Anyone Can Wear Plum Lipstick — Here’s the Gothic-Free How

Michael Brown

Beauty Expert

selena-gomez-plum-lipstickLipstick is such a staple product in all makeup bags. We have been embracing colour for a while now with reds, pinks and even orange, but, as we do every winter, there has been an increase in deep bold lips, but can we all wear them?

My answer, YES!

In the age of the lip stain – a more lived in, lighter approach to colour as it is not perfectly placed and polished as traditional lipstick application – it allows women to try shades they maybe would never wear usually.

There are shades women love, but when in a full pigment form, the colour can be a little much to handle, so we tend stick to the neutrals to be safe.

Don’t ever think of a colour as being available in one form only because, in makeup, there are always tricks, techniques and products to allow a colour pigment to alter so everyone can have a go and still feel comfortable.

Different Shades of Plum

Plum doesn’t just mean gothic style lips.

There are red wine plums, some with more of a purple hue and then we have the real deep, almost dark brown plum. All have different effects and are best for different skin tones, but they are all share one thing: a blue undertone, meaning they are a cool base lip colour.

When we have a cool lip colour, this usually mean it can bring out unwanted redness in our skin, if we are not careful. Someone with an olive skin tone can definitely wear a plum toned lipstick more easily than someone with a fair, pink base skin — only because the cool lip contrasts perfectly from the yellow tones of an olive skin and the lip colour will not be as strong the darker our skin tone is.

A fair skin using a deeper or plum lip just needs to make sure they have concealed anywhere on the skin that usually shows some pink/red tones, so that when it is applied, the cool shade does not bring anymore unwanted redness to the surface of the skin.

As a little guide, here are three shades of plum with the skin type they are better suited for…


Very fair, pale skin – Try a deeper version of plum. Anything to pink, purple or wine in colour may bring out unwanted pink shades, so the deeper and more warm you can possibly make the plum shade, the better.


Yellow to olive skin – Any plum can suit, but the brighter the better to not look dull against your skin tone. Play up the colour in plum and try to give a hint of purple and pink to still keep it fresh.


All Skin Types – The no-colour plum – almost the darkest brown with a twist of plum. This is great for both skin types as olive skin has the depth within their skin tone to pull it off and there is no redness for the fair skin to worry about coming out through their skin. Only worry is, the deeper it is, the smaller lips can look!

MB PRO TIP; Know your skin!
If you suffer from redness, don’t go there, there really is no point. Anyone can wear any lip colour if they have a flawless complexion; so if you really want to try it, invest in a good concealer to make it happen.

Plum with Lip Shapes

With every makeup application, you should always have highlight and shade in mind.

This is so important as you do not want to purposely change your face to a negative result, we should be using our highlight and shade knowledge to bring out our best features and/or use it for correcting opportunities.

Highlight – Brings an area forward and therefore makes it stand out, appearing bigger, by reflecting light.

Shade – Will create a hollow, there for it recedes an area away, making a shadow to reduce the size of where you apply it.

Knowing the above, a deeper, plum lipstick can often appear quite dark, therefore it is on the shade category.

If your lips are on the smaller side, you can run the risk of losing them to the colour you just applied. Small lips usually need something bright, light or glossy to make them pop.

So, if plum is the shade you are after, choosing something with a bit of colour still left in it, like pink or purple, will give you some plumpness, especially when visible in the centre part of the mouth.

But, if you cannot use much pink or purple because of your skin tone, even the darkest of plums can still work if you concentrate on adding light in the centre of mouth – the fullest and where light hits first on the mouth.

I often mix two shades together, applying the deeper first and then using the light and/or brighter shade over the top in the centre for contrast and lift.

You can also add a gloss or a dab of my skin illuminator just in the centre of the mouth to create a little volume and plump.

MB PRO TIP; Stay away from dark mattes if you have small lips, but use them if you want to make your large lips smaller.

There is always something for everyone, but we are all different, so know your lip shape and what deeper colours can do to them if applied incorrectly.

Plum Application

A full pigment lipstick will give full colour, while a sheer lipstick, usually with a slight shine, will give medium colour. The application you choose though can alter this.

If you use the lipstick itself or a brush, you are pretty much painting on the lip, layering product and sweeping/gliding colour over the lip so it sits on top of lip in the pigment you have chosen.

This technique can be great for a very polished lip look, but the lipstick is really just sitting on the lip when painted on and can then be easily transferred away, leaving no colour later in the day.

My favourite application is with my fingertip – I use this as a stain effect.

A stain effect is great as if you have one lipstick that is quite a full pigment, your fingertip can only dab a little bit and when transferred to your lip, by pressing the colour into it, it locks and stains, giving a hint of colour – perfect if you don’t want a full, polished looking colour. Plus, the more you dab and press the stronger the colour will be, so it suits everyone’s needs and colour.

How to Apply

  • Using your ring finger, dab some colour onto your fingertip
  • Open your mouth slightly so the lips are relaxed, not stretched
  • Start to press and dab colour to your lip from your fingertip (Colour should now be pressed and start to stain the lip, bonding closely to your lip, leaving no excess on the surface like painting colour on would)
  • Move your fingertip around so that your lip shape is in line with fingertip
  • Focus on plumping your lip cupid’s bow (peak of your mouth) – using the round part of your fingertip

This application, gives a rounder application, because of your fingertip shape, and now the colour has been stained and will bond immediately, leaving less residue to transfer colour away.

*Use a lip liner to sharpen outer lip edges if needed.

So, ladies, anyone can wear a plum, as long as you can see what your skin tone and lip shape is telling you, from that, choose accordingly so you get the right shade and you don’t alter your lip shape in a negative way!

Bring out your vamp side this weekend!

Images: StyleBistro, Zimbio

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