Archived Post

How did you figure out what lip colors worked for you?

I think my warmer undertones dictated color initially, like peaches and corals over grays. When I started wearing makeup, I was darker in color (did not use SPF as religiously and spent more time outdoors–I tan veryyy quickly!), so I also found brighter shades seemed more flattering on me. Experimenting with different undertones, depths, and brightness (or mutedness) helps a lot to get a gauge and then dialing in on things that worked or almost worked.

— Christine


Comments that do not adhere to our comment policy may be removed. Discussion and debate are highly encouraged but we expect community members to participate respectfully. Please keep discussion on-topic, and if you have general feedback, a product review request, an off-topic question, or need technical support, please contact us!

Please help us streamline the comments' section and be more efficient: double-check the post above for more basic information like pricing, availability, and so on to make sure your question wasn't answered already. Comments alerting us to typos or small errors in the post are appreciated (!) but will typically be removed after errors are fixed (unless a response is needed).

We appreciate enthusiasm for new releases but ask readers to please hold questions regarding if/when a review will be posted as we can't commit to or guarantee product reviews. We don't want to set expectations and then disappoint readers as even products that are swatched don't always end up being reviewed due to time constraints and changes in priorities! Thank you for understanding!

Comments on this post are closed.
Deborah S. Avatar

I have cool undertones, very cool. My skin tone has a lot of peachy/pink. So, I naturally gravitated to cool toned colors and in particular cool toned reds and berries. I also have very pigmented lips so this also led to my choosing darker shades. I don’t like the feeling of having my lips completely obliterated by concealer to allow the lipstick color to not be affected by the strongly colored lips. Plus, I don’t want to have to be carrying concealer around with me every where so that I can reapply my color during the day. So, when I started incorporating more warmer eye looks I was having some difficulty with lips. Mind you I don’t think other people have to pair their warm eye looks with warm lips or vice versa but it is what works for me. I have never thought that oranges, browns or extremely warm toned shades flatter me. My daughter started encouraging me to try some orangey/pinks and some orangey/reds. She encouraged me to add a few mildly brown shades to my lip repertoire and I found that I can make them work. Are they my favorites, maybe not, but they don’t look as bad on me as I imagined. I guess the answer to the question is I experiment a lot and if I stay away from super orange/yellow/brown lips then I can pull off more muted warm toned lipsticks. I think that most people can find a shade/tone/hue of any color that they can wear and experimenting until you find the one that works is part of the fun.
I would love it if Avon would go back to putting their lipsticks in little tester bullets like they use to do in the “old” days. I loved those bullets and they were just the right amount of lipstick so that you could really try out the shade. The little blister packs are fun but you can’t take them with you to reapply and so I would like to see little bullets come back, LOL. If you are too young you probably don’t know what I am talking about but they were fun.

helen Avatar

My mom was an Avon representative in the ‘old’ days and i remember playing with those sample bullets of lipstick! You just took me back to a whole other lifetime!!!

Nancy T Avatar

I’m no blogger or vlogger, but I’m fairly certain that I’ve tried on at least a 600-700 lipsticks during my 45 years of wearing makeup! Not kidding, actually. I can get away with quite a few shades that are bright, vampy or neutral. However, I can only do this when my hair color is close to what I would have if I weren’t going gray: a dark, slightly reddish brown. What I look awful in are extremes in *tone*; very warm or cool. When I’ve worn my hair dyed bright red, or with honey blonde highlights, I am far more resticted than presently! And Christine, I totally get what you mean about having a tan affect which shades look best! Ex-easybake-oven-browned here myself, but no more.

Emily Avatar

I actually reference your shade descriptions a lot, Christine, and it’s been super helpful. I’ve realised that orange-browns, peaches with yellow undertones and light muted pink beiges with warm undertones don’t work on me. I hadn’t thought of going through my lipsticks and comparinmtthem to your shade descriptions until someone suggested it to me and it was a great idea.

Of course there are some anomalies but that’s always going to be the case! I seem to look best in rosy plums, reddish plums, muted rosy pinks, pinky corals and rosy browns. I have slightly paler than n15 skin with cool undertones and very high contrast colouring (dark hair and eyes). It takes trial and error but it’s a fun journey!

MacKenzie G. Avatar

Maybe it’s because I have almost neutral undertones, but I don’t really find a lot, if any, lip colors look bad on me. I also don’t necessarily subscribe to that idea. If I like a color, I will wear it. Yes, I’m certain some colors are more flattering than others, but at least to me “pulling off” a lip color is primarily about my confidence.

