Autumn is on its way and, like many QPoC, I cannot even begin to justify buying a whole new set of lipsticks just because the seasons changing. So, I've learned to make my lip colours do all year round. Having versatile lip colours can save you a small fortune.


Type of product

The first thing you need to think about is what products you're buying in the first place. I love my matte lip creme, but I only have one (and it was a gift). I only have one because it doesn't blend, at all. The moment it goes on my lips it's not shifting. This is great for staying power but not for versatility, since blending and smudging are great ways to change the look of your lip colours.


Of course, the shade you buy is also really important. I love autumnal shades. Deep reds and plums are easily my favourite colours but I don't much like wearing them in the summer. Similarly, my favourite eye watering pink feels out of place in winter. If you can't afford to buy lip colours that only work for part the year, don't buy them. (This tip also works for buying blushes and eyeshadows.) Neutrals, brighter purples and medium reds are, in my opinion, good year round colours. But of course if you want to wear a deep plum in July or a coral in January, that is absolutely fine. Related to shade is the opacity of a lip colour. To maximise versatility, I recommend buying the most opaque, most pigmented products you can (that are blendable). It's much easier to blur out an opaque shade than it is to build up a sheer one.


My final shopping tip is to buy lipliners, as many of them as you can afford. A decent lipliner need only cost £3 or £4 but a decent lipstick costs at least £7. Not only can lip liner be worn on it’s own, switching up the lipliner you use under your lipstick or gloss can completely change your lip look.


In this article, I’ll be including the names of all the products I’m using (where possible). They’re all from cruelty free companies, though not all are vegan.

To give a point of comparison for all the methods below, here’s a picture of my bare lips.

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Changing the coverage

Like with foundation, altering the coverage of your lip colour can completely change its look. Remember that it's much much easier to reduce coverage than to increase it. There are 2 main ways to do this. The easier way is to use your fingers to apply the lip colour. This way you'll use less product and get a more sheer look. The second is to get a small container and mix some lipstick with some lip balm or vaseline. This is more effortful but does mean that you have easy access to a sheer version of your lipstick.

Below, I am wearing True Colour Lipstick Mystic by Sleek Cosmetics with a sheer application on the left and a more opaque application on the right.

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Changing the colour

This is where those lipliners come in handy. Applying different lipliners underneath your lip colours (especially lipsticks and glosses) can change the look of the colour, either subtly or dramatically.

Below I’m wearing Melted Fuschia by Too Faced. On the left I’m using the Eau La La Liner in Dragonfruit by Sleek Cosmetics. Unfortunately, I can’t quite decipher the name of the lipliner I’m using on the right since it’s really old, but it’s a deep maroon-plum that I’m pretty sure is by Barry M.

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The other way you can do this is by blending different lip colours together. For example, creating a subtle ombre effect by using light and dark lipliners on different parts of you lips and applying a lipstick over it. You could also get a small container and mix lip colours together to get your own bespoke shade. That can be a bit risky though, since different products from different companies might not work so well together.

Changing the finish

This is a method I don’t use often, but can quickly and easily change the whole feel of a look. By changing the finish, I mean going from a matte to a sheen/gloss or vice versa. It's also really easy. To go from a matte to a sheen/gloss all you need to do is apply a gloss over the top. How much or little you use and whether you use a clear or tinted gloss is entirely up to you.

Below I’m wearing Matte Me in Fandango Purple by Sleek Cosmetics and on the right I’ve applied Gloss Me in Thai Orchid also by Sleek.

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To go from a sheen to a matte, apply a small amount of translucent powder to your lips after you put on the lipstick and gently brush away any excess. It's important that you use a light hand with this or you can very easily end up with ghost lips or smudged lipstick.

I'm sure there are a hundred other ways of making your lip colours go further, and I highly recommend experimenting (if you can afford it). And if things go wrong, don’t worry about it. After all, it's only makeup.


Second generation British-Nigerian fat agender person. Style enthusiast, decent baker and lazy poet.

Find me on instagram @mazisahedgehog