How to Identify Blue-Based Lipstick [3+ Ways]

fashionable young woman with blue lipstick
  • A blue-based lipstick will have a blue undertone, regardless of what color is displayed on the lipstick tube
  • To determine if a lipstick is blue-based or not, you can thin out a bit of the lipstick on some paper and see the undertone, or compare it to other shades on a color wheel
  • Some companies are better at labeling their lipsticks as being blue-based or red-based than others, but ultimately it’s up to the consumer to figure out which is which.
  • Lipsticks that are closer to purple on the color wheel are more likely to be blue-based. Those with an orange or pink undertone are not blue-based.

I was having a terrible day. First of all, I woke up late and then I spilled coffee on my white blouse. To make matters worse, I got lost on the way to work and arrived 20 minutes late.

My boss wasn’t very happy with me. “This is the third time this month you’ve been late,” she scolded. “You’re going to have to start coming in on time or else you’re going to be fired.”

I wanted to cry, but I knew that wasn’t going to help anything. So I went back to my desk and tried to focus on my work. But it was impossible. My mind was racing and I couldn’t concentrate.

I was so distracted that I didn’t even notice when my boss came over to my desk. “Lively, can I talk to you for a minute?” she asked.

I got up from my chair and followed her into her office. She closed the door and then said, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to let you go.”

I couldn’t believe it. After years of working hard, I was being fired just because I was always late. I wanted to argue with her, but I knew it wasn’t going to do any good.

So I thanked her for her time and left the office. As soon as I got outside, I started crying uncontrollably. It was the worst day ever.

But then something amazing happened. While I was walking home, I passed by a cosmetics store and saw this amazing deal on lipstick. Buy one, get one free!

I walked into the store and started looking through the racks of lipsticks. There were so many colors and brands to choose from! After a few minutes of browsing, I decided to buy two shades of lipstick: a red one and a blue one- Fenty Icon.

I went home, put on some clothes that wouldn’t show the coffee stains, and then sat down at my desk to try out the new lipsticks. The red one went on smoothly and looked really pretty. But when I tried the blue one, it looked kind of weird. The color was too bright and it didn’t look very natural.

I decided to do some research online to figure out which of my lipsticks were are blue based. After reading some articles and watching some videos, I learned that blue-based lipsticks are more likely to be smudge-proof.

That’s when I had a lightbulb moment! I realized that the blue lipstick would be perfect for work because I wouldn’t have to worry about it smudging or getting on my clothes.

I put on the blue lipstick and went back to work. And you know what? I didn’t get fired! In fact, my boss was so impressed with my new look that she promoted me to the position of lead sales associate.

So if you’re ever having a bad day, just remember: it could be worse. And also, buy some lipstick! You never know when it might come in handy. 😉


So what’s the big idea about blue-based lipstick?

While red lipstick is the classic makeup go-to when it comes to cosmetics, there are also blue-based lipsticks that deserve to receive just as much attention. The reason for this is it allows you to go with darker shades, especially if your skin tone leans more towards something dusky.

So, with this in mind, how do you identify blue-based lipstick products? How can you tell the difference between blue and red?

Understanding Color Schemes

One of the best methods to see if the lipstick you’re eyeballing is blue-based or not is to refer to a color wheel. Expert makeup artists have been known to resort to using color wheels as a frame of reference when deciding between warmer lipstick colors and cooler ones.

The cooler shades found in lipstick are more likely to be blue-based than the warmer ones. Oranges, pinks, reds, and yellows are usually sitting on the warm side of the color wheel while blues, greens, and purple are on the cool side. This, however, is just the starting point when looking at color schemes.

This is one helpful tool as it can be used to line a lipstick against and take a good look at the color. Blue-based lipsticks are likely to have more in common with cooler colors on that wheel than they would warmer ones. This, however, is just one method.

Understanding Undertones

Model face - tanned and natural
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Another method to find out if the lipstick is blue-based or not is to thinly spread it on some white paper or card stock. This can be done with a cosmetic spatula or your fingertip.

Once applied, you will see what the undertone is. Whatever color you see is what sums up the base of the lipstick’s color.

If the lipstick is blue-based, even lipsticks that show some red will have a blue undertone that will appear on the spread sample laid out before you. Furthermore, even with the sample spread, even if the lipstick color appears red there are usually tinges of blue found in the undertone.

You can also use your arm as a canvas to compare different shades to determine which among them has the blue undertones. Based on the swatches shown on Red Apple’s website, the swatches between its Risque and Ravishing tones show how the undertones determine their color. (SOURCE:

In the Risque, this is a warm tone and it shows with the orange undertone that’s revealed in the sample. Orange is one of the colors that sit on the warm side of the color wheel.

As for Ravishing, this is a cooler-toned red that has a mix of blue and purple as its undertone.

Follow the Wheel

color palette of colors
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Some cosmetic companies are great at making it easier for lipstick wearers to identify the difference between red-based and blue-based lipsticks. Companies like Estee Lauder are excellent when it comes to helping their customers understand what exactly they’re buying.

Unfortunately, many cosmetic companies haven’t been as transparent when it comes to better describing what really goes into their products. There are also rare occasions a lipstick can be mislabeled due to some kind of error nobody caught in time before it was sent to be sold to the consumer.

In all honesty, the best way to determine if your lipstick is blue-based or not is to follow the color wheel. Sometimes, you can luck out at the cosmetics section of a store where these are available for you to use.

Should this be the case and you need to compare notes between different lipstick shades so you can find something blue-based, this is a good resource.

When doing the smudge sampling, keep in mind the closer the hues are to purple, the more likely the lipstick is blue-based. If the lipstick seems to have more orange or pink in it, there won’t be a blue base at all.