The Ultimate Guide to Finding a Nude Lipstick for a Neutral Pout

Guide to Finding a Nude Lipstick

A nude lipstick tailored to your unique skin undertone, complexion depth and lip shape creates an elegantly understated lip look that flatters any complexion. But with so many nude shades and finishes to choose from, how do you pick the one that complements your features perfectly? 

This comprehensive guide will walk you through determining your undertones, selecting the ideal nude shade for your skin tone, identifying flattering lipstick textures and finishes, application techniques for different lip shapes, and nude lip looks for every occasion. Read on for an in-depth education on finding your signature nude lipstick for a polished yet neutral pout.

Part 1: Determining Your Skin Undertones

The first step to finding the most flattering nude lipstick match is identifying your skin’s undertones. Do you have warm, olive, cool or neutral undertones? This will determine which type of nude shade will complement you best. Here’s how to tell:

Warm Undertones

If you have warm golden, peach or yellow undertones, your skin will lean towards yellow-orange hues. Warm undertones look great in gold jewelry, pop in warmer colors like peach, coral and chartreuse green, and become darker and more olive in sunlight. Your veins appear greenish and you likely have strawberry blonde, red, auburn, or golden blonde hair.

Cool Undertones

Skin with pink, red or blue undertones has a cooler look. Those with cool undertones shine in silver jewelry, look vibrant in icy blues and plums, and burn easily in sun. Your veins are purple or blueish and your natural hair color is likely ash blonde, dark brown or jet black.

Olive Undertones

Greenish-brown olive undertones fall somewhere between warm and cool. Olive skin thrives in rose gold metal hues, appear healthier in mossy greens and look great with chestnut hair. Your veins are a mix of blue and green. Olive skin can tan easily and deeply.

Neutral Undertones

No predominant overtone means your skin is neutral. You pull off both silver and gold jewelry well, look vibrant in most colors, and become a moderate tan in summer. Your veins appear blue-green and hair can be strawberry, ashy or chestnut blonde. 

Once you’ve assessed your skin’s undertone, read on for choosing the best nude shades.

Nude Lipstick

Part 2: Choosing Nude Lipstick Colors for Your Skin Tone and Undertone

With your undertones in mind, now let’s get into selecting the most flattering nude lipstick shades for your specific complexion depth and skin tone:

Fair Skin Tones

If you have very fair or porcelain skin, opt for nude lipstick shades with a rosy, mauve or beige base over orangey nudes. The most flattering shades will have a touch of pink, rose or plum rather than bronze. This brightens without being stark white. Avoid anything too warm or yellow-toned as it can make fair skin look washed out or sickly. Try soft petal pinks, muted mauves and restrained, pale beiges.

For fair skin with cool pink undertones, taupes, dusty roses and greiges are most complementing. Violet-tinged nude pinks also look modern and fresh.

Those with fair warm undertones should explore peachy corals, melon or apricot nudes. But stay on the sheer side. Apply a brownish lip liner first to add definition.

Light and Medium Skin Tones

If you have light to medium skin with golden, peach or neutral undertones, you can wear true nude lipstick shades beautifully. Caramel, butterscotch and sandy beiges are especially flattering. Stay away from stark white-based nudes, which can make medium skin look chalky and muted.

With warm undertones, spice-inspired nude shades like cinnamon, pecan, hazelnut and ginger are perfect. Rosy browns and terracotta nudes also complement this skin tone well. Use a liner to add definition.

For light-medium cool undertones, rosewood, greige, taupe, and pale nude pinks with mauve or gray undertones are ideal. Mauve-brown nude lipsticks also pair nicely. Avoid anything too orange or peach.

Medium and Olive Skin Tones

Those with medium complexions and olive, greenish-brown or golden undertones should embrace moody, bold nude lip shades. Coffee, orchid, chestnut and chocolate-based nudes make a statement. Avoid pale and peachy nudes, which can look washed out, ashy or cadaverous against olive skin.

With medium warm undertones, try amber, bronze and terra-cotta nudes. Burnt sienna and brick shades also look beautiful. Use a matte chocolate liner to define lips.

