The 18 Best Nude Lipsticks Perfect for Your Skin Tone
A neutral lip doesn't have to be boring—and these picks prove it!
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rd.com, via sephora.com (2), via ulta.com (2)
A beauty essential you shouldn’t overlook
As they say, sometimes less is more, and that’s definitely the case when it comes to the best nude lipsticks. If you don’t think you need a nude lipstick, think again. It’s a must-have in every woman’s beauty arsenal since it’s so versatile and can add instant polish. Whether you’re running errands and wearing little else or you’re rocking a smokey eye for a night out, it’s often the thing that will put your look over the top…in the most perfectly understated way. But just like regular lipsticks that complement your skin tone, you need to choose wisely.
There’s a wide variety of nudes out there—from pinky taupes to rich browns—and while they may seem really similar, they’re not. “The wrong shade can make you look washed out,” warns Beth Follert, a celebrity makeup artist in Los Angeles. “Use your natural lip color as a guide—you want it to be close. And never go lighter than the shade your lips are on their own.”
Finding the perfect nude
While it’s worth splurging on an amazingly luxurious lipstick that you’ll wear all the time, there are also plenty of fantastic drugstore lipsticks in this shade that won’t break the bank. Beyond your budget and the right shade, the other big thing to consider is the formula—and what it will do for your lips. Do you want something velvety and matte? Or maybe you’d like a hydrating formula that’s more like a lip balm? The brand may matter to you, too, since you may want to support one of the best natural makeup lines or a Black-owned business.
Don’t worry—we’re not sending you out into the wide world of nudes without a little guidance. We consulted top makeup artists about their favorites, as well as collected some options that have such stellar reviews, they can’t be ignored. Find your favorites and you won’t know how you ever got through the week without them.
Best overall: Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk
This pinkish nude lipstick has a massive cult following. It’s so popular, in fact, that Charlotte Tilbury created an entire collection of other makeup products devoted to this shade, from volumizing mascara to pretty-in-pink eye shadow palettes. “I love Pillow Talk,” shares Rachel Hill, a makeup artist in Austin, Texas, of this nude lipstick. “When picking a nude, you want something with a bit of color—and this has it.” Experts praise the mauve nude shade because it’s universally flattering for most skin tones and because the matte formula glides on like buttah, leaving lips smooth and silky.
- Universally flattering
- Creamy matte formula
- Buildable color
Best matte: NYX Professional Soft Matte Lip Cream in Stockholm
Swipe this on and the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s a little like lipstick and a little like gloss…sans the shine. The result: a unique matte option that doesn’t leave your pout cakey and dry. The beige-pink shade adds just enough rosiness to give you a slight flush. Thousands of Ulta reviewers call out this formula’s buildable, long-lasting color and rave that Stockholm is “lovely” and truly “the perfect nude.” If you want to layer your lippie over a phenomenal lip balm, try this Burt’s Bees lip balm that has more than 50,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.
- Not drying
- Highly pigmented color
Best sheer coverage: It Cosmetics Pillow Lips Solid Serum Lip Gloss in Humble
This brand is all about solving skin problems—and this lipstick lives up to that mission. It swipes on more like a balm, and it hydrates like one, too. The formula is infused with moisturizing hyaluronic acid and tri-oil complex, which also have excellent anti-aging properties, and it goes on sheer. “If you like to play up your eyes, a sheer nude lip keeps you from looking over the top,” says Hill. That’s just one of many makeup secrets that can help you look pulled together instantly.
- Super moisturizing
- Contains plumping collagen
Best clean beauty brand: Ilia Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil in Only You
Ilia has redefined clean beauty—touting that not every natural ingredient is good for skin and not every synthetic is bad. So, they mix the best of the two types of ingredients to create products that are good for your face and that work. This lip oil is no different. Packed with hyaluronic acid to moisturize and Salicornia herbacea to plump, this neutral nude leaves you with a fresh, dewy-looking pout.
