The right lipstick can brighten your complexion and make you feel like a whole new person. The wrong lipstick can ruin your look. It has happened to lipstick lovers everywhere, including me: I recently bought an orangey coral I thought would make me look like a chic sunbather on the Côte d'Azur. Instead, it made me look, well, orange.
When visiting your favorite beauty boutique IRL (or browsing online), finding the right lip color can be a challenge because there's nothing, no hand swipe, or sample on your wrist that works like physically applying the shade directly to your lips—a germaphobe's absolute worst nightmare!
So before making another ill-fated beauty buy, we turned to the crème de la crème of makeup experts (including Beyoncé's makeup artist, Sir John) to help you build a flattering lipstick wardrobe for your skin tone, help us color within the lines, and achieve the most magnificent mouth, time and time again.
Our Perfect-Pout Panel
That Marilyn Monroe classic rouge is perfect for when you want a punch of color—or as part of your everyday uniform. No matter how often you deploy it, a tube of red lipstick is a must in any beauty arsenal.
"I believe that every woman needs her own red lip wardrobe when it comes to the perfect red lipstick shade! It's just about finding the tones and shades that suit and work for you." — Charlotte Tilbury
Your go-to shade in a skin-flattering neutral.
"I started my career behind the retail counter; MAC Times Square was one of my stores as a retail artist, where women from all over the world would come in to shop for makeup. The beautiful Brazilian women would come in and ask for 'mouth color,' aka a shade of pink that looked like their natural lips. It usually had more blue, cool tones than warmth, but it was always super flattering on their olive skin. This is a tip I take with me to this day when any woman asks for a neutral lip." — Ashlee Glazer
Pastel blue, muted fuchsia, coral. Something out of the ordinary you can put on your lips when you're feeling particularly daring.
For Light Skin with Cool Undertones
"For someone who has a light, cool skin tone, I always love a pastel color." — Sir John
“If you want to go neutral, look for a rose-tone pink with a blue base." — Ashlee Glazer
“With a cool, light skin tone, stick with shades that have a blue or purple undertone, like blue reds, cranberries, and fuchsia. Chanel Le Rouge Crayon de Couleur in N3 Rose Clair is a really wearable pink tone with a satin shine, and I also love the easy pencil application." — Cyndle K.
"As a general guide, fair skin should look for blue or coral undertones." — Charlotte Tilbury
For Light Skin with Warm Undertones
"Like Taylor Swift and Margot Robbie, you are fair but have golden to your skin tone. Peachy undertones are most flattering when going for a neutral effect, or any shade with a brown-pink undertone peach. Also, a salmon-pink base will be pretty." — Ashlee Glazer
"For light skin tones with warm undertones, I like to stick to peach, mauve-y pinks, or maybe magenta." — Sir John
"For a warmer undertone, I like to focus on warmer or orange-based lip shades. For the perfect everyday nude, try Chanel Le Rouge Crayon de Couleur in Warm Rosewood." — Cyndle K.
For Medium Skin with Cool Undertones
"A '50s red looks great on people with medium-cool skin tones. This orange-based red makes everyone's skin look healthy and alive. An alternative option is a pink-brown color." — Sir John
"I apply two good layers of Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet in La Romanesque, which is a gorgeous matte fuchsia tone that will stay in place all day without drying out your lips." — Cyndle K.
"Rich berry or a royal mauve rose." — Ashlee Glazer
For Medium Skin with Warm Undertones
"Medium skin tones should try warmer, more orange reds; my Hot Lips in Tell Laura is perfect for this." — Charlotte Tilbury
"The perfect classic red for olive skin tones is famous Chanel Rouge Allure Intense Lip Colour in Pirate. It's a must-have!" — Cyndle K.
"Blue-based nudes will really fade out the lip, but balance it with a warm liner to keep the color popping. Peachy beige tones with a creamy texture will be flawless and super flattering if your skin tone is similar to J.Lo's or Kim Kardashian West's." — Ashlee Glazer
For Dark Skin with Cool Undertones
"A deep purple or magenta undertone makes the skin look bright." — Sir John
"For a pout that won't budge with smooth intense color, try Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Extreme in Muted Fuchsia, or a more sheer, hydrating effect try Chanel Rouge Coco Flash in Temper." — Cyndle K.
"Pinks with a base of warmth, rich browns with lots of red undertones. Be careful not to go too blue with the cooler tones because it will turn gray really fast. A warm liner like MAC Cork, Stripdown, or Chestnut is always good keep on hand." — Ashlee Glazer
For Dark Skin with Warm Undertones
"For darker skin, look for cooler, more vibrant reds like Hot Lips in Carina's Love." — Charlotte Tilbury
"I always like to stick to wines, merlots, berries, and browns." — Sir John
"For warm, deeper skin tones I love a perfect neutral coral. One of my favorites right now is Chanel Rouge Allure Ink in Cornaline. What I love about this lipstick is that it goes on as a liquid but sets as a powder. It’s extremely easy to apply and has an amazing color payoff. And for a feather-light matte finish with a blurred edge, I suggest trying Chanel Rouge Allure Liquid powder in Avant-Gardiste." — Cyndle K.
"Vibrancy and texture are key. If Lupita Nyong'o is your doppelgänger, a glossy formula with a burgundy undertone. You can also rock bold shades like magenta, rich reds, orange, and anything else! I love Milk Makeup New Whip, a rich berry brown that's really creamy with full coverage." — Ashlee Glazer
Still curating your makeup capsule wardrobe? We have you covered: