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Applying lip color is one of the simplest of all makeup steps and is a great way to instantly change a look. Lip color applications range from simple, blotted-on stains to combinations of lip pencil, lipstick, and gloss.


The right shade works with the skin tone and complements the natural color of the lips. You can choose from a wide range of product formulas, which include matte, sheer, shimmery, and creamy lipsticks and glosses.

Finding the Perfect Shade

To identify the best basic lip color, remove all makeup. The perfect neutral shade—pinky brown, nude, beige pink, rosy brown, pink, chocolate, or blackberry—will generally be close in tone to the natural lip color.

The one that looks good on the naked face is the right neutral, everyday, mistakeproof color. It should not look ashy, orange, or pink but like an enhanced version of the natural lip color.


Some women might need more color, and the shade that works best without makeup could be bright or dark rather than neutral. You know you have found the right shade when it enhances the skin tone, makes the eyes look brighter, and gives the face a lift.

Once you have identified the right neutral or everyday shade of lip color, you have the basis for selecting more dramatic colors. Most lip colors with the same undertone as the natural shade will look flattering.

Guide for Selecting Lip Color


MATTE PRODUCTS are dense and last longest. They contain less moisture than other products, so they adhere to the lips and don’t fade as quickly. They are not appropriate for very dry lips.

SEMIMATTE PRODUCTS are less dry than matte products and don’t last as long. They work best on textured or dry lips and give off a soft sheen.

SHEER COLORS are see-through, forgiving, and easy to use.

STAINS provide long-lasting, highly pigmented color.

TINTS, like sheer glosses or balms, protect the lips with moisturizing formulas that usually contain sunscreen.

BALMS are tinted or clear formulas and help soften the lips.

GLOSS STICKS are hybrids, between sheer lipstick and gloss. They add a bit more pigment than lip gloss does but both are see-through and moist.

LIP GLOSSES provide hydration, sun protection, and sheen. This formula is great for making the lips look fuller and for layering on top of other lip colors.

CHUBBY LIP PENCILS will both define lips and provide a creamy matte texture. They are long lasting but can be a bit dry.

LIP LINERS define the lips and keep lipstick on longer when used on the entire lip area.


Mixing and blending are fun but it’s always great to find a color that works directly out of the tube.
Never buy a color that the makeup artist has to “fix” to work on you.


Troubleshooting: Lip Color

For pale lips use pastel shades, such as pale pink or light beige. Deep tones appear very dark on pale lips, so apply them with a light hand.
Very dark lips look best with blue-toned and deep, saturated lip color. Very pale shades of lipstick can appear gray or ashy on dark lips.

For uneven colored lips that are either dark with pink inside the lower lip or one darker and one lighter lip, you can choose to enhance or conceal the natural colors. Use a light shade that corresponds to the lighter lip color to enhance and bring out the paler lip, or use a deeper shade for a dramatic, full-coverage look. To even out tone, use a sheer, dark lipstick as a base on the lighter area, and then apply regular lipstick.

  • 1- Choose the color and apply it using a lip brush or directly out of the tube.
  • 2- Beginning at one corner of the mouth, apply an even layer of color over the entire lip area.
  • 3- Keep the color within the natural lines of the lips. Use the brush to accurately line the lips.
  • 4- Continue the application to the other corner of the mouth. Always apply the color into the corners on both top and bottom lips.
  • 5- Fill in the bottom lip and any missed areas. Press your lips together to evenly distribute the color.


It’s so much easier to match the lip color than to use a dark color that has to be blended.

Tips for Long-Lasting Color

Some lip color products are long-lasting, but often those formulas are far too dry. Here are some techniques that provide extended wear to regular lipstick formulas.


Use a lip pencil that matches the natural color of the lips to line and completely fill in the lips. This base helps hold lip color in place. Layer lipstick on top.

Use pencil on top of lipstick to create a waxy barrier.

Blotting lipstick with your finger presses color into the lips and will create a stain that will last.

A bit of powder or blush patted on top of lipstick will keep it on longer.

  • 1 Begin by choosing color that matches the lips or lipstick. Begin lining the top lip.
  • 2 Extend the line across the top lip.
  • 3 Define the line across the bottom lip.
  • 4 Line underneath the lower lip.
  • 5 Fill in any missed areas and blend.


Lip gloss gives a nice shine and can make the lips look a bit fuller. Don’t overdo it by applying too much.

  • Apply gloss to a lip brush or directly to the lips.
  • Using the brush or your finger, begin at the middle of the lips.
  • Apply gloss to both the top and bottom lips.
  • Wipe the edges of the lips when finished.
  • The lips look fuller and hydrated.

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