Make-Up Moves: Getting Bright Lips Just Right

How many times have you seen a cutie patootie walking around with a bright lip and thought “I could never pull that off?” It can’t possibly be just me! Well, have no fears, our make-up contributor Torrey is to the rescue! Today’s post is all about how we can find the best brght lipstick for our skin tone. Now, we can all walk around in a bold, beautiful lip!

Your Chic is Showing,

Bright colored lipsticks can be pretty frightening, especially if you’re just beginning to get serious about your makeup. Personally, I’ve been wearing makeup for about 2 years now and I’m only JUST beginning to step out of the ‘nude lip’ box (which I LOVE!).

If you are a woman of color, you may have heard that some colors do not work for you. Let me first say, there are NO rules in wearing makeup, maybe guidelines. But, never let anyone dictate what you can and can not wear. You can make ANY lipstick color work for you with the right lip liner and lipgloss. However, there are some shades and colors that will compliment your skin tone, and mouth shape/size better than others.

Here are a few guidelines when choosing a brighter lip color. Remember, these are guidelines and not rules. Don’t be afraid to play around with different colors and liners.

Another thing to consider, if you decide to wear a bold, bright lip, try to keep the focus on your lips. A bold eye and bold lip can cause conflict and can ultimately contradict one another. Also, your lipstick does not need to match the color your clothes!


Before we get started, let’s cover ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ undertones. How do you know which one you are? Well, there are different theories and tests on how to discover your undertones; but, these two are the easiest and I can say they worked for me. Please keep in mind his has NOTHING to do with skin color! All pale, porcelain skinned women are not cool toned and all darker skinned women are not warm toned.

Cool: blue, pink, salmon undertones

Warm: yellow, golden, olive undertones neutral: a mixture of the two or either or

The Tests

1. The white clothing test – if you look better in off white, ivory, of eggshell: warm -if you look great in all, pure white clothing: cool

2. The jewelry test – if you look better in gold: warm -if you look better in silver: cool

For me, using the jewelry test, I’m a dead on warm. I look soooo much better in gold jewelry.

On to the lipstick . . .

Reds: cool tones – blue based olive/warm tones-orange, coral based

medium/deep skin-berry, mauve, purple based deeper skin-wine, deep, blue based

Because I am most familiar with MAC cosmetics, my recommendations will come from their products. There are MANY duplicates (dupes) for most of their shades from other higher end cosmetics to drugstore. If you have a question about a specific color, please let me know and I will find a dupe for you 🙂 [editor’s note: you can email with questions for Torrey]

A pretty, universal red lip color that looks good on every woman I’ve ever seen wearing it (including cooler tones) is Ruby Woo. It is a blue based red and can be manipulated with various lip liners. Other more blue based colors are MAC Red and Russian Red is also a blue-ish based lipstick that could work for many skin tones.

For warmer skin tones, Lady Danger is coral red and So Chaud is more of a red orange. Cockney and Lady Bug are yellow based reds that will also compliment warmer skin tones.

For deeper skinned women try a deeper, berry red such as Chili, Hang Up, Dare You, or Diva, among others. These all have a deep red, berry tone that won’t be so shocking and bright. They will compliment your darker skin tone perfectly. The blue based lip colors mentioned above will also look great on you, with the proper lip liner.

Very few women are able to wear a bright lip without a lipliner, especially a red lip. Red lips are the most tricky. When wearing a red lip, choose a lip liner that is a tad bit darker red or you can even use a brown. Or, you can switch it all the way up and use a burgundy, deep purple, or deep wine color. Using the liner will slightly diffuse the brightness and make it more wearable, creating a smooth transition from the perimeter of your mouth to the middle.

If you want to add shine, throw a clear lipgloss on top or one of a similar shade to the lipstick color.

For pinks you can apply the same type of logic.

Cooler skin tones will want to opt for a blue based pink. These same pinks can also suit warmer and neutral skin tones with an appropriate liner. Some suggestions are, Pink Plaid, Viva Glam Gaga 1, and Girl About Town (very popular).

Warmer skin tones will want to opt for a more yellow based pink, such as Viva Glam Nicki, Milan Mode and Chatterbox

For deep skin tones, opt for a purplish pink or fuchsia, Girl About Town would be a great one also. Up The Amp is a little more purple, but would be great on deeper skin tones.

Remember, there are not rules! Do what you’re comfortable with and don’t be afraid to try something new! If you decide to try a bright, bold lip, send pictures, we’d love to see!

Above: A bright coral lip gloss called Vivid Energy by Backstage Beauty Cosmetics (here’s a link to my blogpost about her launch party:

Below: A bright fuchsia (blue based) lipstick called Flamingo also by Backstage Beauty Cosmetics

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