Forget the perfect red—it’s perhaps even more important to find the ideal barely there shade for you
“Anyone can wear a nude lip, making it more wearable than a red,” says Wendy Rowe, makeup artist and beauty artistic consultant to Burberry. Indeed, the look is universally popular and many women who are too scared for crimson opt for super-natural shades. But that doesn’t mean no thought should go into it. “Get one that’s right for your skin tone,” says Rowe. “Don’t go orange if you are slightly yellow, and don’t go for blue undertones if you have a lot of red in your face. Make sure the color isn’t too pale because it will make your face look lifeless.”
No one wants to look like a corpse, so there are a few rules to keep in mind when going barely there. Rowe says since makeup brands have realized women like nude shades, they’ve expanded their ranges. So take advantage. In general she recommends a satin texture instead of a shiny one, as it requires fewer touchups. Her favorite for any complexion is Burberry’s Lip Mist in Nude Honey because of its “sheer consistency.” But more than anything, getting the exact shade is important.
“For a fair to olive complexion, go for nude lipstick with a pink undertone,” says Rowe. And “for a medium to dark complexion, choose one with an orange or pink undertone.” Something else to remember: “By ‘nude’ it doesn’t mean it has to be skin color—it just needs to look super natural. It can be a pinky tone, which is a natural lip color,” she explains.
For a light skin tone, Rowe’s ideal shades are Revlon Matte Lipstick in Nude Attitude, Estee Lauder Hydra Lustre Lipstick in Pink Sand and Burberry Lip Cover in Tulip Pink. She recommends NARS Semi Matte Lipstick in Catfight for an olive complexion, and for medium-hued skin, NARS Satin Lipstick in Bilbao or Burberry Lip Mist in Trench Kiss. Rowe prefers Burberry Lip Mist in Cinnamon for darker-toned skin. Keep in mind: “Nature gave you your tone for a reason, so don’t stray too far,” notes Rowe.
As for adjusting to the time of year, she says, “I think you should have three nude shades and mix them up with the seasons as your skin tone changes, especially in the summer when you have a tan.” She also advises applying a lip liner from the outer corners inwards, and around the bow of the lips to create a slight definition so the color doesn’t totally blend into the skin. “Then, for a softer and more intense color, apply the lipstick straight from the bullet rather than using a brush—it’s also super quick!”
The final must-do when opting for a minimal pout? “Gorgeous, glowing skin.” Dramatic peepers don’t hurt either. Adds the makeup guru, “By wearing a nude lip, the eye will be drawn to the strongest feature on your face: the eyes.”