Finding the perfect nude is … complicated. Here’s a blueprint.
Going nude is complicated
Finding the perfect nude lipstick is a bit like searching for the perfect swimsuit or pair of jeans: tricky. Too light and you look pasty; too dark and the effect isn’t nude, it’s brownish-pink. But a glossy nude, in exactly the right shade, is like a perfectly cut suit: eternally elegant. Finding one that suits is well worth the faff.
I’ve always subscribed to the view that your perfect nude is the same colour as your inner lip. Stand in front of a mirror and pull down your lower lip. Better, still, pout like a petulant 5-year-old. The colour you see on the inside of your mouth is a good choice of nude. But it’s not the only one. THE FAIREST OF ALL. Pale skin? Play up the pink in your skin tone with a pale, rosy nude. Nars’ Audacious Lipstick in Barbara ($54, at Mecca) is a great choice, so is Living Nature’s Precious ($33), a soft browny-pink that’s great for fair and medium skin. Its effect on tanned skin is a little different (think Kim Kardashian nude) but equally beautiful. Women with fair skin often have a little blue in the colour of their natural lip, which is where a shade like Mac’s Viva Glam II ($40) comes in. A pinkybeige semi-matte, it has a tiny touch of mauve, which gives it the strength pale faces need to quit looking ashen. It’s been my favourite nude lipstick since its launch in 1997, and is the perfect base to team with slightly different-toned nude glosses. A word of warning fair heads: steer clear of orangebased nudes, which can make you look sallow. A NATURAL MEDIUM. Women with a touch of warmth — or olive — in their skin can choose a sheer peachy shade that doesn’t read lighter than their natural lip colour. If your lips need definition, use a nude lip pencil on the Cupid’s bow and outer corners only, an effect that’s far subtler than a full outline. Medium skins also suit gruntier nudes like salmon pinks such as Jane Iredale PureMoist Lipstick in Brooke ($48) or Rimmel London’s Kate Most Lasting Finish in #042 ($17). And if you don’t like your nude lips wishy-washy, try L’Oreal Paris’ Colour Riche Matte Addiction Lipstick in Moka Chic ($24). A DARKER NUDE. What looks like nude in the tube is going to be very wrong; nudes suited to fairer skins will look like concealer on naturally dark lips. Choose bronzy browns and rich dusky pinks. Better still; match your shade to the darkest tone in your natural lip colour ( usually your lip line). Truly delicious is Elizabeth Arden’s Beautiful Colour Moisturizing Lipstick in Cocoa Bronze ($ 51). So too is Clinique’s Chubby Stick Intense Moisturizing Lip Color Balm in Chunkiest Chilli ($ 42), a crayon- like balm that also provides full- coverage colour. Tracey Strange