There are several factors you can consider to find flattering lipstick shades for you – shades that complement your natural coloring. As a shortcut, think about the colors of clothing that you look best in. What do your best colors have in common? Things to consider here are:
- Undertones – how warm or cool your best colors are
- Clarity – how bright or muted these colors are
- Contrast – how light or dark these colors are compared to your skin
You can echo those characteristics in your lip color choices.
Let’s go into more detail on each.
This is a listing of natural-looking lipsticks that fall into the “my lips but better” or “nude” category. Of course, individuals’ natural lip color will affect the way any lipstick looks, but this list can be a starting point. Where possible, I linked to an image of each lip product on someone in that skintone range, and listed that blogger’s foundation match in parentheses. The NC20, etc. numbers refer to MAC foundation shades, which are commonly used as a standard point of reference online. If you have a foundation shade that matches you, you can find your approximate MAC shade by using Findation.
Lip products add color to your lips and can make a noticeable, quick difference to your look. There are several different kinds of lip products:
- Lip balm – Designed primarily to moisturize your lips. Some lip balms are tinted; tinted balms have sheer color and typically fade quickly, but they are comfortable to wear. Pay attention to the ingredient list when buying lip balm. Ingredients like coconut oil or shea or cocoa butter are hydrating. Petroleum and beeswax don’t actually hydrate on their own; they just seal your lips so they won’t dry out further. Ingredients that add flavor/scent, such as peppermint, can be irritating to the skin. Ingredients to avoid include: camphor, menthol, phenol (these create a cool tingling sensation but will dry out your lips), and salicylic acid (an exfoliant that is also drying).
- Lip stain – These are designed to have great staying power. However, the trade off for the longer wear time is that lip stains are often drying and uncomfortable.
- Lipgloss – These mainly add shine to your lips, usually with a sheer-to-medium level of color. They tend to fade fairly quickly and can also be sticky – if you wear lipgloss on a windy day and have long hair, you may find your hair getting stuck to your lips! Lipgloss can be applied on top of lipstick in order to add shine (especially if the lipstick is matte) and/or to adjust the color a little.
- Liquid lipstick – These come in liquid form and usually dry to a matte finish. They tend to be very opaque and long-lasting, but can be drying and crack over time.
- Lipstick (in a traditional bullet) – Lipstick has different pigmentation levels (sheer, medium, or totally opaque color) and different formulas; click here to learn more about those. I would advise starting out with cream or satin formulas, as those tend to be more moisturizing and comfy to wear. Matte lipsticks, which have no shine/shimmer, tend to be drying/uncomfortable and to magnify flaky/dry lips, though they do typically have longer weartimes. However, you can wear a layer of lip balm underneath to mitigate the drying effect; I find that this often makes matte lipsticks quite wearable. I would advise avoiding frost finishes, as they tend to look dated/unflattering.
It’s easy to wind up focusing mainly on color when it comes to lipstick, but formula can be just as important! No matter how great a lipstick color may be, if the formula dries your lips out or fades unevenly (leaving a ring of color around the edge of your lips), you probably won’t want to wear it.