How to Find your PERFECT Bold Lip Color

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Lipstick is EASILY my favorite cosmetic to play around with. I just love it. I love how it can be the main statement of an outfit that is otherwise just jeans and a tee. I also love that it can be such a subtle “background” type of makeup! The options are endless, and as someone who loves trying beauty products, I see lipstick as an enormous playground of options. But for many of you, as I’ve heard, finding a bold lip color can be quite daunting!

I think the default for many women is to want to find a signature red lipstick. It works for date night, it can work for the office, it can be playful and fun, or it can be serious and mature. Red is versatile, and I wanted to show you a few different red options that work on different skin tones and hair colors!

I asked Teighla Norris, a fantastic makeup artist in the Raleigh/Durham/Greensboro area to come and select red shades that worked on my beautiful models. All of these women were kind enough to take time out of a Thursday morning in April to come to the Leslie-Alford Mims House in Holly Springs, NC and be models as we found their signature red shade! It was such a fun shoot!

Let me first start off by showing you an example of a red that doesn’t work extremely well, and one that does.

For Rachel, this shade is a bit too orange. Can you see how it isn’t really complimenting the rest of her skin tone? Scroll down to the next photo to see a red that works better for her.

This shade, Bite’s Luminous Creme lipstick in Pomegranate, has a bit more blue in the undertone and works much better with her skin. It’s still bright and fun, but it doesn’t look like it’s separated from the rest of her makeup, like the orange-toned one did.

On Katie, who is fair skinned with light hair, we went with a classic red. This can work with pink or yellow undertones, and was definitely a statement!

Joanne has beautiful dark hair and more of a yellow skin tone, and we found that this deep red color looked beautiful on her. She could really pull off either a warm or a cool toned red, but we liked the slightly cooler tone from this color against her hair and skin!

Lauren has a yellow undertone to her skin as well so we chose a warm red for her.  Smashbox Always On Liquid Lipstick in Bawse is a strong color that she can pull off! Her eye color works with either tone as well!

For Melissa, I wanted to show an example of a red lip that isn’t an “in your face” red lip. Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color in Ruby is a burgundy red that works beautifully against her hair and skin. It’s red without being a serious statement, and a color like this would work perfectly in a professional setting.

So as a refresher, here is what each of the girls is wearing in the photos!

Another reason that these shades worked so easily on these women is they were wearing a neutral top as well. If you are going to wear a strong lip color, make sure you think about how it balances against your clothes. A bright orange top with a cool toned lipstick shade won’t work as well as something more neutral or cool in tone!

Huge thanks to Teighla for selecting gorgeous colors for these women, Jordan Maunder for the photos, and Mims House for letting us try on lipstick for a few hours at your beautiful venue!

Edited to add: I completely understand that there isn’t a wide variety of skin colors represented here. I placed a call for models and with a quick turn around and a mid-day shoot my options were a bit limited. I did have a model with a darker skin tone scheduled but she was unable to make it. So then we focused on pink or yellow skin tones, and showed a very pale, cool complexion and an olive toned complexion as well. 

My hope is to do more posts like these and I will continue to ask for models that represent all skin tones and hair colors! The models that were able to make it took time out of their days and did a fantastic job. It was a fun shoot and we’ll be doing more things like this in the future! 

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Comments (52)

  1. Posted May 15, 2018

    Beautiful ladies, love how the bold lipsticks look on all of them! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Allie says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    Everyone looks beautiful! I love that Bobbi Brown lip color, I’ve never seen a lipstick shade like it. If anyone is looking for a really layerable red, the Fresh Sugar lips in red are great, or glossier generation g in zip!
    Have a great day, xAllie
    http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com

  3. Alyssa says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    This is such a fun post! You all look beautiful!

  4. Barbara H says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    They all look great. What color are you wearing?

  5. Eileen says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    I love following you and I think you’re delightful. Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl. I do have to say I am disappointed to see such a lack of diversity with these women. Most woman of color would not be able to relate to this and would feel excluded. I know you mentioned you had an someone with an olive skin tone but to me that is not enough at all. Women have such a range of skin colors and olive is somewhere in the middle. I would love to see more diversity going forward when you have the opportunity, given your wide reach it is important.

