Struggling to find a nude lipstick that won’t make you look sick or accidentally spilled foundation on your lips? Here’s our simple, fool-proof way of finding just the right lipstick shade for your skin tone.
The first step is to look at the mirror. If you have light skin, take a cue from your natural lip color. Never go lighter than that, or your lips will disappear. Daniel Martin, the makeup artist who created Meghan Markle’s wedding day look, says “Girls with pale skin should wear a nude that has a hint of pink.”
If you have medium or dark skin tones, go for nude lipsticks with hints of caramel, a deeper pink like rose, or a warmer pink like peach. Celebrity makeup artist Neil Scibelli also suggests looking for nude lipsticks that have a hint of orange and red. “That little touch of colour can make your lips look healthy and perk up your entire complexion,” he explains.
Scibelli adds that nude lipstick shades that disappear on women with fair skin will stand out on your beautiful golden skin. You can even pull off a shade that’s lighter than your skin tone! Just consider how your lipstick will work with the rest of your makeup. “Very light lipsticks are difficult to pull off without dramatic eyeshadow, eyeliner and bronzer,” he says. “You have to create contrast so you don’t look sick.”
You can either have a warm undertone or a cool undertone. The easiest way to tell? Check your veins on your wrist (if they look green, you’re a cool – if they look purple, you’re a warm).
When a nude lipstick makes your skin look flat or dreary, you’re probably using the wrong undertone. “Any lipstick, whether it’s a light pink or a nude, should make your skin look vibrant and fresh,” says Scibelli.
The easiest way to narrow your selection at a makeup store is to swatch the tester on your cheek or your hand (not your wrist, which tends to be lighter than your face and body). Does it make your skin look healthy or does it make it look dull? Does it completely disappear into your skin, or does it have enough colour to add (subtle) definition to your lips?
Texture / Finish
Nude lipsticks are all about contrast. If you want a shade that’s close to your skin tone, then get a very glossy, satin or crème formula that will stand out against the rest of your face. You don’t want to look like you applied concealer all over your lips!
If you love matte lipsticks, then you need to go several shades lighter or darker than your skin tone. Celebrity makeup artist Lisa Eldridge also recommends using a lipliner for additional contrast and definition. “Sometimes a pick a shade that’s darker than the lipstick, and then blend it into the lip color. It prevents nude lipstick from looking flat, and can make lips look full and plump. It’s a great trick for women with small or thin lips.”
Natural lip colour
You may have natural pigments in your lips that can make finding the perfect nude lipstick.
If you have dark lips, Daniel Martin suggests getting a shade with a bit of peach or gold. “The yellow undertones neutralize the blueness or darkness in your lips,” he says.
You can also neutralize your lip colour by applying a neutral-colored lipliner (or even foundation!) all over your lips. Ït also helps your lipstick last longer, especially if you’re wearing a very glossy formula! Just make sure to exfoliate your lips with a cotton bud dipped in petroleum jelly or a damp wash cloth. Lipliner and nude lipsticks can highlight flaky skin or lines on your lips.