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A nude lipstick is a must-have in any makeup bag. The right nude lip color can pull together any look with ease, blending into your skin tone to give a natural-but-not-totally-bare look. Picking the right nude color, however, is not as easy as it seems.
There are so many neutral shades on the market that it can be hard to figure out the right color for you. That's why we asked three makeup artists for tips about picking the best nude lipstick for your skin tone.
How to pick a quality nude lipstick
When shopping for a quality nude lipstick, you first want to look for something that doesn't heavily contrast your actual lip color, advised celebrity makeup artists Alana Wright, Neil Scibelli and Amber Amos.
"We all don't have the same flesh color on our lips...some people naturally have a plum flesh tone, some people have more of a natural pink flesh tone and some are naturally more muted. It's best to match accordingly as opposed to trying to completely change the complexion of your lips," Wright told Shop TODAY.
In addition to picking a good color, Scibelli emphasized the importance of looking for a quality formula in what he called a "multi-functional" nude lipstick. "For me, it's about quality formulas that feel good on [your lips], that are good for your skin and your lips but also give you the color payoff that you're looking for," he said.
Similarly, Amos recommended looking for something that complements the natural shade of your lips and won't give off a chalky appearance.
How to shop for a nude lipstick
If you're shopping for a nude lipstick online, both Amos and Wright recommend checking the swatches on the site and paying attention to the descriptions. "I look for keywords in the description that seem to be complementary for [my skin tone]," Wright said about her own online shopping process.
"Really pay close attention to the models and the swatches on the site," Amos added. "Make sure that the person is a similar shade to you. Don't venture off too far from what your natural tone is."
Scibelli recommends going into your search with an idea of the type of nude you want to use as a starting point. "The medium-to-deeper your skin is, the more you can actually wear true nudes. But when you're on the fairer side, you want to look for nudes that actually have hints of color in them so it doesn't totally mute your [natural] lip color," he said.
If you have fair skin, he suggests opting for nudes that have hints of coral or pink for an undertone that will complement your skin. For deeper skin tones, Scibelli says you can either try beige nude colors or expand your color palette range. "When you're getting into deeper skin tones, a mauve nude is really beautiful, too," he said.
Another thing to keep in mind when shopping for nude lipstick is texture! "You can be hit with so many options that you're just like, 'Where do I even start?'" Scibelli added. Decide whether you're looking for a matte, demi-matte or glossy nude lip color to help guide your search.
Best nude lipsticks, according to makeup artists
"These have saved me in a pinch when I've had to come up with a quick nude shade... Huda has been the go-to," Wright said. She's a big fan of this lipstick line because there's a color for every skin tone, with 14 different options to choose from.
Wright recommends this matte lipstick from Charlotte Tilbury in the shade "So '90s" (formerly called "Birkin Brown"). "It looks beautiful on brown skin girls," she said. "It's the most beautiful rich leather brown shade of a lipstick."
For a shade that's more beige, she recommends "Very Victoria."
CTZN Cosmetics is a brand that is dedicated to helping you find the perfect nude for your skin tone. This is part of what makes it a favorite for Amos and Scibelli. The Nudiversal Lip Duo features a lip stick on one end and a lip gloss on the other, and it comes in 25 different shades. The site also has a virtual try-on feature to help you find the shade that works best for you.
Amos said she uses CTZN as her go-to nude lipstick because "they will cover everybody that I come into contact with." She refers to these as her main pick not only because of the variety of shades available, but also because of the complementary lipstick/lip gloss duo that allows her to achieve either a matte or glossy finish.
"Their focus is all on how everyone, of all skin tones, can wear different nude lipsticks for their skin type," Scibelli said. "I use them in my kit, too."
"I'm also a big NARS fan," Scibelli said. This lip pencil comes in 16 colors ranging from lighter beiges to deeper reds and plums. It has a 4.4-star average rating on Sephora, and one reviewer even called it their "holy grail."
Wright said this lipstick from Givenchy "looks magical on dark skin." While it looks black in the tube, it is actually translucent and reacts to the natural pH level of your lips to create a complementary tint for your skin tone. "It's one of my favorites," she said.
"I still love MAC's lipsticks and they make a great range of nudes. They're a staple," Scibelli told us. This lipstick has a creamy formula and comes in a dozen different nude shades. With over 1,200 five-star ratings on Ulta's website, people can't get enough of this matte lipstick.
"This slides on great and doesn't feel dry, and you can layer more on for a more intense look without the texture changing," one reviewer shared.
Scibelli is a fan of Charlotte Tilbury's lip kits that come in a variety of different shades. He likes their nude lipsticks because they are made with a creamy, hydrating formula that don't give off a flaky, dry look when applied. There are several different undertones available in their nude lip category, so there's an option for everyone.
"When I'm getting someone ready for an event, the red carpet or even bridal [glam], I feel like Charlotte Tilbury is a great user-friendly consumer lipstick," Scibelli said.
Amos is a fan of this water-resistant, dual-ended lip liner from Kevyn Aucoin in the shade "Pure", along with "New Naked" and "Carnal," which is more of a rosy color. It's designed to match the natural color of your lips to create the illusion of fuller lips. "I like to use those all over the lips with a little gloss on top," she said.
Amos likes the lipsticks, lip liners and lip glosses from Halsey's makeup brand, About-Face. "You can find your full combo of the complementary liner, the matte [lipstick] if you want to go matte or a gloss. And they have a good range," she said. This matte lip color comes in 11 different shades and has a 4.8-star average rating on the brand's site.
For a budget-friendly drugstore option, Scibelli recommends the Color Fetish lipstick line from Milani. "I love their lipsticks because they’re affordable and also comparable to luxury formulas," he told us. "The fetish nude lipsticks have a velvety matte finish and come in a range of nudes for various skin tones, so everyone is destined to find a shade of nude."
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