How To Choose the Perfect Lipstick

Select the perfect shade of lipstick for every look with my expert tips on how to choose lipstick.

Darlings, the right lipstick can transform your makeup look! As a makeup artist to the stars, I am a colour expert and lipstick connoisseur! In this guide, I’m sharing the science behind how to choose lipstick. Discover 6 easy tips to bear in mind before painting on your pout. Trust me, darlings… you’ll choose the perfect lipstick, every time!

How To Choose Lipstick

6 Tips on How To Choose Lipstick

  1. Charlotte's pink and red Hollywood Beauty Icon lipsticks swatched on fair medium and deep skin tones

    1. See it on your skin tone

    The same lipstick shade can look completely different on different skin tones, darlings! Everyone has a shade of nude that suits them, and pinks and reds can pop in unique ways on fair, medium, tan, and deep skin. When shopping for lipstick online, always look at our arm and lip swatches to reveal how a shade will look on your skin tone before committing to a lip colour.

    How To Choose Lipstick for Tan and Deep Skin

    One of the most common mistakes when choosing a lipstick for tan and deep skin tones is choosing a shade that’s too light. Pale shades of lipstick can sometimes appear washed out or ashy on the lips. Tan and deep complexions are naturally richer than fair and medium skin, so deeper, bolder lipstick colours like hot-pink Velvet Underground and deep-red Cinematic Red can pop without being overpowering. When choosing a nude lipstick for tan and deep skin, reach for a caramel or brown-toned nude lipstick like Pillow Talk Intense that mimics and complements natural tones in the skin.

    Tilbury Tip: If you have a deeper skin tone but love a light lipstick shade, wear it with a darker shade of lip liner and blot lipstick onto the centre of the lips for a flattering contour effect.

    How To Choose Lipstick for Fair and Medium Skin

    Fair and medium skin tones can sometimes get overpowered by bold and punchy lipsticks, and the wrong shade of lipstick could cause a pale complexion to appear ghostly. Instead, choose a lighter, softer shade like light-pink Icon Baby or peachy-pink Angel Alessandra to flatter your complexion. When choosing a red or pink lipstick for fair or medium skin, choose lighter, brighter shades like ruby-red Hollywood Vixen or candy-pink Candy Chic that will lift the look of your makeup look and avoid murky, greige tones that can drag your complexion down.

    Shop lipstick

  2. Hollywood Beauty Icon Lipsticks labelled by cool and warm undertones

    2. Know your undertone

    Just like our skin tones, lipsticks can have cool, warm, or neutral undertones. Shades with warm undertones are rich in orange and red hues and are perfect for creating fiery lipstick looks, whereas cool-toned lipsticks have mood-setting blue and purple undertones that look pouty on the lips. Once you’ve deciphered the undertone of your skin, you can choose a lipstick with a similar undertone to create your most flattering lipstick look.

    How To Know Your Undertone

    Step 1. Look at the veins on the inside of your arm. If your veins appear green, you are likely to have a warm undertone. If your veins appear purple or blue, you are likely to have a cool undertone. If you have a mixture of green and blue tones in your skin, you may have a neutral undertone.

    Step 2. Does silver or gold jewellery suit you best, darling? Generally, gold tones will look more flattering on warm-toned skin, while silver will shine on cool-toned skin.

    Step 3: How does your skin react to the sun? If you tan easily and have a golden glow to your skin, you are likely to have a warm undertone. If you tend to burn easily and rarely tan, your skin is likely to have a cool undertone. If your skin tans a little but is also prone to burning, then you may have a neutral undertone.

    If your skin has a warm undertone, I recommend my NEW! Charlotte’s Hollywood Beauty Icon Lipsticks in Icon Baby and Fame Flame!

    If your skin has a cool undertone, I recommend my NEW! Charlotte’s Hollywood Beauty Icon Lipsticks in 90s Pink and Hollywood Vixen!

    Shop Charlotte’s Hollywood Beauty Icons

  3. Pink and red lipstick bullets with matte and satin finishes

    3. Choose your finish

    It’s not just colour you need to consider when choosing a lipstick, darlings… The finish is just as important to the final lip look. Are you looking for a moisturising formula like a satin lipstick or a tinted balm? Perhaps you prefer a magical matte formula with longwearing, lip-perfecting capabilities like a matte or liquid lipstick. There are so many pout perfectors to choose from in my lipstick wardrobe – here’s a quick guide to finding your perfect lipstick finish:

    Matte Revolution: A hydrating matte lipstick that smooths and shapes the look of your lips with buildable lip colour.

    K.I.S.S.I.N.G: A moisturising lipstick with a satin-shine finish that gives lips rich colour and luminosity.

