With Valentine’s Day just a few weeks away, it’s officially time to start perfecting your pout. We’ve got you covered with our week-by-week lip boot camp that will whip your pucker into shape. After diving into skincare tips for smooth, nourished lips, there’s no better time to lock down your day-of lip color. With the endless lipstick options out there, it can be tricky to land on your ideal hue based on your unique coloring, so we tapped celebrity makeup artist Ashley Rebecca, whose clients include Alessia Cara and Jamie Alexander, to break it down for us. Read on to learn how to find your best lipstick ever.

1. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Just because you think you can’t wear a certain shade doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it out. “There’s a lot of experimental freedom when it comes to lipstick, which is what makes it so fun,” says Rebecca. “Learn what makes your skin tone and eyes pop and what colors wash you out by trying on as many lipsticks as you can!”

2. It’s all about brightening your skin tone. When you’re on the hunt for your Valentine’s Day lippie, keep brightness in mind. The goal is to choose a color that brings out the best highlights and undertones in your complexion. “Warmer tones, like oranges, reds, and corals, tend to brighten olive skin, while cooler tones like pinks and blue-reds work well on fair skin,” she explains. “Plums, berries, and deep tones brighten darker complexions.”

3. Minimize overwhelming options by sticking to your fave texture. If you find yourself lost in a sea of swatches and shades, sift through your options based on texture. “The main thing to keep in mind when shopping for lipstick is to understand what formula you like best,” Rebecca tells us. “Knowing what texture you like helps eliminate the ones you know you won’t wear, making it an enjoyable process — and the decision much easier.”

4. Test the versatility. On the fence about the hue of a lipstick? Try it on a number of different ways. “A great hack is to apply a lipstick very sheer on the lips like a stain, and then also apply it fully to see how bold it can be,” she says. “If you like both options, it’s definitely worth purchasing because you know you’ll get the most out of the product and enjoy the various options it gives you.”

5. Don’t swatch lipstick on your hand. It might seem logical to test a potential pigment on the back of your hand, but avoid that area. “A lot of people swatch lipstick on their hands, but our lips are a different color than our skin,” she says. Instead, use a clean lip brush (or a cotton swab if you’re in a pinch) and apply it to your lips. That’s the only way to get a realistic sense of the product.

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Illustrations by Yising Chou