you have warm undertones, all of your preferences are the opposite.

Do you own a red lipstick with a tint of blue and it just stays at the bottom of your makeup bag? Do you prefer gold jewelry over silver?

Answer these question again:

  • Do your veins seem greenish/yellowish?
  • While looking at your face, do you see more warm undertones? Like yellow, orange or even olives?

If so, you probably have warm undertones.

Neutral Undertones

Have you answered all the questions and got confused because you have the features of both types? Well, then there’s a chance that you have a neutral skin tone.

It means that wearing both cool tones and warm notes doesn’t make a dramatic change in how you look.

Your skin may look cool or warm depending on the lighting, your eye color has both the tones and, oh my, more or less all the colors look good on you.

However, there are no clear guidelines for finding the perfect lipstick – you just have to experiment and try on different colors. Read more about what fits well with cool and warm undertones and find a middle ground.

So now, when we’ve already figured out what is your undertone, it’s time to find the best shades and colors of lipsticks for you!

So What Fits Me Best?

Very Light Skin

Cool undertone

Lipsticks with a hint of blue color complement cool-toned skin complexion.For a bolder look, try out blue-based reds like crimson or lighter berry-reds like a sheer berry but avoid anything too dark – it might make your face look washed out.

One of the most flattering colors for very fair skin is pink. For a natural, barely-there look choose pink nudes or even a lip gloss with a pink hue – it will amp up the natural color of your lips. More intense pinks could work perfectly for a statement look.

Warm undertone

Having a warm undertone with very light skin is rare. It’s not easy to find a flattering shade, but a general rule is to avoid anything too blue or too yellow because both of these colors can make your skin look washed out or even sickly.

It’s best to opt for a barely-there look – try out berry toned pinks or even peachy pinks, also a lip gloss with a pinker hue is a good option for a day look.

For statement lips, orange-reds really pop out and brighten your skin. However, if it seems a bit too warm and unflattering, try to find a perfect combination – an orange-red lipstick with a hint of blue.

Light Skin

Cool undertone

Blue-based red shades complement a light, cool-toned skin. Try out dark reds like raspberry or even wine colored purples for a bold look and lighter reds like ruby or cool-toned berry pinks for a more classic look.

If you want something more natural looking, opt for nude lipsticks with a pink base, for example, in a light shade of coral. Avoid anything too peachy or too brown, also anything too pale – it can make your skin look greyish which probably isn’t what you want.

Warm undertone

Those that have light skin with warm undertones should check out the cosmetics with a little bit of orange. For a lipstick, try out muted orange-reds or even red-toned browns, warm colors will not only complement your skin but will also brighten it.

For something more neutral try warmer nude shades. Yellow-toned neutrals or even light pink-browns harmonize with the warmth of your light skin. However, if your undertone is very warm, avoid shades that are too yellow – they can make you look sallow, so opt for peachy pinks.

Medium Light Skin

Cool undertone

Blue-based reds are the perfect pick for someone with cool undertones. However, a lot of different shades look good on medium light skin – for a bolder look you can choose deep colors like wine reds, but a classic red will look stunning too.

If you’re in a mood for experimenting, try out vivid colors like bright purple or intense pink. It’s flattering on the cool-toned skin and can be a perfect choice for statement lips.

If you want something more natural, look for rose-colored neutrals. Rosy pinks or nudes with a hint of pink suit your skin tone. You can try cooler tones like mauve or lighter shades of plum as well.

Warm undertone

A little bit of orange looks good on anyone with a warm undertone. A classic red with just a touch of orange is a must have color – it can be worn during the daytime as well as an evening look. In general, vivid colors as orange-reds and cherry reds are flattering and harmonize with the warmth of your undertone.

Warm-toned dark reds are an excellent choice for a statement look.

For a more natural look opt for warm, fruity colors – oranges, peachy-pinks or even pink browns. However, stay away from colors in the same shade as your skin or lighter – it could make your face look washed out.

Medium Dark Skin

Cool undertone

Having cool undertones with medium dark skin isn’t that common. However, if you have cool undertones, look for lipsticks with just a touch of blue color.

