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Is Your Lipstick Killing Your Bright White Smile?

bright white smileHave you ever wondered why some shades of lipstick seem to give you a bright white smile, while others make your teeth look yellow? You’re not imagining things!

Color theory explains how different colors interact to enhance, contrast, or complement one another. The same principles will hold true with the shade of lipstick you wear.

If you want to pick the best shade for your teeth, we’ve got some helpful tips to keep your bright white smile looking it’s absolute best.

Why Some Shades Work and Some Don’t

Whether you need a little help looking brighter or you’re in the process of addressing all those coffee stains, you’ll want to pick a lipstick color that enhances your grin.

It may seem like a frustrating mystery when some colors work magic on your smile and some just make you want to smile with tight lips.

There’s logic behind this yellow teeth phenomenon, and it’s not all that complicated. The color wheel applies to your lipstick tube just as much as it does to your interior design.

Warm and Cool Tones

In the world of colors, shades are divided into those with warm and those with cool tones. No matter what the actual lipstick color may be, it will have underlying tones that influence how its color interacts with other colors.

Warm tones include reds, oranges, and yellows. Cool tones include purples, blues, and greens. The underlying tone of your lipstick’s color dictates the overall color and effect of the shade.

Cool shades paired with warm shades will offset the intensity of the warm shade. This is an important effect to consider when it comes to brightening your smile.

The Consequence of Warm Toned Lipstick

Yellow is considered a warm tone. Picking lipsticks with warm tones will amplify any yellow tones in your teeth, making any staining or discoloration seem more apparent.

Cooler tones used in lipstick shades will offset any yellow color on your teeth. This makes your smile appear whiter and brighter.

Blue and purple-based lip colors will give the appearance of whiter teeth, which is definitely what you want.

The Go-to Colors for a Bright White Smile

Fortunately, there’s an enormous variety of cool-toned lip colors to choose from that will downplay yellow teeth. Whether you’re wanting to go dark or light, it’s all about choosing a color with cool tones.

Read on to find out which colors will give you a bright white smile that you’ll love to flash.

1. Sheer Pink

A blue-based, sheer pink lipstick brightens your smile and gives a sweet, subtle look. Pink is both bright and healthy looking, adding just enough color.

Pink lip color comes in glosses, lip stains, lip balms, and moisturizing lipstick.

To avoid looking like you’ve got a mouth full of yellow teeth, steer clear of orange-based coral pinks and peachy pinks. These are warm toned colors and can make your teeth look more yellow than they actually are.

2. Rose Pink

Rose pink is a bit deeper than sheer pink but is still blue-based. It’s a great color to use if you’re looking for a bit more than a sheer pink, but don’t want a deep plum or red.

Be sure to stay away from those rose pinks that have an orange or terra cotta look. These are too warm and will cancel out your white smile efforts.

3. Deep Red

Red is the color we turn to when we’re ready to up the glamour factor a few notches. It looks classy and beautiful, whether you’re out running errands or at a black-tie event.

Choosing the right red is ultra important. You don’t want your lipstick to be the bad accessory to an otherwise amazing look.

As with the pinks and rose colors, opt for a red that has blue undertones. The stark contrast of your darker lips and bright white smile will look effortlessly stunning.

4. True Red

True red is all about bold. This bright, fiery color demands attention and looks great with so many outfits.

One benefit of true red is its ability to make teeth look instantly bright and sparkling white.

You can brighten the look of your smile up to two shades with this red hot color.

5. Berry Shades

Berry shades are the perfect compromise between pinks, roses, and reds. If you just can’t choose, go with berry.

Berry shades are deeper than pinks, but not quite red. Because they are blue-toned, they tend to have a deep pink or purplish look with a hint of red.

The blue undertones in berry shades give you a bold, bright smile and beautifully colored lips.

6. If You Must Go Brown

Generally, brown shades land on the list of colors to avoid when trying to enhance the appearance of your teeth. Most browns are orange-based. This makes them especially prone to giving your teeth a yellow look.

If brown is your favorite, however, you’ve got some options. Just stick to the blue-based rule.

