How to Choose the Best Lipstick for Your Skin Tone, According to a MUA

There are so many different lipstick undertones, consistencies, and finishes that make a trip to the makeup aisle seem more like a mission than a fun jaunt. Even for me, as a makeup artist, it’s no cakewalk digging for a fresh new shade. But here’s the thing: It doesn’t need to be daunting. Once you have a few key guidelines, it’s quite easy to find the best lip color for your skin tone.

The Best Lipstick Shade for Every Skintone
Michela Buttignol/Byrdie

First and foremost, it helps tremendously to know your skin’s undertone. This little detail can actually assist in many fields of beauty and fashion, so it’s great to have it in your arsenal. Most people fall into one of two categories: warm or cool. Those with cool undertones tend to have fairer skin, while those with warm undertones have a golden or olive hue. If you find it really hard to determine your undertone, there’s a chance you’re neutral (a mixture of both). Here are a few quick tips that can help you find your skin’s undertone as well as the perfect shade of lipstick to match.

Cool Undertones

Women with cool undertones wearing a bold lip

If you have a pink, red, or bluish hue to your skin, you are cool toned. You can tell your undertone is cool if the veins in your wrist look blue, silver jewelry complements your skin, or you tend to burn before you tan.

Woman with cool undertones wearing a bold lip

The best lipsticks for cool undertones have blue- or purple-shaded undertones. So when you go to choose a red lip, steer away from orangey shades and veer more toward deep bluish-reds.

Cool undertoned individuals need to be careful with shades that are too light, as they can wash them out.

Keep scrolling to shop three lipsticks that are perfect for those with cool undertones.

'SB RPM' Backpack - Brown
Julep It's Whipped Matte Lip Mousse in At Midnight $20

This velvety texture dresses your lips up with the perfect punch of color.

CHANEL Rouge Coco, Ultra Hydrating Lip Colour
Chanel Rouge Coco in Etienne $38

Try this moody berry shade for date night.

Warm Undertones

Woman with warm undertones wearing lipsticks

If you have a yellow, golden, or olive hue to your skin, you likely have a warm undertone. You can tell your undertone is warm if the veins in your wrist look green, gold jewelry complements your skin, or you tend to tan fairly easily.

Woman with warm undertones wearing a red lip

The best lipsticks for warm undertones are lip colors in warm shades. So go for really red or orangey colors.

Keep scrolling for some fiery lipsticks that are flattering on warm undertones.

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Lost Cherry $34

It's time to stop shying away from bright fuchsias if you have in the past—the shade will pop against your skin tone.

Nyx Matte Lipstick in Indie Flick $6

For just $6, your lips will look runway-ready in this orangey-red shade.

Neutral Undertones

Woman with neutral undertones wearing a bold lip

Those with neutral undertones look good in both silver and gold jewelry, and a wide spectrum of colors typically tend to complement your skin. For you, lip color is a free-for-all!

Nars Satin Lipstick in Afghan Red $28

This wine-colored hue is ideal for a look you're trying to take from day to night.

Studded Kiss Creme Lipstick Noble 0.12 oz/ 3.4 g
Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in Lolita $20

This super-hydrating formula melts right onto your lips in the best way possible.

The Final Word

If you still struggle to identify your undertone, but you have a pretty basic understanding of your skin tone, don’t fret. People with fair skin look radiant in bold and deep colors that provide contrast to their tone. If you feel like you’re a bit more olive toned, pinks, corals, and nudes will suit you well. If your skin has a darker tone, choose a berry lip or a bold, dark shade, like MAC Lipstick ($18) in Heroine to amp up your look.

The main thing to remember is that, ultimately, your lip color is up to you. If you feel like you look best in a coral but that doesn’t align with the "rules," that's okay—just do you. At the end of the day, we all feel prettiest in whichever choice makes us the most confident. For example, most beauty experts would tell you to stay away from shades that seem too ashy for fear of looking washed out. But sometimes, looking a bit gray is exactly what I aim to achieve—so, Melt Cosmetics Lipstick ($5) in Space Cake it is!

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