Minimalists, take note: the best nude lipsticks can give you a certain zing without sounding an alarm that you’re trying to pull off a look. While there is certainly a time and a place for a bold lip, nude lipstick shades are a makeup staple for a reason: they just work.
What nude lipstick color is right for you? Read on for tips and tricks on picking a nude lip color that will flatter you for all occasions.
Why Wear Nude Lipstick?
Wearing any lipstick can help make you look polished. Wearing nude lipstick can make you look put-together and like you didn’t try too hard. For many, that’s a win-win. The perfect nude lipstick shades can give you a fresh, youthful pop. The wrong shade can make you look, well, unwell.
To achieve the fresh-faced, natural look you’re likely going for, it’s worth it to spend a few minutes seeking out the perfect shade for you. Here’s a tip to start with: too pale, too opaque, or too beige are a “no.”1 The best nude lipsticks will flatter your specific coloring.
What To Look For When Searching For The Perfect Nude Lipstick
Pick A Shade That Matches Your Natural Complexion
While the name might suggest otherwise, “nude” is not a one-shade-fits-all deal. There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of different variations within the nude color category. No need to pick up the first nude you see. For the most flattering effect, you’ll want a shade that plays well with your:
- Natural Lip Color
- Skin Tone
Examine Your Natural Lip Color
When it comes to a “nude lip,” it’s mostly about matching your natural lip color, not your skin color. This means that shades of pale pink, browns, or even mauve can all count as nude.3 You want to boost the beauty of your natural lip color, not necessarily find lipstick shades that could double as your foundation.
Examine your natural lip color, and try to pick a color that is either identical or one shade darker or lighter.4
Identify Your Skin Tone
When looking for the perfect nude lip color, you’ll first consider your skin tone. Your skin tone is the color that you see when you look in the mirror: from ivory to ebony – and all of the shades in between. Here are some general categories:
- Fair Skin
- Light Skin
- Medium Skin
- Tan Skin
- Dark Skin
- Deep Skin5
Those with lighter skin tones may want to pick a shade that matches their lip color rather than their skin color. If you have a medium skin tone, you may want to look for a caramel or deep pink shade. Deeper skin tones may want to pick a color in the berry or mauve family.6
Identify Your Undertone
To pick the perfect nude lip color, you’ll also want a general idea of your undertone. Here’s a quick primer on how to identify it:
- Cool undertones: Your veins look blue-ish through your skin. You have a hint of pink to your skin. When you’re out in the sun, you tend to burn rather than tan.
- Warm undertones: Your skin has a yellow or olive hue. Your veins look green-ish. You tan rather than burn in the sun.
- Neutral undertone: You fall somewhere between warm and cool.7
Once you identify your undertone, here’s how to use that information to find the right nude shades:
- Cool undertones: Reach for a lip shade with a slightly blue-ish undertone. Think taupe or cool pinkish-nude over peach.
- Warm undertones: Go for a neutral lip color in a warm shade. Cinnamon, peach, or pale pink are all warm shades you could try.
- Neutral undertones: You don’t have to be as concerned with undertones. Simply pick a match that is close to your natural lip color.8
The Right Finish
After the color, the next most important factor is the finish of the lipstick. Lipsticks can be sheer, matte, opaque, glossy, satiny, and everything in between. Understanding the different texture of lipstick will help you wear your lip colors with confidence.
- Sheer Formula: versatile, subtle, moisturizing, but more likely to fade throughout the day.
- Creamy Texture: glides on easily, has a hint of gloss, stays on longer than sheer.
- Gloss: eye-catching and extremely shiny finish, can help give a youthful look.
- Matte Lipstick: pure color, smooth application, even, and typically long-lasting.
- Stain: Usually vibrant, highly pigmented, and long-lasting.9
How To Apply Nude Lipstick Like A Pro
Got your color and your texture all picked out? Great. Here’s how to apply that beautiful nude lipstick color like a pro.
1. Exfoliate Your Lips
If your lips are dry or flaky, you may want to gently exfoliate them before you apply lipstick. Look for high quality exfoliation products. To exfoliate, use a clean finger to gently massage lip scrub onto your lips. Rinse off the scrub.10
2. Apply Lip Balm
After you exfoliate, moisturize that pretty pout with a lip balm. Smooth on the balm and spread it over your lips. This will help create an even surface so lipstick can go on evenly.11
3. Line Your Lips
Lip liner can help define lips, prevent bleeding, and make color last longer. For a nude lip look, use a liner that matches the natural color of your lips.
- Draw an “x” on the area of your top lip that dips down (aka your cupid’s bow). The center of the “x” should line up with the dip.
- From the top of the “x” on one side, trace a line down to the corner of your lips. Repeat on the top of the other side.
- Line the center of your lower lip line.
- Using light strokes, extend this line up to the outer corner of your lips.
- If you want extra staying-power, take your lip pencil and color in your entire pout with it.12
4. Apply Your Lipstick
Now that you’ve prepped your lips, it’s time to put on your lipstick. You may prefer to add it straight from the tube or use a lip brush for more control. Generally, you’ll want to apply two coats and blot in between. If you’d like a very subtle look, you can blend the lipstick with a finger after you apply it.13
5. Add A Highlight (Optional)
To give your lips some extra oomph, consider adding a touch of highlight. For a more plump look, dab on a slightly lighter shade of color to the center of your lips. Finish the look with a swipe of lip gloss in the center of your lips.14
Go On, Rock The Nude Look
Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a makeup person, you may find yourself loving the nude lip look. The trick is to find a flattering shade for you. Take a cue from your natural lip color, your skin tone, and your undertone, and odds are that you will nail it beautifully.
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