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Of all the makeup products out there, nude lipstick has got to be one of the most hard-working. It’s simple but elevated, low-fuss yet still glamorous, and it can really pull a look together (or simply add a little something to a bare face).
Of course, not all nudes are created equal—different finishes, shades, textures, and undertones all come into play. So here we’ve put together an edit of the best nude lipstick options for everyone, so you’re sure to find one that looks great, is comfortable, and becomes a staple in your makeup kit.
Keep scrolling to discover a new favorite.
Best Overall: Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk
The entire Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick franchise is popular, but Pillow Talk has to be one of the most iconic nude shades of all time. Celebrity makeup artist Michael Brown loves the original for warm skin tones that “require an uplifting, brighter nude to avoid making the skin look sallow.”
What’s amazing is that there are now different depths of Pillow Talk, too, so you can find one that suits your skin tone or desired final look. Similarly, Brown says that Catwalking, a rich caramel nude, is another great option for dark skin tones.
Type: Bullet | Key Ingredients: Orchid extract | Number of Shades: 19 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Fair Skin: Stila All Day Liquid Lipstick in Baci
If you're looking to swipe and forget, this liquid formula from Stila dries down completely for a long-lasting finish. However, unlike other matte liquids on the market, which can sometimes look and feel chalky and dry, this one is ultra-comfortable to wear, thanks to the inclusion of avocado oil and vitamin E in the formula.
The shade range is varied, but there are lots of peachy, pinky nude hues that would work well with lighter skin tones—we're especially fond of Baci and Sheer Patina.
Type: Liquid | Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, avocado oil | Number of Shades: 20 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Medium Skin: ILIA Color Block High Impact Lipstick in Marsala
This smoothing formula may be really nourishing, but it still boasts surprisingly long wear. It’s quite pigmented, so one swipe is enough to deliver opaque color—a nice touch if you’re applying on the go. The shade range is quite tight, but Marsala is a medium rosy brown that looks great against medium or olive complexions. We love the fact that it has a super clean formulation, too.
Type: Bullet | Key Ingredients: Apricot seed oil, mango seed butter | Number of Shades: 8 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Dark Skin: Fenty Beauty Slip Shine Sheer Shiny Lipstick in Cookies & Cocoa
Brown raves about Fenty Beauty's entire Slip Shine lipstick range but tells us that Cookies & Cocoa is his go-to when working with darker skin tones. "The deep, rich nude has a hint of cool, so it has this really flattering contrast against dark complexions," he says, pointing out that it also has ultra-comfortable wear and a gorgeous finish.
Type: Bullet | Key Ingredients: Castor seed oil | Number of Shades: 10 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Splurge: Tom Ford Lip Color in Sable Smoke
In all honesty, we’d take Tom Ford makeup anything and apply it to our skin, but the Lip Color Lipstick is an especially luxe choice. Enriched with shea butter, murumuru butter, and soja seed extract, the ultra-creamy formula slides onto the lips and has a lovely satin finish that’s glamorous but still wearable. Sable Smoke is our hero pick: A peachy nude with warm undertones.
Type: Bullet | Key Ingredients: Murumuru butter, shea butter | Number of Shades: 30 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Budget: Colourpop Blur Lux Lipstick in Virgo Moon
In the case of Colourpop's lip products, a low price point doesn't equal low quality. The finish on the Blur Lux Lipsticks is especially nice: natural, soft, and almost like a stain. Try blotting it on with your finger for a no-makeup makeup look. As for our shades of choice? Virgo Moon and Bloom2Bloom are what nude lipstick dreams are made of.
Type: Bullet | Key Ingredients: Pomegranate, goji fruit, and grape seed extracts | Number of Shades: 9 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Budget: L’Oréal Paris Infallible Matte Lip Crayon in Tres Sweet
Long-wearing and with a natural matte finish, this crayon lipstick formula is so easy to wear with no smudging or stickiness whatsoever. As for our favorite nudes? Tres Sweet is a soft, beige nude shade, whereas Lady Toffee has a warmer undertone that looks great on fair, cool complexions.
Type: Crayon | Key Ingredients: Jojoba oil | Number of Shades: 5 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Matte: MAC Lipstick in Velvet Teddy
Before Kylie Cosmetics, MAC’s Matte Lipstick was Jenner’s nude lip of choice, so you know it’s got to be good. Jenner herself was a Velvet Teddy stan, a deep beige shade so good that it basically sparked the matte lip Instagram phenomenon. Other iconic nude hues include Kinda Sexy (a soft pink), Whirl (a reddish-brown), and Honey Love (a light, creamy taupe). The matte finish ensures a plush look and a good few hours of wear.