A classic red is always a right choice – it’s flattering and very universal as it can be worn as a daytime color or improve your evening look.  Don’t be afraid to try out darker shades for a bold look like deep plums or dark berry reds – it creates contrast and draws attention to your lips.

Muted pinks or nudes with a hint of purple go well with every outfit and compliment cool undertones of your skin. However, always choose a lipstick at least a shade darker than your skin tone – the contrast will make your face appear brighter and glowing.

Warm undertone

Having a warm undertone usually means that anything with a bit of orange looks best on you, however, if you have medium-dark skin, you can get away with cooler colors too.

You can choose from a wide variety of red shades – from bright orange-red to deep wine red and probably every one of them would look flattering on you. Although you definitely should try any shade of brick red – it complements the warmth of your skin.

For a more neutral look, opt for nudes with a mix of orange and coral or even try mauve-browns. You can also choose nudes with a bit of pink, but avoid anything too brown – it could make your skin appear dull.

Let yourself experiment with different colors and shades, just follow one rule – do not wear lipstick in the same shade as your skin tone!

Dark Skin

Cool undertone

Anyone with a cool undertone can rock a little bit of blue in their lipstick. Dark colors look especially flattering on darker skin – think deep tones of plum, blue-toned reds and berry tones. Try a vibrant burgundy lipstick – a cool wine red harmonizes well with your skin tone.

If you want to try something different, check out blue-based purples or even deep blues. For bold lips, you can also try bright pinks or just a classic red.

If you’re looking for a nude lipstick, go for mauve-browns. Remember that the key to gorgeous lips is to stay away from anything too light.

Warm undertone

Warm undertone calls for warm colors. A classic red with a touch of orange looks striking on darker skin and makes the lips pop, while dark berry tones and brown reds complement the warmth of the darker skin and are perfect colors for an everyday look.

If you want something brighter, try coral, pinks or even cooler reds – the contrast with your skin will make your face look glowing!

For a nude lipstick, choose a brown base with peachy or even golden undertones. However, anything too yellow may give your face an ashy look.

Very Dark Skin

Cool undertone

Cooler colors beautifully complement anyone with cool undertones. Deep, blue-based reds like oxblood or blackberry look great on very dark skin. Cooler brown-reds, deep purples or even darker blues also look flattering.

If you want to achieve a bold look, try brighter colors like magenta, fuchsia or just an intense red with a hint of blue. Vibrant bright colors look gorgeous on dark skin, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

For a barely-there look, choose rosy brown nudes or just a lip gloss with a silvery shine. Avoid anything beige as it may make your lips appear ashy and flat.

Warm undertone

Anyone with very dark skin and warm undertones looks stunning in orange-based lipsticks. For a bold look, try out a bright orange-red, it will not only make your lips pop but also compliment the warmth of your skin. In general, bright, orange-based colors look radiant on women with dark skin!

If you want something more natural, choose a chocolate brown – it’s a perfect shade for an everyday look. And to have a more natural looking red, try muted brick-red – with just a hint of brown, it’s an excellent choice for a day-to-day look.

Another solid choice is bronze – this metallic shade is not too intense and can be worn during daytime as well as be fun enough for complimenting your evening look.

Does My Lip Shape Matter?

It matters a bit, or should I say, it matters if you think that it does.

In general, a dark color can make lips look smaller, while bright colors may make them look bigger, so if you want your lips to appear fuller, try using a bright lipstick – it creates contrast and makes your lips pop. On the other hand, dark colors may create an illusion of slimmer lips.

A finish of lipstick also plays a role in how your lips look. Shimmery and shiny shades make lips appear fuller – glossy finish visually adds volume. While matte finishes are very pigmented and long-lasting, they make your lips seem smaller and even flat.

While different finishes and brightness of lipstick can affect the way your lips look, don’t refuse something you like. What matters, in the end, is what makes you feel happy – experimenting with different makeup is a fun and exciting journey.

What now?

Now you have some more knowledge of what fits you well!

Go and explore new colors, and please, don’t follow all the rules blindly – experiment with different lip color and the rest of the makeup combinations, and you will definitely find what you love and want to wear all the time.

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