Perfect Pout

The Perfect Pout

Applying lipstick is the ultimate feminine gesture — but most of us have to do it more often than we’d like because it wears off so quickly. So we set out to discover the secrets of successful lipstick shopping — and of making lipstick stick.

For most women, lipstick is the cosmetics equivalent of shoes: an instant mood-booster that’s much better than buying new clothes because you don’t have to get undressed to try it on. Plenty of women have told us they actually feel naked without lipstick.


The worst reason to buy a lipstick is just because you love the colour. Understanding your skin tone is essential for error-proof lipstick shopping, believes make-up artist Brigitte Reiss-Anderson (who creates make-up for Italian designer Valentino’s catwalk shows, among others) and then being able to identify which colours work best with it. ‘The wrong hue can make you look sick, but the right one makes you look gorgeous.’ So, here are Brigette’s guidelines:

OLIVE SKIN looks good in light brown or raisin shades, with warm undertones that will light up your face. For a deeper colour, go for the browner reds (like blackberry or wine).

FAIR-COMPLEXIONED women should seek out brown-beiges with complexion-warming pink or peach undertones. For more dramatic colour, try blue-based or cherry tones with a hint of brown. Women with really PALE SKIN and really BLACK HAIR (think of Angelica Huston and Paloma Picasso) are luckiest of all: ‘They can use anything so long as it’s a real contrast, including fuchsia, bright red and day-glo orange.’

DARK SKIN can carry off the deepest (but not the brightest reds of all: those with dark blue or purplish undertones. Deep browns with wine, purple or bluish tones can look stunning, too.

Brigutte Reiss-Anderson warns the very fair-or very dark-skinned to steer clear of wishy-washy colours. ‘If those women try to put on a pale rose, pale beige or a pale orange, they’ll look like they’re ill.’


One make-up artist told us that her pet theory is that any two lipstick colours mixed together give a great new colour. (It’s certainly fun to try out.) Or copy make-up professionals and invest in a basic palette from an art supplies store, and use it to mix and match lipsticks and glosses. But keep brushes dry – water will inhibit blending, as most lipsticks are oil-based.


Can you remember when lipstick was just lipstick? Today, lip colours come in so many different formulations – glossy, sheer, matte, creamy — that finding the one you want is harder than ever. But if you know the effect you like — barely-there colour or full, filmstar glamour — here are some clues to tracking down the perfect lipstick.

GlossyVery sheer, giving shine

Lip shine/lip sheen/lip polish treat/stain/transparent

Has added moisturising ingredients, which can help dry skin. You can wear it with lip pencil or over a matte lipstick to alter their texture.
SheerUltra-light, with a little shineSemi-sheer/lip treat/stain/transparentMoisturises, and won’t wear off as quickly as gloss. Because these are usually summer shades, there’s often an SPF added.
CreamyOpaque coverage, with little shineMoisturising lipstick/lipmake rouge/velvet lipstick/hydratingFeatures conditioners, so lips feel smooth; colour usually wears evenly. Offers the widest choice of shades.
MatteExtremely opaque, flat colour, with the most coverageDemi-matte/semi-matteThe maximum amount of pigment, so giving longer wear. Often leaves a flattering temporary stain after it’s worn off.


Today’s clever lipstick ‘accessories’ can give your best-loved lipstick a wardrobe of different effects, adding a sweep of gloss to make it shine, a hint of shimmering gold or silver, or intensifying the color.

Otherwise, resurrect old favourites in your make-up bag:

For shimmer. . .apply lipstick lightly, then cover with a sweep of an old pearlised lipstick, or a gold colour.

For sheer cover. . ..outline the lips with the edge of the lipstick, then cover the entire lip with colourless gloss (or lipsalve), and gently rub the lips together.

For high gloss. . .put on lipstick as usual and coat with clear gloss.

by: Sarah Stacey & Josephine Fairley

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