Which Lipstick Shades Make Teeth Look Whiter?

by Miki Hayes

There are times when I simply refuse to flash a toothy grin in photographs. Those times depend on the lipstick I've chosen to don for the day. You see, regardless of the actual shade of your teeth, there are lipsticks colors that make your teeth look whiter or yellower than they actually are. Now my teeth are by no means Hollywood-white, but they're not yellow either. But because I am an avid coffee and tea drinker, there are enough stains that can be brought out given the opportunity. So if you're like me, and you want to be able to show off your (usually) pearly whites, there are a couple of things you should know so that your lipstick won't give your drinking habits (whatever they may be) away.

First of all, lipstick-wearing works similarly to other types of color-correcting. You probably know how green primers correct redness in the face, and peach concealers correct blue veins in under-eye circles. Likewise, warm-toned lipsticks will counteract cool tones in teeth and further bring out yellow (which is a warm tone), while cool-toned lipsticks will counteract warm tones in teeth and make them appear whiter.

Below is a guide to picking the right tone of general shades to bring out the white in your teeth. However, if you're looking to rock oranges, browns, neons, or vampy shades; you might want to try a teeth-whitening regimen first as these shades are notorious for bringing out the yellow. But for the most part, here's what to look for:

*Note: For all following pictures, "try this" is the top photo and "not that" is the bottom photo.


Nude lipsticks are some of the most difficult to pick for whiter teeth. Generally, they lean brown or peach, but both of these will make teeth appear slightly more yellow. Instead, opt for a pinky nude. As long as the pink tones are not too warm, this will be better than other neutrals.

Viva Glam Lipstick, $17, MAC Cosmetics


With pink lipsticks, the key is to look for those with bluer undertones as opposed to yellow. Since pinks can be a little tricky, and super cool-tones don't always look good on everybody, you can also look for berry pinks. The slightly purple tones will help teeth appear somewhat whiter than those that lean yellow or orange.

Lips in Tease, $12, Topshop


Red lipstick tends to lean one of blue, pink, or orange. Blue tones will provide the greatest whitening effect, pink tones will be relatively neutral, and orange tones will provide a slightly yellowing effect.

Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Icon, $28, Sephora


Unfortunately, darker shades in general will make teeth appear slightly yellower. However, with vampy shades, one tone can provide a little help. Darker purples usually either lean a little pink or a little brown. A purple with pink tones will help teeth appear more white than its brown-toned counterpart.

Lips in Suspected , $2, Topshop

Images: Miki Hayes (4)