How to Choose the Right Lipstick

If you’re new to lipstick, choosing something you like can be frustrating and difficult. This post is intended to be a general guideline for what to try if you don’t know what to try.

If you want to try something not on this list or outside of these general ideas, do it! I’m never one to get in the way of someone enjoying makeup to the fullest.

With that, let’s start figuring out what you like!

Choosing a Lipstick Finish

So first, a few definitions. Please note that there are definitely more finishes than these, but they tend to be fairly self explanatory (ex: glitter, hi-shine, frost, metallic, etc).

Many finishes also tend to be on a range. Here we’re focusing on the three most common categories.

Matte – No shine whatsoever. Tend to have high staying power and high pigment. These are great for if you’ve got places to be and you don’t need to be worrying about your lipstick! However, these formulas also tend to be more drying in general.

Satin – Mid range in all ways. Some shine but not to the level of gloss. Staying power isn’t as good as matte lipsticks most of the time. However, these are amazing for everyday lipsticks, particularly if reapplying won’t be a problem.

Sheer – All shine all the time. These tend to have very light pigment, and are more intended for a gentle wash of color. If you’re nervous about experimenting with lipstick, this is a great place to start. Just make sure you check the packaging because shiny formulas can also come in very high pigment colors as well!

Usually, preferences on these depend on your preferred finish and how you want your lipstick to feel. You should take staying power into the account as well, though. Lipstick finish is a really unique thing that depends on the person, the day, and even the color! I have a range of finishes in my lipstick storage, so don’t feel like you have to pick one. Try different things and see what formulas you like.

Choosing a Lipstick Color

Obviously, colors are entirely a preference thing. These are guidelines for if you’re not sure where to start, not rules that you should feel trapped by! If you enjoy wearing it, you can wear it.

Your undertones also make a huge difference when choosing a color. Cool vs warm undertones are something you should definitely keep an eye out for.


Pale/neutral pink shades are great for lighter skinned people who are looking for something subtle and easy to wear. Satin or even sheer shades of pink are great if you want it to look more natural. Bubblegum shades are gorgeous as well, particularly on darker skin tones where the vivid color will pop.


Literally everyone has a red that will look great on them. A bright cherry blue-red will flatter basically anyone. And if you’re not feeling that, try an orange-y red to set off dark, cool skin tones or a deep maroon/red-violet against very pale skin. Often, red lipstick is the first lipstick people buy because it adds an instant elegance to a look, which will lead them to purchase a lipstick even if they don’t usually like wearing lip colors.


Nude lipsticks are sometimes hard to match. There are numerous tips and tricks out there for finding your perfect nude lip, but once you find it never let it go! Nudes obviously can range from very light peachy tones to dark mahoganies. Just because a shade isn’t technically “your” nude shade doesn’t mean that it’s not a shade that would look great on you.

Other Colors

Beyond that, experiment! I’ve got a bright purple lipstick that I enjoy wearing. Dark maroon-plum colors are great fall colors. As are caramel browns. Plums look beautiful in fall-winter. I even have a purple grey that looks great in the wintertime.

Finding your favorite lipstick takes time and searching through many different ones. Subscription boxes are a great way to try new formulas because they often feature a lip product every month. You’ll be able to build your collection and try many different products.

Personally, my current favorite lipsticks are the elf Cosmetics SRSLY Satin lip colors and Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink line. What tips have been the most helpful in your lipstick selections? Let us know in the comments!

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