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How to apply lipstick for the best results

9 life-changing lipstick tips, loved by experts

Beauty Pie zoom perfect makeup how-to

3 Mins Read Arrow down icon

The best lipsticks have the power to make us feel our best. Through changing seasons, career highs, lockdown lows, wedding makeup and dates, nothing fast-tracks the feel good feeling quite like a gloriously painted lip. 

Which may explain why sales of lipstick are skyrocketing. 

Like an outfit for your face, the right lip color can make you feel ready to take on the world, brightening your mood in an instant. “I actually wore more lipstick [during lockdown],” says BEAUTY PIE member MartaSunshine13. “Lipstick just brings a smile to my face. It always lifts my mood!” 

From the classic rich reds, to the ‘suits-you’ nudes, to the power pinks that enhance your pout when you need it most, some shades warrant a place in everyone’s lipstick wardrobe.

Perhaps you’re longing to find 'the one' lip color that best complements your skin tone, hair color, 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.

How to apply lipstick for the best results

Lipstick Texture

Step 1: Prep

  • Rub dry or chapped lips with a damp flannel to remove dead skin

  • Apply your best lip balm (it will prevent lip color from bleeding)

Step 2: Pick Your Color

While there is a formula for finding the most flattering lipstick color for every skin tone – many of us select our makeup by mood and/or convenience too, right? Fear not, we have you (and your lips) covered:

1. How to identify your skin undertone    

Pati Dubroff: How to Apply Natural Looking Makeup Step 3 - Lips

Whether you’re working out the best red or nude lipstick for your skin tone, your best foundation shade – or even what clothing colors 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 color for warm undertones 

Warm based peachy nudes, terracotta pinks, orange, brick and claret-red. 

Best lip color for cool undertones

Blue based rose nudes, mauve pinks, cool reds and deep plum.

And your hair color?

  • 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.

2. Matte, luxe shine or gloss? How to choose

BEAUTY PIE Secret Lipsticks

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

The best matte lipsticks 

  • Are high impact – perfect for Zoom calls, date nights and instant mood boosts

  • Require strategic application for stronger color laydown

  • Moisturize - for richer, longer-lasting pigment

The best satin lipsticks

  • Deliver creamy, pigment-rich color in one stroke

  • Visibly plump lips

  • Moisturize (without too much 'movement')

 3. Pick a lipstick shade to perfectly match your mood

Youthbomb Pipette

It’s important that you LOVE the lipstick color you’re wearing. Finding a feel good lip color is like finding any other accessory: choose what you’re attracted to! Start with a color you like, and then find the shade to best suit you, your mood and – if needs be – the occasion. 

I always wear lipstick without fail, it’s a fast way to feel better! 

–sheneverwrites, Pie Member

Beauty Pie model lipstick shot

For a low maintenance mood boost, think: peach-toned nudes, bare pink and berry shades.

Your lips, but better – this is your signature color, 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 color is guaranteed to lift your complexion (and your mood) in one seamless swipe. Try: FUTURELIPSTICK™ LUXE SHINE LIPSTICK.

Nothing beats a lip, a white t-shirt, a bit of perfume and some positivity.

 –Caroline Barnes, Celebrity Makeup Artist 

For a confidence boost, think: power reds, ‘pep-talk’ pinks and high energy oranges.

Sure – bold lip colors 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). Try: FUTURELIPSTICK™ - MATTE.

Gilly Ferguson Avatar
Words by

Gilly Ferguson

2 years ago


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© 2023 Beauty Pie. All rights reserved.From The New York Times. © 2020 The New York Times Company. All rights reserved. Used under license.

© 2023 Beauty Pie. All rights reserved.From The New York Times. © 2020 The New York Times Company. All rights reserved. Used under license.