We know—it's the ultimate struggle finding lipstick shades that suit your skin tone. As a woman of color, getting my hands on beautiful hues that complement my chocolate complexion is a constant battle. It takes a whole lot of trial and error and group-chat recommendations from my girlfriends to find winning lipsticks that bring out my warm mix of yellow and red undertones.
There are shades out there that look damn good on a wide spectrum of dark skin tones, though. Unlike the popular misconception, one shade certainly does not fit all when it comes to dark skin tones. I want you to stop believing colorful shades like bold berries and bright pinks won't look good on your deep skin tone, because they will, and here's proof.
We called on L'Oréal celebrity makeup artist Sir John (widely known for his work with Beyoncé) and Laura Mercier global makeup artist Jerry Johnson to share the shades they recommend for women of color. Click through and bookmark this page for later.
"For darker complexions, I love, love, love to go for wine shades," says Sir John. "Think merlot, cabernet, berry deep shades. These colors work really well with dark skin tones and do not drain the complexions, especially if you grab a berry shade with a blue base. I also love to use a matte finish for darker skin tones versus a super-shiny or glossy finish. The Pro-Matte Liquid Lipsticks are awesome for this—they last all day and have a variety of deep merlots, berries, and reds that are great for deeper complexions." We're a fan of this sultry berry shade.
"There is also the deep purple shade Liberation in the Balmain x L'Oréal Paris collection that is amazing," recommends Sir John.
"As for neutral colors, because we all love a good nude lip, go for shades that have a warmer, caramel undertone," suggests Sir John. "The nude shades from the Infallible Matte Lip Paints are great for women of color—they have those nice undertones and a variety of shades to choose from."
"I love the Velour Lovers Lip Colours. They are my go-to for women of dark skin because of the pigments," says Johnson. "A lot of women with dark skin have two-toned lips, and because of the color payoff you get when using the lipstick, it offers complete coverage." This shade is one of Johnson's favorites. "It's a rich violet color, which is just absolutely gorgeous."
You know those statement-making shades that give you the most fire selfies? This is the one. Think a hot pink hue that looks sophisticated and fun all at the same time. Pat McGrath, aka the Mother of Makeup, did not disappoint with these moisturizing matte formulas either. I can wear this popping pink all day and forget that it's even there—until someone compliments me, of course.
Yes to this bold pink. Brighter shades draw lots of attention to the lips. To smooth out discoloration, Johnson's tip is to line your lips with concealer. "If you want to smooth out lines around the lip area, I love to use Secret Camouflage—shade 6, 7, or 8 will work perfectly depending on your depth of skin tone—before you line, to prep the lips. It also helps take out any discoloration you might have on the lips," explains Johnson.
The name of this sultry red is Bawse—need I say more? True story: I've worn this bold color to two consecutive interviews, and I got the job both times. It's a universal shade that looks undeniably gorgeous on deep complexions. Oh, and it makes me feel like a boss indeed.
"Another product I love to use with the Velour Lovers Lip Colour is the Lip Glaces. I especially love the shade Cosmic, which is a beautiful clear color with the pearl, and it doesn't change the integrity of any lipstick," says Johnson.
This soft brown is a "your lips, but better" type of shade. If you have red and yellow undertones, one swipe of this comfortable texture will have you thinking you finally hit the lottery with the perfect nude for your skin tone. Every single time this lipstick makes an appearance on my Instagram, fellow brown-skinned beauties want to know which shade it is.