How to wear plum lipstick with confidence

How to wear plum lipstick with confidence

As sad as we are to say goodbye to beach days, daylight savings and flowy summer dresses, the approach of autumn does have a positive: plum lipstick.

The purple-red hue is absolutely made for the season and there was no shortage of it on the runway at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) either. 

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If you’ve never tried it before, we urge you to give it a go as soon as the leaves start to change colour. Here are a few tips for how to wear the daring shade.

#1 Prep the lips

Especially if they’re dry and cracked from summer. As it’s quite dark, plum is not a very forgiving shade so ensure all traces of dead skin are removed with a lip exfoliant like Bodyography Exfoliating Lip Duo, so the colour won’t catch and accentuate dryness. Alternatively, you could also give them a gentle scrub with your toothbrush.

#2 Find your shade 

As with most lipsticks, finding the right shade comes down to trial and error. But as a starting point, those with cooler skin tones (you can find out if you’re warm- or cool-toned here) will often suit darker plums that are more purple-based, like M.A.C Lipstick in Pure Heroine and Ulta3 Moisturising Lipstick in Berry Pretty. Those with warmer skin tones will be more successful starting at the redder and brighter end of the plum spectrum, with shades like Rimmel London The Only 1 Lipstick in One Of A Kind and Inika Organic Lipstick in Auburn Ambition

Nigel Stanislaus, Australian Make-up Director for Maybelline New York, finds the Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Mattes in Divine Wine “universally flattering”, and used it on models of vast colouring for the Marissa Webb runway at NYFW. “It has suited everyone well!” he says.

#3 Play around with different techniques

You don’t always have to go bold, especially if you find dark lipstick a bit too harsh with your features. For a more subtle version, Nigel suggests to “use a dry, fluffy brush and quickly run the bristles over the lipstick and then onto your lips for a [softer] look.” You could also try focusing your application on the inner of your lips, smudging towards the outer edges for an ombre effect. 

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#4 Consider the rest of your make-up

Plum is a strong colour to wear, so it’s best to keep the rest of your make-up simple and let it take centre stage. “I personally love a clean velvet face with strong lush lashes for a plum lip,” says Nigel. Be careful with cooler plum shades too, as they can sometimes wash out the complexion. So if you’re a little on the paler side, make sure to warm up your cheeks with a sweep of bronzer. 

4 bronzers for pale skin:

Paula’s Choice SunKissed Custom Color Bronzer

Almay Smart Shade Bronzer

The Body Shop’s Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder


#5 Nail the outfit

According to Nigel, “A plum lip looks best on neutral tones”, so if your wardrobe is as black and white as they come – you’re pretty set. Greys, browns and beiges also work really well to focus all attention on the lips, not to mention a pout of plum can really dress up an otherwise colourless outfit. 

Are you a fan of the plum lip? What’s your best tip for pulling off dark shades?  

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