Finding the right lipstick color can be difficult, especially for women with darker skin tones. Darker-skinned women can have cool or warm undertones, which can affect the way the lip shade plays against their coloring. According to Nhu Le, founder and CEO at Finding Ferdinand, a custom lipstick company, one quick way to determine your skin’s undertone is by peeking at the inside of your wrist to see if you have blue or green veins. “Blue indicates cool undertones, while green indicates warm,” observes Le. She suggests that medium brown-hued women with cool undertones try brighter reds with a bluish cast and that those with a warm undertone experiment with orange and coral shades.
Dark burgundies and deep browns are a safe bet for mahogany-skinned ladies, but for those looking for an extra pop of color, cooler skin tones should switch it up with a bright red or orange, while those with warmer skin tones should give wild orchid a whirl. And though women with dark olive to caramel complexions can pull off a variety of lip shades, browns and nudes can sometimes wash them out, so they should be sure to pick one with a sheer moisturizing shine so it’ll reflect the light off their lips, making them look fuller and poutier.
But undertone isn’t the only factor women of color need to consider when purchasing lipstick; pigment quality is important, too. “No matter how bright the color looks on the stick, if it is of low pigment quality, the color payoff won’t be great or worse, it’ll look gray against your skin,” says Florence Adepoju, a cosmetic scientist and founder of the British-based lipstick brand MDMflow. Titanium dioxide, often used to dilute the color, is the culprit and can render dark skin ashy. Look for lipsticks with low amounts of the compound to ensure high pigment quality. Here, we found 15 of the most flattering lip shades that’ll look absolutely amazing on diverse skin tones.