Found: The best lipsticks for your skin tone

Plus, the 3 shades that flatter everyone

Beauty Crew Editor / May 25 2017

As tiny as a lipstick bullet is, it has the power to impact your mood, your makeup look, and your overall style. Which is why there is no better feeling than finding The One (or, let’s be honest, Ones). 

Whether you’re on the hunt for a nude, pink, red or berry shade, the best way to find your perfect hue is not to just pick the first one you fall in love with, but to choose the one based on your skin tone. All lipstick shades have either cool, warm or neutral undertones, just like your skin. Finding a lipstick with the perfect tone to complement your complexion will ensure you look amazing with every application. 

We spoke to makeup artist Hayley Dutton to weigh in on the best lipstick shades for fair, medium, and dark skin tones – as well as the colours that will suit absolutely everyone. 

Fair skin

“Generally speaking, people with fairer skin tend to have more of a cool undertone to their skin, so it’s best to look for cooler toned lipsticks to help keep the balance,” says Dutton. 

If you’re confused about what a cool tone means, Dutton explains that cooler shades show more hints of blue or purple in the colour (whereas warmer shades have green or yellow tones to them). 

For fair skin, Dutton recommends using cool pink-based nudes, dusty pinks, bright, cool red, and even deep shades of purple. Yep, that’s right – reds and purples. Dutton explains, “Don’t be afraid of a brighter colour. Often those with fair skin will shy away from them, but a cool, bold bright lip can really help to create beautiful contrast against light skin.” 

For the pink-based nude, we recommend Rimmel London The Only 1 lipstick in Pink Me Love Me; and if you’re after more of a dusty pink, try It’s A Keeper. For those bolder, brighter hues, try cool red Best Of The Best, raspberry-coloured Listen Up!, and purple-based plum Under My Spell.

“A cool, bold bright lip can really help to create beautiful contrast against light skin.”
Hayley Dutton
Makeup Artist

It’s A Keeper

Best Of The Best

Under My Spell

Medium skin

Those with medium complexions often have both warm and cool tones, meaning the world is pretty much their oyster when it comes to picking a lipstick shade. That being said, though, warmer-toned lipsticks look particularly fantastic with your skin. Dutton’s only recommendation is to avoid lipsticks that are lighter than your skin tone, as this could wash you out. 

Her picks? “I love peachy nudes, soft pinks and fuchsia, orange-based reds, mauve, deep shades of burgundy and vixen berries on medium skin tones.” 

If you’re after a mid-pink to wear daily, try Rimmel London The Only 1 lipstick in You’re All Mine, but for colours that pack more punch, we suggest the shades Cheeky Coral, Call Me Crazy and One-Of-A-Kind.

You're All Mine

Cheeky Coral

Call Me Crazy

The pigmented colour in The Only 1 lipstick shades added to the nourishing formula will leave your lips looking as good as they feel.

Dark skin

For those with darker skin tones, Dutton recommends opting for deeper shades, as “lighter shades won’t show up as well on darker skin, and a lighter shade can tend to make you look washed out.”

When picking a nude, Dutton suggests looking for lipsticks with caramel tones and a glossy finish to help build dimension, and for a bolder lip look, deep shades of chocolate, plum, wine and red will look great against your skin. For lipsticks that have more pop, you can try bright pinks and corals to contrast your skin tone. 

Rimmel The Only 1 lipstick in Easy Does It is a great option for a nude, whereas the warm Peachy Beach and vibrant Pink A Punch are great for days when you want your lip to be the focus of your look. If you want to delve into deeper colours, try the wine-red One of A Kind.

“The darker the skin the deeper you need to go when selecting a colour.”
Hayley Dutton
Makeup Artist

Easy Does It

Pink A Punch

One of A Kind

All skin tones

What makes a lipstick shade universally flattering? Dutton explains, “Medium shades that tend to be neither overly warm or cool, dark or light, deep or bright. They sit quite nicely in the middle across all skin tones.” 

So if trying to figure out skin tone and undertone is too much, you can try using Rimmel The Only 1 lipstick in Naughty Nude for everyday wear, Revolution Red as your go-to red, and Oh-So Wicked when you’re after a vampy winter look.

Naughty Nude

Revolution Red

Oh So Wicked

The staying power of The Only 1 lipstick means you don’t have to worry about too many touch-ups during the day. But make sure you check for any smudges on your teeth!

Image credits: Getty

Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.