Makeup Rehab // The Great Lip Destash Pt 1, Or “How I Wasted Several Hours Getting the RGB Values of Lipstick”

If there are two things that are obvious on my blog, it’s these: one, I am a sucker for science, math, and any kind of analysis; and two, I have way too many makeup products and not enough time (or lips, cheeks, eyes, faces, and other body parts) to use all of them.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I would like a more “usable” collection. I don’t think I will ever be the type to own just a couple lipsticks and feel like my makeup desires are met, but to have over 150? Now that’s just asinine. I know I’ve talked about how many lipsticks you really need (on more than one occasion), but I’ve never gotten to the point of actually destashing. I start to swatch, and because my collection is so large, I can’t effectively see my whole collection at once. This means that I am not aware of dupes, and thus I stop. I’m overwhelmed trying to break my collection down so I can start to pare it down.

My solution? Obviously to use messy science, math, and analysis! If I can’t make decisions, I’ll ask the numbers to make decisions for me! If I can’t determine dupes, I could plug my lipsticks into the computer and have that tell me what to test! I realized early on, however, that I can’t just type in my lipstick or take a picture of it and get my laptop to do all the work. Oh no. There’s no program for that.

So I decided to do the analysis the long way: (almost) manually finding RGB values for lipsticks. I’m going to share the process I used with you. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Do I think it’s a good starting point for me? Yeah. Do I recommend actually using HSV? I’ll get into that- but yet, 100% very much so. So, let’s begin.

Step 1: Take swatches (labelled!) of all your lipsticks. 


  • 100% serious: use blank white printer paper for this. Any other color will mess with the RGB values you get (as you need white for white balance and because many lipsticks are slightly sheer).
  • Also, yes, DO IT ON PAPER. Not on your wrist. Not on your face. Why?
    • Because there is much more room for errors in shadows, lighting, etc.
    • Yes, it’s more accurate to see what the color looks like on you if you do facial swatches, but it’s also a MASSIVE undertaking that is very, very imprecise. From a scientific point of view, it doesn’t allow us to control for enough variables.
    • Also, it’s what my old profs would call a “WAT violation,” or “waste of time violation.”
  • This is actually just one out of two swatch papers. I decided to do one for solid formulas and one for liquid formulas.

Step 2: Somehow get these swatches into a picture file on your computer (recommended: scan).


  • While it’s easy to think “I’ll just take a picture and use that,” that’s actually not a good idea. I attempted to do this first, and it didn’t turn out. No matter what I did, I couldn’t adjust for shadows. If you look at the two swatch pictures closely, you’ll note that some of the colors look more dark and muddy / less defined in the “picture” picture vs in the scan (it also cut off Sangria Starter… whoops). I would not worry too much about the scanner being too bright. Go with the scanner.

Step 3: Import pictures to a photo editing software that has an “average color” feature.

  • I know a lot of people like Photoshop, but I actually recommend Paint.NET for this. It is totally free (legally, which is a plus) and it’s very easy to find and use an “average color” feature.
  • Paint.NET will NOT come with this feature, but you can find it here, along with the instructions for how to install it (yes, it is like an “extension” or “add-on” for Paint.NET)

Step 4: Average out the colors in your swatches (at least partially)

  • This is a multi-step step, so get ready to focus. I’m going to teach you how to use Paint.NET and the Average Color Plugin, but I assume this is a very similar process for similar programs.88vsqok
  • I know this is a big image. So here’s how this works. First, you use the select tool and select some of your swatch.
    • Do one swatch at a time.
    • Don’t get any white from the background in the selection. You can see that swatches are inherently uneven- the colors are uneven but so are the edges. You don’t need to perfectly select the whole swatch, just enough in it that you’ll be able to move your cursor around it later and find the “average color block” easily.
    • It may be helpful to use another select tool. Here I am using the rectangular, but I ended up using lasso select on most of them.
  • After selecting, go to the “Effects” menu. On the bottom (or near it, if you have other effects installed) will be a button that says “Average Color (RGB).” Click that.
  • qqsee2yHopefully now you can see that this swatch has a block in it where the color looks very similar to the swatch but it looks much more even (no, it’s not perfect because I, in my infinite wisdom, decided it was a good idea to take a picture on my phone instead of a screenshot).
  • Do this with all of your swatches.

You can see here that they look almost identical- the colors didn’t appear to change. But I can assure you, there are “average blocks” on each swatch to help with the next step.

Step 5: Find the RGB color in each “average block.” Record it.


  • Using the eyedropper tool (looks like an eyedropper), click on any pixel/part of the average block in any swatch
  • You’ll have to click a button that says “more” or “advanced” depending upon program you are running, but something with an RGB and HSV value should pop up.
  • Use a spreadsheet to record this data- I did RGB, but I’m honestly wishing I used HSV instead.

If you are curious what a spreadsheet for this could look like, I have a public version of mine that you can find/view here. This does update when I update it, so it may have some funny formatting along with it.

Now, the rest of the steps (6-8+) are all based on ID’ing possible dupes. I’ll get into that later. For now, this is a good breaking point. The data collection point is over, and that’s a lot of the “mind numbing” work. I also had intended to get help in writing a program in a database to automate these steps and I haven’t done it yet… opting instead for manual analysis because Boyfriend wasn’t able to help me with the real database 😉

This is also a good stopping point because not everybody wants to find dupes. Even if your goal isn’t a destash, finding an approximation of RGB for your lipstick can…

  • Teach you about your collection. You will start to notice trends… maybe your favorite lipsticks all tend towards very similar numbers. Maybe you like more or less of a color in your lipsticks. Maybe you have very muted lipsticks or prefer dark or light colors. You’ll figure that out more when you do this.
  • Help you organize your collection inventory. With a customized RGB color, you can create a “swatch box” on an Excel spreadsheet inventory that is filled with that lipstick’s color. This is an easy way to see an approximation of the color of your lipstick when you are looking at tempting lipsticks.
  • Also just be fun!

The next installment of The Great Lip Destash will focus on analysis of these numbers. I will briefly touch on what RGB is, how to organize/sort your data, and how to establish dupes! Watch out for it!!


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