Lipstick – When Is “Nude,” Not Nude?

Nude Lipstick

In 1962 Crayola changed the name of their “Flesh” crayon to “Peach”, out of respect for the then-burgeoning civil rights movement. The crayon company’s cultural sensitivity memo apparently never trickled down to some typically female-oriented industries. You can hit up any department store and find an array of foundation garments labelled “nude.” But if your skin color is anything darker than beige, you’re fresh outta luck for finding a pair of control panties that exactly match you. And the same thing goes for makeup. Most specifically, lipstick.

As spring turns to summer every year, the magazines all start sounding the trumpet. Nude makeup is back! Get that hot nude look! And with reason — it makes for a very glam, very feminine, eternally fresh look. When done right, a nude lip doesn’t make you look washed out or corpse-like, au contraire. A smokey eye and a nude lip, so timeless, so gorgeous.

But guess what — nude isn’t a universal shade (according to my experience, at any rate. The Sephora bloggers have been convinced otherwise. I’ll have to do some research and get back to you on that one).

Lipsticks called “nude” frequently look just plain crazy on me. Consider some of the hottest options available online. Yves Saint Laurent Sparkling Touch For Lips in Sparkling Nude would be too pink, Philosophy Big Mouth lip sheer in nude, too peach. L’Oreal Endless Kissable Lipcolor in Shamelessly Nude 870 is too light, and I don’t know whose skintone Maybelline Moisture Extreme Lipstick in Nude Blush is supposed to match. Even my palest friends might have a hard time with a pink that wan and opaque.

The point is, the typical nude probably isn’t my nude. And most of the time, the products called “nude” are made for a very limited and narrow-minded perspective of what “nude” is. Does that mean that the look doesn’t work for women of color? No siree — it just means you gotta look a little harder for the right nude for you.

The perfect nude should match your skin tone almost perfectly, covering over any slight discoloration your lips may have. A touch of shimmer or gloss amps up the look, but subtle beauty is the watchword. How can you tell that you’ve found your perfect nude? If you try it on the back of your hand, it should almost completely disappear, leaving only slight, pretty shine to let you know where it is.

The perfect “nude” lippie for a brown skinned bella might be a warm rose pink, it might be bronze, it might even be a plum or berry, or a deep, fabulous brown. Valana Minerals Sweet Spice collection has a gorgeous range of deep browns that could work wonderfully for my dark skinned bellas. Cordial Spice is a deep berry, and Nutmeg Spice is deep, dark, delicious brown with gold highlights. Layered under some Carol’s Daughter Candy Paint Lip Gloss in Bubbling Brown Sugar — oh, honey. Don’t hurt ‘em!

Philosophy the supernatural lip gloss in neutral is a great, very universal slightly-sheer warm pinky-brown lipgloss that would work great for many brown skinned bellas.

Cover Girl Nude Lipstick

The standout nude lipstick for me is Cover Girl Queen Collection in Shiny Cinnamon. It’s a warm, creamy pinky brown that is incredibly subtle and stunning on me. When I put it on, I feel liberated to go with really bold eye makeup — a nude lip sets off bangin’ eye drama like nothing else. I love this look for outdoorsy days – it’s very clean, very fresh, and it goes perfectly with my happy spring wardrobe!

Do you rock the nude look, bellas? Or have you not found your perfect shade yet?

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Comments

  1. Bobbi Brown’s Aubergine lipgloss is the perfect “nude” for me.

  2. NARS ‘butterfield 8′ is my holy grail nude, but now I keep looking for it in lipstick form instead of the little pot.

    Afrobella, while you’re on the ‘nude’ subject, can you give some pointers on how to find ‘nude’ shoes? Everything advertised is just dark beige.

  3. I got a great tip from Tia Williams’s blog….cover your lips with your foundation and just top with a shiny gloss. Instant nude lip that perfectly matches your skintone.

  4. I’m still on the hunt for a good nude…so far the only one I have is MAC Polished Up but the last time I checked they’d changed the color a little. Damn them! lol

  5. Glad you brought up nude. We afrobellas need our own lingerie, shoes etc. in our own shades of brown. Entrepreneurs where are you?

  6. I like Lorac’s nude, but I have very pink lips and I use it to “subdue” them. my absolute favorite is MAC Fresh Brew. looooove it!

  7. Bella,

    I swear you are in my head sometimes. I am working on a nude/neutral story myself for a magazine. But I am focusing on shoes and accessories…I leave the make-up to experts like yourself.

