How To Find the Best Lip Colors for Your Skin Tone
It’s frustrating when you see the perfect shade of nude-berry on someone else’s lips, only to discover (after you’ve already purchased it) that the same color doesn’t look quite as stunning on your own lips.
Choosing lipstick can be difficult, especially if you’re drawn to colors that may not match perfectly with your skin tone. Thankfully, there’s a solution. You can wear virtually any color lipstick available, as long as you choose from the right palette.
You can determine the palette by knowing your skin’s natural undertones. It’s easy to find them, and we’ll show you how. We’ll also give you our recommendations for vegan, cruelty-free lip colors that look phenomenal on each skin tone.
What are undertones?
Undertones are the natural colors present underneath your skin that give your skin a particular hue. Different from the shade of your skin, the undertone is what makes it look living and radiant. There are generally three different types of undertones.
You have cool undertones if you have red, pink, purple, or blue hues underneath your skin. If you look best in silver jewelry, or burn easily and rarely tan, you likely have cool undertones.
You might think you’re automatically a cool undertone if you have fair skin, but that isn’t always the case. Fair-skinned beauties can have warm and neutral undertones, too.
Warm undertones look golden or peachy. If you prefer gold jewelry and look naturally bronzed in the sun, you likely have warm undertones. Warm undertones may also appear yellow or olive.
Neutral undertones are so well blended that it can be hard to determine an undertone at all. Neutral undertones look much like your skin’s natural color, and they have an equal mix of pink and yellow.
You have neutral undertones if you can wear silver and gold jewelry and rarely burn in the sun.
How do I find my undertone?
It’s not rocket science, but finding your undertone can be frustrating if you don’t know where to look or how to tell. Here are some ways that makeup artists find the skin tones of their clients.
Check your veins
The inside of your wrist, where the skin is particularly thin, is an excellent place to search for your skin’s natural undertones.
If your veins give off a bluish-purplish hue, you have cool undertones.
If your veins are colorless, appear green, or you can’t differentiate them through your natural skin color, you have either warm or neutral skin tones.
Look at your jewelry
Check out your jewelry box. Gravitating toward silver usually means you have cool undertones, while people who choose gold jewelry usually have warm undertones. If you have a mix of both, you might have neutral undertones.
Just because you love one particular metal over another doesn’t mean you can’t wear them both. It just means the one you gravitate to is probably a good sign of your skin’s undertones.
Peek at your closet
Crisp white button-downs or simple white t-shirts may be your staple, especially if you have cool undertones. Warm undertones usually choose shades of ivory and cream. Classic black is practically everyone’s favorite, so don’t rely on it to determine your undertones.
Do you tan or burn?
Cool undertones tend to burn before they tan in the sun, although this doesn’t automatically mean darker shades of skin can’t burn or don’t have cool undertones. If you burn within 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure, chances are you have cool undertones.
Warm and neutral undertones may be able to withstand a little more sun exposure before burning, or may never burn, only tan.
Either way, wearing sunscreen is incredibly important, no matter what undertones you have.
What’s the best lip color for my skin tone?
You really want a red lip, but the red you chose just doesn’t work. It’s probably because the undertones in the red lipstick don’t compliment your skin’s natural undertones. Here’s how to find the perfect shade, using your undertones as a guide.
Cool undertones look best in lip colors that also have cool undertones. When you find a particular shade you love (we’ll use nude as an example), you’ll be looking for a nude that has a bluish or violet undertone.
Think of wines, berries, and bright pinks as your home base.
One to try: ĀTHR Beauty Radiant Ruby Lip Crème in shade Motivate. This shade has pink undertones that complement cool skin tones. This full-color lip crème not only hydrates, boosts collagen, and softens lips, but it's pink undertones, infused with real rubies, creates an ultra-luxe, stunningly luminous impact.
Warm undertones need the same golden, olive, or yellow shades in the base of their lip colors to match perfectly. If you’re looking for nude lipstick, you’ll pick one that has a deeper undertone than pink or red.
Orange-red, coppers, gold, bronze, brick, and terracotta are all beautiful shades that compliment warm skin colors.
One to try: 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Cocoa Butter Matte Lipstick in Sandstone. This nude has an orange undertone that naturally brings out the warm undertones in your skin. Pigmented with fruit, this lipstick has a beautiful matte finish that’s easy to top with a gloss.
Neutral skin undertones may have it made with their ability to float between warm and cool shades, but you’ll still have the best matches if you consider your skin’s natural shade.
- Light skin tones. If you have light skin with neutral undertones, lean into the same colors your cool-toned friends enjoy. Pinks and bright reds are lovely options.
- Medium skin tones. Nudes and mauves will help brighten up your skin and give you noticeable radiance.
- Dark skin tones. Deep berries, wines, and brick reds are classics that will always flatter dark skin tones with neutral undertones.
One to try: ĀTHR Radiant Ruby Lip Crème in the color Dream. This shade is a dusky red color with an infusion of real rubies that will flatter virtually any skin color with neutral undertones.
There’s nothing like a red lip!
Everyone loves a red lip. Whether it’s your signature, everyday accessory, or something you save for a special occasion, getting the right red makes all the difference. Anyone with any skin tone can wear red as long as you pick the correct shade.
It’s important to note that certain red lipsticks can contain animal ingredients. Carmine, an ingredient made from crushing the shells of thousands of cochineal beetles per small batch, is often used for red lipstick.
To make sure you aren’t swiping insect exoskeletons onto your lips, stick to the brands recommended by Kinder Beauty. Here are a few of our faves.
For Cool Tones
The perfect red can be hard to find, especially if you have cool undertones and fair skin. Brick reds or anything with an orange undertone will clash with your skin and make you look washed out.
One to try: Clove & Hallow Lip Creme in Damsel. This classic blue-red lipstick perfectly compliments cool undertones and also makes your teeth appear whiter.
For Warm Tones
Red is usually easier to pick for warm undertones, but if you mistakenly choose a cherry red, it can look a little too obvious and a little less sultry. The best options are brick reds, orange-reds, and terracottas.
One to try: 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Cocoa Butter Matte Lipstick in Sonora. This ultra-hydrating formula is pigmented with fruit, lasts for hours, and is the perfect blend of orange-red for warm skin tones.
For Neutral Tones
Those with neutral skin tones are lucky when it comes to red lips. You can wear virtually any shade of red, regardless of the undertone in the lip color. Use your skin shade as a guide.
Blue-reds are lovely on light skin tones, berries and wines for darker skin tones, and bricks and oranges for medium skin tones.
A universally flattering red shade we love: Evio Lip-Spo Gloss in Brooke. The perfect cross between berry and brick does exist. This gloss looks amazing on neutral tones and is buildable, so you get the perfect amount of color.
The perfect lip shade is possible once you know your skin tone and know how to shop. You can wear any color as long as you follow these simple, easy-to-use lipstick shade-selection hacks.
If you want to try the best vegan, cruelty-free lip colors available, try out the Kinder Beauty Box. You’ll get animal-friendly products that have skin-healthy ingredients and don’t contain harsh chemicals delivered right to your door.
Go ahead, get lippy and find your perfect lipstick shade for your skin tone.
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