“I believe in manicures, overdressing, primping at leisure and wearing lipstick,” Audrey Hepburn once said—and the gamine emblem of femininity was sure on to something.
A tube of lipcolor can transform your whole look—and with it, even your state of mind. Here’s our celebrity guide to picking the perfect hue for your skintone, so you too can take a turn in the spotlight.
For complexion-enlivening pop against fair skin tones, coral and apricot pinks work best for a day-friendly look that transitions to night, says Jemma Kidd, makeup artist and founder of a namesake beauty brand. At the Billboard’s Women in Music Awards, Taylor Swift balanced coral-pink lips with a touch of blush for a look that’s sweet, yet not overdone.
One to try: Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Lipstick in Rose Paris, $34
Sheer plum looks rich on deep olive-toned complexions like that of designer Rachel Roy, who adds a unique sense of brainy exoticism with navy kohl-lined eyes and thick cat frame glasses. “When lips are strong, take extra care to make sure they’re flake-free and well moisturized,” advises Kidd. Exfoliate lips with a warm washcloth or blend of sugar and olive oil, followed by a wax-based lipbalm and color.
One to Try: Fresh Sugar Plum Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15, $22.50
While dark skin tones can are known to pull off deep shades like no other, the same is true of a nude lip. The natural lip pigment of darker skin is like mother nature’s version of a cosmetic, with only a clear or sheer gloss needed for hydration and a touch of polish. Halle Berry has made nude lips her red carpet signature, for a sense of sophistication that is still down-to-earth approachable.
One to Try: Cover Girl NatureLuxe Gloss Balm in Spice, $6.99
Red contrasts vibrantly against the yellow undertone of Asian skin, which journalist Lisa Ling plays up with peachy blush and several coats of black lengthening mascara. “Go for orange undertones rather than blue, and stay away from fuchsia pink,” advises Kidd. Yellow-based skins also look best bathed in the earthy side of the spectrum, where reds tend towards brighter sienna and brick.
One to Try: Sephora Collection Rouge Cream Lipstick in Courtisane, $12
Adele’s love of big ol’ retro hair, lush lash strips and nude lips has rapidly launched the songstress’s 60’s-era beauty look into iconic territory. The key to striking to the perfect nude lip on fair skin tones is to make sure the base is warm pinky brown, says celebrity makeup artist Tina Turnbow, which Adele shows off with style at the MTV Video Music Awards.
One to Try: Tarte LipSurgence Natural Lip Tint in Peaceful, $24
The warmth of olive-toned complexions can pull off terracotta lip colors with ease. “Shades of red, orange, coral and gold look stunning,” says Kidd. At New York Fashion Week, Kim Kardashian maximizes the drama with spidery lashes, a theatrical braided bun and statement chandelier earrings. After all, subtlety is not typically a Kardashian family trait.
One to Try: Ulta Lip Crayon in Muse, $8
Medium skin tones are softly enhanced by creamy pink-browns, which can also bring out caramel highlights and brown eyes, à la Jessica Alba. For long-lasting lips, Turnbow recommends you first line and fill in, then “dab the lip color on with a finger tip and blot. It’s all about preventing bleeding.” Add a dollop of gloss on the bottom center of lip for shine that won’t slip.
One to Try: Lorac Cream Lipstick in Julia, $19
Nothing captures old Hollywood drama quite like the contrast of a Marilyn Monroe red lip against golden locks, which Christie Brinkley wears with glamorous tousled waves and softly defined eyes. According to the experts, the trick to pulling off red on lighter skin is to find a classic scarlet hue that stays true to tone once applied. A thin layer of foundation or concealer as a base on lips will help keep red genuine.
One to Try: Maybelline Color Sensational Lipcolor in Red Revival, $7.50
Butterscotch gold captures the radiance of African-American skin, which Oprah often accentuates with a clothing and jewelry wardrobe rich in champagne tones. “Glossy gold texture adds instant glamour to deep skin,” says Kidd. Try blending sheer gold shimmer to the center and inner corners of lids to complete the gilded look. A touch of gold gloss on the center of lips also enhances the deep berry and burgundy lip colors that also look so beautiful against deeper skin.
One to Try: , $19
Porcelain skin tones need not fear color, as actress Christina Hendricks so brilliantly shows. Look for sheer strawberry shades that allow lips to breathe through so lipstick doesn’t appear thick and painted on, and don’t forget to frame your face with groomed brows that provide the perfect balancing complement to lips.
One to Try: Stila Cherry Crush Lip & Cheek Stain, $24