Purple lipstick is like the jumpsuit of beauty trends. You’ve seen it look amazingly chic on other women, but you’re still not convinced you can rock the look. We hear you; but we know for a fact (actually five of them) that you can pull off purple lip and look gorgeous doing it (and we’re pretty sure you’d look really cute in a jumpsuit, too, but that’s a whole other article).
“Purple lipstick is the new red,” says celebrity makeup artist Jaime Greenberg. “It’s a statement shade— and there’s one out there that works for you,” she says. The real beauty of it? Purple lips can be interpreted in many different ways. “We’re seeing a lot of the millennial version: matte, deep, full-on purple lips,” she says. “But if that’s not in your comfort zone, you can take it back many notches.”
If you’re still not sold on the bold pout trend, we found five compelling reasons not to be afraid of purple lipstick. Plus, we’ll give you foolproof application tricks, and a roundup of the best purple bullets out there. You’ve just lost your last excuse not try it.
“Purple toes the line between cool and warm,” says makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci. That means it really does work for everyone. There’s also a pretty wide range of hues within the purple color family: lavender, lilac, fuchsia, eggplant, violet, plum—one of them is guaranteed to work with your skin tone, she says. The general rules: Go with light, cool purples like lavender and lilac for fair skin. “Typically, the cool tones complement the cooler tones of fair complexions,” she says. They’re also soft shades, so they won’t overwhelm the fairest of fair complexions. For medium and olive skin tones, try violets and plums. “Their warmth helps to cancel out the shallowness of olive skin, and will brighten the complexion of the medium tones,” says Ciucci. If you have dark skin, Ciucci says you can pull off those deep, almost “oil-slick” shades of purple. “These deeper and richer shades hold up against dark skin and don't look garish or junior,” she says. “They look sleek and chic.”
You get to decide just how strong you want to go on your lips. Using the same tube of lipstick, you can blot it down so that it looks like a stain, swipe it on slightly thicker for medium coverage, or lay it on thick for full-on saturated color, says Greenberg. There’s a lot of wiggle room, depending on how you apply it, she explains.
Beyond color, there’s a wide assortment of finishes to choose from: creamy, matte, metallic, shimmery, slick, etc. The right one can make the bold color feel less intimidating. “If you’re timid, go for a more sheer or creamy texture,” says Ciucci. They tend to be more forgiving (read: wearable) and pack less of a color punch, she explains. On the opposite end of the texture spectrum are the matte and metallic finishes. These are the boldest of the bold, ideal for the person who really wants to make a statement. For the rest of us who are somewhere in the middle of those two extremes? A satin finish tends to be just right—not too much sheen, but not matte either.
Think of your vivid lips as a statement piece, almost like jewelry. So, just as you do when choosing the necklace or earrings to wear for the day, use your outfit as your guide. “When I’m doing a red carpet look and my client is wearing a metallic dress, that’s the time to go matte on lips,” says Greenberg. If your outfit is more simple, opt for a shiny or a metallic purple lipstick.
The laziest of beauties will love to know that a strong pop of purple is really all you need on your face. You get to phone it in everywhere else: a little skin-evening foundation or tinted moisturizer, black mascara, and you could be done. Keep reading for more pro tips on what to do with the rest of your makeup when wearing purple lipstick.
First, you want to prep lips. A dramatic color, especially one with a matte finish, can call attention to dry, flaky lip skin. To smooth them out pre-color application, massage on a lip scrub. You can make your own with a pinch of brown sugar and a dollop of honey. Rinse clean and then swipe on a hydrating balm. Try Urban Decay Rehab Makeup Prep Lip Love. Blot with a tissue to prevent lips from being too greasy. Now you’re ready for color. There are a few different ways to go about it. If you have a creamy or a satin finish lipstick and want a light, stain-like look, Greenberg says to swipe it on your fingertip, then use your finger to press the color into your lips. You can also swipe on color straight from the tube. However, if you’re wearing a matte or dark metallic shade, you want to be precise. Use a lip brush to apply it to the center of your lips, blending it toward the outer corners. For super clean edges, use the lip brush or a matching lip pencil to outline the borders of your lips. Then fill the inside with color.
Here, Greenberg and Ciucci set the rules for wearing the bold shade.
Do go monochromatic on one other feature: plum liner and wine mascara, or a plumy blush will tie your look together.
Don’t overload the purple. “Don’t do purple lips, eyeshadows, mascara nails, and purple clothes—unless you’re Barney the Dinosaur,” says Greenberg.
Do experiment with complementary colors. Ciucci says yellow on the lids is surprisingly pretty when paired with purple lips.
Don’t pair your purple lips with blues and greens. “Unless you’re going for full tropical princess,” says Ciucci.
Do keep the rest of your makeup clean: dewy lids, defined brow, lots of mascara and some highlighter. “This will keep the focus on your lippies,” says Ciucci.
About the Author:The daughter of a hairdresser, Krista Bennett DeMaio likes to say she has beauty in her blood. She has well over a decade of beauty editorial experience. The former magazine-editor-turned-freelance writer has covered all things beauty from anti-aging skincare to NYFW runway trends. Her work has appeared in national publications and websites including Women’s Health, Redbook, Shape, Dr. Oz The Good Life, bhg.com, and prevention.com. She lives in Greenlawn, New York with her husband and two interns, er, daughters.
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