    Thanks for listening. ❤️

    • Kate says
      Posted May 15, 2018

      Just added a note about that at the bottom of the post. I too was hoping for a wide variety in skin colors but with a time crunch and a few other factors we weren’t able to do that for this post. I’m hoping to do more posts like this and will make sure that a variety is represented before the shoot is scheduled!

    • Emily says
      Posted May 15, 2018

      I disagree and find the disclaimer unnecessary. I’m over the political correctness and filler garbage. People need to stop trying to “raise awareness” and stop with their feelings. We are not all special snowflakes. Disappointed that you caved and had to explain your vision/blog.

      • Eileen says
        Posted May 15, 2018

        I’m not comfortable leaving out groups of women and I will always speak up about it. It’s not about being politically correct, it’s about being inclusive. The title is “how to find your perfect lip color” and if you are a person of color and look at it you are left out completely.

        I don’t think she “caved” I think she was being a kind human and I also don’t believe there were any bad intentions in the first place . When you know better you do better.

      • Katie says
        Posted May 15, 2018

        Emily, it’s not political correctness, it’s the world we live in! No one is being a “snowflake” and making everything political is ridiculously unnecessary on your part. Kate didn’t “cave” – in her own words, she had an intention from the outset to show a variety of skin tones but it didn’t work out in scheduling.

        It’s awfully narrow-minded of you to think only light skinned women read Kate’s blog. Kate has a lovely soul and you don’t seem to so I’d suggest you stop ugly-ing up her space.

      • Sunda says
        Posted May 20, 2018

        Emily – girl, preach. If people are “offended,” find somewhere else to spread the negativity. I love this post. So the post didn’t go 100% as planned… it was a neat idea and helpful to many.

        • KT says
          Posted May 20, 2018

          Actually you’re the one spreading negativity. Along with Emily, of course.

  6. Samantha says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    I agree that diversity of skin tones would have been helpful. I’m not light skinned, and it’s concerning that this post shows a pretty insular view on skin tone.

    • Kate says
      Posted May 15, 2018

      Just added a note about that at the bottom of the post. I too was hoping for a wide variety in skin colors but with a time crunch and a few other factors we weren’t able to do that for this post. I’m hoping to do more posts like this and will make sure that a variety is represented before the shoot is scheduled!

  7. Stephanie says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    I love this idea, but really disappointed in the lack of diversity here. I would have loved to see a color for someone closer to my own skin tone. None of these (beautiful) ladies are even close.

    • Kate says
      Posted May 15, 2018

      Just added a note about that at the bottom of the post. I too was hoping for a wide variety in skin colors but with a time crunch and a few other factors we weren’t able to do that for this post. I’m hoping to do more posts like this and will make sure that a variety is represented before the shoot is scheduled!

  8. Lisa says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    While I agree that seeing more diversity in this post would have been great, I hope that people will be kind to you about it. I distinctly remember the model call search that you did, and I feel confident in saying that you chose women for this post to the best of your ability, based on who was available and volunteered. Thank you for continuing to keep the content coming after having your precious baby girl! I’m missing you on Instagram stories but am loving the baby spam

    • Julie says
      Posted May 15, 2018

      All these comments calling for diversity are valid, constructive and coming from a kind tone.

      I get the idea of this post, good idea, but it missed the mark in execution.

      • Lisa says
        Posted May 15, 2018

        I agree with you that so far the comments are kind, and that this post did lack diversity.
        All I mean to say is that I hope they continue to be kind and constructive. I’ve been following Kate for many years and I know that she would never to anything to intentionally exclude or hurt someone, that’s all.

        • Kate says
          Posted May 15, 2018

          I added an update to the bottom of this post! I was hoping for the too but with limited time and a mid-day shoot I can understand that not many people were able to volunteer to come!

