A Make-Up Artist’s Guide To Buying Nude Lipstick
A Make-Up Artist’s Guide To Buying Nude Lipstick

A Make-Up Artist’s Guide To Buying Nude Lipstick

There’s a perfect nude lipstick out there for everyone, but finding the right shade, texture and tone isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Here, make-up artist Jessica Kell shares her guide to finding ‘the one’ – and wearing it well.
By Sapna Rao

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Know What You’re Looking For

“We all know there’s a different shade out there to suit everyone. In fact, there may even be a couple of different shades that work well for you depending on the rest of the make-up you're wearing. A great nude should work with your skin tone while also pairing seamlessly with the rest of your base. The best shades match the natural flush in your lips and cheeks, but also add a little bit of warmth and depth to your overall look.”

Discover Your Undertones 

“It’s important to figure out if you have cool, warm or neutral undertones to find a perfect match. There are a few ways to go about this. First, think about which blusher shades look most natural on you. If it’s coral, your skin most likely has a warm undertone; if it’s pink, you have a cooler undertone. If both suit you equally, you probably have a neutral undertone. Also, pay attention to what colour jewellery looks best on you. Silver most likely means your skin is cool toned and gold indicates a warm undertone. Finally, the colour of your inner lip can be used as a guide. Ideally, your choice of nude should blend seamlessly with this shade, so avoid a dramatic contrast between those two colours” 

Don’t Mimic Your Skin Tone 

“The aim of a nude lipstick is to elevate the natural colour of the lip, not blend it in or mimic it. Usually, deeper skin tones need something to define the lip and add a touch of colour – so avoid anything too dark brown or red. For olive skin tones, look for a colour that has more of a peachiness to it – it helps lift the complexion. For lighter skin tones, opt for a nude with a really subtle pink running through it.”

Go For A Glossy Texture 

“In my opinion, some of the most flattering lip colours are glossy nudes. They’re easy to wear and really soften a smokey eye. I love Lisa Eldridge’s Gloss Embrace for its pigmented but hydrating feel. For a stronger, richer look, you can't beat a matte or velvet nude. Pat McGrath Labs is the best place to find a heavy-hitting matte that lasts all day without feeling dry.” 

Try Before You Buy

“Visit a proper make-up counter to try out different shades on your actual lips. Take a picture of your favourite colours in the natural light so you can really see how it works. If you are looking to invest in an expensive brand – consider buying a more affordable version first, and wear it with different outfits and styles to make sure you really love the colour. When you’re trying various shades on, apply them both sheerly and in multiple layers to see the difference.”

Try The Cult Favourites

“It’s worth finding your perfect shade, but for a bit of a head start, these three lipsticks have proven to be the most universally flattering in my kit: M·A·C Cosmetics Velvet Teddy for fair skin; Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk for olive skin; and Victoria Beckham Beauty Posh Lipstick in ‘Pose’ for deeper skin. They’re cult classics for a reason.”

Remember Prep Is Key 

“Sometimes people think it’s only reds or darker colours that need careful prep, but it's just as important with a nude. Start with a lip scrub to exfoliate any dead skin, then layer on a hydrating lip balm over the top. Let that soak while you do the rest of your make-up. These steps will ensure your lipstick stays put, and doesn't go patchy or flakey, especially if you are using a matte or velvet texture.” 

Apply, Blot & Reapply 

“For an everyday look, a subtle touch of colour goes a long way, and getting this right relies on the application. Start with a first coat and blot it with a tissue. Next, go over this with a second coat. Even if your lipstick is sheer, this process ensures the pigment is strong but natural looking, and makes the texture lighter for everyday wear. For more definition, always follow up with a matching lip pencil around the edges.”

Don’t Forget Lip Liner

“Always have a lip liner that perfectly matches your actual lip colour (not lipstick) to hand. This means you can give yourself a really full lip under your lipstick, without it looking over drawn. When you apply the lipstick over the top, it will instantly give you a perfectly full pout and stop your nude lipstick shade from making your lips look smaller.” 

Consider The Full Picture 

“The beauty of a nude lip is that it pairs perfectly with so many make-up looks, but do make sure you balance the other elements accordingly. For a nude lip with more pigment and definition, balance the rest of the make up with soft, blended shades and powders. With a soft smudgy nude lip, let the emphasis come from the eyes with liner, lashes and a full brow. My personal favourite way to wear a nude is with a lip liner, a soft-focus matte formula and a deep brown smokey eye – effortless, timeless and glamourous.”

Shop Jessica’s Recommendations

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