How to Apply Lipstick
Written by Nicola Moulton
13 Feb 2022
Perhaps you’re longing to find 'the one' lip colour that best complements your skin tone, hair colour, lip shape, and daily mood. OR maybe you just want to know the best way to apply lipstick? Whatever you're looking for, you’ll need some sort of ultimate expert guide. And here it is…
How to Pick a Lipstick Colour
Knowing which colour lipstick to pick depends on a couple of different factors. Perhaps most importantly, your own preference (and that can be anything!) but also your skin tone and mood (more on mood below)
Whether you’re working out the best red or nude lipstick for your skin tone, your best foundation shade – or even what clothing colours suit you most – your undertone is key.
How do you identify it? There are three tests:
Look at the veins on your wrists. If they’re green, your skin has warm, yellow undertones, and if they’re blue/purple you have cool undertones.
Remove makeup – then hold a sheet of white A4 card next to your skin, followed by a sheet of cream A4 card (NB towels, sheets, walls will also work!). If you look best in front of the white backdrop, you have cool undertones, while warm undertones look better against creams.
Hold some gold jewellery up to your face, then repeat with silver. If gold suits you best, you’re warm – if it’s silver, you’re cool. Somewhere in between? Your skin’s undertone is neutral, meaning you suit all shades.
Best lip colour for warm undertones: warm-based peachy nudes, terracotta pinks, orange, brick and claret-red.
Best lip colour for cool undertones: blue-based rose nudes, mauve pinks, cool reds and deep plum.
And your hair colour?
Dark brown/black hair + warm undertones = pure reds and burgundy.
Dark brown/black hair + cool undertones = berry pinks and cherry red.
Blonde/light brown hair + warm undertones = orange pinks and coral reds.
Blonde/light brown hair + cool undertones = dusky rose and pinky browns.
Red hair + warm undertones = terracotta pinks and brick reds.
Red hair + cool undertones = blue-ish reds and dark plum.
Grey hair + warm undertones = bright pinks and rich claret reds.
Grey hair + cool undertones = rich reds and fuchsias.
Matte, satin or gloss? How to choose a lipstick texture
Lipsticks come in different textures, and it's not just a question of taste (although personal preference trumps all!) but also look, occasion, skin type and occasion.
Matte lipsticks are great when you want to make an impact. Typically made with a thicker formula that can last longer than gloss lipsticks, they can also have a drying effect on the lips which may require more prep.
The best matte lipsticks
Are high impact – perfect for Zoom calls, date nights and instant mood boosts
Require strategic application for stronger colour laydown
Moisturise - for richer, longer-lasting pigment
Luxe shine or satin lipsticks have a creamy texture that can be applied quickly in little more than a single stroke. The shiny finish and moisturising formula mean they can be great for everyday wear.
The best satin lipsticks
Deliver creamy, pigment-rich colour in one stroke
Visibly plump lips
Moisturise (without too much 'movement')
Gloss and high-shine lipsticks
Similar to satin and luxe shine lipsticks, Gloss and high shine are easy to apply. Giving your lips a fuller, more luscious appearances, their lightweight formula are easier on the skin. Gloss and high shine lipsticks are great for everyday wear, yet can still provide a touch of glamour when needed.
The best gloss & high shine lipsticks
Are quick and easy to apply
Hydrate and plump dry, chapped lips
Make lips appear fuller – useful if you want to know how to create bigger looking lips
How to apply lipstick
Prepping your lips before you apply lipstick is an essential step in ensuring that your perfect lip colour will stay even, smudge free and, well, perfect, for as long as possible.
Rub dry or chapped lips with a damp flannel before applying lipstick to lightly exfoliate your lips and remove any dead skin. This will leave a smooth even surface for application.
Apply your best lip balm to properly hydrate your lips and prevent your lip colour from bleeding.
Matching your mood
It’s important that you LOVE the lipstick colour you’re wearing. Finding a feel good lip colour is like finding any other accessory: choose what you’re attracted to! Start with a colour you like, and then find the shade to best suit you, your mood and – if needs be – the occasion.
For a low maintenance mood boost, think: peach-toned nudes, bare pink and berry shades. Your lips, but better – this is your signature colour, and one you turn to time and time again. Deeply personal, you own it in a gloss, liner and at least three lipsticks. Yours is the sort of makeup match that has you buying in bulk. A ‘comforting cuddle in a tube’ this lip colour is guaranteed to lift your complexion (and your mood) in one seamless swipe.
For a confidence boost, think: power reds, ‘pep-talk’ pinks and high energy oranges. Sure – bold lip colours require confidence, but wearing bright lipstick also boosts confidence. And it’s scientifically proven that red lipstick makes us more attractive to people’s gaze. If you’re new to brights, pare down the rest of your makeup, safe in the knowledge that spirit-lifting lipsticks are a sure fire way to feel ‘pulled together’ (even when we’re not).