Most of us have a bunch of lipsticks in our beauty bag, some that we wear all the time, some that never get touched. There’s a reason for that. You may have fallen in love with a lipstick in the store or on J.LO’s face, but when you put it on yourself? It just doesn’t work. That’s likely because the lipstick color clashes with your skin tone. Especially seen in permanent lip shading and permanent lip liner practice, it is crucial to test and try on the shades ahead of time, to ensure complete satisfaction with the color. After all, it’s a commitment!

Alicia Shapira is an expert permanent makeup artist, and here are the top 3 things she considers important when choosing the right shade for your lips, for both a permanent procedure or simple daily buy and wear:

  1. Identifying Your Undertone

First, the basics. Everyone’s skin has undertones of either yellow or pink. Yellow is warmer, pink is cooler. Knowing your undertone is enormously helpful when you’re trying to figure out which shades look best on you.

A quick way to identify your skin’s undertone is to look at the veins on your wrist. If they are blue, and you also tend to gravitate towards wearing blues, whites, and grays, you’ve got pink undertones. If your veins appear greener, you have a warmer yellow undertone. If they appear to be both blue and green, you are the lucky owner of a neutral skin tone (meaning equal pink and yellow tones), and you can wear any color.

Still unsure? Hold a piece of gold jewelry and a piece of silver jewelry up to your face. Ignoring your personal preference, assess which looks better with your skin — cooler (pink) tones go better with silver jewelry, whereas warm (yellow) skin tones work better with gold.

  1. Try Matching your Undertone

You want to focus on shades similar to your undertone when choosing a shade, says Alicia. “For yellow undertones, stick to warmer colors and for pink undertones, look for shades with blue or purple tones in them.”

And everyone should avoid lip colors with a gray, ashy or overly pale feel, Alicia says. These can often make the skin look sickly or unhealthy and are unflattering.

  1. Skin Tone can’t steer you wrong

To simplify the process, you can also stick to shades that typically suit olive, fair and darker skin tones. Olive skin tones are generally neutral, so it’s hard for you to go wrong. “Most nude, pink, orange, and red shades are going to look good on you,” Alicia says.

The great thing about really fair skin is that you can typically go for darker, bolder colors to really play up your look, explains Alicia. But be careful, avoiding anything too light or with too much of a yellow undertone so you don’t look washed out.

Lastly for darker skin tones, Deep plums, berries and reds look fantastic! Alicia suggests also avoiding anything too light or pale on the lips — deeper shades look more naturally flattering for this kind of complexion.

Regardless of your tone and undertone, it’s up to you to decide what looks best and most flattering on yourself, and during your permanent lip shading appointment with Alicia, she will also suggest which shade is most suitable for you and your daily wear!