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Lipstick shades for your skin tone

Perusing the plethora of lipstick shades available at your favorite beauty stores is never an easy feat (especially when there are no testers available). To help you save some serious time and walk out of there with a color that actually works, heed these helpful hints.

“Making sure your lip color complements your skin tone can mean the difference between looking pretty and looking wow,” says celebrity makeup artist Julia Papworth.

Here, she explains how to choose the right lipstick shade based on your complexion.

Pale skin

Nicole Kidman

Have skin that freckles easily and requires SPF practically 24/7? For very pale ladies with cool, blue base undertones, Papworth recommends trying out a bright pink lip color.

“Steer clear of warm-based shades, like coral and orange,” she warns.

Olive skin

Kim Kardashian

Olive-skinned girls look their best rocking reds with orange bases, points out Papworth. Any lip color with blue undertones certainly won’t do the mouth justice. And we don’t know about you, but we’re all about making that pout pop.

Fair skin

Angelina Jolie

If you have fair skin with warm undertones, definitely don’t be afraid to play up your pout with a coral or orange lip color. The warmth in the shade will help bring out the warmth in your skin, notes Papworth. However, do avoid lipsticks with cool bases, such as cool pinks and reds.

Medium skin

Sophia Vergara

Lucky you! According to Papworth, pretty much all lip colors work on this skin type.

“Try traditional red if you’re looking for a true classic, as it flatters both warm and cool undertones. Do be careful with extremely dark, rich shades, like burgundy and plum. Sometimes, these colors can be a bit overpowering on medium skin.”

Brown skin


When it comes to lipstick and brown skin, purple is where it’s at, apparently! Papworth says the go-to shades for this complexion should be grape and rich berry.

“The richness in these colors helps to give depth to the skin tone. Stay away from chalky white shades that can contrast too much with your skin.”

Black skin

Kerry Washington

Fortunately for you, women with black skin can pull off a ton of different lip colors! Whether it’s a neutral peach or a bright berry, Papworth advises just going for it. However, be wary of lipsticks that are too light — such as frosty pinks and peaches. These will not flatter your skin tone at all.

Tip for bigger lips!

Did you know that deep, dark lip colors like burgundy tend to make your mouth look smaller? For a fuller pout and a more youthful appearance overall, stick to light, bright colors that really pop.

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Photo credits: Lia Toby/, Judy Eddy/, C. Smith/,  Apega/, Daniel Tanner/

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