I love, love, love the idea of a nude or neutral lipstick, often seen on the pouts of heavily bronzed glamazons like Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian, like I love the idea of marrying a professional football player. It's nice to think about, for a variety of reasons, but it's not exactly a plan that is easily executable in real life.
I do not have bronzed or olive skin. I'm so fair that I call it "apparition." You know, like a ghost. I have never regretted my fair skin, since it's so youthful but there are a few drawbacks. For example, adding a nude lippy that blends into my skin to my beauty regime can easily veer my look from "porcelain doll" to "dead zombie person."
A glossy or matte nude lip, which is said to be HUGE over in Britain, is a makeup nirvana I have yet to achieve with total success, so I am constantly trying different shades and variations. I desire a soft, creamy, pinkish shade to enhance my lips and to pair with heavy, smoky eyes, to balance things out. No, I don't mean copying the Lopez/Kardashian bronzed and dewy look. I just like the contrast of sooty eyes and lighter, softer, less look-at-me lips, mmmkay?
Here's how pale my skin is, by the way:
I like when long, curled lashes are the focus, with the lip being more subtle, but finding the right neutral or nude, like pimpin', ain't easy. It's not about making the lip disappear — despite what one makeup counter drone tried to tell me years ago — either. It is not about the lip being or looking naked; it is about having a neutral, non-competitive lip with a beige, peach, or pink tone, one that is fine with giving up the spotlight to the eyes.
But if a neutral lip shade is too chalky or too brown, I look like rigor mortis has set in and corpse chic isn't really my thing. My lips are naturally quite pink and I often play that up and focus on whisper light pink glosses that enhance that tone. But sometimes, I want something that tones the pinkery down a bit, but is still soft and works with a smoky eye. I like my makeup to be the opposite of an algebra equation; as in, what I do one half of my face, I don't do the other. If the eyes are deep, darker, and smoked out like a college dorm room, I have to keep my lips toned down.
Most of the time, I use MAC's now-discontinued Spring Bean Lustreglass, which is/was apple green in the tube and honeyed on the lips when mixed with my natural pink tone. Now that you have been deafened by the sound of my heart breaking over Spring Bean's status as no-longer-being-produced, I need and want to find a lipstick (not a gloss, for once) that helps me get a nude lip to offset a heavy smoky eye, which I do a lot in the fall. Those swatches on the back of my hand are ones I've tested. As you can see, neutrals and nudes come in a lot of finishes and shades.
It can be exhausting.
The trick is finding a nude that has the right amount of beige, peach, or pink in it to mix with the pre-existing pink in my lips. It either goes terrifically wrong or totally works.
"Olivia Color Balm lipstick from Stila is the best nude for fair/porcelain skin and compliments this tone perfectly," Stila makeup artist Sarah Lucero told me. "You can apply a sheer layer for a 'balm' effect or layer for a full pigment coverage. Avoid anything white-based or too caramel, as they tend to either wash you out or darken up and look artificial. Kitten Silk Shimmer Lip Gloss is the ideal 'nude' gloss for all skin tones. Layer that over Olivia for the perfect pout."
Olivia and Kitten are on my list for next time I hit Sephora.
But I test drove a bunch of needs that were ballin' with my lip tone. I tend to prefer the peachy pink ones and not the brown ones, like Lucero pointed out.
Maybelline's Color Sensational in Blushing Beige lets my lips pretend they are pillowy like Angelina Jolie's. It's a bit milky so it isn't a "go to" for me, but I think I will yank it out on cooler days.
Clinque's Chubby Stick in Heaping Hazelnut is a warmer, brown'ish option, as well. It wasn't too, too warm and was totally wearable, as long as I blotted.
3. Peachy Keen
L'Oreal's Colour Riche Glossy Balm in Ginger Candy is intense peach in the pencil tip form, but when applied and blotted, it's less concentrated, softly peachy, and more like pinky nude. It's about as barely there as it gets and more glossy than 'sticky. Love it!
Drew Barrymore's Flower line offers Kiss Stick High Shine Lipstick in Baby Buttercup, which is this weird but awesome pink/peach/apricot hybrid.
Urban Decay's Revolution Lipstick in Native is pinky and the more I applied, the glossier it got, without being too concentrated, which I like...
...while Liar in the same range and formulation is more beige but just as glossy.
Kate Moss's Lasting Finish lipstick by Rimmel in 14 is too toasty and chalky for my lips.
Images: Amy Sciarretto (10)