As a beauty editor, I've amassed enough products to run a retail store out of my apartment. While downsizing before my recent move to New York from Los Angeles, I took the time to organize my collection by type and color. When it came time to sort the lip products, I realized that everything I owned lived in the vampy dark red color family. I could chalk it up to my penchant for wearing all black, but I’d occasionally swipe on some corals and punchy purples—the one color I always shied away from was pink.
As someone with a deeper skin tone, I was used to being left out of the cover-up category—the shade range of foundations sent for review would always skew very light—and I had started to feel the same way about all the on-trend pink lip shades. I’d swipe on new launches hoping they’d look as good as they did on my fairer-skinned friends, but I always looked washed out, weird, or just…off. I’d smudge the color off with a tissue, toss the tube aside, and go back to my reliable merlots (lipsticks, not the wine—the situation wasn’t that dire).
One day, when researching beauty tutorials (as one does), I came across a handful of videos that made me realize I’m not alone in my struggle to find a pink shade that flatters deep, dark, bronze, and caramel complexions. Turns out pinks, especially lighter ones, can be hard to wear on deeply pigmented lips because the product essentially erases your natural lip line and turns everything into a wannabe-mod look gone horribly wrong.
After doing some more digging, I discovered a magical blogger tip that involves lip liner: All you have to do is trace your lips with a liner in a slightly darker pink than the shade of lipstick you plan on wearing, and everything suddenly looks, well, normal. The other technique I picked up: Go for the boldest, borderline fluorescent shade you never thought you’d wear. Ever. For me, that was MADE Silk Cream Lipstick in Heliotrope, which is about 10 times pinker than the flower it’s named after. The violet undertones really pop against my skin tone and the highly pigmented formula ensures my actual lip color doesn’t show through.
When it comes to pink lipstick, I learned that half the battle of pulling it off is simply putting it on. The other half is acting like you’ve always worn statement-making colors—no matter how many vampy shades you actually own.