  8. MACs Viva Glam V is nude for me. Other than that shade, I haven’t found a good, matte, nude lip color. As usual, Bella’s given me some new shades to add to the collection. :)

  9. paradisebird says:

    MAC lipglas in love child and believe it or not pink lemonde works best on me. LOrèals lipstick for Aishwara Rai is also good.
    any may i quote this from tiawilliams blog;
    “For years I’ve been trying to find the perfect nude lip, to no avail. Well, according to Pat, the it’s been sitting in my makeup kit, all along. When I asked the beauty maestro to name her favorite nude lipcolor for brown girls, she gave me a brilliant trick. Simply apply your favorite foundation all over your lips, and top it off with a shimmery, sheer gloss for depth and shine. I mean, DUH.”
    i tried it for myself and-this is it. so simple. so me.
    so, afrobella thanks for bringing this up.and tia-if you read this-thank you too. you made a sister happy..
    love from berlin, monika

  10. Great post. I’ve been searching for a nude lipstick for years and Revlon’s Coffee Bean is the closest I’ve gotten so this def helps.

    When I was a teenager, since I couldn’t find a “nude” color that worked, I used dab foundation on my lips with a q-tip and follow that with clear lip gloss. I’m glad we have more options now.

  11. …and I just saw the comment above mine. Oops. :) Glad I’m not the only one!

  12. I wore Coffee Bean years ago but I will have to look for it again.It is a true nude shade for us brown girls.

  13. I agree w/ Nikki. MAC VivaGlam V is perfect. My top lip is browner than my bottom and viva glam is the right mix of brown and pink to even it out.

  14. I found that MAC’s Chelsea (discontinued) is like the perfect nude color for me. It completely matches my skin tone. I also like Nar’s Butterfield and Mac’s Fresh Brew for a coffee/brown nude. I tend to like my nude lippies to be a shade or so lighter than my skintone. Most “nude” colors can be warmed up with the right liner to make it brown enough for me. Also, concealor on the lips with gloss is my go-to nude when I don’t want to think hard about it. :-)

  15. Nars Butterfield 8 works for me too. That’s the one I use with my glam-like smoky eye look. Since it’s in a pot, and I apply it with a brush, it’s not the most practical for me in daytime. I prefer something in a squeezy tube with an angle tip or a brush applicator.

    I’ve got MAC’s Saplicious Lip Gelee in my pocket right now!

    And, I like Origins’ lip gloss in sheer cola. A little shimmer with a cooling peppermint tingle.

  16. MAC’s Shitake lipstick is my go to lipstick for my nude look or their lipglass Wet, Wild, and Wonderful.

    By the way, I wrote an email to Marie Claire about the whole “nude” terminology. Still waiting on a reply from Joanna Coles…

  17. I’m not a ‘make-up’ person, but I love lip gloss. I have tried all types of ‘nudes’ as well that were not really nude. I like Sila Brown Suga Lip Glaze – I just use a fraction of a dab (because I don’t like a lot of shine either) of course, using it this way makes it last forever and I like the results :o)

  18. I meant to write Stila :o)

  19. My perfect nudes are Cognac and Amber by L’Oreal. My fav lip gloss is Ginger, Lacquer Shine Gloss by Sally Hansen. That last one is kinda tricky because it is thick and heavy. I use it in the middle of my bottom lip mostly, and fill in my lipline with the lipstick.

    *Off topic, if you ladies still can’t find lingerie in your skin tone, dye light colored undies the shade of your choice with Rit Dye. I have been doing this for years! The trick is not to use hot water, warm or even lukewarm will work just fine.

  20. MilanRouge, I thought I was the only one still missing and smarting over Chelsea being discontinued! That was an excellent semi-matte nude, really smooth, really substantial in coverage, and not at all sticky. It was great.

  21. My favorite lipgloss is Bobbi Brown Lipgloss in nude.

  22. I have a hard time picking lipsticks as well…nude typically makes me look like dave chappelle’s tyrone character — btw – whats up with the universal shade of band-aids?

  23. Hemp Organics in Cinnamon topped with a pink or berry gloss.

    http://www.allnaturalcosmetics.com/products.php?view=detail&cat_id=4&scat_id=18&pl_id=103

    You can also get them at Whole Foods.

  24. Freckletone by Mac. It’s perfect for me.

  25. Thanks for posting this, Bella! I have a hard time finding the “right” nude for me. This will help.

  26. Sumatra77 says:

    MAC’s lipstick in “Touch,” matches my skin tone almost completely.

  27. I love Siss from MAC..its a little lighter than my skin but i warm my edges with foundation..great post… i will definitely look into the other options the bellas provided!

  28. @ Jacque
    Your band-aid issues solved…
    http://www.ebon-aide.com/

  29. coco_fiere says:

    L’Oreal’s Colour Riche gloss in Deep Nude is a nice, sexy nude with just enough depth to make it pop. L’Oreal Infallible gloss in Nude is something I got when I purchased a makeup lot and fell in love. It’s subtle and lighter than the other one but it’s warm. I rocked it today, in fact. I’m caramel-complected and these are my two faves right now.

