There's something so transformative about a swish of bold lipstick. You can feel tired, drained and at your utter worst, but trace your lip line with a creamy red bullet and the uplifting effect on both face and spirit is practically instantaneous. So assertive, punchy shades of red or attention-grabbing plums do hold the power to anchor a face, without the need for much else at all.
But at this time of year, when our skin is yet to see even a sprinkling of vitamin D and we've not quite thawed out from this unforgiving cold spell, complexions of all shades can look a little drained—and this is when a bold lip can start to look a little jarring. Yes, concealer is your friend here, helping to knock back red or sallow tones under the eyes to balance the complexion, but where you'll really see a benefit is in your choice of blusher.
Whether it's a thumb swipe of wind-bitten russet or a dusting of foam-shrimp pink, reintroducing a little healthy flush back into the cheeks can be all you and your bold lipstick need to look polished once more. To help you navigate, we've pulled together five of our favourite lipstick-and-blush pairings to suit every skin tone.
1. Pair burgundy with malbec.
Rich, dark red tones (especially those built on a base of brown pigments) have the ability to flatter all skin tones when worn on the lips and the cheeks. First, apply a full-coverage layer of lipstick; then swipe the same bullet across the apple of the cheek, blending with the fingertips. Or match with a similar wine shade for a modern monochromatic look.
A buttery high-pigment bullet at an affordable price point.
A waxy, quick-to-melt formula in a drinkable malbec shade. You can even wear it over the eyes.
2. Match fuchsia with dusky pink.
When looking for a blusher to match something as attention-grabbing as a fuchsia lipstick, remain in the pink family, but tone it down a little. Soft, dusky rosy shades work particularly well, especially on the fairest of skin tones, whereas anyone with dark skin should look for a pink with a hint of apricot, as anything too white-based will come up a little ashy.
A super-glossy crayon that turns to liquid on application.
The thinnest blush formula we've found that lays down just a subtle veil of colour—exactly what you need with such a bold lip.
3. Pair purple with peach tones.
Whatever skin tone it's applied to, the coolness of purple can make skin look devoid of any natural glow, so look for a blush with warm, peach tones and a subtly pearlescent finish to reignite it. Black complexions can even verge into orange-blush territory (like this one) for an extra shot of perkiness.
A true violet with an inner pink core to create a soft ombré effect.
A suits-all shade of terra-cotta in a cream texture that makes skin look hydrated, not chalky.
4. Pair tomato with tangerine.
There's something so joyful about a tomato lip—it has the boldness of a true red, but looks a little sunnier and softer against the face. But the key to ensuring the look remains refined is in finding a shade of blusher in a similar spectrum. Then consider how much you apply—the darker your skin, the heavier-handed you can be.
Orange-based reds like this tomato shade will warm up a sun-neglected complexion.
With three different shades to blend to your heart's content, blusher palettes offer plenty of choice and the tango-orange shade in this one looks divine worn alone on black or olive skin tones, or mixed with the rusty shade for a more subtle finish on lighter skin.
5. Pair chocolate with poppy.
Chocolate lipstick shades tend to have fairly cool undertones, which can exacerbate the blue-undertones of the skin, making it look lacklustre. Readdress the balance with a warm red blush.
The colour of milk, this brown lipstick looks super modern and sophisticated.
Glee in makeup form, tuck this poppy shade under the cheekbones and swirl onto the apple for a flattering flush.