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How to Choose Your Perfect Lipstick

How many times have we all gone to the drugstore or a dedicated makeup store and chosen a stick of lipstick that looks awesome? We took it home, peeled off the wrapper and applied it, only to be disappointed when something about the color just wasn’t… right.

Selecting lipstick is tricky. There’s a surprising amount of consideration that goes into the process of picking just the right color for you. But don’t worry! Once you’ve got it down, it’s super easy and will save you from lipstick woes forever! Here’s how to choose the perfect shade of lipstick for you!

1. Figure Out Your Skin Tone

Lipstick is a color, which means it’s gotta match all the colors around it. The biggest color you’ll be contending with is the color of your skin. Look at the list below and see where you fit in:

  • Fair skin: You are the one who burns in the shade. Your skin is very pale, almost glow-in-the-dark, and you most likely get freckles when out in the sun. The best lipstick colors for this tone are light pink, coral, peach, nude, and dusty red colors.
  • Light skin: Your skin is still very pale, but you’re more likely to tan from the sun than turn red and freckle. Light pink, coral, peach, nude, and dusty red colors are also your best bets.
  • Medium: Your skin tans very easily and you are the one that all your friends resent because when exposed to the sun, you go straight to Tansville without stopping over in Burnsville. Rose, berry, cherry red, and mauve lipstick colors are your best colors.
  • Tan: Your skin is naturally tan or olive all year round, even in winter or with no exposure to the sun. Your best colors will be coral, deep pink, bright red, and you should make sure to stay away from browns and purples.
  • Deep: Your skin is a dark brown and you never have to worry about sunburn. Brown and purple shades exist to show off your natural beauty, with colors like plum, caramel, wine, and blue-based reds.

2. Figure Out Your Undertone

Undertone, you ask? Yes, it exists and it can wreak havoc on your color choices if not taken into account. The way to figure out your undertone is to examine the veins in your arm. What color are they?

  • Cool Undertones: If your veins are blue or purple, then your undertone is cool. Fair or light skinned people with cool undertones can enjoy soft mocha or nude lipsticks. Medium skinned people should go for pink or cranberry shades, and lastly tan or deep skinned people look great in ruby or wine shades.
  • Warm Undertones: If your veins are green, then your undertone is warm. Fair or light skinned people with warm tones should gravitate toward pale pink or peachy nudes, while medium, tan or deep skinned people can have fun in the warm metallics, with copper or bronze shades.
  • Neutral Undertones: Can’t tell which one your veins are? Odds are your undertone is neutral and you can indulge yourself in colors from both cooler and warmer spectrums. Have fun!

3. Match Your Hair Color

Like the color of your skin, the color of your hair will help decide what colors you should wear, and which ones won’t quite work. 

  • If you have dark hair, and fair or light skin, go for bright: bright pink, scarlet, cherry, and plum colors.
  • If you have blond hair, and fair or light skin, your options differ slightly: dusty pink, purply pink, light pink, and scarlet colors work best.
  • If you’ve got dark hair and tan or deep skin, your world has just been opened to golden hued lipsticks: golden beige, ochre, terracotta, and bronze colors.
  • Those with blond hair and tan or deep skin are also in the realm of warm golden colors, with a dash of pink thrown in: caramel, ochre, warm pinks, and salmon.
  • If you’ve got brown hair and medium skin, go even further into those pinks with beige, salmon, corals, and deep dusty pinks.
  • Lastly, if you’ve got red hair and fair skin, your best bets are salmon, corals, terracotta, and burnt sienna.

4. Match Your Eye Color

The plot thickens. Not only do your hair and skin colors decide your lipstick, but your eye color does as well! 

  • Brown eyes: Doe eyed lipstick wearers should aim for bright reds, browns, and light pinks.
  • Blue eyes: If you’ve got blue eyes, go for bold with cherry or scarlet colors.
  • Green eyes: Your best complements are terracotta and pinks.
  • Grey eyes: Pair that calm in the storm look with nudes and plum colors.

5. Match Your Clothes?

The answer is yes… but also no. Don’t worry too much about exactly matching your lipstick to what you're wearing. However, here are some basic tips on what to do:

  • Nude Lip: The nude lip is the most underappreciated lip out there. It’s amazing because it will automatically match everything, and it’s also an excellent option if you want to go for bold eye makeup.
  • Pinks: Pink comes in so many shades, you can't go wrong with having a stick of it on hand. A pink lipstick just a few shades brighter than your natural lip color is the perfect, subtle, everyday look.
  • Bright Red: Red brings the drama! This can be great if you need a little extra something to razz-up a simpler outfit, but can be dangerous--don’t match a bright red lip if you’re wearing a bright red outfit, or anything that has bright colors and dramatic patterns. It becomes overwhelming and the eye won’t know where to look.
  • Berry Lip: Berry colors are such fun, adding a dash of mood and drama to whatever you’re wearing. For that reason they work best with neutral ensemble picks. Be careful not to wear them if your outfit is already in deep, moody, or dramatic colors, as it will drag them down even further into the depths. Unless of course, that is exactly the look you’re going for, in which case, carry on.

6. Last Tips and Tricks:

Lastly, here are a few more things to keep in mind that will guarantee your chosen lipsticks will always work for you:

  • Lip Size: Want your lips to look bigger? Lighter and brighter colors are your friends. Want them to look smaller? Darker colors will make your lips appear smaller, in the same way that dark eyeliners make your eyes look smaller.
  • Yellow teeth: If your teeth are closer to yellow than white, you’ll want to avoid purples, browns, and bright scarlet, red shades. Aim instead for rose, slightly orange, and light red colors.
  • Everyday Simple: To avoid your lipstick looking too dramatic for an everyday, casual look, don’t apply it to both lips. Instead, apply to the bottom lip, then press your lips together, and complete the finishing touches with your finger. 
  • Only Emphasize One: When putting on makeup, choose which one you are emphasizing: lips or eyes. If you’re going for a more dramatic eye, then keep the lips simpler. If you’re going for a big, bold lip, then keep the eyes simpler, opting perhaps for a touch of mascara instead of heavy liner. 
  • At The Store: When trying on lipsticks at the cosmetics counter, try to do it without any makeup on. See which lipstick brightens up your face without any other help. Odds are, that’s the one! And if you’re feeling really lost and looking at too many options, don’t feel shy to ask the women at the makeup counter to help you--it’s what they’re there for!

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