The Best Lipsticks for Fair Skin, From Nudes to Reds

Each one will complement your complexion.

Kate Moss
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the beauty world, lipstick functions like a statement piece. Whether deep plum or blush pink, a precisely chosen color can bring attention that rivals wearing a sold-out designer bag or a sky-high heel—especially when the lip shade complements and enhances your skin tone. When it comes to the best lipsticks for fair skin, expert-recommended shades make your lips pop without making your skin look sallow. 

According to celebrity makeup artist Elaina Badro, it all comes down to "choosing a color that will not wash you out”—plus a few more key considerations. Ahead, Badro explains everything there is to know about finding the best lipsticks for fair skin, from key details to seek out to which products she swears by. You'll also find lipsticks tested and approved by Marie Claire editors.

What to Look for

The best lipsticks for fair skin vary by undertone. To find yours, take a quick look at the veins on your wrist: If they're blue, you have a cool undertone, whereas if they're green, you have a warm undertone. If you see a bit of both—or your veins look in between blue and green—you have a neutral undertone.

Allow your undertone to guide which shades you try first. "If you have fair skin with a cool undertone, opt for a red that is blue based," Badro advises. "If you have fair skin with a warm undertone, opt for a red that is orange based." Have a neutral undertone? Either category works.

Regardless of specific undertone, the makeup expert will always recommend a red lipstick for people with fair skin. Soft corals and soft pinks are also failsafe choices. When plum tones are on the table, Badro advises one with a pink undertone. "This will suit people with fair skin because it will provide some warmth to the skin," she explains.

What to Avoid

You should feel comfortable wearing any lipstick you want regardless of conventional wisdom. But if you're seeking guidance for fair skin specifically, Badro recommends steering clear of rusts or dark chocolate browns. "These tones tend to look best on darker skin with a warmer undertone," she explains.

How to Test

In-store: Retailers aren't likely to allow testing directly on your lips. "Pre-Covid, makeup counters were able to shave down the lipsticks, swipe with alcohol, and allow the customer to try on the lip," Badro tells Marie Claire. "Recently, some counters have changed this."

If a store no longer offers disposable lipstick applicators, she suggests testing the shade on another part of your skin that resembles your lip color. "Sometimes, the inside of your wrists and/or forearm are great for this," she says.

Online: See if your website of choice offers a lip quiz or a virtual try-on. Many sites also show images of women with different skin tones swatching each color on their wrists to give you an idea.

The Best Lipsticks for Fair Skin

Meet the Expert

Elaina Badro
Elaina Badro

Elaina Badro is a makeup artist from Southern California who has worked with celebrities, fashion brands, and magazines. She founded her eponymous beauty brand to include high-quality tools and skincare, including makeup brushes, and is committed to providing beauty enthusiasts with makeup tips that bring results. She is currently based in California.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, fashion, culture, and politics both at Marie Claire and for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.