    AIRbrush Flawless Lip Blur: A matte-meets-moisture liquid lipstick that hydrates the lips with blurring, smoothing-effect lip colour.

    Superstar Lips: A glossy, high-shine lipstick that marries the creamy texture of a lipstick and the glimmer finish of a gloss.

    Limitless Lucky Lips: An ultra-matte lipstick with a velvety, high-pigment finish for long-lasting matte lips.

    Hyaluronic Happikiss: A hyaluronic acid-infused lipstick balm that deeply hydrates the lips while giving them a dewy lip tint.

    Discover the differences between lip gloss, lipstick, and liquid lipstick

  4. Pink and red lip liners and lipsticks lined up with their perfect match

    4. Match with lip liner

    Lipstick and lip liner are twin flames, darlings – they work in tandem to create the most magical lipstick looks! When choosing your lipstick, be sure to use a shade that has synergy with your go-to lip liner. As a rule, I like to pair lip liners and lipsticks that are in the same colour family, and I choose a lip liner that is a fraction darker than my lipstick to give the lips a contour effect. Your lipstick is the star of the show, so I’d recommend choosing your lipstick of the day first and then finding the perfect lip liner to pair with it.

    Discover expertly colour-matched lip liner and lipstick combinations

  5. Bella Tilbury wearing Hollywood Beauty Icon Lipstick in Fame Flame

    5. Complement your look

    Makeup is all about balance, darlings. As a rule, I recommend choosing one feature to become the focus of every makeup look, whether that’s a colourful lip, shimmering eyes, or a bright pop of blush. If you’ve dialled up your blush or eye makeup, try reaching for a softer shade of lipstick that will harmonise with your overall look. Your lipstick is also an easy way to tie your makeup in with the rest of your look. Whether you’re matching a beautiful, brown smokey eye with a nude lipstick or mirroring the magic of a red dress with a classic red lip, take cues from your look and decode the perfect lipstick shade to make your hair colour, eye makeup, and outfit pop!

    Discover little black dress makeup ideas

  6. Red and pink lipsticks matches in Charlotte Tilbury's Lipstick Finder

    6. Find your perfect shade with my Lipstick Finder

    Always try before you swipe, darlings! I created my Lipstick Finder so that lipstick lovers everywhere can find their perfect lipstick shades online. This beauty-tech tool asks for your hair colour, eye colour, skin tone, and lipstick preferences, then selects the perfect shades of lipstick for you. Once you’ve been recommended some of my magical lipstick shades, you can virtually try them on via your smartphone camera to visualise how they will look on your lips. If you love what you see, darlings, you can add your chosen shade straight to your basket! It’s easy!

    Download the Charlotte Tilbury App and let my Lipstick Finder choose your perfect lipstick shades!

    Discover my Lipstick Finder

How To Choose Lipstick: More FAQs

How To Choose Lipstick still life

What should I look for in a lipstick?

Colour, finish, and staying power are the three pillars of lipstick. When I’m creating a new lipstick, the first thing that must be absolutely perfect is the formula. All of my lipsticks are infused with hydrating ingredients that make them comfortable to wear and kind to lips – they are made to last and can be applied and reapplied without feeling drying or haphazard on the lips. Then comes colour; use my Lipstick Finder to discover your perfect pink, red, and nude shades for every mood and moment!

How do I know my signature lipstick colour?

When you know, you know, darlings! Whichever shade makes you feel the most magical is your signature shade, whether you discovered it in store, saw it on social media, or found it via my Lipstick Finder! Is there a shade that always pops in pictures or garners the most compliments from your friends and family? Whether it’s a showstopping red, a beautifying brown, or an understated nude, your signature lipstick colour is out there, darlings!

What colour lipstick goes with everything?

The easiest lipstick shades to wear are natural-looking pinks and nudes that are close to the natural pigments in your lips. Nude and pink lipsticks go with every eye makeup look, every outfit, and every occasion. They’re perfect for daytime and playtime and are an effortless addition to every look. I created Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk as everyone’s perfect shade! It’s the dreamiest nude-pink that suits everyone! If I could recommend one shade that goes with everything, you can’t go wrong with Pillow Talk, darlings.

Tilbury Tip: Looking for more Pillow Talk? My Pillow Talk collection includes lipsticks in berry-pink Pillow Talk Medium and brown-pink Pillow Talk Intense.

Shop Pillow Talk Lip Kit

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

You can work out the undertone of a lipstick by looking closely at the tones that make up its colour. Lipsticks that have orange, red, peach, or golden tones are warm-toned lipsticks, whereas shades that have purple, mauve, or beige tones are cool toned. I recommend swatching a lipstick next to a shade that’s truly warm like Icon Baby or truly cool like Very Victoria to make it apparent whether their undertones are similar.