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Look, we will never not appreciate the power of a good, bold lip. A red lip is classic and sophisticated, swiping on a trendy hue makes for an instantly impactful makeup look. But there’s something about a great nude lipstick that’s just oh-so-satisfying. Enough color to add a little something, but not so much that it makes a major statement, nude lipstick is a staple in our makeup bag for all occasions. The only issue? As is the case with nude nail polish or even nude clothing, not all nude hues are created equal. So we rounded up not only the best barely-there shades but also a variety of different formulas and textures to flatter every skin tone. So no matter your lipstick preference, we’ve found an option for you.
Check out the picks of the best nude lipsticks below and thank us later.
Best Overall: Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick
If we were forced to pick only one lipstick for the rest of our lives (we shudder at the thought), this would hands-down be our choice. We’re not the only ones; one of these is sold every two seconds, and the #pillowtalklipstick hashtag has thousands of posts, where you can also clearly see how well it works on all skin tones. The tawny-nude-pink mix is flattering on pretty much everyone, and despite its subtlety, always elicits ‘what lipstick is that?’ comments.
Best Budget: Rimmel Stay Matte Lip Liquid
A flattering pinky nude, a velvety-matte finish, and easy-to-apply liquid formula—check, check, and check. Plus, all it takes is one stroke for complete color payoff that also lasts forever. Annnd you get all of this for a few dollars. Sold.
Best for Alabaster Skin: Urban Decay Vice Lipstick
One of the best options out there for ultra-pale skin, the soft nude is just enough to add pop to your skin without delivering too much color. It’s a favorite of celebrity makeup Bryan Cantor for both the color and, “creamy formula, packed with lip-loving ingredients such as aloe vera, vitamin C, and three different oils.”
Best for Light Skin: Stila All Day Liquid Lipstick
Cantor also suggests this nude hue; the cinnamon tone is flattering on light complexions and has a beautiful sheen to it, he says. True to its name, you can also expect the formula, a cult-favorite, to last well, all day.
Best for Medium Skin: Too Faced Natural Nudes Lipstick
A power combo of coconut and cocoa butter gives this a balm-like, creamy finish. The entire range is filled with flattering nudes, but for medium complexions, this honey-beige tone can’t be beaten; it has just the right amount of cool and warm undertones.
Best for Olive Skin: Rella Beauty Lipstick
A search for the perfect nude shade (we can relate) lead the founder of this brand to create this tone, by far the brand’s best-seller. While it definitely works on a large range of complexions, we find it especially pretty on olive complexions. Also nice: Buildable coverage, a triangular tip for precise swiping, and the fact that the brand gives one lipstick to women in need for every purchase.
Best for Dark Skin: Kevyn Aucoin The Matte Lip Color Lipstick
Darker skin obviously needs darker nudes, which is why this deep rose tone is ideal. The formula is also paraben-free and filled with emollient ingredients to help quench dry lips and ward off the potential for unsightly (and annoying) cracking or feathering.
Best for Deep Skin: KVD Vegan Beauty Studded Kiss Crème Lipstick
“This terra cotta color is the perfect nude for deeper skin tones, but also doubles as a great statement lip on lighter skin,” says Cantor. We also appreciate the finish, the perfect satin-matte that’s neither too flat nor too shiny and its comfortable wear.
Best Splurge: Tom Ford Lip Color in Blush Nude
Take a cue from Jay-Z and rock Tom Ford, namely this ultra-flattering lipstick. It’s a little pricey, but trust us, the neutral pink-nude will go with everything and you’ll reach for it time and time again. Plus, how freaking chic is the packaging?
Best Drugstore: L’Oréal Infallible Matte Lip Crayon
Despite its wallet-friendly price tag, the matte lip crayon truly could be an exact dupe for much pricier options. It’s smudge-resistant and one swipe delivers complete color payoff. This shade is great for light to medium skin; try Lavender Honey for deeper tones. Oh, and did we mention it has an ah-mazing caramel scent, too?
Best Matte: MAC Matte Lipstick
One of Byrdie editors' all-time favorite MAC lipsticks, this deep-toned beige serves up that super-pigmented, ‘90s-esque nude lip. The matte finish is a true matte, no trace of sheen or shine here. While the color works well on many skin tones, it’s especially flattering on deeper complexions.
Best Liquid: Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick
Despite the fact that makeup artist Arpy Hovsepian admits that she’s still on the quest for the perfect nude, she still calls this peachy hue one of her favorites out there. The liquid also delivers complete pigment pay-off and has a rounded, doe-foot applicator that makes it super easy to both line and fill in lips.
Best Crayon: Bite Matte Lip Crayon
We heart lip crayons for their easy and precise application, no mirror required. And this one has the added benefit of a built-in sharpener to boot. The paraben-, sulfate-, and phthalate-free formula comes in a nice array of shades, but this toffee tone is a great nude for deeper skin tones.
Best Shade Range: BareMinerals Gen Nude Radiant Lipstick
We said it once, we’ll say it again—not all nudes are created equal. That’s why we appreciate that this line has nine different options to pick from, making it easier than ever to find your perfect match. Natural oils and butters make for a conditioning feel and healthy-looking sheen.
Best Long-Wear: Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Lipstick
While granted, sometimes long-wearing formulas are best for bolder colors where touch-ups are more of a pain, they can still be nice when you’re wearing a nude shade. Either way, this formula is truly our go-to. It stays on through eating, drinking, and even a make-out sesh (seriously). It now comes in 15 shades, including this beige hue, perfect for super pale skin.
Best Flexible Wear: Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick
In our book, makeup legend Pat McGrath truly can do no wrong, and this lipstick is no exception. By definition matte formulas aren’t necessarily the most comfortable; they can quickly feel dry and start to crack. But not this one, which has special polymers for flexible wear, and spherical particles that make it nice and creamy, despite the major impact of matte color it packs.
Best for Dry Lips: Tarte SEA Color Splash Lipstick
When you want your nude lippie to look like a lipstick but act like a lip balm, reach for this guy. Conditioning shea butter and olive oil make it majorly creamy so that it not only feels great on lips but also glides on smoothly. Bonus points for marine extracts that offer antioxidant protection, too. There are several nude shades to pick from, though we like this light cinnamon hue, which reads as more nude on medium to dark skin and pops a bit more on fairer complexions.