Medium cool undertones can rock rosy chestnuts, grayish prunes and red-brown nude lipsticks. Deep plummy taupes and brownish corals also work well. Line lips first to prevent a flat look.

Dark and Deep Skin Tones

For those with rich, darker skin, go for dramatic espresso, coffee, cocoa and earth-inspired shades. Deeper brown nude lipsticks with orange, red or purple undertones complement deep skin beautifully. Stay away from concealer-toned nude lipsticks, which can make dark skin ashy.

Try sensual chocolate browns, wine-soaked berries and lush burgundies. Use a darker brown lipliner and blend edges so color doesn't look harsh. A deep berry gloss on top pulls the look together.

Now that you know how to complement your complexion, let’s get into the perfect nude lipstick finishes and textures.

Part 3: Selecting a Nude Lipstick Formula and Finish

Once you’ve selected the nude lipstick shade that flatters your unique skin tone and undertone, next comes picking the right formula and finish. Texture impacts color payoff, longevity and effect. Here are the most popular nude lipstick finishes:

Creamy Satin

This gives intense, highly pigmented color with a semi-matte, suede-like finish. The creamy and emollient formula keeps lips comfortable while saturating them with opaque color. It has a luminous sheen while still looking matte. This is great for making thin or aging lips appear plumper.

Pros: Comfortable, moisturizing formula and built-in shine. 
Cons: Requires frequent reapplication.

Luminous Pearlized

Contains light-reflecting crushed pearls or soft shimmer for a glossy, wet-look lip while still laying down opaque, dimensional color. Adds a lush, multidimensional sheen to the lips. Pearlized nudes work well for smaller lips by giving the illusion of fullness.

Pros: Eye-catching shine and full coverage color. 
Cons: Shimmer may accentuate lip lines.

Matte Velvet

This gives transfer-proof, long-lasting color payoff with a dry, velvety finish. A nude matte lipstick requires more maintenance as it clings to dry patches and lines. Always prep lips well and define edges to prevent a flat look. Use a nourishing lip balm underneath for comfort.

Pros: Intense pigment and budge-proof longevity. 
Cons: Drying and aging if worn constantly.

Sheer Cream

Allows more of your natural lip color to show through for a “my lips but better” look with just a hint of color. Sheer nude lipsticks are very lightweight and nourishing. They’re ideal for those wanting subtle enhancement or with naturally darker lips.

Pros: Low-maintenance, hydrating and easy touch-ups. 
Cons: Requires multiple layers for true opacity.

Tinted Lip Balm

Provides just a touch of color in a moisturizing, non-drying lip balm base. Offers sheer to medium coverage for casual, daytime polish. Great for casual wear or layering under other lipsticks.

Pros: Nourishing formula and fuss-free application. 
Cons: Very temporary color that fades quickly.

Now let’s get into application techniques and tools for the perfect nude lip.

Nude Lipstick

Part 4: Application Tips for a Polished Nude Lip

Once you’ve chosen a nude lipstick complementing your skin tone and undertone in a formula and finish you love, use these pro tips to apply it like a pro:


Start with clean, exfoliated lips. Gently buff off dead skin with a lip scrub then apply balm. This allows for smooth application and optimal color payoff.


Outline your lips with a liner in a slightly deeper shade. This defines shape, prevents feathering and makes nude lipstick last longer. Focus on accentuating the cupid's bow and outer corners.

Apply Color 
For true color payoff, apply lipstick directly from the bullet then blot with a tissue to press in pigment. Don't rub lips together, just press and blot. This helps the color cling.

Fill In

Use a lip brush to perfectly fill in your whole lip area if you have thin lips or uneven edges. A brush gives you total control for precision.

Sheer Out 

For a “my lips but better” look, apply a single coat of nude lipstick to let your natural lip color show through subtly.

Intensify Pigment

Slowly build up color by applying 2-3 very thin, light layers of lipstick, blotting in between coats. This prevents heaviness and lasts longer. 

Finish with Gloss

Add a clear, non-sticky gloss on top to smooth and soften matte lipsticks. This also gives the illusion of fuller lips.

Set it

Finish with a light dusting of translucent powder to set color and prevent transferring. Powder absorbs excess moisture and locks in the look.

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