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Skin Deep: How to find a nude lipstick that makes you look good, not dead

It’s possible.


Welcome to Skin Deep with Louise McSharry, my opportunity to put years of obsessing over beauty products and techniques to good use. I won’t tell you something is good if it’s not. I won’t recommend products I haven’t actually tried. As the magical sitar in Moulin Rouge said, I only speak the truth.

People talk about nude lipstick all the time as though it’s something everyone has in their makeup wardrobe. I’m guilty of it myself, the assumption that everyone has found ‘the one’. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and the reason it’s not the case is because finding one that suits you is bloody difficult.

What do we mean by nude? Obviously, we’re not talking about the exact same colour as our skin, or we could all go back to the ‘foundation lips’ trend of the early ’00s (R.I.P.), but we are talking about something relatively close to it. You want to find something in the pinky/peachy/neutral family which is consistent with your skin’s undertones (cool, warm, or neutral).


So how do you figure out your skin’s undertones? It’s important, first, to note that your undertones have nothing to do with how pale or deep your skin colour is. You can be pale and warm or deep and cool. Your undertones are actually about what the colours which live within your skin.

If your skin has a hint of blue or pink then you’re probably cool toned. If you can see a yellow or peachy hue, then you’re probably warm toned. If you don’t see any of those colours and instead just see the actual skin then you’re probably neutral. A simple (albeit not foolproof) way to figure this out is to look at the veins on the inside of your forearm. If your veins look blue you’re probably cool, green probably means you’re warm. If you see neither colour, then you’re probably neutral.

Once you’ve figured this out, you can narrow down your search for the perfect nude by only looking at colours which are consistent with your undertones. Cool tones will look good in pink nudes, warm tones will look good in peach nudes, and neutrals will look good in neutral or more skin toned nudes. As always, these aren’t hard and fast rules, wear whatever you like, but if you’re struggling to find something that suits you then it may be useful to keep them in mind.

Another factor to keep in mind is the type of lipstick you’re using. A fully opaque matte will look quite dramatic and intense, and is decidedly less wearable than a gloss or slightly sheer lipstick. If you want to do a sixties style look or are going for drama then work away, but if you want a slightly natural look then avoid. My preference when it comes to a nude lip is a classic satin finish lipstick which is comfortable to wear and easy to maintain.

Before buying any lipstick, I recommend you try it, but this is especially pertinent when it comes to nudes. They will be heavily impacted by the colour of your own lips, so what looks like the perfect rosy pink on someone else might look like a sickly salmon on you.

This is a little difficult on the high street (for the love of god, don’t apply straight from the bullet, you never know where those lipsticks have been) but if you’re planning on buying from a department store you are absolutely entitled to try to colour beforehand. Once you have it on, check yourself out in the mirror, then go outside and look again in natural light.

The lighting in fancy department stores is often extremely flattering, but also extremely misleading. Not that you don’t look fab, you do, but when it comes to testing makeup colours it can be a disaster (I recommend you do this when buying foundation or concealer too).

Once you’ve found the nude for you, the one that flatters your skin tone, and maintains the ‘alive’ quality to your look, be sure to create structure in your face with the rest of your makeup.

Use a blush which is in the same tonal family as the lipstick (peach with peach, pink with pink etc), and use a touch of bronzer to amp up the angles of your face. A nude lip goes beautifully with well-groomed eyebrows and a flick of black eyeliner, but it also looks great with a dramatic eye look. Smokey eyes are great, but if you want to really play, a nude lip is a great opportunity to use a bright colour on your eyes.

Whatever you do, have fun, that’s what makeup is all about, and just because your lips are nude doesn’t mean the rest of your face has to be!

New Product

PastedImage-71228 Source: Glossier

Glossier certainly know how to launch new products, and this week they used the Oscars to give the world Lidstar. The brand’s first foray into eyeshadow is, of course, sheer and slightly glossy. It’s a cream formula and comes packaged in a pretty test tube, promising to last twelve hours with no creasing! Clearly I’ll be ordering it because I now exist only to earn money to buy Glossier products.

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