Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by a shade of nude lipstick. Yes? No? If you were here at WWW HQ, you’d witness our entire editorial staff raise their hands and collectively shudder. Whether we’ve suddenly become the sixth long-lost member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Edward Cullen’s distant cousin, or an alarming combination of both, we’ve had more nude lipstick-related beauty snafus than we’d care to admit.
Even though nude lipsticks are thought to be the most low-maintenance, minimalist-looking option out there, there’s some science involved. When it comes to selecting your most flattering hue, a nude lipstick job can either go wonderfully right (see our A+ celeb inspirations below) or horribly wrong. So, we decided to recruit some expert guidance and product recommendations in the form of some of the best celebrity makeup artists in the business. And, not surprisingly, we picked up all sorts of helpful, and ingenious tidbits we’d never have known otherwise. (For instance, if you’re not prepping your lips with a chap- and flake-removing scrub pre-application, you might as well forget a stripped-down color scheme altogether.) Also, layering matte formulas with glosses or creamier lipsticks will lend a helpful, undead-looking hand.
“Nudes can easily go too flat and dead,” celebrity makeup artist Quinn Murphy explains. “They can become almost eraser-like—as if you’ve put concealer on your lips instead of a lipstick. Going that route will wash you out and will likely make you look sick or tired. I recommend choosing a nude with some kind of undertone. If you go with a color that’s too light, it can veer ashy, and if you go with something too dark, it can veer muddy. Start with a color that is similar to your natural lip color, but slightly more muted. The closer you stay to your lip, the less likely you are to make those mistakes.
Looking for more color tips and product recommendations? Keep scrolling! Sorted by skin tone family, we’ve pulled together 20 of the best nude lipstick shades our favorite beauty retailers have to offer. Trust us, you can’t go wrong with this bunch—our makeup artist experts told us so.