7 Ways To Find The Perfect Nude Lipstick (If You’re Black)

I’m on a mission to find the perfect nude lipstick. I wish I could say that this mission has been fun and relatively easy, but that’s just not the case. As a black woman, I’m used to feeling pretty maligned in the beauty industry. Sure, companies are expanding their color ranges, and new brands like Black Up–which makes makeup specifically black skin–are making makeup more accessible for people like me. That’s great, it’s a massive breath of fresh air, but I know that it’s still not enough because it’s a real challenge to find a nude lipstick that doesn’t make me look absolutely ridiculous.


A photo posted by black|Up Official (@blackup) on


If you’re relatively pale and have pink or reddish lips, it’s pretty easy to find a nude lip that looks pretty damn good. However, my dusky rose lips can never find an equally dusky lipstick that doesn’t look ashy against my brown skin. Seriously, I want my lips to look nude, not clownish! If you’re black, finding a nude lip that works for you is a struggle that will involve a lot of trial, error, and frustration. I know it because I was literally in Sephora for way longer than I want to admit, trying on lipstick after lipstick and dousing my poor lips in makeup remover every step of the way. I’m still on the lookout, but taking these seven tips in mind has made the process a little less maddening.

Your Nude Lipstick Doesn't Have To Match Your Skin Color

I think a lot of people make the mistake in thinking that a nude lipstick should match their skin color. If you do that, you might end up looking sick! Your nude should attempt to match your lip color, not your exact skin color. If the former was the case, you'd be better off just using foundation.


Never Blindly Trust A Lipstick That Says It's Nude

I made this mistake at Sephora when I was trying on Kat Von D's "nude" lipsticks. They looked nice on the tube, and the sign said nude, so it must work, right? LOL, wrong. I looked like I was ill with this color on. Names can be deceiving, and to be honest, most nude lipsticks seem to be geared toward people with lighter skin. Don't get discouraged, though, just ignore the word nude. That word just isn't used with our skin color in mind.

Buy this in "Bow N Arrow" (if you don't have dark skin, TBH) at Sephora for $20

Never Just Go With The Color On The Tube

This is impossible to do at drugstores, but if you're at a store like Sephora, Ulta, or a department store, please try before you buy. The color might look perfect on the packaging or even just looking at the tube itself, but on? It could be a disaster. And don't just swatch and call it a day. What looks nice against the skin on your wrist might look funky on your lips. Bite lipstick in "Verbena" at Sephora for $26

Know Your Undertones

You could have blue undertones, yellow undertones, or red undertones. Hey, you could even have an orangey undertone. All of this matters when it comes to finding a lipstick color that looks nice against your skin. If you want to know how to find your undertone, check out this chart.

Lancome lipstick in "Henne" at Macy's for $30.50

Consider Browns

Your lips might not be brown, but if you try to match your lip color exactly, you might get stuck with colors that look a little ashy in lipstick form. So maybe you'll be better suited for a browner lipstick even if your lips are on the pink side. Just give them a whirl, you might be converted.

Revlon Super Lustrous lipstick in "Coffee Bean" for $4.99 at all drugstores

Don't Underestimate A Killer Sheer Lipstick Or Balm

Maybe the natural color of your lips don't need too much pigment on top. If you want to skip the hassle of trying on every single lipstick at Sephora, consider opting for a sheer lipstick or tinted balm instead. You can get a little bit of color without it overwhelming your natural lip color.

Cover Girl Queen Collection in "Almond Butter" for $6.89 at all drugstores

Find A Killer Lip Liner That Does The Trick

This might sound weird, but sometimes a little lip liner is perfect for a nude lip that isn't super in your face. Of course, you need to test the color just like you would a full blown lipstick, so don't get lazy! Add definition with a glossy finish on top.

Black Up lip liner in "Taupe" at Sephora for $22

What other tips do you have for finding a nude lip color when you have dark skin? Have you found your perfect nude? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

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