Found! The Right Lip Color for You

From lipstick to lip gloss, learn once and for all the best hues to flatter your skin tone

We’ve all heard the phrase “different strokes for different folks.” And the same holds true for lip shades and skin tones. But finding hues that flatter isn’t always easy. Here's how to discover the best tints for dressing up your pretty pout.

First, think genetics
Recognize if your skin tone is fair; medium or olive; or mocha or dark.

Second, think undertones (pink, yellow, gold, or red)

  • If you’re fair in skin tone, burn easily in the sun, and get rosy in cold weather, you probably have pink or “cool” undertones.
  • If you have medium skin tone, you probably have both pink and yellow (“cool” and “warm”) undertones. If you have olive skin and tend to look sallow at times, you have yellow or “warm” undertones.
  • Mocha skin has golden undertones, so it’s considered “warm.” Dark mahogany black skin has red undertones and is considered “cool.”

If you have cool (pink and red) undertones:
Opt for vibrant pinks, cool nudes, and plum and berry colors (like pomegranate and cranberry). Cool browns, pale gold, and chiffon peach shades work, too—just try to stick to cooler shades. A strong red (with bluish undertones) is a universally flattering, classic shade. Tip: Avoid coral and orangey shades, unless there’s a cool tone (pink or red) mixed in.

If you have warm (yellow and gold) undertones:
Spring’s hot color, tangerine, looks best with a hint of red, but is right on trend. (A true orange is hard to pull off, but is possible on medium to dark skin with red and yellow undertones.) More shades that are best for warm skin tones are: warm pinks (like salmon), coral, golden peach, brown or tomato red, true bronze, and warm berry shades.

Match the Undertone
The same rules for choosing lip color apply for fair, medium, and dark skin—the real key is matching your undertone. (Lucky medium-toned ladies have a little more versatility here.)

Layer on the Color
While it’s true that darker skin tones can get away with a stronger pop of color with a lot less drama, anyone can ease into color by using a bright jellylike tint, colored lip balm, or sheer gloss. At night, opt for a more saturated hue with a lip stain or lipstick. Again, the key is getting the color right—after that, the amount of color is up to you. And in summer months, when you’re rocking a healthy tan (or self tanner!), choose a color that’s a shade or two darker than you’d wear in the cooler season. The rule of thumb is to stay within your true skin tone and shade.

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