Just like a classic brown bag or nude pump that complements every outfit, having a few nude lipsticks in your makeup arsenal is an absolute must. While red and pink lipsticks brighten your face, nude lipsticks add depth and dimension. Plus, they have a way of naturally enhancing your features and bringing out the beauty of your skin tone—especially for those with olive to dark skin tones.
Nude means something different for everyone, so one callout is that if you’re not thoughtful about selecting the right shade of lipstick for your skin tone, you can end up looking washed out. We spoke to several makeup artists to get their pro tips on how to find the perfect nude lip. Plus, check out their favorite nude lipstick shades for olive, medium deep, and deeper skin tones.
How to Find a Nude Lipstick That Complements You Skin Tone
People who have olive, light brown, and dark skin tones may have more luck finding a nude lipstick with warmer undertones, says Jennifer Fleming, a celebrity makeup artist who splits time between New York City and Paris.
“Sometimes, cooler shades can leave the lips looking a bit ashy if not balanced with depth from a liner or gloss,” says Fleming. “One tip I use in searching for the perfect nude is choosing a lip color that mimics my complexion. Usually its application is slightly lighter and made warmer from the natural pink in the lips. Maching complexion instead of the lip color helps cancel any pink in the natural lips.”
Speaking of undertones, the nude lipstick that works best will depend on how warm or cool your undertone is. So, consider whether warmer-colored clothing, like red, yellow, orange, and green, look better on your skin than cooler colors, such as blue, purple, and pink, says Keira Karlin, makeup artist and founder of Blende, a custom makeup and skin care studio in New Jersey.
“When searching for a nude, whatever your skin tone is, pick something that’s the same tone. So yellow/red skin should look for a shade that’s warmer. Skin that skews more pink/blue, look for a cooler color with more pink, plum, and mauve tones,” Karlin says.
That said, choosing a nude lipstick that complements your skin tone and undertone is just the first step. As Fleming mentioned, you also want to think about building more dimension with a flesh-toned lip pencil. Grab a medium to dark brown lip pencil to add more depth to your nude lipstick.
“Bordering the nude lipstick with something a few shades darker can help ground the color that may seem dull or wash you out by itself. I’m personally a big fan of blending a whisper of brown eyeliner against the border of the mouth,” says Corey Crysler, a makeup artist based in the New York City area.
Olive Skin Tones
Juvia’s Place The Nude Velvety Matte Lipstick in Toffee
Crysler likes this nude lipstick for olive skin tones for its warm and bold mocha shade. Unlike other matte lipsticks that can be drying, Juvia’s Place infuses hyaluronic acid into its creamy formula to help keep lips hydrated and promote a smoother application. We love Juvia’s Place for its inclusive line of cosmetics that celebrates a variety of skin tones. Their nude velvety matte lip collection is comprised of a range of pinks, mauves, and chocolates, so you can find a shade that’s best for you.
Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrace Lipstick in Venus in Furs
This rosey, mauve-based nude lipstick is one of Crysler’s top picks for those with olive skin tones and warm undertones. Its unique lightweight formula allows you to apply color easily and intensely yet it keeps your lips supple for all-day wear. For the perfect monotone makeup look, blend some of this nude lipstick on your cheeks and eyelids, too.
Blende Tawny Lipstick
Blende’s tawny shade is best for those with olive skin tones, although those with cooler undertones may also like this shade because of its plum undertone. It applies smoothly on your lips and provides a bold finish.
Dark Skin Tones
Blende Sophia Lipstick
At Blende, Karlin creates custom lipsticks so that every person has the perfect shade that exactly complements their skin tone, hair color, and other features. She recommends the shade Sophia, which is a warm brown and red lipstick, for those with darker skin tones. It’s also gluten- and paraben-free, making it a great option for those with sensitive skin.