Type: Bullet | Key Ingredients: Castor seed oil | Number of Shades: 33 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Shade Range: BareMinerals Gen Nude Radiant Lipstick
With 20 shades of various nude hues, the BareMinerals Gen Nude Radiant Lipstick has one of the best shade ranges out there. We love Queen, an incredibly rich berry, for deeper skin tones, whereas Mantra is made for medium olive complexions. As for the formula itself, it's super creamy and buttery and feels like a treat on dry lips.
Type: Bullet | Key Ingredients: Mango, cocoa, and shea butters | Number of Shades: 20 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Dry Lips: Chanel Rouge Coco Flash Hydrating Lip Color in Boy
Hydrating and glossy, Chanel’s Rouge Coco Flash is almost like a lipstick-lip balm hybrid that’s super wearable and provides just the right amount of shine. The formula melts into the lips and feels almost like a treatment, and the sheer pigment makes it a great pick for low-key makeup looks. Boy is a universal creamy beige that works on almost everyone, while Lust has more depth to complement deeper skin tones.
Type: Bullet | Key Ingredients: Blend of oils | Number of Shades: 33 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Longwear: NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment in Get It On
Once dried, this stuff seriously does not budge, whether you're drinking, eating, kissing—you name it. To avoid any flaking, prep your lips with a washcloth and a little balm prior. Shade-wise, Get It On is our nude hue of choice for fairer skin, whereas American Woman and Slow Ride are aces on medium to dark complexions.
Type: Liquid | Key Ingredients: Not listed | Number of Shades: 14 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Flexible Wear: Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Peep Show
Like applying velvet to your lips, Pat McGrath’s MatteTrance formula is a fan-favorite for a good reason. Light and creamy but richly pigmented, the formula softens and hydrates, yet leaves behind a modern matte finish. The nude shades, in particular, are a standout: Peep Show, Femme Bot, and 1995 all get Brown’s seal of approval.
Type: Bullet | Number of Shades: 28 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Okay, so we’re 99% sure that Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is one of the most iconic lipsticks of all time, so we’re going to peg that as our top pick; Brown also agrees. We’re also giving honorable mentions to Chanel Rouge Coco Flash in Boy (view at Nordstrom), as it’s super hydrating and comfortable, as well as the NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment Collection (view at Sephora) for having some of the best long-wearing nude lipsticks we’ve ever tried.
What to Look for in a Nude Lipstick
Brown tells us that in order to find a nude lipstick that truly looks great, it's vital to seek out a shade that works with your undertone. His general rule is to pick something that contrasts your skin tone to bring balance to your makeup—so if you're naturally warm, find a cooler shade (and vice versa).
If you experience dry lips from time to time (and don't we all!), seek out a nude lipstick that's infused with hydrating ingredients like shea butter, oils, vitamin E, lanolin, and hyaluronic acid for smooth application and wear.
How do you apply nude lipstick?
"I actually love applying lipstick to my ring finger and dabbing pigment into the lip for a long-lasting stain," says Brown. "This lip staining application works best with traditional style lipsticks and definitely guarantees longer-lasting color compared to painting on the product with a brush—I only use a brush for lip gloss and liquid lipsticks. Otherwise, straight from the bullet is completely fine!"
How do you find the right shade of nude lipstick?
"For me, a foolproof rule I have with makeup is that opposites attract, and this works perfectly when choosing a lip shade," explains Brown. "Once you recognize the undertones of your skin, whether on the cooler or warmer side, choose a lipstick with an undertone opposite to this. If you have warm, olive skin, a nude needs to lift your overall tone, so try a cool shade. Whereas if your skin is already cool and has a pink undertone, it needs neutralizing, so try a warm option."
Once you have the right undertone down, Brown then suggests finding a depth that compliments your skin tone. "Generally, the deeper your skin, the deeper your nude lipstick, but this is totally up to personal preference," he says.
Do nude lipsticks expire?
Sadly, most makeup products do have an expiry date, nude lipsticks included. In the case of traditional lipsticks, 18 to 24 months is a good benchmark, but always check the packaging to manufacture details to be sure. And if in doubt, bin anything that has changed smell, texture, or color.
Why Trust Byrdie?
To arrive at this roundup, we not only asked a pro makeup artist for his top picks for all skin tones, but we also scoured internet reviews and tested some front-runners (for a good cause, obviously).
Meet the Expert
Michael Brown is one of Australia's leading celebrity makeup artists and experts who has worked on countless shoots, campaigns, red carpet looks, and magazine covers throughout his 20-year career. He's also held Australian ambassador roles for global brands including St Tropez, Marc Jacobs, Moroccanoil, Ardell Lashes, and Olay.