The Nude-Lipstick Field Guide

Nude lipstick is an interesting conundrum in the world of beauty. Sure, it's a makeup-kit staple, but what exactly constitutes nude? Some women believe it's meant to be a shade similar to our skin tone, while others define it simply as a neutral. The reality, according to Katie Jane Hughes, Butter London's global color ambassador, is that there's no one definition of nude, despite what many articles would have you believe.

"When you think of nude lipstick, you tend to think of Kim Kardashian about two years ago," Hughes explains. "She'd wear an opaque, nude lip. I think we've evolved from that, actually. We're going cooler and trendier." But, Hughes stresses this one fact: There is no true nude for every skin tone. "There could be 20 or 30 shades that fit into the category of 'nude' for you, because nude means something different for every person."


For this reason, Hughes actually suggests that women should have a wardrobe of nudes. "I have 10 nude lipsticks that I go through in my own, personal makeup bag," she explains. "One may be a pinkish, one might be brown."

So, it's time to start rethinking the nude lipstick thing and start shopping. But, where to even start? "Put a swipe of the shade you're considering on the back of your hand, go to a natural light source, and pick the one that has the least amount of gray in it," she says. You've also got to take the color of your lips into consideration, as that will affect the way your shade reads.

There is one big misconception we've got to clear up right now, though: You are not looking for a flesh-toned shade that matches your actual skin tone. What you want is something that's synched up with your natural lip color and complements your skin tone — hence the "not making your skin look gray" tidbit above.

Still stumped? We've got you covered. Ahead, we rounded up a bevy of nude hues, broken down by skin tones and with tips from Hughes to guide you. At the end of the day, your buff lipstick is all about personal preference and what works for you. Consider this list a guide to help you find your nude-lipstick match. It's out there!

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Photo: Via Jouer.
Light Tones

Hughes says ladies with lighter skin tones should favor pink or peachy shades. "If there's a model in front of me and she's pale, I'll nude-ify her with a peachy-toned look," she says. "If it's too beige it will go a little too far the other way — especially if it's opaque. It'll make you look a little zombie-like."
Jouer Hydrating Lipstick in Meg, $22.00 Buy
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Photo: Via Chanel.
Chanel Rouge Coco Hydrating Crème Lip Colour, $35.00 Buy
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Photo: Via Dior.
Dior Dior Addict Lip Glow in Natural Pink, $32.00 Buy
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Photo: Via Bobbi Brown.
Bobbi Brown Rich Lip Color in Guava, $26.00 Buy
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Photo: Via Calvin Klein.
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Photo: Via Tom Ford.
Tom Ford Lip Color in Twist of Fate, $50.00 Buy
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Medium-toned ladies have it easy: They can go either way with their shades. "You definitely shouldn't go lighter with your lipstick," Hughes explains. "That gets tricky. People tend to go too light, and then they wind up looking ashy."
Butter London Lippy Tinted Balm in Nutter, $20.00 Buy
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Photo: Via MAC.
M·A·C Cremesheen + Pearl Lipstick in Peach Blossom, $16.00 Buy
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Photo: Via Maybelline.
Maybelline Color Sensational The Buffs Lip Color in Stormy Sahara, $5.50 Buy
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Photo: Via Rimmel London.
Rimmel London Lasting Finish Lipstick Kate Moss Collectionin 014, $5.49 $4.49 Buy
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Photo: Via Sephora.
Sephora Collection Rouge Cream Lipstick in Love Life, $12.50 Buy
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Photo: Via The Body Shop.
The Body Shop Colour Crush Lipstick in Dare To Bare, $12.50 Buy
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Photo: Via YSL.
Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Silky Sensual Radiant Lipstick SPF 15 in Neutral Beige, $35.00 Buy
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Photo: Via L'Oreal.

Darker-toned girls should actually reach for shades with a red undertone to them. "If you look at Lupita Nyong'o, for example, to do a nude on her, you'd have to do a dark-brown lip," Hughes explains. "It's going to have a reddish-brown tinge to it, especially when you look at it in the bottle. But, it won't look like a red on darker skin tones."
L'Oréal Colour Riche Collection Exclusive in Liya's Nude, $8.99 Buy
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Photo: Via Mark.
Mark. Full Color Lipstick in Bare Hug, $11.00 Buy
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Photo: Via Nars.
NARS Sheer Lipstick in Dolce Vita, $26.00 Buy
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Photo: Via Wet N Wild.
Wet N' Wild MegaLast Lip Color in Bare It All, $2.29 Buy
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Photo: Via Dior.
Dior Nude Rouge Lipstick in Twill, $34.00 Buy
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Photo: Via Urban Decay.
Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Venom, $22.00 Buy
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