Finding The Perfect Shade for Your Skin Tone

I recently posted a picture on Instagram (itsmelayan – shameless plug) from a recent trip to the MAC store. I took a picture of my hand covered in various shades of lipstick which, as the caption stated, is just an average trip to the makeup counter. Finding your perfect shade is not an easy feat. You may see a colour that looks amazing on one person but drowns out your skin tone; a bright red might whiten one persons teeth, but the specific shade you got gives yours a yellow-y tinge. It’s extremely annoying, especially when we’re spending $20 or more on a tube of lipstick that we will then be stuck with until we pawn it off on a friend with more forgiving colouring. Fret not my friends, I’ve created a complete guide to finding the right shade of lipstick for your skin tone.

First things first, identify your undertone. Knowing whether you have a warm or cool undertone is extremely important when choosing your makeup. Any and all cosmetic decisions from here on out will be based on your colouring. One way to figure out your undertone is by looking at the veins on your wrist. Blue veins indicate a pink – or cool- undertone. If your veins give off more of a greenish colour, then you likely have an olive – or warm- complexion. If you look at your veins and see them looking greenish-blue (yes, thats possible) then you’re the lucky owner of a neutral undertone. An undertone that allows you to basically wear whatever shade you want and have it look amazing. These are the people we hate (kidding!). This has always been a little iffy for me since I know for a fact I have olive colouring yet my veins look more blue than green. If you’re completely uncertain, try holding a piece of yellow gold jewelry and a piece of silver jewelry up to your face. If yellow gold compliments your skin then you’re an olive, if it’s silver, then you’re fair. Now that we have that out of the way we can move on to finding your perfect hue.

Fair Skin

For people with fair skin, corals, peaches and red’s look absolutely fantastic. The great thing about having a fair skin tone is that you can rock those spring and summer shades that give everyone else that early 90’s frosted look – a trend that hopefully will not come back in style. The downside of fair undertones are that rich, bold colours that work oh-so-well in the fall and winter months can dominate your face and drown out the rest of your features. When choosing a colour for this skin tone, always stick to shades that have a pink or red undertone. Going for a cheery coral? choose one on the pink side like Stila Stay All Day Coral Pink rather than an actual coral with yellow or orangey undertones that can make you like gaunt.  The same goes for those darker shades. If going for a bold, red lip, choose a cherry red lipstick like Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Very Cherry. The great thing about having fair skin are that those bolder colours – anything in the berry family- look especially striking on a lighter canvas.

Olive Skin

This one I’ll be able to talk about the most since I myself have an olive skin tone, and after many many years of trial and (lots of) error, I think I’ve finally mastered the correct shades for my colouring. The major downfall of having an olive complexion is the yellowy undertones in your skin. The wrong shade can easily bring them forward and drown out your entire look. Thats why, when choosing a lipstick, always stick to dark undertones. I find the best red on this complexion is a dark, maroon shade like NARS velvet matte lip pencil in Cruella. I always get compliments on this shade because its berry undertones compliment olive skin nicely while also giving you the drama of a bold shade.

Summer colours are a little trickier, you may want to opt for the light pinks and the corals; instead try going for a darker pink like Makeup Forever Rouge Artist Intense Lipstick in Pearly Rosewood. The right shade of pink can give you that fresh summer glow without the intensity of frosted lips. If you are going for a lighter shade, try choosing one in the orange family.

Now this is where we get to the tricky part, olive complexions look great with darker colours, but its all about getting the right shade. Take Kat Von D’s Lolita for example, I have both the regular lipstick and the liquid lipstick, although both are supposed to be the same colour, I find the liquid lipstick gives more of a stark brown look, while the regular lipstick has an orangey undertone to soften the shade. Although both lipsticks are beautiful, the liquid one would look better on someone with a dark complexion because of its bold pigmentation. Always test out your makeup on your hand. Anything that looks too stark may wash you out.

Dark Complexion

People with a dark complexion are extremely lucky with all of the matte hues that are in right now – think Kylie Jenners Lip Kit. A matte brown or dusty rose shade looks amazing against a darker complexion. Lipstick fanatics with a darker complexion should stick to the same rules of those with an olive complexion. Steer towards orange and berry undertones, unless you’re going for an extreme lip, a lighter shade that would blend nicely with a fair complexion may stand out a little more than you desire against your skin tone. Another shade that goes seamlessly with a darker complexion are those rich, deep plums that everyone loves but not everyone can pull off like Smashbox By Legendary Matte Lipstick in Plum Role.

In the summer months, skip pinks and reds and go straight to oranges. An orange lip on a dark complexion looks absolutely amazing and gives you that fresh summer look you’re going for!

I know, this is a lot of information for lipstick, but trust me, when you find “your shade” it makes it all worth it. Let me know what your favourite shades are and which ones I should be trying!

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