If summer is the season for glossy lips and beachy waves, then winter is definitely the season for rich-hued pouts and bolder makeup choices. Festive parties, cozy date nights, and cooler weather tend to influence winter lipstick shades. Are you asking yourself “What color lipstick should I wear this winter?” Look no further than this guide of lipstick colors for all skin tones.
Know Which Shades Of Lipstick Flatter Your Complexion
One thing that holds true for all seasons is this: the best color to wear is the one you feel good in. While it can be fun to try out trendy lipstick shades, you will likely look (and feel) your best in a shade that flatters your skin tone and undertone.
Identify Your Skin Tone And Undertone
Your skin tone is the surface color of your skin. It refers to your skin’s depth of color and ranges from porcelain white to deep chocolate brown and everything in between.
Undertones are the colors that appear underneath the surface of your skin. There are three undertones: warm, cool, and neutral.
- Warm: your skin has a peach, olive, yellow, or golden hue
- Cool: your skin has a blue or pink tone
- Neutral: your skin could go both ways, or you’re right in the middle1
Every skin tone (or color) can have any of the undertones. For example, someone with fair skin may have a yellow (warm) undertone or a pink (cool) undertone. Someone with dark skin may have a golden (warm) or blue undertone (cool).
If you aren’t sure which undertone your skin has, here are a few methods that may help you:
- Hold Up A White Piece Of Paper. Hold up a plain piece of printer paper next to your face in a naturally-lit room. If your skin looks pink next to the paper, you have cool undertones. If your skin looks yellow, you may have warm undertones.
- Look Closely At Your Veins. Look closely at the veins on the underside of your wrist. If they appear to be blue or purple, you have cool undertones. If they look green, you have warm undertones. If you see a mix of both, you have neutral undertones.
- Consider Your Natural Hair Color. This one doesn’t work for everyone, but it may help. If your natural hair color has ashy or blue undertones, you may have a cool undertone. If your hair has red, orange, or yellow undertones, you may have a warm undertone.2
Many people have a mix of cool and warm skin tones. If you can’t nail down just one, don’t worry about it. You can consider your undertones to be neutral. You can also decide which undertone you most identify with and go with that one.
Pick The Right Lipstick Shade For Your Complexion
Once you’ve identified your skin undertone, you’ll use that, along with your skin tone, to find a color that is flattering for you. In the winter, many of us are eager to try bold winter lipstick shades like brick red, rich berry, and copper. This can be a fun time to experiment.
As a rule of thumb, pick a lipstick shade that corresponds with your skin tone and undertone. For example, light complexions may go best with light colors and deeper complexions may go well with darker hues. If you want to try trendy lipstick shades, like brick red, match the depth of color to your own skin tone. For example, fairer complexions could try a muted brick red, while a highly pigmented brick red might be a better choice for deeper complexions.
That said, you do you and have fun with it.
Lipstick For Fair Complexions
Very light skin tends to have cool undertones. If you have ivory skin, pick a blue or purple-toned color. If your skin is very light, you may want to avoid very dark colors like wine red, as they may overpower light complexions. Here are a few ideas:
- A cool shade of pink
- Light pink nude lipstick
- Muted berry
- Cherry red3
Lipstick For Warm, Light Skin
If you have a warm undertone with a light skin tone, you’ll want to reach for warm tones to flatter your complexion. Warm, peachy hues should complement your skin beautifully.
- Nude peach
- Muted peach-pink
- Fiery red
- Brick red
- Muted terracotta brown4
Lipstick For Cool, Medium Skin Tones
If you have medium skin with cool undertones, you may want to try one of these shades:
- Rosy pink
- Cherry red
Lipstick For Olive Skin
Olive skin tones are usually considered to be “warm,” but many olive complexions can go either way. Here are a few lipstick shades to try:
- Light brown
- Brick red
Lipstick For Warm, Dark Skin
Those of us with darker skin tones have likely noticed that “nude shades” don’t always go with this skin tone. To achieve a nude look, people with dark complexions should gravitate toward colors that match the tone of their lips. Warm-toned lipsticks can bring out golden tones in skin. Here are a few options to try:
- Coral rose
- Deep mauve
- Rust red
- Chocolate brown7
Lipstick For Cool, Deep Skin
People with deeper complexions can truly look great in a full range of vibrant, rich colors. One rule of thumb for those with cool, deep complexions is to steer clear of anything orangey. Oranges can bring out yellow undertones and may not be the most flattering on this skin type. Here are a few ideas for flattering shades:
- Deep Plum
- Ruby red
- Dark plum8,9
Fun, Wintery Lipstick Color Ideas
Still wondering, “What color lipstick should I wear this winter?” If you want a fresh, seasonal look, pick up a festive color you don’t usually wear. Here are a few trendy lipstick shades that may work for you.
- A matte red lip in a shade that’s flattering for you (see above). From classic red to deep wine, this is a trend that will never go away.
- ‘90s inspired shades like brick red and browns
- Purple lipsticks: from muted berry to deep plum
- Nudes (hint: especially if you’re going for a dramatic eye makeup look)
- Understated metallic: try a shimmery copper or gold with a subtle sparkle10,11
Special Tips For Applying Lipstick In Winter
With winter comes cold air, wind, and overzealous indoor heaters – which can all be drying for skin and lips. Because many lipstick formulas can dry out the lips even on a good day, it’s important to take special care to keep your lips hydrated during the winter. Here are some tips for applying lipstick in the cold winter months.
Exfoliating will help remove dead skin and prepare the surface of your lips for a more even application. To exfoliate, apply a gentle lip scrub with a cotton swab or your finger, rub it in, and rinse your lips.
2. Apply A Lip Moisturizer
Before you expose your lips to cold, wintery air, apply a lip balm to help hydrate them. Look for lip balm with moisturizers and emollients that can help seal in moisture.
3. Line Your Lips
Bold, winter lipstick shades call for lip liner. Using a lip liner can help prevent your lipstick from bleeding and fading. Try a shade that matches your lips or lipstick, line your lips, and color them in with the lip liner before you apply lipstick.
4. Apply Lipstick
After you’ve exfoliated, moisturized, and lined your lips, it’s time to apply your lipstick. During the winter months, opt for a hydrating lipstick. Carefully apply it straight from the tube, or use a lip brush for more control. For an even application, apply at least two coats, and be sure to blot in between.12-14
Look And Feel Your Best This Winter
One of the best things about makeup is that it is temporary. Have fun experimenting. Try trendy lipstick shades you’ve been eyeing on social media. Pick up vibrant winter lipstick shades you don’t think you can actually pull off. Have fun with it. You just may surprise yourself.
Makeup Tips: How To Apply Matte Lipstick
How To Apply Lip Liner In Different Ways
A Complete Guide To The Best Nude Lipsticks For Every Skin Tone