Makeup Basics: Lip Color

Guides, How to Makeup

Makeup Basics: Lip Color

Part twelve of the Makeup Basics series.

In my humble opinion, lip color is one of the most fun parts of makeup.!

Lip Color:

What is it?

Anything you put on your lips. The most common type to use is lipstick, of course, but then you also have lip liner, tinted balms, stains and glosses.

Why might I want to use this stuff?

Lipsticks, glosses and stains are used to emphasize your lips, and liner can help keep your lip products where they’re supposed to be, and make them last longer.

How do I choose the right one for me?


Different products have different purposes, and you’ll want to pick one depending on the look you want to end up with.

  • Lipstick – lipstick is usually (but not always) fairly opaque and pigmented. The wear time can vary, but you can usually expect them to last at least several hours. They’re normally used as the ‘main’ lip color.
  • Gloss – glosses are more sheer, and typically not as long-wearing as lipsticks. They can be used alone or over lipstick to add a bit of shine.
  • Stain – stains are usually thinner and more pigmented than glosses. As the name implies, they leave a ‘stain’ on the lips so there’s some color left over even once the product starts to wear off.
  • Tinted balm – like Chapstick, but better. Tinted balms are moisturizing and add a bit of color. You can also use a thin layer under other lip products to help even out any lines.
  • Liner – lip liners are thick, waxy products in pencil form. The can be clear or colored and help prevent other lip products from migrating past the edge of your lips. You can also use liner to fill in your entire lip to help your other lip products wear longer.


Finish for lip color has a few different factors, and again they come down to personal preference and what look you want.

  • Coverage – can be anywhere from barely-there-sheer to completely opaque.
  • Shine – completely matte, ultra-reflective, glitter or anything in between.
  • Texture – moisturizing or dry, creamy or thin. Thicker, creamier formulas tend to wear off sooner and move around more on the lips, but they’re also less likely to be drying.


  • Pencil – this is usually the form that lip liners come in, either a typical wooden pencil or a retractable one. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen other lip products in pencil form.
  • Crayon – crayons are similar to pencils, but shorter and fatter. Lipsticks and tinted balms come in crayon form.
  • Tube/bullet – this is the traditional style for lipsticks, the creamy stick that you rotate up from a tube. Tinted balms come in this form too.
  • Liquid – liquid lip products generally come either in a squeeze tube, or have a brush/wand applicator. Glosses most commonly come in liquid form, but stains and lipsticks do also.


This is what we’re all here for, right? Mostly lip colors come in variations of pink, red, purple and nude, but you can find some in other shades like blue and black. A really common question is “What color works on me?” and I really think the answer is “Pretty much all of them.” Obviously some colors will look better than others, but I think the key really is to coordinate your lip color well with the other makeup you’re wearing, and to make sure it doesn’t compete for attention. For example, an orange lipstick with cool-toned eyeshadow and blush would probably look odd. A bright lip color paired with a dramatic eye might cause a little bit of visual discomfort since the eye really doesn’t know what to focus on.

My favorites

My most-used lipsticks by far are Givenchy Le Rouge, and Guerlain Rouge G is a close second. For stains I like L’Oreal and YSL Glossy Stains. I rarely wear gloss or lip-liner, so I’m not going to list any favorites there.


You made it to the end! Feel free to comment below if you still have any unanswered questions.


  1. mar

    September 3, 2013 at 8:24 am

    hey i was wondering did you choose your giveaway winner? (sample box) i didnt see any announcement regarding it

    1. niccigilland

      September 3, 2013 at 8:45 am

      Hi! The winner was picked on Sunday and notified via email. I updated the original post, but I’ve made a separate announcement now too – thanks for reminding me! I’ll have a new giveaway up within a few weeks, so stay tuned ;-)

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