Erica Avatar

I go with neutrals or warm tones mostly. It flatters most bc my undertones look best with warm tones. Then it really is a matter of preference. I go with what I gravitate towards and like. Light pinks, peaches, nudes, mauves etc. Nothing too gray or blue toned

Wednesday Avatar

Painstakingly and costly trial and error. My light neutral olive skintone is finicky. I’m best when straddling the warm/cool spectrum and not straying too far on either side. I tend to prefer slightly cool lipsticks; especially in nudes where warm nudes really wash me out. Brights are fantastic on me, anything in Fuschia is usually a score, but even there, a slight difference can alter a lipstick from good to fantastic. Right now two shades which really pop on me Bobbi Brown Art Stick (the matte pencil) in Electric Pink and MAC matte lipstick in Good Kisser (LE). Bobbi Brown spring pink is a good example of a day wear neutralish pink which works super well on me. I also do well with the trendy muted shades, but find I like to pair more with fall/winter wardrobe.

Alecto Avatar

Purely trial and error. My skin is strongly yellow-toned, so I always assumed that warm colors look best on me (and they do with eyeshadows), but I stumbled across the realization that strong, cool, slightly cool, or cool-side-of neutral berry colors look best on my lips. A revelation. Of course, I choose my makeup on a day to day basis based on my mood, not on how much it flatters (or in a lot of cases, doesn’t flatter) me, so … [shrug]. I also discovered that in order to be flattering, the cool colors need to be in the “normal” range (not blue, not lavender, etc…), and they have to be intense (e.g. not lightening up toward pink, nor graying out toward mauve), but not overly so (no neons or eye-popping brights). So as an example in the UD spectrum, Jilted works better for me than Anarchy, but Venom is the ultimate.

Actually, it’s kind of interesting how colors work on my face — I’m flattered by a range of temperatures from top to bottom: my eyes require neutrals to warms (warm taupes, oranges, non-pink peaches, browns, golds, warm reds, etc.) for the best emphasis, my cheeks do best with neutrals, or colors the stray only slightly from neutral, and my lips look best in cool/cool-neutral.

Lulle Avatar

Trial and error! In fact, I still can’t reliably predict how a lip color will look on me after seeing swatches online or other people wearing it, including you Christine. I have warm undertones but I think I look better in cool rather than warm reds. I used to stay away from cool pinks, but I recently discovered that fuchsia can actually look great on me. The one type of shade I know for sure doesn’t work for me is pale nude. That just looks hideous whatever the undertone.

Kitty Avatar

I’m very cool toned and my lips are a bit pigmented so that many times, lipstick colors end up pulling pink on me, which is unfortunate as pink doesn’t seem to look that good on me. I can’t wear colors that are too warm with orange or yellow undertones either, as they make my teeth look (more) yellow and my face look rather sickly. The best colors for me are berry or purple toned, as long as they don’t lean too pink or too brown. I can wear some nudes that are light pink as long as they’re more cooler toned. The only way I can know for sure if a color will work is to try it, or carefully look at online reviews.

How I found out what worked was through trial and error. I bought a bunch of drugstore lipsticks at first to just see what would work and went from there. I still made many mistakes, so pared down my collection as I saw how some lipsticks wore off and how they looked in various lights. Sometimes I still get the wrong color, but so many lipsticks sold are warm based, that the remaining selection available is much smaller (so less prone to error).

Silvia Avatar

I’m very cool toned pink underneath burn easily never tan. I try all kinds of colors and lots such as reds, berries, coral and oranges specially bring out my hazel eyes they seem to contrast well. I like wearing nude colors love In the flesh from WetnWild but has to have a hint of pink in it I don’t do well with medium or dark browns they make me look like a non-fed vampire but surprisingly last year for the first time tried the vampy colors and I was shocked they look great especially reds, berries, mauve. Surprise! Surprise! Just never harsh browns. That’s why I find it fun to experiment.
Oh! Btw, about those teeny little Avon lipstick samples. They must be still available. Almost screamed seeing one my mom recently showed me she has an Avon representative close friend. They are still around. Love them too! Such a cute perfect size to sample. Hadn’t seen in 100 years!

Deborah S. Avatar

WOW, the little bullets are still around? I am going to have to find a local AVON rep and see if I can score some! I am not sure if there is one in the small town in Montana that I live in but AVON could probably tell me. This is exciting. Thank you.

