The Elegance Files, No. 4

Friday, September 04, 2015

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Just a little series on being elegant, from tips my mother taught me and beyond. Click here to read more from the archives...

Something I have always associated with elegance is lipstick. What could be classier than an effortless swipe of red? Or a clean, pencilled-in nude? Or a bright, punchy orange? A deep, wine-y burgundy?

Of course I love any & every shade of lipstick, but there are certain ones that look better on me than others, and there are some that I just fall back on every. single. day. For example, Rimmel Kate Moss, #104. It just works for me - it's a gorgeous mauvey-browny-nude shade, dark enough to create contrast but not so dark it washes me out. It's my everyday shade. I love it.

So how exactly do you find your shade of lipstick? There's no recipe to it - mostly, it's just trial and error - but there are a few things you should keep in mind before you start swatching at the M.A.C. counter.

Find out whether your skin has warm or cool undertones (also known as "golden" and "rosy", a.k.a. yellow and red.) This will help immensely in deciding whether you want a lipstick with a warm or cool undertone (choose the opposite of your skintype for the best results.)

Finding "your lipstick" implies a certain regularity of usage. Don't go for a bright cherry red unless you really think you will wear it more than once a week. Search nudes and mauves, gentle pinks, browns, and peaches. Hone in on the shade range you're naturally most attracted to (or pick and few style icons who's lipstick choices you love, and find a recurring shade) and from there, begin your search.

There's really no easy way to find that perfect shade, but there are easy ways to rule out the wrong ones. The best place to start is to take your favorite lipstick formula - whether you love its texture, finish, lasting power - and see if the range has a neutral in that you can test. If you really want to experiment with shades and finishes, go to a M.A.C. counter and play around with the testers - their selection is unbelievable. ^.^

It takes some trial and error, but when you do find the shade that really works for you, it's worth the time you spent to find it.

What about you? Have you found your signature lipstick shade, and if so, what is it?


  1. Being a redhead I find it immensely difficult to find out what my skin undertone is - the old silver/gold test doesn't really work as I honestly can't tell which I look better in. That said, I used to have 'my lipstick' : it was a Body Shop one in a sort of browny-rose colour and oh how I loved it.

    I also covet Tom Ford's lipsticks - which have a faberge-egg-like allure in their beautiful deco packaging. Terribly expensive however - and so for the moment, out of the question.

    1. Tom Ford lipsticks! I have wanted one for a while now but the price is a bit painful to look at. Maybe someday. ;)

  2. I'm pretty much awful at finding what lipstick colors work on me, so I recently drug a friend of mine to Ulta and had her tell me what worked for my skin tone. It pays to know makeup gurus!
    I wear a pink lipstick quite frequently and a lovely berry/purple one as well. Today I'm wearing red :)

    1. You know where to go for a good makeup jaw! ;) I for some reason cannot pull off a proper pink lipstick very well - I think it's my coloring, but it makes me look very Barbie-doll. I'm definitely a fan of reds, burgundys, and wines however, not to mention dark purples...

  3. I have a lovely "winter cherries" pinky-red that I adore and it stays a good while. Can't for the live of me recall the brand. It's one of three colors of the same long-lasting brand I have. One is a very natural warm coral and another one is a deeper tone of that same color both oddly but fantastically flattering if I do say so myself. ;) And our dear Rachel Heffington bought me the exact brand and shade of classic red lipstick actress Hayley Atwell wears as Peggy Carter in the movies/show. Haven't had much opportunity to try it out but the one time I tried it on--absolutely lovely.

  4. I used to never wear anything on my lips aside from blistix and maybe some gloss. Recently though I've been experimenting more. I usually prefer some shade of pink. Although I do have a bright red that I rather like every now and then, I haven't been brave enough to wear it out in the world of people. ;) Still though, I rather like lip gloss.

  5. Confession: I never wore lipstick until about a week ago....
    (My mom is a lipstick queen so she thought I was nuts)

    Anyway, I wanted to start out low key so I bought a soft, light pink and oh my gosh now I'm obsessed....

    What colors do you suggest for fall?

  6. This post is just what I needed. I've only owned one tube of lipstick my whole life (a pretty, light pink shade that I love and wear with everything) but I'm looking into branching out to more bold colors. I love lipstick. Thanks so much for the tips, Carmel :)

  7. Ohhh, I have far too many favorites. I have three MAC shades that are a good range of colors: Russian Red for a nice matte red, Patisserie for a neutral, and Creme in Your Coffee for a step up from neutral that's not too bold.
    Currently, though, I'm OBSESSED with Bite Beauty's Juniper. Such a pretty berry shade for autumn, and it stays on forever! :D


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