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10 Makeup Artists Share Their Best Tricks for Choosing the Right Lip Color

Staring at the makeup counter, unsure of which red lipstick will make your lips pop?

Tired of taking a chance on a new shade, only to discover it makes you look washed out - or worse - a little crazy?

We’ve all pitched enough lipstick in the trash to know there’s no such thing as “the shade that works for everyone!”

Whether you’re ready to rock a bold lip, embracing a natural look for spring, or planning to keep up with the latest trends, we’ve gathered the best makeup advice from around the web to make sure you have what you need to blow their socks off - without blowing your budget.

Ten makeup artists in the know offer their best tricks for never throwing away another tube:


1. Mai Quynh, makeup artist for Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone, and Reese Witherspoon

Mai Quynh knows how to make a red lip pop on the red carpet. But it’s not just about what kind of color you choose - it’s all about doing your homework and getting ready to rock a bold lip color.

“Definitely apply a lip balm prior to applying...a bold lip," Quynh told the blog Beauty Blitz. "You want to make sure your lips are soft and smooth, not dry or chapped.”

Whether you’re trying out this season’s matte finish look, or opting for high-glam wattage, prep your lips so you can show off the color that works for you.


2. John Stapleton, Senior MAC Artist

Time to get back to basics! When it comes to choosing the right lip color, Stapleton says it’s all about your skin tone.

If you have:

Fair skin: Nudes and corals will give your look a polished finish; opt for red as a bold color. Walk away from burgundy - it’ll wash you out!

Our picks: Ganache, Scotch Kiss

Pink undertones: Stick with your natural palette - pinks, corals, and orangish red all look super glam. Stay away from blue-based reds, though - it’ll take your look in the wrong direction.

Our picks: Ganache, Melon Drop

Olive-toned skin: Almost anything goes! Over at Beauty Riot, Stapleton suggests coral will turn heads. Avoid colors that clash with your undertones, like browns and purplish reds.

Our picks: Butterchew

Yellow undertones: Opt for reds that have blue as a base tone. Nudes and bronze colors also work like a dream.

Our picks: Rum Nougat, Melon Drop

Dark skin: Make a big splash with reds and corals, which will contrast with your skin tone in an oh-so-perfect way.

Our picks: Cherry Cordial, Plum Wine


3 & 4. Pat McGrath, makeup design for Prada and Dolce & Gabana, and Kindra Mann, makeup artist for Christina Hendricks and Maisie Williams

In Spring 2013, Pat McGrath turned heads on the runways with a surprising design for Prada. Think vibrant lips in perfect Cupid’s bows.

In an interview with Stylecaster, McGrath revealed the secret behind her bold lip: perfect moisture and exfoliation, flawless lipliner, and carefully applied color.

“Line and fill the entire mouth with lip liner before applying lipstick for long lasting wear,” suggested McGrath. “Then layer matte color by applying lipstick with fingers...and set color with a very light dusting of translucent loose powder.”

A dusting of sheer powder - even a tiny amount of concealer - will help you avoid “feathering” and keep your lips smooth and polished.

No matter what shade you decide to flaunt, if you’re looking for a pigment-rich lip, ditch the lip brush. “Applying...directly from the tube or pencil will give you the most pigmented result," Kindra Mann told Beauty Blitz.

Everyone got their lipliner and blotting paper?



5. Julie Giusti, Yahoo Beauty Editor

If you’ve ever had trouble identifying your skin tone or you second guess every lipstick purchase, Yahoo beauty editor Julie Giusti has a trick just for you. It’s so simple, we can’t believe we didn’t think of it!

Rather than trying to pinpoint your “undertones,” do your best to assess your natural lip color. If you’re trying out a bold lip, this base color can help point the way.

“Women with pale lips look best in cherry red or coral; for naturally reddish lips, try hot pink, orange, or cranberry; for dark lips, brick red and burgundy are ideal,” writes Giusti for Allure.

Our advice? Take this fool-proof plan and run with it!


6 & 7. Marni Burton, makeup artist for Gotham magazine and Haute Living, and Elaine Offers, makeup artist for Blake Lively

If you’re itching to leave the bold lip trend in the dust, try dewy pinks and nudes for spring.

Makeup artist Marni Burton has the tips you need to pick the perfect shade for paring back.

“I recommend figuring out which color—pink, orange, white—looks best on you by trying concealers with those undertones," Burton told Shape Magazine.

Once you’ve sussed out what kinds of colors work best for your complexion, you can have some fun with all that nude has to offer.

Whether you can rock Viola Davis’s “rosegold cream” or Julianne Moore’s “dusty rose” all depends on your coloring.

If you have pale skin with pink undertones, like the flawless Moore, then “avoid anything that appears yellow or gold, which could make you look ill,” advises Elaine Offers.

The trick to finding a stellar nude is to choose a shade that matches your natural lip color, leaving you dew-kissed and ready for spring break.

Our picks: Rum Nougat, Melon Drop, Truffle


8 & 9. Matin Maluawizada, makeup artist for Amy Adams and Katie Holmes, and Pati Dubroff, makeup artist for Dakota Johnson

If you thought wine-stained lips died during the series finale of Friends, then you’ve got another think coming. The 90s are back!

"A lot of people think that brown lipsticks are reserved for really pale girls or really dark girls,” Matin told Refinery29. “But, to me, anyone can pull off the shade."

Fair-skinned? Check out Matin’s pick for a “peach-y brown.”

Dark-skinned? Look for a deep chocolate color; Matin even recommends a shade darker than your skin tone!

Olive-skinned? Explore brown shades with hints of caramel that bring out the warm undertones in your complexion.

If you’re still not convinced that brown lipstick can look totally glam, check out how Pati Dubroff styled Dakota Johnson for the premiere of How to Be Single.

Dubroff describes Johnson’s look as “gypsy-inspired, with a touch of glam rock.” For the star’s red carpet-worthy lip, Dubroff layered multiple shades of nude and brown - pretty chic for a gypsy!

If you’re fair-skinned like Johnson, take some inspiration from Dubroff’s styling. This is a great way to embrace browns and nudes without overpowering your delicate complexion.

Many of the neutral colors in our 100% Pure’s Lip Caramel line would help bring the 90s back to life - but in a good way, you know?


10. Bobbi Brown, makeup artist

If the secret to true beauty is a mixture of confidence and chutzpah, then Bobbi Brown has the formula.

Don’t just rely on one shade of lipstick to get you where you need to go. Instead, embrace your creativity - and your makeup bag - for the most exciting results.

“Make like the pros and blend your own lip color from different products on the back of your hand, using a lip brush. If it comes out too intense, mute it with a little beige," the famous makeup artist told Cosmopolitan.

The key here is to have fun developing a flexible palette that brings out your personality. When you mix and match shades, one thing’s for certain - you’ll have the most unique pout at the party!

Whether you decide to welcome back the 90s with open arms, embrace a shade of red that would make Taylor Swift proud, or keep it natural with nudes, we hope you feel ready to hit conquer the makeup counter once and for all.

How did you discover your favorite lip color? Share your own beauty secrets in the comments:

Images: Pexels, Pexels, Pexels

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The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.

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