Bonnie Avatar

The bullets are available, but the Avon reps have to pay for all those samples and the bullets probably cost more, so they don’t buy them all the time. The reps pay for the catalogs, the samples, the bags, everything, so they don’t want to lay out a lot of money unless they think it will bring sales. Newer reps probably buy all those bullets the most.

Rachel R. Avatar

Trial and error. Although, I’m fortunate that with my coloring, most lip colors look good on me. My lips are almost as light as my skin, with only a hint of mauve, so colors stay very true on me. Having very fair skin with neutral undertones means nothing clashes.

I have to avoid pale, matte, nude lippies, and some orange lippies that make my teeth look more yellow. (I have transparent enamel from Tetracycline use as a young child; the yellow dentin shows through.)

Robin Avatar

I’m light to medium with blue/grey eyes and strong pink undertones in my skin . I am drawn to a blend of pink/red/coral . Anything brownish, mauve, baby pink or fuchsia is a no go . Yes, it’s been a very expensive trial and error process !

Genevieve Avatar

First of all I knew that pink shades were not going to be on my lipstick agenda because I have never worn pink in my life! As a little girl with a twin sister, who was a brunette, she loved the pink and my mum always put me in blue shades as I always gravitated towards that shade.
With my titian coloured hair (courtesy of my Scottish grandmother), I have always been drawn to bright lip shades – reds and berries. As I started experimenting with makeup, I was also drawn to the copper and brown shades of lipstick, which I still love today.
I have also begun to use ginger and peachy/coral shades as well.

Gamze Avatar

I’m a cool/deep winter with very cool undertones. Even before I started wearing makeup, I knew which colours suited me. My first lipstick was a dark plum and the second one was a cool red. So, it didn’t take much trial and error in my case. Now I own about 60 lipsticks and only three of them are warm-toned.

MoMerrell Avatar

I decided to stop worrying about who says what color could and could not work for me and instead, I wear whatever color I want. It has made my love for lipstick so much more better because nothing is off limits to me based off of what “rules” say I can and cannot wear.

Emilie Avatar

A couple times when I was just getting into makeup, I went out and bought lipsticks just because I had heard beauty gurus rave about them online. That’s kind of when I realized that “good” by other’s standards doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll look good on me. Just because I’m pale doesn’t mean any shade a pale YouTuber uses will be flattering on me. Mac’s Creme Cup was a bit of a turning point, I’ve hated it practically since I bought it. Definitely takes experimentation, I thought all nude pinks would look terrible on me until I found the ones that don’t! Warm pinks only for this gal. 🙂

Seraphine Avatar

Trial and error, mostly. I’ve given up on finding a coral that looks good on me. I’ve tried so many on and they always make me cringe, though corals look so nice on other women. I also avoid very light and very dark colors. The very light ones wash me out and the very dark ones make my naturally full lips look thin.

Erin Avatar

At first someone told me I was warm colored, which was not really true. I looked terrible and sickly all the time. As soon as I started wearing more neutral undertones, I noticed my face looked brighter and teeth looked whiter. I can carry more warm color on my mouth and cheeks than my base or shadows, so I try to stay in neutral leaning bases in the lipstick, as long as it’s not a warm yellow/orange/brown base, I can pull it off most times.

Bonnie Avatar

I think I just started with what I gravitated towards. I am a firm believer that anyone can wear any color, except for skin products like foundation and concealer. You just have to know how to put it together and wear it with confidence. I remember being 12 or 13, when I first started buying makeup, and always wanting pale pink and bright true purple lipstick, as well as purply pinks. I still love those shades, but my tastes have also matured to include the whole brown family. I think if you put on a color you love, if it makes you feel like you, it’s a winner.

The only colors you shouldn’t wear are the ones that just make you feel like you’re not being yourself. For me, that’s true cool reds. While I don’t normally choose reds, every now and then, I see a brownish or orangey red that just works on me. But the more pink or blue toned reds just make me feel clownish, so I avoid them.

I do believe that what works for you is what you truly love to wear, regardless of what a color wheel, seasonal palette system, or anyone else has to say.

We try to approve comments within 24 hours (and reply to them within 72 hours) but can sometimes get behind and appreciate your patience! 🙂 If you have general feedback, product review requests, off-topic questions, or need technical support, please contact us directly. Thank you for your patience!