living a well tended life... at any age

lipstick lessons (part one) – finding “that one”

During my years as a make-up artist, I found that the most frustrating item for women to select is lipstick.  I would come home from work on many an occasion with hands, wrists and forearms covered in “stripes”, from trying to help a customer find “that one”. I’ve talked about how to apply lipstick in an earlier post – today I thought I’d share some of my best tips on how to pick the right shade.

Know your skin tone. This is helpful in selecting the most flattering lipstick for you. Most women have either a pink or golden undertone to their skin. You can probably tell just by looking in the mirror, but you can also gather clues from the colors you gravitate toward in your clothing and accessories. Do you favor mostly cooler shades like pinks, blues and purples? You’re probably a pink tone. If you prefer mustard, orange and brown, you’re most likely a yellow. The lipsticks you choose should complement accordingly. Of course, if you are not afraid to go bold you can totally rock a contrasting color, but for daily use, it’s best to stick with shades that suit your complexion.  Still unsure? Head to any department store make-up counter, and find a salesperson whose make-up you admire. Chances are she’ll be able to help you.

Afraid of a new shade? Go sheer. I’ve always wanted to wear a classic red lip. Unfortunately, every time I tried I wound up looking like a little girl who got caught rummaging through her mom’s make-up drawer. I realized that the problem was not so much the color, as the intensity. I was selecting lipsticks with a LOT of pigment and it was basically too much “look” for me. So I tried a red that was more sheer – almost a gloss. Perfect. This is a great way to ease into a new color – especially if it’s a bolder look than what you typically wear.

Blend. Did you see “Kissing Jessica Stein” ? I love that movie – so many great lines. One of my favorite scenes is the one in the cab where Jessica compliments Helen on her lipstick:

Jessica: What color lipstick are you wearing?

Helen: Well it’s three different kinds. I blend.

(Thanks to Minty Fresh 2.0  for the quote -for the full conversation, click here).

As much as we all want to find “that one” – I usually wind up blending 2 different products (3 if you count the indispensable lip liner) to achieve just the right shade. Which is why I always have on-hand some version of a sheer, pink/honey lipstick, that I wear in a number of different ways. I use it as a base under a dark lipstick to thin it out without altering the color. I’ll throw it on top of a too-matte lipstick to give it a little sheen and soften the overall look (mattes look AWFUL on me). Or I’ll wear it alone, as an upgrade from chapstick on days when I don’t want to feel “made up”.

There are lots of versions out there of this pinky-beige – my current favorite is “Adore U”, by Clinique:

photo credit: Clinique

So there you have it! In an upcoming post I will share my favorite shades, as well as some great links by other bloggers on lipstick trends and best drugstore finds!

Meantime, you can always find me here to answer all of your make-up and skincare questions!


  1. Lisa on June 11, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Oh, my gosh, Sheri – you have no idea how much this post resonates with me. I’ve been looking for the right lipstick color forever! I’d love to wear a nice red tone, but the ones I’ve tried so far, have always looked exactly the way you so perfectly describe (the girl going through its mother’s make-up drawer.) Thanks for sharing these tips – I can’t wait to take them to one of our department stores! (also, I’m so glad to hear I’m not alone with this issue! :))

    • sherisilver on June 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      I’m so glad this was helpful! 🙂

  2. Hotly Spiced on June 11, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Do you have one that doesn’t end up on your teeth? That’s a great tip about going for something sheer xx

    • sherisilver on June 12, 2012 at 7:26 am

      One word: blot. 😉

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