As a little girl, I believed that lipstick was the signature of a grown-up woman. My mother almost always wore lipstick outside of the house, more often choosing a shade of red over pink or nude. I imagined I’d grow up to become a woman with lacquered lips, too.
Today, my lipstick hue of choice is – nothing. Surprisingly, I never got in the habit of applying (and reapplying) lipstick. To start, I always thought my thin, decidedly un-pouty lips looked silly awash in color. Why would I want to draw attention to such a plain feature?
I’ve also never stumbled upon my “perfect” color. My natural lip color always makes lipstick look more pink than in the tube, and I’ve been disappointed by my drugstore purchases countless times. Even department store makeup artists seem to struggle with finding my most flattering shade.
Still, I love the polished look of beautifully lacquered lips, so I asked Sophia Coyne of Painted Ladies, a San Francisco-based makeup artist and stylist, for tips on how to find the perfect lipstick shade – short of trying on every color in the store.
To find your most flattering lipstick hue, you need to know whether you have warm or cool skin, explained Coyne. “Warm colors like coral, peach, orange/red, nudes and shades with gold flecks look best on warm skin tones: olive or tan skin with brown, green, or hazel eyes.”
She continued, “Cool colors like mauve, pink, blue/red, and shades with silvery shimmer undertones look best on cool skin tones.” Think pale skin, blue or green eyes, blond or dark hair. Asian and African-American skin tones come alive with bright pink, fuchsia, coral, and red.
So what about those much touted “universally flattering” lipstick colors? Coyne explained that reds are never really universal because they depend so much on your skin tone (i.e., do you need an orange/red or a blue/red?). Nude shades are more likely to look good on warm or cool, light or dark skin.
For a lipstick color that will take you from summer into fall, try a berry tone, advised Coyne. Now excuse me while I go shopping for a cool-hued berry colored lipstick!
(photo by Nicolás Santiñaque)