Nude lipstick is experiencing a resurgence with modern textures that feel comfortable to wear and shades that flatter every skin tone. Here's our pro guide for how to successfully pull off a nearly bare lip
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In theory, bathing lips in hushed hues of peachy pink, muted mauves and caramel should make your face look fresh and your makeup effortless. The reality, however, has been the polar opposite. Many nude lipsticks registered as too ashy and too opaque, when, in fact, "soft, neutral makeup shades should enhance rather than add intensity," says makeup artist Mary Greenwell.
Alas, nude lipstick has finally embraced being a second skin with pigments that create a 'your lip but better' effect. Crucially, 'nude' is no longer a sweeping term; nor is one shade of beige deemed universally flattering. Every skin tone has its own nuances and this, thankfully, is now reflected in the vast array of nude shades on the market.
"Choosing a nude is about finding the right tone in the colour family," says Rachel Hardie, lead artist at Nars. As a rule of thumb, peach and rosy hues work best against light skin. Byredo Shimmering Nude Lipstick in Feverish is a soft glittering pink. Anastasia Beverly Hills Matte & Satin Velvet Lipstick in Haze is a light peach with just the right level of sheen.
If your skin is on the warmer end of the spectrum, opt for a warm-toned nude – toffee, berry and mauves are incredibly flattering. Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is one of the most iconic warm nudes that plays up the pinky tones in your lips and brightens sallow skin. MAC Matte Lipstick in Velvet Teddy is a dark beige with a plush hydrating matte finish. Dark skin tones should lean more on dark caramels, deep berries and rich cocoa. Fenty Beauty Slip Shine in Cookies & Cocoa is a deep nude with a hint of cool while Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Omi glides onto lips with ease. "You want to keep the mouth really soft but it's still worth shaping the outline of your lips with a nude pencil," says Greenwell.
Textures are also a more elevated experience, having shrugged off their chalky reputation. "Moisturising textures are usually the best for comfort and for those looking for something light and easy," says Hardie, adding that Nars Audacious Lipstick in Barbara is her all-time favourite nude. "I love to dab it onto my cheeks, too, for a monochromatic look," says notes. Chanel Rouge Coco Flash Hydrating Lip Colour in Boy is like the lovechild of a lipstick and a balm for low-key makeup days and suits almost everyone. While Westman Atelier Squeaky Clean Liquid Lip Balm in Nana is one of the best nude glosses we've come across.
There's another more pressing reason to choose a lipstick at the neutral end of the colour wheel this autumn. Designers have signalled that this season there's going to be a more playful approach to makeup with slashes of bright colour largely confined to the eyes. The raccoon-rimmed eyes in blue and purple on Saint Laurent's girls is a case in point. While at Valentino, make-up supremo Pat McGrath served up exaggerated wings in retina-burning hot pink, swept along lash lines to the temples. "Makeup should be about balance," says Hardie. "If the rest of your makeup is quite intricate, or the focus is a pop of bright colour elsewhere, then pair back your lip."
Ahead the best nude lipsticks to help you do that with aplomb.
Why we'll all be wearing nude lipstick
Anastasia Beverly Hills lipstick
Anastasia Beverly Hills
Charlotte Tilbury pillow talk
MAC mat lipstick
Fenty Beauty lipstick
Pat Mcgrath Labs lipstick
Pat Mcgrath Labs
Chanel Rouge lipstick
Westman Atelier liquid lip balm