The best lip color you will ever own or Do I really need 27 shades of pink lipstick? Part One

I began this article with the express goal of describing how you can create your own custom-made lip color.  But I realize that I need to discuss (again) the basics of lip color and help you choose the right color and shade for you.  So Part One of this article deals with lip color basics and Part Two will deal with creating your own lip color. 

But first we must look at what products are out there and what we want from these products.

The market is adrift with a breath-taking selection of lip treatments (sticks, creams, pencils, applicators and on and on), a virtually never-ending selection of colors and shades, as well as finishes (matte, shiny, with sparkles, diamond (!) dust and on and on). 

When clients ask me how to choose a lip color (an extremely loaded question), there is only one answer: "What do you like?"  My answer makes my clients cringe, roll their eyes and head for cover, but that "question-as-the-answer" is the definitive answer.  Let me explain:  Lip color is defined by the very broad perimeters of lip treatment choices, colors and shades and finishes. Take my little test and let me take you by the hand through the maze of the lip color jungle.
Let's start at the beginning.  Just ask yourself the following questions and continue:
Q: Why do you apply lip color?

A: To make my lips more noticeable.
Good answer!  Read on.  This article is for you!

A: It's part of my makeup routine.
Good answer!  Read on.  This article is for you!

A: I don't like dry lips

Buy a good lip balm, it's not time to start with lip color.

Q: How often do you apply lip color?
A: I apply in the morning (or evening) and then reapply lip color during the day (or evening).

Good girl!  Part Two of this article will provide you with the solution you need to create a really great, custom-made lip color.
A: I want to reapply lip color during the day (or evening), but don't because … (you can make any excuse you want – for now!)

Get into a routine – after you finish your coffee – reapply your lipstick.  After lunch – reapply your lipstick. 
A: Just in the morning and then I forget it about it.

Keep on reading.  This is your chance to really enjoy wearing lip color.
A: Before I go out in the evening and then I forget it about it.

Keep on reading.  This is your chance to really enjoy wearing lip color.
Q: Do I carry the lip color around with me during the day (or evening)?
A: Yes I do!

This is the only correct answer! Keep on reading.
A: I do. I keep my lip colors in my mini makeup bag and take them everywhere.  But the lipsticks and lip glosses tend to lose their 'freshness' and either melt or become brittle and dry and I end up throwing them away.

Part Two of this article will provide the answers you need.
A: No.
I said this before, the only correct answer is YES!

Where to begin?
If you are still reading, then you love lip color.  Now let's discuss choosing the right colors and shades for you.  I believe that the answer is found in the answers to two fundamental questions:  What is your skin tone?  and  What are your clothing color choices?

Skin tone:  Turns out that those two little words "skin tone" can make grown women cry.  Your skin tone is a combination of skin color and tone.   There is a very long scale of skin colors from very fair to very dark, as well as variety of toned from pink (rosy) to yellow (sallow). 

The easiest way to determine your skin tone is to go to the makeup section of your cosmetics counter. Choose a quality cosmetics counter, with high quality makeup and excellent lighting.  Take a dab or two or three of makeup and apply it to your cheek area.  Your forehead and your neck are not always the best color testing areas, as your forehead is  generally a bit darker or redder from the sun and your neck area is shadowed by your chin and you may get a different 'skin tone reading'.  You can use your upper chest area as well.  The best method is to choose several makeup shades that appeal to you and seem to match your skin tone.  Apply each in a 'strip' of color one next to the other.  The shade that disappears into your skin is the best matching shade. Generally professional makeup artists will blend more than one shade to give you the perfect shade.  But for our purposes, the simple 'apply and match' method is satisfactory. 

Just a note: You may need to wear a slightly darker tone during the summer months, if you expose your skin to the sun for extended periods of time (this is never a good idea). 
 Q: Do you have different summer and winter clothes and color choices?
A: Yes.

This is not a trick question! I have lighter and more subdued colors for summer and darker, more vibrant colors for winter. Go into your wardrobe and look at the color(s) that dominate each season's clothing and color choices.
A: No.  I like the same basic color 'palette' for summer and winter clothes.

You should still take note of what colors dominate your wardrobe.

Q: What colors dominate in your wardrobe?          
A: Look in your wardrobe and own it!  Darks colors. Pastel colors. Prints , florals and everything in between.                                   

Now it's time to determine the best color choices for you. 

  1. Dress in your dominant clothing color choice.
  2. Apply the makeup base that suits your skin type.
  3. Stand in natural light.
  4. What do you see?  Is your look washed out?  Too pale?  Too dark?  Just not 'right'?
  5. Consider toning down your clothing color choices – first.  Yes, it is easier and cheaper to change your makeup than your clothing - HOWEVER if the makeup suits your skin tone, it is your clothing that needs to follow suit.
  6. Once your basic makeup and clothing colors are in sync, it's time to look at your lip color.
  7. A simple rule of thumb suggests that dark clothing colors require a dark, dramatic makeup effect, including lip color and light colors require a lighter, perhaps more natural makeup effect, including lip color.  Prints and florals can take you to either direction depending on the darkness or lightness of the print or pattern.  In general, the heaviness or lightness of the fabric: wools, silks and everything in between should have no affect on your makeup choices. 
  8. The 'rule' of dramatic eyes with pale lips or dramatic lips with pale eyes is just a suggestion and not a rule written in stone.

Now where can you find the widest selection of lip shades?

You can go to any Pharma chain or cheap cosmetic chain and try on shades – better yet – buy a selection of CHEAP lip color shades that appeal to you.  Try them on at home, in natural light, in a selection of clothes.  Find the shades that most appeal to you AND look the best on you.  Ask someone else's opinion.  I don’t believe in investing in lip colors.
What kind of lip treatment: sticks, creams, pencils, applicators?
I believe that the creamier the lip treatment, the better the look, the better your lips feel and the longer they will stay on your lips (you won't rub it off).  I also believe that pure lip glosses with all kinds of shinny stuff are truly the realm of young girls.  I dislike dry, matt lip colors; I believe they are unkind to every lip and have no value!

Layer you lip look!
You can layer lip colors for a more personalized look or apply a light layer of gloss over a deep shade to lighten the lip look, especially for day looks.

Dry Lips? 
Here's a natural treatment I've discussed before.

If you have dry lips, remember my natural secret: SUGAR!  Mix nearly equal amounts of a sugar with water (a few teaspoons of sugar with a half teaspoon less of water to create a grainy soupy consistency) and gently (oh so gently) rub it on your lips and then wash it off.  Repeat this process in the evenings after you wash your face.  Do this twice a week for about a month.  Don’t overdo it or you will end up with the dry, cracked lips you are trying to prevent or treat. 

Stay tuned for part two and how you can create your own custom-made lip color.