  30. I started using foundation or an eyebrow pencil for ” nude lips in highschool ( 1995) I never even looked to see if the world caught up. Thanks Bella!
    I also tried dyeing undies but I can never get the right brown… its great to see others think along the same lines.

  31. For Bellas on a budget. NYX 546 CETO + clear gloss and a brown eyebrow pencil is the business.

  32. Stephanie says:

    I’m a white girl & STILL can’t get any “nude” shade to match!

  33. it’s SO true! i haven’t found my perfect nude yet

  34. I’m more of a gloss girl than lipstick, due to the fact that I prefer a nude look the majority of the time. My all time fave is MAC Lustreglass in Beaux. It tones down the pink in my lip and gives off awesome shine. Goes with everything from a smokey eye to a no makeup day.

  35. Try “Spite” Lipglass by MAC!

    I’ve always loved the “nude” look and have searched high and low for the perfect shade. Typically I would have to settle on a colored gloss that, although had the correct tone, also had sparkles (like some sort of gold gloss, etc).

    I noticed recently (like maybe last spring) that mauve/lavender hues look best on me for blush with that fresh, naked feel, and as it turns out so does lip color!

    Mac Cosmetics has a lipglass called “Spite” which is officially my favorite of all time!

    Literally – mascara, Spite lipglass and maybe a bit of liner and my face is done!

    love.always.ADORE***

  36. hmm that is interesting. well i happen to be lighter skinned so i don’t have much trouble in this department. great point though!

  37. i hate (and i mean with a passion) the girls who show up to clubs with lips lighter than their (natural or not) tanning colour. it actually puts me off. there is no way to look around the fact that they look wrong, every time i look at their faces i see failure to look ‘naked’ or ‘natural’ and instead i see the makeup and nothing but. i know it was raining tonight, but i dont think anyone was cold enough for their lips to lose all colour! what happened to the good kind of lip colour, or natural with lipgloss. i dont want my girlfriend to look like she is dying/dead!

  38. I couldn’t agree more with Dale’s comment. Their skin tone and their lip colour are almost the wrong way round. Or they’ve gone for nude lips that match their natural skin tone but forgotten to take into account the fact that they’ve turned themselves mahogany with fake tan!

  39. Well I’m a medium brown complexion (Afro-American) and I have found a host of beautiful nudes for my complexion and a few complexions lighter and they are ALL from Victoria’s Secret beauty collection with dusk and whisper being my favorites!!! So I suggest for ladies to definitely check them out….

  40. haven’t found one yet :( I’m still looking. my lips have a habit of bringing out red dyes and makin any lipstick with red in it extra red. I would love if someone would be a cooler brown tone that’s blue based instead of red!!

  41. My favorite nude lip color that works for me is Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Mink then Top it off The Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in Nude Lustre. Also I find that MAC’s Viva Glam 2 lipstick with Victoria’s Secret Lip Pencil in Foxy Brown and The Body Shop’s Honey Bronze lip gloss in Honey Beige (the lipgloss was limited edition)on top after I blended the lipstick and pencil together.

  42. Bourjois 3D Effet Lipgloss in 03 works perfectly for me, not too pink and just the right amount of shimmer. Took me ages to find it but was worth it.

  43. I swear by Revlon Colorstay Overtime Lipcolor in True Chocolate, topped by Rimmel Stay Glossy Lipgloss in Nonstop Glamour….very natural.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post originally appeared on Afrobella’s blog. [...]

  2. [...] resplendent in red, and Rihanna looked sleek and stunning in a tuxedo, working the smokey eye and nude lip for all it’s [...]

  3. [...] AfroBella.com: The perfect nude should match your skin tone almost perfectly, covering over any slight discoloration your lips may have. A touch of shimmer or gloss amps up the look, but subtle beauty is the watchword. How can you tell that you’ve found your perfect nude? If you try it on the back of your hand, it should almost completely disappear, leaving only slight, pretty shine to let you know where it is.  The perfect “nude” lippie for a brown skinned bella might be a warm rose pink, it might be bronze, it might even be a plum or berry, or a deep, fabulous brown. [...]

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  5. [...] AfroBella.com: The perfect nude should match your skin tone almost perfectly, covering over any slight discoloration your lips may have. A touch of shimmer or gloss amps up the look, but subtle beauty is the watchword. How can you tell that you’ve found your perfect nude? If you try it on the back of your hand, it should almost completely disappear, leaving only slight, pretty shine to let you know where it is.  The perfect “nude” lippie for a brown skinned bella might be a warm rose pink, it might be bronze, it might even be a plum or berry, or a deep, fabulous brown. [...]

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