    • Kate says
      Posted May 15, 2018

      Yes, I did ask for a variety on the facebook call! With a time crunch and a pre-scheduled shoot I had to go with the beautiful women who volunteered to come to the shoot in the middle of the day on a Thursday. Appreciate your kind words and the benefit of the doubt–not many people give that these days.

  9. Emily S. says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    The complete lack of diversity in this post is appalling. With so many make-up brands launching non-inclusive color ranges, it’s up to beauty bloggers to set the example and demand change; instead, you chose to be tone deaf and perpetuate a real problem within the industry. It’s sad that those with privilege and a platform to make a difference turn a blind eye to such real social issues.

    • Rachel says
      Posted May 15, 2018

      Hey Emily! I was actually one of the women in the post and she didn’t pick us, I saw the post and applied to be a model since I live in the area. In her “model call” she requested a variety of skin tones and I wonder if there just wasn’t anyone with a darker skin tone (besides just olive toned) that saw the post or could make it to the photo shoot that day? Anyway, I think it’s best to give the benefit of the doubt without all the details. I’m sure she would have loved to figure out what color looks best on all types of women! Just my thought! 🙂

      • Kate says
        Posted May 15, 2018

        Hey Rachel, yes we did have a model with a darker complexion that couldn’t get out of work on a Thursday morning. So you were right! I wish she would have been able to make it, but it didn’t happen. We focused on skin undertones and a range from pale and cool to olive toned skin. Hoping to do more of these posts in the future and will allow enough time to find more models!

    • Kate says
      Posted May 15, 2018

      Just added a note about that at the bottom of the post. I too was hoping for a wide variety in skin colors but with a time crunch and a few other factors we weren’t able to do that for this post. I’m hoping to do more posts like this and will make sure that a variety is represented before the shoot is scheduled!

  10. Lauren says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    Can you share the long lasting drug store brand lipstick from your insta stories a few weeks ago?

    • Amy Whitesell says
      Posted May 15, 2018

      Yes yes yes!!! I too have been anxiously awaiting the details on that!!! Can’t wait to find out what brand it was as it seemed super long lasting!!

      • Anna says
        Posted May 16, 2018

        Y’all, she never answers questions in the comments unless it’s criticism!

  11. Nicole says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    This was a great post! It would be cool to see multiple posts with each post focusing on the same hair color but different skin tones or vise versa. Also, it would be cool to see multiple colors that work for certain hair/skin colors. I am looking forward to a lip color post for redheads!

  12. Laci says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    Love this idea! Really gives us an idea of what would look good on each of us! I personally love lipstick too. Congrats on the baby GIRL!

  13. Kottoor says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    Really wish you have included people with color in your blog.

    • Tara says
      Posted May 15, 2018

      She added a note to
      Say why. Go read that.

  14. Kayley says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    While the models you used are beautiful, this post had zero appeal for someone like me. In fact, it reminded me of spending my high school years in the Midwest and being the only girl with dark eyes in my show choir. Or being the only girl with dark curly hair on the soccer team. If time was of the essence, why not post pone the post until you have a variety of skin tones? Or make this a series and have the next post show women who are super fair with red hair and light eyes, another post with women like me who are olive skinned with dark hair and eyes, and another post with women of darker skin (which would be so fun to see because they can rock bright colors). This has the potential to be a fantastic topic to cover.

    • Emily S. says
      Posted May 15, 2018

      This!! A postponement would have been better than adding a disclaimer only after the lack of diversity was noticed.

      • Jenn says
        Posted May 15, 2018

        Agree with you Kayley and Emily. This would be an outstanding blog series. The disclaimer also just mentions one model with beautiful darker skin that had issues with scheduling…there were no other models to represent the wide and beautiful array of skin tones of women? A missed opportunity.