Blue-based browns will have more of a purple hue. These purple-hued browns give you the brown you want without the yellow teeth you don’t.

7. Marvelous Mauve

Mauve is an awesome color for giving you your best shot at a bright white smile.

Mauve is a pale purple that looks great on almost everyone. It’s not quite pink enough to be a rose shade, but it’s not too cool either.

Light and dark mauve are excellent picks for visually enhancing the whiteness of your teeth.

This color looks fabulous in every form. Choose glossy, matte, or classic lipstick and be amazed at your bright white smile.

8. Burgundy Bliss

Burgundy is a deep, purplish red that resembles the gorgeous color of red wine. It makes a statement with any outfit in any season.

Burgundy works especially well for those with darker complexions. It gives a beautiful contrast between the lips and the skin, all while brightening the smile.

9. Pretty in Purple

Purple shades, darker than mauve but lighter than purple-browns, will always be a safe bet for making your teeth look much whiter.

The purple you see comes from a heavy blue-influence. It’s this blue that will offset the yellow of your teeth, giving you gorgeous lips and a great set of teeth with every smile.

10. Neutrals and Nudes with a Hint of Gloss

These light, barely there colors can be tricky, but if you pick the right one, they work like a charm to give you a sweet pucker and a pearly white smile.

Choose a shade that is only a bit darker than your natural lip color. Avoid anything with orange undertones. Always stick with blue.

There are even nude and neutral lipsticks that contain a bluish shimmer. These give an iridescent shimmer to lips and work like magic to reduce the look of yellow on teeth.

A glossy neutral is the way to go. This gives the lips a moisturized, plump look which further enhances your smile.

11. Dark Plums

For a sophisticated, edgy look that never goes out of style, a deep, vampy plum can also enhance the white factor of your teeth.

This almost-black shade is a fashion staple in the colder months, but the daring wear it whenever they please.

Sometimes you might need a little boost when wearing dark shades, so it doesn’t hurt to use a whitening system for the best results.

Choose a shade that is obviously on the purple side for a stunning, bright smile.

What to Avoid When Going for a Megawatt Smile

There are a few lipstick choices you should consider off-limits when trying to avoid making your teeth look yellow.

Orange Lipstick

Orange lipsticks are sassy and bold, but they will definitely bring out any yellow that your teeth may have.

Any heavily orange-toned colors will do this. The list includes light and dark corals, light and dark peaches, terra cotta and brick red shades, and all variations of orange.

Neon Shades

You’ll also want to steer clear of neon shades. Neon shades are so bright and unnatural that they can make skin and teeth seem much more yellow than they actually are.

This includes neon pinks, purples, and oranges. Fuschia is okay at times, but it still tends to stand out so much that it doesn’t do much to enhance your smile.

Shimmer, Not Frost

Don’t go crazy with the shimmer until your lips look frosted. Too much shimmer gives your lips a whitish look. This isn’t helpful when you’re trying to make your teeth look less yellow.

A little shimmer is a good for brightening the smile, but too much makes your teeth look dingy.

White, Off-white, and Beige Shades

White, nearly white, and beige lipsticks should always be avoided. They’re not white-smile friendly. This disco-era, hippy-worn look won’t give you the bright white smile you seek.

White lipsticks will almost certainly be brighter than the teeth themselves, giving even the whitest teeth a yellow or dark look.

Off-whites and beige shades almost always have yellow undertones. These yellow undertones aren’t helpful when you’re trying to brighten your smile. At best, they’ll make your teeth look the same color. At worst, they’ll make them look even darker.


Be careful with some matte lipsticks as well. These can make the lips appear dry and they don’t have the eye-catching effect of glossy lips.

While this doesn’t hold true with all matte colors, it is usually the case with the lighter shades.

The Science of Color For Your Best Smile

It’s common knowledge that colors work with one another to achieve different effects.

The same is true for your pretty smile.

While lipstick shade is important, it’s also essential to safely and effectively whiten your teeth for a photo-ready, bright white smile.

If you’d like more information on how to get a bright white smile with our innovative whitening kits, feel free to browse our products.

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