It seems like it should be an easy task to simply go to the store and pick out a lipstick shade, but the fact is, it can be a completely daunting task!
Despite the fact that you may love a bold, beautiful magenta, your skin tone may not be completely complementary to it. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever wear a shade of magenta, it just means you need to adjust the hue to match your skin’s undertone.
You don’t need to be a makeup artist to select the perfect lipstick shade for your skin tone, but thankfully, you’ve got one with RMS Beauty. Our founder, Rose-Marie Swift, brings 36 years of industry experience, passion, wisdom, and skill to her craft.
Not only is Rose-Marie an expert at selecting the perfect color palettes for all skin shades and undertones, she’s arguably the founder of modern-day clean beauty -- scratch that, cleanest beauty. As such, the products we offer at RMS Beauty are crafted with precision, care, and food-grade living ingredients that are safe and performance driven.
If you’re struggling to find the perfect lip color, you’ve truly come to the right place.
Working With Your Skin’s Undertone
Regardless of your skin color, your skin has an undertone. This is the pigment of your skin that radiates from beneath your true skin color. Your skin undertone can be cool, neutral, or warm.
To determine what your skin’s undertone is, you can take a quick peek at the veins on the back of your wrist. If your veins appear blue, your undertone is likely cool. If they appear more green, you likely have a warm undertone. If you see neither blue nor green, your skin’s undertone is probably neutral.
People with cool undertones have a bluish-purple, pink, red, or ruddy undertone to their skin. Cool undertone people tend to burn easily in the sun and rarely tan. Most fair-skinned people will have a cool undertone.
Not just reserved for darker skin, warm skin undertones can appear yellow, peachy, golden, or olive. Some fair skinned people will have a warm skin undertone. Warm skin undertones look best in gold jewelry as opposed to silver. Warm undertones usually accompany skin that tans easily and rarely burns.
If you’re having serious trouble finding your undertones, it could be because you have a neutral undertone. Congratulations! Neutral skin undertones allow you to choose from a variety of different shades in terms of lipstick and other cosmetics, too.
Neutral skin doesn’t have an obvious undertone. The natural color of the skin is the most noticeable shade, and skin tone is usually very even. Neutral skin tones can easily pull off both silver and gold jewelry.
How To Find the Best Lipstick Color for Your Skin Tone
Once you know your skin’s undertone, you can zone in on the color palettes that will work best for your skin tone. Regardless of whether you are looking for a day to day shade, or something bright and eye-catching, knowing your undertones can help you shop colors in the correct color family.
Keep in mind that on top of choosing a color, you’re also choosing a finish and feel. Some lip colors can be overpowering in a matte finish but help achieve a less dramatic look when used as a gloss.
RMS Beauty offers lip products in a variety of finishes. Our Wild With Desire lipstick is richly pigmented with a perfect satin finish. If you prefer a gloss, our Lip Shine offers a hint of color and never leaves your lips feeling sticky or waxy.
For cool undertones, look for lip colors that also have similar hues in their base.
For instance, shades that have a blue or purple undertone, like a cherry red. Practically any berry colored hue will look complimentary on a person with cool undertones.
Try to avoid lip colors that have yellow and orange undertones, which can be difficult especially when choosing reds and corals.
The beauty of a neutral skin undertone is that you don’t have to be too concerned with shade families when choosing your lipstick colors.
Because your undertones are neutral, you can opt for a color in practically any shade family. If you want to play it safe, rose gold shades look good on virtually any skin tone.
If you are fair skinned, subtle pinks enhance and add color to your complexion. Deep berries compliment dark skin and nudes and mauves look great on medium skin tones.
If you have warm, golden, or olive undertones, you’ll want to look for these same undertones in your lip color.
Look for shades of red with an orange based, like brick and terracotta. You can also pull off beautiful shades of chocolate and tawny cranberry.
Going Dark, Bright, or Nude
There’s always a question about what to wear for a special occasion? What if you have a black tie event and want the perfect shade of red? Or perhaps a reason to wear a beautiful, understated nude?
Any skin tone can wear virtually any color provided the undertones in the skin match the undertones in the lip color. Here’s how to make a match.
Choosing Dark Lip Colors
Don’t assume you can’t try a deep, vampy red or a dark plum simply because you’re fair-skinned, and being dark skinned doesn’t mean you’re limited to these colors either.
Remember your skin’s natural undertone and pick a dark lip color that compliments it.
- For cool undertones: Blue/purple bases in shades like deep plum and blackberry accentuate skin tone and create a dramatic look.
- For neutral undertones: Purple/reds like violet, red-based browns, and plum colors offer work well.
- Warm: Darker shades look best on warm undertones. Look for deep purples, dark berry, and darker reds.
Pro tip: Wearing dark lip color can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Your lip color will stay in place and remain comfortable if you first exfoliate your lips, moisturize them deeply, and use a lip liner.
You can wear an electric blue or violet, or even a hot pink if you match the base of the lip color to your skin’s undertones.
- For cool undertones: The sky's the limit. Bright colors are worn well by cooler undertones and fair skinned people. Look for electric blues, vivid violets, and any shade of pink that doesn’t have an orange base.
- For neutral undertones: Reds, oranges, and even electric yellow lip color are all options you can try. If you’re dying to try a bright pink, look for shades that are a bit more purple such as magenta.
- For warm undertones: You can wear oranges like no other skin tone. Other options for warm undertones are metallic colors like coppery reds and metallic purples.
Nude lip colors can help draw attention to the eyes or simply add the perfect touch to a polished look. However, if you choose the wrong nude, it can make you look pale and sickly!
- For cool undertones: Don’t overdo it on the beige. Keep your nude lip color in the pink family to avoid looking pasty. Try getting a nude color that is one to two shades darker than your natural lip color.
- For neutral undertones: Caramel colors like coffee and taupe work well. You can also opt for a light pink gloss that will also help keep lips hydrated.
- For warm undertones: Nudes in shimmers and golden tones enhance the golden undertones of your skin, just be sure the nude you select has enough color to stand out from your skin. A nude color that too closely matches skin tone can make you look washed-out.
It’s worth noting that not all lipstick colors are completely safe. Lipstick can contain harsh ingredients like lead and coal tar. Coal tar is used as a pigment in many commercially produced lipsticks and is most commonly labeled as FD, FD&C, or FDC and the color name (red, blue, etc.) on the ingredients label.
To avoid these ingredients, shop with confidence from a brand you trust that never uses harmful ingredients or known toxins, like RMS.
Sure, you have warm undertones, but your complexion seems so uneven you’re not sure any shade of lipstick will look quite right. Uneven skin tone is a very common problem, with a fairly easy solution. You can easily balance out skin tone with a good base product that works to highlight your complexion (not cover it up).
For a more permanent solution, look for a product that helps balance your skin tone naturally. Kakadu Evening Beauty Elixir is a great skin solution that helps even out unbalanced skin tone and keep it hydrated.
Remember, you aren’t limited to a particular color family simply because the color of your skin is dark or light. You can wear a rainbow of colors if you select ones that compliment your skin’s natural undertones!
This information for RMS was fact checked by an expert in the beauty industry: Rose-Marie Swift