        • Cindy says
          Posted May 16, 2018

          I actually don’t think this was a missed opportunity at all, if you are looking at it differently. I think that Kate needed to be fair to the women who had arranged their schedules to be there, and follow through with the shoot and her post. (that is saying nothing negative about the woman who couldn’t get off work, that happens, and I’m so sad for her to have to miss the shoot.) I think the opportunity here is for women of different skin tones to see that Kate is a blogger who is asking for models and wants to represent them, and give them an opportunity to be a presence for other women who may feel left out and underrepresented. Maybe a woman read her model call and felt too intimidated to answer- hopefully this will give her the courage to see that she is needed, and wanted by this community, and by Kate. I really do think that Kate is someone who wants to empower women, not exclude, and hope that she gets many emails from women who are ready to shine and represent the beautiful diversity we have in this world. I am excited to see those posts!

  15. Jane says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    I think what you are all missing is that this blog has always been geared toward white women of privilege. Look at this blog since it began. There are no woman of color included in the blog or it would appear in Kate’s life from what we can tell. They are not her target market!

    • MissyT says
      Posted May 16, 2018

      Wow.

      • NotTheTargetMarket says
        Posted May 18, 2018

        Given that the “influencer” didn’t address this comment, the only conclusion is that the comment is true. Pity. I liked this blog, but it appears I was mistaken in doing so, as it’s not meant for people like me.

        • Sarah says
          Posted May 20, 2018

          I think it speaks to Kate’s maturity. The comment was unnecessary and untrue.

  16. Elizabeth says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    I LOVE this post. As a brunette who isn’t super fair, I often am not sure what would look good on my face. I have worn the same ONE color of lipstick for about 10 years and was combing through your site for some recommendations. I’d love if you shared a similar blogpost for some less bold looks. I’m not ready to jump into red just yet. Thanks, and congratulations on that beautiful new baby! My daughter was born the same week as Luke, and we’ve had a 2nd since. Looking forward to following your journey as we *consider one more. 🙂

  17. Rae says
    Posted May 15, 2018

    Hi Kate, Thanks for all the great tips today! I’ve haven’t been brave enough to try a red lipstick yet but this makes me want to try. It would be fun to see a similar post on choosing everyday lipstick (or just fresh sugar!) shades!
    I also wanted to say thank you for featuring gorgeous women with different body types. Each one of them is beautiful!!! I don’t come here looking for plus size fashion because that is not part of your story, but I have still learned so much watching how you style your outfits even though we look nothing alike…and you have taught me everything I know about makeup.
    Keep doing what you’re doing and enjoy some extra Emily snuggles today 😉

  18. Carrie says
    Posted May 17, 2018

    All such beautiful women!

    • Kate says
      Posted May 17, 2018

      I agree!

  19. Katie says
    Posted May 17, 2018

    I’d love another post like this but with best everyday colors too!
    Love this! Most of the beauty blogs I follow are blondes and the lip shades never look the same!

  20. Megan says
    Posted May 17, 2018

    I really enjoyed this post Kate! Makeup is something I struggle with, so I always enjoy these tutorials! I would love to see you include affordable makeup options for those who can’t spend the money for designer lipstick. Otherwise great post!

  21. Lindsay says
    Posted May 17, 2018

    Kate- It IS disappointing that you couldn’t get a wider variety of skin tones on short notice, but mostly FOR you, because I know you’d have done right by them, too, and helped even more ladies find the bold lip color that made their day a little brighter! Here’s hoping you eventually get the chance to work with everyone who’s generous enough to volunteer their time, and that they (and we!) all get the chance to benefit from your experience.

    • Kate says
      Posted May 18, 2018

      Thanks Lindsay, I feel the same!

  22. dani says
    Posted May 18, 2018

    Could you please tell me what the shade of lipstick is that was too orange on the first model? I think it would be the perfect color for me! Love these posts!

    • Kate says
      Posted May 19, 2018

      I’m afraid I didn’t write that down, I’m sorry!

  23. Allison says
    Posted May 18, 2018

    I’ve seen a few posts where you are wearing this top-It is perfect! Could you share where it’s from? Thanks!

  24. Ellen says
    Posted May 18, 2018

    Kate, great post but please include the color you are wearing!

    • Kate says
      Posted May 19, 2018

      The shade is peche by Bite !