There are two camps of people: those who love to rock a bold lipstick and those who don’t. It’s easy to feel “like a clown” when we put on a bold lipstick color, even though we see other people do it so effortlessly. Why is that?
I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts on lipstick, how to find the perfect lipstick color, and give the ‘ash’ on lipstick.
You go to the store, you’re at the makeup counter looking at a hundred different shades. Naturally, you start to look for the shades you naturally gravitate toward (aka the “safe” ones). These are the colors we like, but they might not be the most flattering color for us.
Here’s a few basic things to know to find that lipstick color that’s going to POP in all the right ways.
Every color has an undertone. If you look at the color wheel, you can see that the blues, greens, and purples are grouped together as “cool” colors and the reds, oranges, and yellows are grouped together as the “warm” colors. You’re probably not going to wear a green lipstick, but when you look at the nudes, browns, and reds, you might be able to see that they have green, blue, and orange undertones.
Most of us look best in lipsticks with warm undertones because we are alive! Lips are naturally pink and red, which are warm colors on the color wheel.
When In Doubt, Grab a Warm Pink Lipstick!
If your skin has a more cool undertone (most commonly blue or pink), you are going to get a fun contrast! The lipstick is going to make more of a statement! Of course if you want a more subtle, complimentary lipstick, grab a cool pink or cool red — you’ll probably feel more comfortable too!
Don’t Know Your Undertone?
The general rule of thumb is that people with skin that tends to tan when in the sun have warm undertones…
and people whose skin burns in the sun tends to have cooler undertones.
There’s more to this and it’s easy to go down the undertone rabbit hole.
To learn more about undertones and makeup, grab a copy of my book, Be Your Own Makeup Artist. With helpful charts and graphs, you’ll confidently identify your undertone AND learn what colors to use.
Knowing which undertone you have will go a long way in telling you whether a cool or warm toned lipstick will look flattering on you and which shades will get you that dynamic pop of color that looks custom created for your face.
Recommended Reading: Color Theory & Makeup with Terri Tomlinson
Terri Tomlinson created the Flesh Toned Color Wheel, which is a tool I use all the time! I even have a photo of it in my book (in a section dedicated to color correction) because I think it’s so valuable for people to see and understand. You don’t have to be a pro makeup artist to buy a color wheel for your makeup bag! I think taking one to the makeup counter would be a great step to finding your ideal lipstick shade!
Ok, so you can have a lipstick that’s the same color but looks different depending on the formulation. I have an amazing chart in my book, Be Your Own Makeup Artist, that breaks down all the different types of lipsticks and how transparent/opaque they are.
In a nutshell though, there are two things to remember!
1 – When a lipstick is opaque, it means that no light passes through it!
Think lip paints, bold reds, mattes.
Opaque lipsticks are going to completely cover the natural color of your lips, which are great lipsticks for when you want to go BOLD.
2- When a lipstick is not opaque, it means that light passes through aka has transparency.
Think lip stains, satin lipsticks, tinted lip balms.
Lipsticks that are somewhat transparent will allow for the natural color of your lip to pop through to a certain extent.
Tip! A clear lip gloss is nearly fully transparent!
Pro Tip: If you found a shade you love but it’s too opaque for an everyday look, look for the satin version of it or make your own by mixing it with a lip balm/chap stick. This is one of my favorite pro hacks and it’s also perfect if you want a minimal capsule makeup bag or to be a more sustainable beauty consumer.
I almost never apply a lipstick straight from the tube onto a client without manipulating it in some way!
I’ll almost always blend it with another color or change the opacity (like I mentioned above).
Want to rock a bold lip but you’re too scared?
Turn that bold color into a faint stain and get used to wearing that color. Overtime, you can make it more and more opaque!
It’s just lipstick! You can take it off if it looks weird, but don’t be too scared to try new things!
Keep this in mind: Everybody is so worried about their own appearance, their own lives, and how they’re being perceived. As much as it’s depressing, nobody is paying as much attention to you as you’re think they are.
I guarantee, if you wear a red lipstick, you will receive compliments. Something good always happens when you’re wearing red lipstick! Just own it.
This is gross, but true: we end up ingesting a lot of the lipstick we put on our lips. So make sure you can pronounce most of the ingredients in the lipstick…
If You’re A True Vegan…
Most red lipsticks are made from the red pigment found from dried up cochineal beetles… but in 2021, Hourglass Cosmetics founded a true vegan red. You can learn more about that here. (This doesn’t cover other ‘red’ pigments found in makeup).
Have A Gluten Intolerance?
People with gluten allergies (or other allergies) need to be careful. Read the ingredient list, and if necessary, reach out to the company to make sure the lipstick isn’t dangerous for you to wear.
Bottom Line –Wear What You Like!
Sure, there is science to color and there are ‘formulas’ for applying makeup. But at the end of the day, it’s best to do what you love doing and what makes you feel confident — all rules aside.
Makeup isn’t rocket science but there are some good rules of thumb. If you’re looking to learn how to wear makeup, you’re in the right place.
1- The Book, Be Your Own Makeup Artist
2- The Course, Learn Makeup In 5 Days
If you need more structured, hands-on learning and videos, my course Learn Makeup in 5 Days is perfect. We do not go over dramatic eyeshadows or overdone brows. You will not learn crazy winged eyeliner or “contouring.” But you will learn how to do a natural, everyday makeup that you can take from day to night with ease.
3- The Experience, Create Your Signature Look
If you want to work with me 1:1 and for me tell you all the formulas and colors and personal shopping for you? Check out my life-changing program, Create Your Signature Look.
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P.S. If you asked me a beauty question, if I don't immediately know the answer, I must thoroughly research every question I receive, and sometimes do not have an immediate answer or I need clarity on unlisted ingredients in certain beauty products, sometimes getting a clear answer takes up to 3 weeks... have patience, it'll be worth it!
Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.