Here's How To Find Best Nude Lipstick For Your Skin Tone

If matching the color of products such as foundation and concealer to your skin tone weren't hard enough, the nude lip only complicates matters. Nude lipstick is intended to play up the color of your lips with a color that looks as though it could be your natural lip color — but obviously isn't. In other words, the exact shade that constitutes a "nude lip" is going to vary from person to person. As makeup artist Sir John tells Byrdie, "People often hear the word nude and think of one standard color because of what they may have been taught from years of limited advertisement. Nude doesn't strip your color away—think of it more as a skin-enhancing neutral."


When it comes to figuring out what lipstick is right for you, then, there's a lot of expert advice out there, but the general consensus is to start with your skin as a point of reference. Since everyone's skin tone is different for a wide variety of reasons, we've done our best to make sure that these tips are as wide-ranging as possible.

Look at your skin tone

Before you do anything else, you'll want to take a basic look at your skin tone. Whether your skin is light or dark skin or falls somewhere in the middle should give you a good idea of the range of shades you have to work with for a potential nude lipstick. In fact, makeup artist Neil Scibelli expanded on this to Teen Vogue, saying not to go for a really light shade if you have light skin already, lest you wash out your lips. On the other hand, Scibelli noted, "Deeper skin tones can pull off a lip color that's a shade lighter than their actual foundation color."


Maybelline India echoes this advice when it comes to choosing a nude lip color for lighter skin but also advises those with medium to dark skin tones to go a shade darker than their natural lip color to avoid looking washed out.

Figure out your skin's undertone

Makeup artist Fiona Stiles explained to Byrdie that those looking for a nude lipstick shade should consider both their skin tone and the undertones of their skin, commenting, "To find the perfect nude lipstick, you need to consider your skin tone and undertone. Make sure you know if your complexion is cool, warm, or neutral to help find your most complementary shade." 


Like skin, lipstick shades also have undertones. In this regard, MasterClass mentions that those with warmer undertones should opt for warmer lipstick shades and vice versa for those with cooler undertones, which could be helpful to pinpoint the colors and shades that look most appropriate as nude lipstick for your skin. Puzzle Makeup additionally mentions that the redness caused by rosacea may affect the natural undertones of a person's skin, so it's good to keep in mind any dermatological conditions you may have and whether or not these could affect how certain colors look against your skin.

Use your natural lip color to guide you

Another one of the top tips when it comes to determining which nude lipstick is the right one for you is to take a look at your natural lip color. Although this is very similar to figuring out where your skin tone and undertones come into the picture, there are some other factors to keep in mind.


In fact, makeup artist Daniel Martin told Teen Vogue, "Anyone with a lot of natural pigment in their lips tends to have a challenge finding the right nude. You want something that's either identical to or a shade lighter than the natural lip tone." In this case, the best thing to do is to test out many lip products to find the correct shade for you. Our best tip for this is to find sets of mini products so that you can test them for cheaper and then buy the full-sized product once you find the right one for you.

Use the color of your nipples

This next tip may sound surprising or even a bit scandalous, but many suggest using the color of your nipples as a guide for finding the right nude lipstick color. (Really!) This tip originated in an episode of the television series "The Doctors," and it's been used by many people since, though it's, of course, a potentially shocking revelation to others.


Since then, "The Doctors" hasn't been the only place to bring this up as a life hack. Makeup artist Alexis Oakley confirmed the relationship between nipple color and lip color to PopSugar, saying, "Generally, your natural lip shade is the same color as your nipple. If you are using this method to search for a nude lipstick, it will give your the perfect nude lip for your skin tone."

What's more, makeup artist Elisa Flowers told Refinery29 that using the color of the nipple might not work for everyone, unfortunately, explaining, "This nipple trick can be useful for [most] skin tones, but not so great for those who are very fair or very dark skinned."

Start with a clean slate

The next tip for finding the best nude lipstick for you comes from makeup artist Troy Surratt, who told Teen Vogue about the importance of prepping your lips before applying lip color to avoid any cracks or fine lines. After all, you should always exfoliate your lips to remove dead skin, which will help your products look and apply better.


At the same time, however, Surratt cautioned Teen Vogue against using foundation as a base before applying lipstick. Surratt's reasoning for going against this common advice is that the foundation can make makeup look caked on, which isn't ideal. Instead, he suggested, "If you have to, add a lighter beige or nude color over [your lipstick], to give the lips more dimension." Another note here is that, when applied to the lips, some foundation shades could affect the end result of the lip color you're applying, which means it might look different than it would when applied as a swatch on your skin.

Experiment with different finishes

Next up, you shouldn't be afraid to experiment with different finishes while in search of the right nude lipstick for you. Lipstick finishes range from matte to metallic to glossy (and everything in between), but the main point to keep in mind here is that different finishes will ultimately affect how a lipstick color looks when you have applied it to your lips.


What's more, makeup artist Neil Scibelli's advice to Teen Vogue, "If you're going nude, a creamier or glossier formula will give the lips more texture." Likewise, makeup artist Fiona Stiles explained to Byrdie, "For people of color, it's all about playing with highlights and shadows to build definition." Choosing a lipstick that doesn't have a matte finish, for example, would help to add more dimension to your lips if you feel that it's needed to boost your lip color. Then, you can have even more fun once you've found your shade.

Use multiple products if needed

The great news about lipstick is that you can use multiple products if you can't find the exact shade and finish that feels right to you. Blending colors and shades from the same or different brands is certainly one option here, but it isn't the only one available to you.


Ctzn Cosmetics cofounder Aleena Khan tells Vogue that lip liners can also help in your nude lipstick quest, sharing, "Adding a liner really completes and seals the look by adding definition, creating a plumper lip appearance if you blend a darker lip liner with a paler nude lipstick, and allows cleaner application within the lines." If you already have your heart set on a specific shade but find that it's too matte for your liking, for example, you might not need to go hunting for a glossier version. As explains, some lipstick finishes can be altered with the addition of some extra products, depending on the look you're seeking.

Look to celebrities for inspiration

Lastly, you can always look to celebrities for inspiration for the right nude lipstick color for your skin tone. If you know that a certain star has a similar complexion to your own, start searching around for makeup looks they've worn that match the one that you're going for. Some celebrity makeup artists also share the products that they've used on their clients when they post their looks on social media or are featured in magazines, taking out some more of the guesswork. 


Citing one of actor Lupita Nyong'o's lip looks, makeup artist Daniel Martin gave Teen Vogue some advice for those with darker skin tones, saying, "Find a color that has a bit of peach or even gold in it, like Lupita at the 2018 CFDA Awards. The yellow undertones neutralize the blue in your lips, so it appears lighter than your lip tone. It's also nice to pick up the natural color in the center of the lips, which tends to be lighter than the outer corners."

Now, with these tips in mind, you can find the perfect nude lipstick shade and finish and pull it off flawlessly.