- No toxic ingredients
Best organic: Vapour Organic Velvet Lip Gloss Balm in Deva
Cruelty-free? Absolutely. Non-toxic? Yup. Organic ingredients? For sure! This lippie is both a gloss and a balm. Translation: It hydrates while leaving a shiny finish. That hydration factor comes from a combination of rosehip and castor seed oil, by the way, and the formula’s antioxidant-rich green tea also adds a protective element. And you pretty much can’t go wrong with it in Deva. “The dusty rose shade is a gorgeous neutral for all skin tones,” says Follert. Bonus tip: You can dab a little on your cheekbones for a pretty, flushed sheen. It will come in super handy when creating these gorgeous natural makeup looks that bring out your best features.
- No toxic ingredients
- Flattering on many skin tones
Best liquid formula: Stila Stay All Day Shimmer Liquid Lipstick in Miele Shimmer
Let your smile steal the show with a nude liquid lipstick in a warm mauve shade that packs a punch of shimmer and shine. This hydrating Stila formula is made to last for up to 12 hours, and reviewers say it delivers. If you’re looking to extend its staying power even longer, here’s a tip: “Try adding a tiny amount of pressed powder around your lips after applying this liquid lipstick,” says Shanell Sorrells, a celebrity makeup artist in New York City. “It will keep it from smudging or smearing.” Learn a few other secrets makeup artists wish you knew.
- Sparkly finish
- Lasts all day
- Easy to apply
Best for deep skin tones: Rituel de Fille Forbidden Lipstick in Carnal
Follert suggests a neutral berry shade for women with deeper skin tones—and loves this Carnal shade, specifically. The formula is intensely saturated, so it won’t fade or get lost against deeper skin. Want even more shade intensity? The color is buildable, so you can just keep adding layers. As for the finish, it’s creamy yet matte, which gives you an overall luxe look. If you also happen to be looking for a new hue for your ‘do, check out this guide to finding the best hair color for your skin tone.
- Provides the perfect flush for darker skin tones
- Buildable color
- Creamy, matte finish
Best for medium skin tones: Smashbox Always On Cream to Matte Lipstick in Deep Nude
“If you have olive or medium skin, opt for a more caramel-like nude,” suggests Follert. This one from Smashbox is a fantastic option. The deep shade is well-balanced and reads as a true neutral. Plus, the formula contains a primer oil, which preps your lips as it deposits color, so that the shade goes on smoothly. It’s also transfer-resistant (so smooch away) and waterproof. That means you won’t have to reapply it over and over again throughout your day. Score! Don’t miss these other waterproof and sweatproof makeup options for even the hottest days.
- A true neutral
- Goes on smoothly
Best for lighter skin tones: Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Liar
Think pink if your skin is on the paler side. “It’s really important not to go lighter than your natural lip color when you have lighter skin,” says Follert. “If you do, you may look like a corpse.” Reaching for a shade that leans more toward pink than pale beige will bring some rosiness to your complexion, making you glow. This bullet from Urban Decay has just enough pink but still reads very much as a nude. And since it’s infused with aloe vera, jojoba, and avocado and babassu oils, your pucker will stay perfectly hydrated for the long haul. By the way, this is what your favorite lipstick color says about your personality.
- Matte finish
- The perfect pink undertone
Best beige nude: MAC Matte Lipstick in Honey Love
This is a true nude, and it looks great when the rest of your makeup is dramatic, says Hill. The matte finish will allow other areas of your face to pop, and the highly pigmented beige color will keep lips looking soft and supple without drawing too much attention away from your other features. Fun fact: Many reviewers love the smell of MAC’s iconic lipsticks, including this one.
- Creamy formula
- Matte finish
- A true nude
Best multitasker: Clinique Pop Lip Colour + Primer in Nude Pop
To make sure your lipstick stays on, Sorrells recommends priming lips first by exfoliating and then using a balm. But this Clinique lipstick does all of that for you! Not only is it a gorgeous nude hue, but it’s also got a primer baked into the formula. So, what does this mean for you? The primer helps smooth lips so you can get a flawless finish every time, helping you to avoid a lipstick mistake that will ruin your look.
