Beauty brands big and small are finally beginning to embrace the needs of varying skin tones, which means we can now all rejoice at finding red lipsticks without blue and orange lipsticks without pink. Buying trendy orange lipstick can be the trickiest task of all: Anyone with violet or blue undertones in their lips knows, a seemingly innocent coral can look almost fuchsia if you don’t select wisely. Though anyone can and should wear whatever lip color they want, it’s important to get what you are paying for when you buy a new shade, and hopefully that’s accuracy. Finding ways to tell which one to choose in any shop is key if you want to rock this funky cousin to traditional red and pink lipsticks.
Shopping online and at the drugstore where swatching is a no-no make it pretty difficult to find the right color, since lipstick can look totally different in the tube than it does once applied. This is even a little bit true about swatching on your hand or arm — rather than applying directly to where you’d actually wear it — since the undertones of your lips are decidedly missing in those areas. Clearly, the color of the skin of the lips is dramatically thinner than your regular face skin, and this is why we have that pink, violet, brown, or reddish tone happening there. In most cases, your lips are going to be darker or brighter-colored than the rest of your skin, and you need to take this into account when purchasing any lipsticks, let alone the myriad of colors that fall under the orange umbrella.
If you’re ready to dive into the world of orange lipstick, read on to learn about the many categories, and how they look on different skin tones in this breakdown
L to R: Arbonne Smoothed Over Lipstick in Poppy ($28), Circa Color Absolute Velvet Luxe Lipstick in Lana ($10), Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Sexy Sienna ($32), Jane Iredale PlayOn Lip Pencil in Saucy ($18), Bite Matte Creme Lip Crayon in Blood Orange ($24)
Coral oranges are an excellent intro to oranges. They’re not crazy bright, usually flattering, and tend not to stray far from your natural lip color. What used to be a grandma color is now reclaimed for all, looking demure and poppy without being too pink. The tone of your lip can change how the coral appears: The lighter your natural lip color, the more pink the coral will appear, the darker, the more red it will look. Warmer skin tones with more pigmented lips need warmer corals that don’t have too much of a pastel effect, like Ariel below wearing Jane Iredale’s Saucy. Pinker corals like the Bite Blood Orange shade are more flattering on cooler complexions with less blue in your lip undertones to spike them neon.
Ariel wears Jane Iredale’s PlayOn Lip Pencil in Saucy
L to R: Laura Mercier Velour Lovers Lip Color in Cocoa Pout ($28), Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar RTW in Fleshworld ($16)
Toeing the line between red, orange, and brown, this rusty shade can be super flattering. These oranges don’t accent the purple undertones in medium-to-dark skin tones: Instead, they work with them. While violet browns can make warmer skin tones look a bit green, these reddish russet colors give a chocolatey warmth that isn’t too deep, and it brightens the complexion instead of looking flat.
Maria with Laura Mercier’s Cocoa Pout
Blood Orange Reds
Top to bottom: Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Persimmon ($26), Make Up For Ever Artist Lip Crayon Limited Edition Flammable Tangerine ($21)
Blood orange reds also hover in between the land of reds and oranges. They can look red on a paler complexion, or turn neon red on a medium tone. MUFE always kills orange shades, and their Flammable Tangerine is the perfect non-neon incarnation of orange for people with pale-to-medium skin. The hints of red will make it pop more than a pink or pastel orange would on a cooler skin tone.
Camille wears MUFE Flammable Tangerine.
L to R: Troi Ollivierre Stain and Glow Luxe Lip Stain in Grey($32), Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Bang ($22)
Hot reds make the world go round. They’re the tropical sunrise bursting with so much red and yellow that it creates an orange-red that’s rare, fiery, and unique every day. Hot reds push the space of hot pink meets orange to the limit. They can have the highest impact on pale skin tones, but are warm enough to not look strange on people with olive or golden undertones.
The author wears Troi Ollivierre in Grey
L to R: Make Up For Ever Special Edition Artist AcriLip in Pumpkin ($24), Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lip in A-Go-Go($20), Christian Dior Rouge Dior in 643 Stand Out($35), ByTerry Rogue-Expert Click Stick in Orange Vogue($32), Glo Minerals Suede Matte Stick in Pop($16), Pixel Lip Tint in Perky($6.49), NYX Plush Lip Gel Foxy Love ($7)
This is my personal favorite category, and one of the greatest lipsticks to rock if you have a golden-medium undertone. The undertones in olive skin make the orange pop even brighter, especially colors like these which are extremely uncommon on the market. In fact, this selection of seven are the closest thing to crayon or secondary, basic orange. MUFE’s Pumpkin and Kat Von D’s popular mattes are going for the longwear liquid style texture, which give that opacity that this type of color demands if you want full visual volume. Dior’s moisturizing matte Stand Out is a yellow-toned orange like GloMinerals more velvety long wear Pop, whose looks finally give someone with a golden complexion a casual orange look that isn’t neon, red, or pink.
These texture differences can be really important for your desired look, since an orange that is too matte may look to similar to the rest of your skin, and a highly opaque finish could look too loud for your day-to-day. Take into account what you like about lipstick in general and what makes you comfortable with you to the shop.
This might be my new favorite lipstick of all time! (MUFE Pumpkin)
So come on everyone: Let’s make orange lipstick great again.
Photos: (9) Danielle Guercio; (2) Maria Penaloza