Finding the perfect nude lipstick is harder than it sounds. Too dark and you look like you’re trying to make brown lipstick happen (and not in a cool ’90s way). Too light and you start to resemble the living dead. See, it really is a science trying to figure out the shade that best matches your skin tone. But the best nude lipstick for you is out there—you just need to know what to look for.
To help you avoid any beauty faux pas and to get the right shade, we tapped celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles for her wide-ranging knowledge about finding the best nude lipstick for your unique skin tone. Click through the slideshow to see what she said.
To get Lupita Nyong’o’s bronze, shimmery nude color, Stiles suggests using a sheer gloss like MAC Mineralize Glass in Ray of Sunshine ($22). “For women of color, it’s all about playing with highlights and shadows to build definition,” Stiles says. She suggests picking a nude shade lighter than your actual skin tone to brighten the face. Stick to a glossy formula for a more natural-looking effect.
This Anastasia Beverly Hills version of a similar shade features a highly pigmented formula that gives the perfect amount of shine.
“There’s lot of definition going on in this look, which I love,” Stiles says. To imitate Rihanna’s glossy nude pout, she suggests using Nars Lip Gloss in Belize ($25), a rosy-pink mauve with gold flecks, or Stolen Kisses, a caramel rose with silver flecks.
This Nars lip gloss has nourishing ingredients that moisturize lips, and it offers long-lasting wear.
“If this nude lipstick was on Christina Hendricks, it would look way too intense,” Stiles says. On Naya Rivera, however, it’s the ideal balance between beige and caramel, perfectly complementing her skin tone. Stiles says she loves the bronziness of the look but would have added a little gloss and liner to make the lip stand out. For a caramel nude like the one she’s wearing, try Hourglass Femme Nude Lip Stylo in Nude No. 5 ($30)—it’s one of Stiles’s favorites!
We know why this is one of Stiles’s favorites: It gives lips definition, volume, and precise lining with its applicator.
“The slight pinkness of Eva’s nude lipstick adds separation between her lip and her skin,” Stiles says. She suggests finding a pinkish nude shade that’s lighter than your skin tone, like Tom Ford Lip Color in Nude Vanille ($49) in Nude Vanille or Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Floralies ($25).
This lip pencil goes on super smooth and gives off a really nice satin finish.
If you have lighter hair and skin, Stiles recommends adding an “anchor” to your look with smokier, more defined eye makeup. For ladies with tan skin (real or faux), she suggests a glossy, shimmery nude to bring out the sun-kissed look of your skin. Try Urban Decay Naked Ultra Nourishing Lipgloss ($20) for a sheer wash of color.
Made with butter blends and aloe vera, this lipstick is extremely nourishing, and Liar is the perfect shade to match a tan skin tone with its pink-nude color.
“With an olive skin tone like Lea Michele’s, you have a lot more versatility,” Stiles says. “You can go with a darker nude or a lighter nude so your lips don’t disappear.” For a sheer, pink-tinted lip color like the one Michele is wearing, try Dior DiorAddict Lipstick ($32) in Urban 178 or Tulle 214.
This Dior lipstick has a hydrating core in the middle that gives off a nice glossy finish. It’s also infused with oils for moisture.
Ladies with warmer olive skin tones like Maria Menounos’s should look for a caramel-tone beige lipstick that’s darker than the shade of their skin, Stiles says. She recommends finding a glossier formula (we love Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Satisfaction, $35) to play up your skin’s natural warmth.
Apart from being super moisturizing and gliding onto your lips with ease, this lipstick comes with a pretty but subtle shimmery finish.
For light-skinned ladies with slightly olive undertones like Kate Mara, Stiles says to try a warmer nude shade. “You can definitely go pink, and you can definitely go beige,” she says. “You want more pigment in your nude lipstick than someone who is alabaster or fair with pink undertones.” Try Tom Ford Lipstick in Blush Nude ($49) or Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G. in Nude Kate ($34).
We’re obsessed with the creamy texture; it’s just so soft, and we love how easily the color just glides onto our lips.
If you’re fair-skinned like Emma Stone, Stiles recommends looking for a rosy-beige nude lipstick like Jouer Hydrating Lipstick in Meg ($22). “When you look at nude lipsticks in fashion magazines, the skin matches the lips,” she said. “This doesn’t translate well into real life—you want a warmth and separation between the lips and the skin.”
Made with Brazilian cupuaçu butter, this lipstick is extremely moisturizing and helps lips lock in moisture.
“If you have a fair and milky skin tone like Christina Hendricks’s, try a soft, dusty baby pink,” says Stiles. “If you go too beige, you might start resembling a corpse!” She says to avoid super-opaque flat nudes and suggests using a sheerer formula instead like Clé de Peau Extra Rich Lipstick in 101 ($40) or Bobbi Brown Lip Color in Beige ($25).
If you’re looking for a less-than-shiny finish, this lipstick goes on semi-matte. It’s also enriched with vitamins C and E to nourish the lips.