- Primer and lipstick in one
- Creamy finish
- Universally flattering shade
Best pink nude: Essence This Is Nude Lipstick in Bold
You can’t beat the price of this budget buy. (Seriously, it’s under $3!) But it’s not just the low cost that makes this nude lipstick from Essence a winner—this perfect pink nude shade is stunningly gorgeous. One reviewer recommends using it with a lip liner to really make lips pop. Other benefits of this steal include a moisturizing formula and a long-lasting, semi-matte finish.
- Super affordable
- Semi-matte finish
- Gorgeous pink hue
Best long-wear nude: Maybelline SuperStay Ink Crayon in Achieve It All
Put it on in the morning, and at the end of your workday, the color will be just as vibrant as when you first applied it—promise! It’s truly transfer-proof, so you can sip your latte, shower your partner with kisses, and eat lunch without worrying it will smudge or rub off. The crayon-like shape also makes precise application a breeze, and the built-in sharpener allows you to keep the tip pointy. For those times when you want to go bold, bookmark these tips on applying red lipstick like a pro.
- Easy to apply
- Built-in sharpener
Best applicator: Hourglass Confession Ultra Slim High Intensity Refillable Lipstick in When I Was
The sleek gold applicator feels incredibly luxe—multiple reviewers comment on how elegant and chic it is—but it’s what’s inside that really matters. The rose nude shade is gorgeous and just deep enough to make an impact. The slim applicator is great for thinner lips, but it has perks for anyone who uses it. Outline lips with the pointed tip before you fill in and your lipstick won’t smudge or feather.
- Satin finish
- Long-wearing color
Best satin finish: L’Oreal Colour Riche Original Satin Lipstick in Fairest Nude
Swipe this on and your lips will instantly look luscious, thanks to the satin-like finish. One reviewer even notes that this lipstick “feels high-end without the high-end price tag.” The light nude shade, FYI, is ideal for those with lighter skin. If this hue won’t do for you, no worries. The line offers a total of 52 shades, so you’re bound to find a neutral color that will look fantastic on you. If you’re looking for the perfect foundation to complete your look, we can help with that, too!
- Won’t feather
- Moisturizing formula
Best nude crayon: NudeStix Lip + Cheek Pencil in Mystic
“Crayons tend not to bleed as much,” says Emily Brafford, a celebrity makeup artist in Telluride, Colorado. “It’s like having a lipstick and lip liner in one, so they’re ideal when you need your lip color to stay put.” This fan-favorite from NudeStix comes in a soft pink beige. Use it on your lips, then dab some on your cheeks for a bit of extra oomph there, too. With shea butter, vitamin E, and plumping peptides, your lips will stay perfectly kissable all day, too.
- Lipstick and lip liner in one
- Won’t feather or bleed
Best shimmery nude: Nars Afterglow Lip Balm in Fast Lane
More of a balm than a lipstick, this pick from Nars contains a moisturizing complex that provides long-lasting hydration, as well as antioxidants to protect your lips from environmental factors. And while that’s all nice, it’s the gorgeous pink-nude shimmer that really wows. One Sephora reviewer raves, “I love this balm! It’s super glossy but not sticky.” Looking for a balm without any tint? This Dr. Pawpaw multipurpose soothing balm has excellent reviews, and a tube of it sells every 60 seconds.
- Shimmery finish
- Hydrating balm
- Universally flattering
Best lip oil: Róen Elixir Tinted Lip Oil Balm in Alba
Lip oils feel as nourishing as lip balms but look as luxe as lipstick—and this brand-new hybrid from Róen nails that balance in a universally flattering neutral nude. Argan oil, vitamin E, sweet almond oil, and hyaluronic acid (also the star of the best anti-aging face serums) lock in moisture for soft, plump, hydrated lips, and the tinted wax deposits just the right amount of pigment to take your nude lip from natural to naturally gorgeous. It comes in two additional shades—Stella (light pink) and Scarlett (deep cherry)—that also qualify as your-lips-but-better.
- Shines like a gloss
- Hydrating formula
- Free of fragrance, gluten, parabens, and talc
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