Jacque Mgido Cosmetics Lip Stain in Harare
If lipsticks and glosses aren’t your thing, try Jacque Mgido’s lip stains. They glide on smooth and dry with a matte finish that doesn’t crack. The great thing about stains is that they can be longer lasting than lipsticks, and you can easily build up the color. Fleming likes the shade Harare, a rich brown, for those with deeper skin tones. With a mission of creating an inclusive makeup line, we love Jacque Mgido for her wide range of colors that cater to a variety of skin tones and types.
The Lip Bar Lip Service Lipstick in Cocoa Cooler
The Lip Bar’s lip service lipsticks impart a velvety, satin finish for maximum wow factor. Crysler recommends cocoa cooler, a reddish brown nude, for deeper, more brown skin tones. This creamy lipstick is made with castor, argan, and jojoba oils, as well as hyalucronic acid. It glides on smooth, is hydrating, and provides a gorgeous dark wine-stained color on your lips.
Medium Deep to Dark Skin Tones
Fenty Beauty Icon Lipstick in Flaunty Auntie
For a semi-matte nude that complements medium deep and deeper skin tones, Fleming likes Fenty Beauty’s Icon lipstick in Flaunty Auntie. This mahogany nude lends a rich and bold reddish-brown color that looks stunning on those with darker skin tones. Formulated with hyaluronic acid and vitamins C and E, your lips will stay plump and moisturized. The best part is that the lipstick case is reusable, so you just need to get the fill at your next purchase.
Light Brown and Mocha Skin Tones
Sunnies Face Fluffmatte in Milk Tea
Phillippine brand Sunnies Face’s fluffmatte lipsticks have quickly become a cult favorite for their versatile colors. Created with Asia’s vast array of skin tones in mind, Sunnies Face has a range of nude shades that are super flattering. Crysler likes Milk Tea, a warm beige nude, for those with light brown and mocha skin tones. The caramel-like color adds more warmth to the skin and lets your own skin tone shine through. Its lightweight formula builds color quickly so all you need is one swipe.
Link: Sunnies Face Fluffmatte Lipstick in Milk Tea, $16
Light Medium to Medium Skin Tones
Danessa Myricks Beauty Colorfix Nude #7
Fleming recommends Danessa Myricks Beauty’s Colorfix shade in #7 for a deeper nude lipstick that goes on creamy yet finishes matte. This multi-tasking, highly pigmented formula also works well as a contouring liquid, foundation, spot concealer, and eyeshadow and eyeliner. To add more dimension to your nude pout, outline your lips with a medium or dark pencil. If you’re not familiar with Danessa Myricks, she’s a renowned makeup artist who created her own line of cosmetics with the goal of including palettes and formulations for people who have largely felt underrepresented in the beauty industry.
Universally Flattering Glossy Nude
Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Heat Universal Lip Luminizer + Plumper in Hot Chocolit
Fleming suggests Fenty Beatuy’s gloss bomb lip glosses in hot chocolit, a sheer brown color, for all skin tones. It is a great starter lip gloss for people who want to experiment with nude shades. Made with shea butter and vitamin E, it nourishes your lips and helps prevent them from becoming chapped. You can wear it alone or layer it over a nude lipstick for a hint of shine.
How to Make Your Nude Lipstick Last
Karlin recommends exfoliating your lips with a sugar scrub, like this one from Blende, to get rid of dry skin. Then, you want to apply a lip treatment for moisturizing at the start of your makeup routine, Crysler suggests. Next, remove any residual balm. This will also help the lipstick better adhere to your lips. Starting from the center of your mouth, apply the lipstick and work your way outward. Blot your mouth with a tissue to remove excess product. This helps locks in the first layer of color and acts like a stain, Crysler says.
Line your lips with a coordinating shade or go one shade darker. You can overline your lips if you’d like, just make sure to take a step back to make sure you’re creating symmetry. Press a layer of loose or pressed powder around the perimeter of your lips with a small fluffy brush to keep the lipstick from bleeding outside of the lines. Lastly, glide on another layer of lipstick.