Picking a shade of lipstick doesn’t have to be a headache — once you know what you are looking for. Colors don’t have to be off-limits due to your skin tone, hair color, or eyes. Actually, if you try to follow that advice, you’ll be bombarded with contradicting rules. Instead, you should look for the shade within that color family that most flatters your overall style. What matters most of all is that you are happy with the way you look. To help point you down the right path, here are the terms and tips you need to know to get a perfectly colored pout.
Before diving into colors, it is important to understand the finish on the lipstick. Cosmetics companies may use different terms, but a few categories apply broadly which Robert Jones breaks downs in his book, Looking Younger. First up is the matte finish. Mattes have no shine or shimmer. The color will fully cover your lips, and because there is very little moisture, they can have a drying effect on your lips. It is unforgiving to chapped lips, so having smooth lips before applying is key. However, the payoff is big if you’re looking for a bold color, because all shades of mattes create a rich lip.
Satins or crèmes will have a color depth like mattes, but these finishes have more moisture built into the lipsticks’ formulas. With a slicker texture, they will not last as long as a matte, but they are also more versatile, complementing a larger segment of the population. A matte’s full-on color with no texture depth can be too jarring for some people depending on the hue. The finishes on a satin or crème can be natural, or introduce shimmer or shine to your lips. This makes them a great option for day or night in almost any shade.
Long-lasting lip colors are incredibly dehydrating to your lips. Like with mattes, it is important not to have chapped lips going into the process. Unlike mattes, a long-lasting lip color will come with a gloss that you place over your lips. The base color will give your lips a rich look with the full coverage of a matte and glossiness of a satin.
For a quick fix that gives your natural lip color a little extra color or shine, go for a sheer or glaze. It is the most hydrating option with color, but will not be long lasting. If you want to add just a little color, but do not want to constantly reapply your lipstick, find a satin or crème that is in a nude, or very light shade close to your actual lip color. If you only want hydration, pick a pure gloss.
There are two other basic finishes for lipstick: metallics or frosts and shimmers. The process behind each category is the same. Pigments are added to the formulas that will enhance the shine of your lipstick. In the case of metallics or frosts, this is done with flecks in metallic light reflecting shades. Shimmers shine just as much as their metallic counterparts, but with a shimmer you’ll have more transparent coverage than the denser frosts.
Stains are also worth mentioning. Not quite a true lipstick, these products offer just a hint of color. According to StyleBlazer, stains are very similar to lip balm in texture, so they’re a great option for those who might find traditional lipsticks too drying.
With those basics set, it is time to consider how they appear. Bold colors can be jarring, especially mattes, so you want to keep the rest of your makeup in mind when selecting a deep red or bright orange. Sometimes what makes people appear washed out is not their skin tone, but everything else they are putting on their face.
In a demo captured on Everything Bobbi, the makeup artist applied a shocking neon pink to her model, but only used hints of color everywhere else. No matter what your skin tone, this trick works when you’re trying to make a statement with your lips. Another tutorial from the blog explained that balancing the lips and eyes creates a modern look. On days you want your eyes to truly stand out, pick a nude or neutral lip color. The best way to do this is to stay within a few shades of your natural lip pigmentation.
To pick the right color, you need to bear in mind where you’re going, the rest of your makeup, your complexion, and your hair color. All of that sounds daunting, but as Poppy King explains to Elle, it is actually fairly seamless. Specifically, King was dealing with red lips, but the basic guide applies to other shades too.
Yes, you can pick a color at random and still get a great lip King says, but you could use your skin tone as a guide to get the most out of the contrasting colors. For the fair skinned, this is best accomplished with orange-reds; for darker skin tones, she recommends reds with a pink presence. When it comes to hair and eyes, lipstick can amplify these features too. The best way to see if a shade plays up your hair color is trial and error, since how a lipstick looks in the tube can vary wildly compared to what appearance it plays when applied. In the summer, glossy lipsticks are a great companion for your tan, and as your bronze fades with the warm weather, mattes keep your skin looking fresh.