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How do you tell if a lip color is cool or warm?


Determining whether a lip color has cool or warm undertones can be tricky. The color that looks great on your friend may not be flattering on you. Choosing the right lip color involves understanding your skin’s undertones and finding colors that complement them. With so many lip color options on the market, from drugstore brands to high-end cosmetics, it helps to have a guide on how to select the most flattering shades.

What are cool and warm lip color undertones?

Lip colors are categorized as either cool or warm, depending on their undertones.

Cool undertones have hints of blue, pink, or purple. If you hold a cool-toned lipstick next to your skin and it makes your complexion look brighter, it’s likely a cool tone. Cool lip colors include mauves, plums, and pinks.

Warm undertones contain hints of yellow, peach, or orange. If you hold a warm lip color next to your skin and it seems to complement your complexion, it’s likely a warm tone. Warm lip shades include corals, bricks, browns, and reds.

Determine your skin’s undertones

Before choosing a lip color, determine whether your skin leans cool or warm. Here are some ways to figure it out:

– Examine the veins on your wrist. If they appear blue or purple, you likely have cool undertones. Greenish veins indicate warm undertones.

– Think about how your skin reacts to the sun. Those with cool tones burn easily and tan minimally. Warm complexions tan more easily and deeply.

– Consider which jewelry flatters you most. Silver jewelry complements cool skin tones. Gold jewelry tends to look best with warm complexions.

– Look at your eyes and hair. Cool undertones are associated with blue and gray eyes and ash blonde or dark brown hair. Warm undertones are often seen with green, brown, and hazel eyes and strawberry blonde, red, or black hair.

– Drape different colored fabrics near your face. Cool tones are enhanced by white, blue, pink and red. Warm tones glow against yellow, peach, coral, and olive green.

Choosing cool-toned lip colors

If your skin is cool-toned, stick to lipsticks with pink, mauve, and berry undertones. Try to avoid shades with yellow, peach, or orange hints. Here are some flattering cool-toned lip color options:

– Pink – Go for bright, clear pinks and rose shades like fuchsia and cherry. Avoid muted dusty pinks.

– Red – Bluish-reds and true reds flatter cool skin. Stay away from oranges reds, which can clash.

– Berry – Deep wine, plum, and berry shades complement cool tones. Skip brownish berries.

– Mauve – Lavender-tinged mauves and nude-mauves are ideal for cool complexions. Pass on brown mauves.

– Nude – Look for pinky nudes rather than yellow or peach nudes. Beige-y shades wash out cool skin.

Great cool-toned lipstick shades

Brand Shade Name
MAC Ruby Woo
Urban Decay 1993
NARS Tolède
Dior 999
Revlon Cherries in the Snow
Maybelline Born With It
NYX Thalia

Selecting warm-toned lip colors

Those with warm complexions should choose lip shades with peach, yellow, and orange undertones. Avoid cool-toned pinks and berries. Flattering warm lip color options include:

– Peach – Shades like melon, peach, coral, and apricot complement warm skin tones. Avoid muted peaches.

– Orange – Try brick reds, burnt oranges, terra cottas, and salmons. Stay away from bright orange.

– Red – Opt for warm reds with a yellow, orange, or brown base. Blue-toned reds may not be as flattering.

– Nude – Nudes with a hint of peach, beige or brown are ideal for warm complexions. Avoid cool mauve-y nudes.

– Brown – Go for richer cappuccinos, chocolates, and bronze-y browns. Steer clear of cool-toned greyish browns.

Great warm-toned lipstick shades

Brand Shade Name
Charlotte Tilbury Penelope Pink
Buxom Sangria
Bite Sake
MAC Morange
Revlon Siren
NARS Tolede
Sephora Marrakesh

Tips for choosing the most flattering shades

– Test colors on your lips rather than just your hand. They can look different against your lip color.

– Swatch a few shades before deciding. Go for the one that makes your complexion glow.

– Ask someone for a second opinion. A shade you love might not be as objectively flattering.

– Look for colors labeled warm, cool, or neutral. It helps take the guesswork out.

– Don’t be afraid to take risks – you never know when a new color might become your next favorite!

– Consider undertones, but also pay attention to depth. A pale or deep color may not suit you.

– Mix colors to create custom shades. Lighten a dark lipstick with a lighter color.

– Use a lip liner to “correct” an undertone. A cool liner can tone down a too-warm lipstick.

How lighting affects how lip colors look

The lighting you’re in can impact how a lip shade looks on you. Certain types of light can distort colors:

– Natural light is ideal for selecting lipstick colors. You see true, unaltered colors in daylight.

– Warm incandescent bulbs add yellowness to lip colors. A lipstick can pull too orange under this light.

– Cool fluorescent lighting can lend a blue cast to lip colors. Lipsticks may appear more pink or purple than they actually are.

– Indoor artificial lighting causes colors to look muted and darker compared to natural light.

Always check your lip color in natural sunlight to see how the true shade looks. You may find a lipstick that appears flattering indoors looks off in outdoor light.


Choosing lip colors with undertones suited to your skin is key for a universally flattering look. Once you determine your skin’s undertones, look for cool-toned lipsticks with pink, berry, and mauve undertones if you’re fair and cool-toned. If you have a warm complexion, reach for peach, coral, and orange-based shades. Testing colors in natural light helps you find the most attractive, true-to-color lipstick for your skin tone. With so many excellent cool and warm-toned lip shades available, you’re sure to find your perfect color match.