I’m asked quite frequently on how to find a flattering lipstick colour. This can be tricky as so often buying lipstick is not a “try before you buy” experience, in fact, you don’t try til you get home and then you are sadly disappointed with the result.
Try Before You Buy
- Take a tissue and wipe over the lipstick thoroughly before you try it on, to ensure that any germs that may be lurking are removed by taking a layer of lipstick off.
- Swipe the colour on the back of your hand – this will give you an idea of the colour (but not what it will look like on your lips) and if you even want to try it on at all!
- Ask for a cotton bud to scoop some out of the tube to try it on your lips.
- Take a hand mirror with you and leave the store (the lighting in stores can be so deceiving as far as colours are concerned) – go outside into natural light, and don’t make any decisions about the lipstick until you’ve seen your the lip colour on your lips in daylight.
Here are my tips on why finding a flattering lipstick colour can be tricky and what you need to know to find the best ones for you!
1. It Won’t Look Like The Colour in the Tube on Your Lips
As much as it would be so simple to just choose a colour based on what it looks like in the tube, colours don’t always resemble that – it could be brighter, it could be more muted, it could be warmer or cooler – until you get it on your lips – you’ll never know!
2. Your Lip Chemistry Can Change the Way a Colour Looks
Yes, that’s right – your lip chemistry may be more acid or alkaline and this will interact with a lipstick and change the colour – have you ever had an experience of putting a lipstick on and then the colour changes within 10 minutes of you wearing it? This is your lip chemistry at work. So when you’re trying on a colour – before you buy, wait a few minutes to see if the colour changes in a way that is flattering or unflattering.
3. Your Underlying Lip Colour Will Change How a Colour Looks
Your lips are not white, they have their own natural colour to them. Some people have quite dark lips. Others have much lighter ones. Some are more pink, more red, more purple or more beige or brown… the list goes on – and this will change how a lipstick appears on your lips.
4. Your Lip Pencil Will Change How a Colour Looks on You
If you use a lip pencil under your lipstick (a good tip if you want your lipstick to last longer is to line your lips in pencil and fill in the lips with the pencil before applying lipstick), the colour that goes over the top of the lip pencil will be influenced by the lip pencil colour. Just like your natural lip colour will influence how a colour looks on you.
5. How to Choose a Lipstick Colour that Flatters
Know Your Colour Palette
Knowing which colours suit you best helps you so much in finding a lipstick colour that works as well. If you’re not sure of your ideal colour palette, you can find out as part of my 7 Steps to Style program – knowing this will save you so much money (seriously, how much money have you wasted in lipstick alone, let alone clothing that you don’t wear because it doesn’t look great?).
If you have a cool undertone, then look for lipsticks that are also cool – such as raspberry, pinks and mauve shades.
If you have a warm undertone, then look for lipsticks that are warm – such as tomato, tangerine, coral and browns.
Know Your Intensity
If you have bright and clear colouring, you’ll suit a brighter lipstick colour.
If you have smoky and more muted colouring, softer colours will work much better.
Matte, Sheen or Shine?
What kind of skin do you have? Is it matte? Have some sheen? Or just shiny all the time?
This will influence which kinds of lip colours work best – matte, sheen or shine!
Matching your natural level of sheen will create a more harmonious appearance with the rest of you!
How Large are Your Lips?
If you have large lips you can carry off darker colours and bolder colours more easily.
If you have small lips choose colours that are more medium in value (that’s lightness and darkness).
Where Are You in the Aging Process?
Lips tend to get smaller with age (just another side effect) and your colours will soften down as your hair greys so you may want to wear softer colours that are not too dark or light as you get older, and particularly if you are greying and had had a warm undertone, you might find those really warm colours no longer work as well for you as you’ve lost some of your warmth, instead choose softer corals rather than bright tangerine of your younger years.
Find a Colour That’s Your Natural
One way to find a good all-purpose colour is to look for a colour that relates to your lips and the skin inside your mouth. Matching this will give you a lipstick colour that looks natural, and won’t be really obvious as it wears off during the day (unlike a bright colour or dark colour that becomes very obvious when it’s wearing away, leaving an obvious ring on the outer edge of your mouth).