“In my opinion, summer officially starts when gals put on their coral lips,” says makeup artist Kristina Brown, who’s worked with women like Jaime King, Amber Valletta, and Agyness Deyn. Given its presence on Oscar de la Renta’s fall runway, and recent iterations on stars like January Jones and Hanneli Mustaparta, we’ll go ahead and bet that the pink-meets-orange shade sticks around for fall, too. So it’s worth finding out exactly which kind of coral lip looks best with your skin.
Brown says, “Generally speaking, peachy, sheer colors are great for ladies with lighter skin tones.” Those with medium to olive skin can be more playful because “vibrant, true coral tones look like a million bucks on them and they can get away with opaque textures.” If you have darker skin, Brown suggests reaching for the orangiest corals to “really let the color pop!”
Whether you choose a pale matte shade like Nars’ Velvet Matte Lip Pencil ($25) in Bolero or a glossy orange like NYX Butter Gloss ($5) in Peach Cobbler, keep the rest of your face simple—a few coats of black mascara, some illuminator, and a tan are the best accessory. Check out Brown’s favorites, above.
A creamy, satin-finish lipstick is the easiest to wear—and apply! Brown asked model Sasha to swipe Bobbi Brown's Creamy Matte Lip Color ($24) in Valencia Orange on herself: “When you apply it yourself the pigment is really pressed down into the lips,” Brown says.
M.A.C. Lipstick ($15) in Sweet & Sour
Brown patted Jane Iredale’s In Touch Highlighter ($28) into the center of the bottom lip to add extra dimension to the glossy finish of Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar ($18) in Electric Grandma.
Hourglass Extreme Sheen High Shine Lip Gloss ($28) in Nectar
Well-hydrated lips are key to making a powdery matte finish look fresh and stay put. Rub Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($6) into your lips at the start of your makeup routine and by the time you’re ready to apply a matte pencil or lipstick, like Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil ($25) in Bolero, they’ll be moisturized, not shiny.
Revlon’s Super Lustrous Matte Lipstick ($7) in Smoked Peach.
The multi-hued pout’s shown up everywhere from Dior Couture to Jason Wu in the past year, so Brown deconstructed coral, putting M.A.C. Lipstick ($15) in Lickable on the upper lip and the outer corners of the lower, using a brush to press M.A.C.'s Pigment Powder ($21) in Neo-Orange into the center of the lower lip and out for a not-quite-ombre look we dubbed “The Big Stick.”
Laura Mercier Gel Lip Color ($22) in Dollface
For the brightest lip on our spectrum, Brown layered NYX Butter Gloss ($5) in Peach Cobbler over that same hot pink lipstick, M.A.C.'s Lickable, so that it’d pop from underneath. Powder the lips before applying the stick so that the hot pink pigment stays put and you’ll only need to tote the gloss for touch-ups.