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The Lipstick Page Forums Beauty & Fashion Blog
How to choose a lipstick shade

Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Wednesday, February 08, 2006 8:46 PM (Eastern)

I started writing a user tip for this, for eHow. I happen to like eHow.

Unlike eyeshadow colors though...where you simply deduce whether you tend toward the "warm" or the "cool," then find a set of eye makeup colors that both work with your overall coloring and complement your eye color...lipstick shades seem to have an emotional factor that goes beyond simple coloring.

I challenge you to find two women anywhere in the world who possess identical lipstick collections. Okay that probably means nothing :) but the emotional factor in lipstick choice eludes definition. Perhaps it is similar to the emotional, memory-laden factors in perfume selection. Many perfumes can make you smell good; very few mean more than just smelling good. So it is with lipstick.

I went for about a year, I think, of using, largely, a single lipstick. I felt this would distill what I really wanted in a lipstick. I know it may sound meaningless, but women spend billions (with a "b") of dollars on beauty products...everyone knows that. It is a billion-dollar industry, right up there with software and arms. So, shrugs if I'm going to spend money, I'd like to find a way of getting my money's worth.

One lipstick doesn't work. At least for me. Two is not enough either. It's a nice thought but women assume far too many "roles" these days...and, unlike in the past, "role" no longer means only "unpaid job." At least one of your lipsticks has to be competent in a paying work setting.

So...back to the color selection process. At least one of your lipsticks has to be relatively neutral.

For me, it is MAC "Sophisto" Lustre lipstick. It's not a true neutral in the traditional pink-brown sense, but it's enough color so that your lips don't look uncolored. It doesn't transfer much and doesn't bleed, at least on me.

Sophisto is a sort of rosy, sheer, berry color. It has a little shimmer in it but doesn't look frosty. I'll guess it'll work across a fairly wide range of colorings as--unlike most berry-toned lipsticks--Sophisto is not that "cool." I can wear it.

Sophisto was a Lipstick Page Forums board lemming--just thought I'd mention it. I think Audrey was the first to discover it.

After you've found your work lipstick--you can then concentrate on finding your "fun" lipstick shades.

This year I decided to go ahead and branch out of my one-lippy-clapping habit. I wanted to get some red lipsticks...sheer warm reds. Why sheer? I've owned several full-coverage red lipsticks--some good ones too--but ended up never wearing them. Full coverage red lipstick requires the right personality, and the rest of the makeup has to match. Hence: for me, sheer.

Why warm? Well that's fairly easy to ascertain. Cool reds look harsh on me. A red has to be quite warm to turn orangey on me.

Why red? What's not to like? I like red lipstick. Just wanted to find a few that I'd actually wear.

I went with two board recs: MAC Spice It Up Lustre lipstick and Clinique Apple Brandy Butter Shine lipstick.

Of the two, I've worn the Apple Brandy more. It's less "color" than Spice It Up. Apple Brandy is only slightly more red than it is muted pink. It's almost neutral but with that nice shot of red.

Spice It Up is more color. It's a deep warm red, again it is sheer (but not super sheer).

Finally, my newest cough lemming, the Catherine Deneuve "Strawberry Blonde" Lustre lipstick. Although this is a limited edition lipstick, I resisted the urge to stock up. It will take me at least a year to use up this lipstick; probably longer. It took me roughly a year and a half to use up a lipstick when I owned only two, and used mainly one. Now I have four in rotation.

Here is my first pic of Strawberry Blonde. I will take some more of it, "on," later on (keep an eye on the Image Library).

Strawberry Blonde, so far, is my secret favorite of the four. It's not that it necessarily looks the best, nor is it the most versatile. It's a limited edition so it's not even the most readily available. It just has that "it" factor. Something about's a deep sheer coral pink, if that makes sense. It looks retro, like something in a movie circa, I don't know, 1962? It smacks to me of when sex hit the big screen in full luscious color. In reality, it is sheer, it is not quite 1962. But that breath of sexual discovery is there. It's slightly bright, slightly...almost orange in tone. And--most lipstick names have no relevance to the lipstick--but this looks great with strawberry blonde hair.

So--after all this blah blah, I had to ditch the thought of penning a simple user tip on choosing lipstick shades. It's taken me years to get four lipsticks--with only one doomed to be discontinued, at least for the nonce--that I feel happy with.

And, I'm not even done. I'll update this six months from now and see if all four still make the cut.


Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
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