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ATB Learning Curve: The Elusive Nude Lipstick

I have been using makeup for close to 7 years now, and blogging about it for almost 4 years (yep, ATB completes 4 years this November!). It has been a journey full of makeup "Aaahaaa's!" & "Ohhh Nooo's!"

My initial 3 years were marked most by cheap Elle 18 or VOV China made cosmetics as I never really had enough pocket money left to splurge on even brands like Lakme. 

But things changed quite a bit after I started to work & blog (in that order).

I have had my share of mistakes and WTF moments with makeup. I thought I would share some of these skincare & makeup learnings I have had over the years with you readers. The point behind sharing being that if my experience helps you make better decisions, why not? Hence the new feature "ATB Learning Curve"

I do suspect that you may find the makeup tips a lot more useful if you are fair-skinned, cool-toned or green eyed like me. One reason for putting them up here, is that while I know that my features & complexion are not the norm in Indian women, but I also know they aren't such an exception either. I'm sure I can save some girl from throwing away her money on the wrong colors. Besides, for the rest of you, if nothing else, it can serve as an thinking point about what's going right or wrong in your makeup selection. 
Kareena & her nude lips - supposedly MAC Cherish

Okay, enough gyaan on why the new feature, let's quickly jump into my first topic for this: The Elusive Nude Lipstick

Nude lipsticks are a major quandary for most girls. The problem gets magnified if you are pale. I know that one needs to look for colors that match your natural lip color. But if your natural lip color like me, is a light pink, it just makes things so boring. I always long to sport nude skin colored lipsticks like Kareena Kapoor & Angelina Jolie do!

If I opt for something very close to my skin color, it completely makes my face go blank, because my skin lacks that healthy warmth of tan skin. 

Some of the most popular nude lipsticks can be very dark against my skintone, not really working as a nude but they look like brown lipstick. 

Couple with the fact that my lips tend to have some inherient pink color which a sheer lipstick will find difficult to cover up completely. If I opt for a lipstick shade that matches my natural lip color – it will not be a nude. Most probably it will have some pink rosiness and we all know that the high fashion nudes with smokey eyes are not pink. 
Angelina's trademark lips - I believe it is a Gurlein lipstick - 480 (DCed)

Plain browns and beige nudes don't look so great on my skin. In fact, they tend to make my skin & eyes look duller and I have been asked to stay away from them.

Overtime, after talking to a number of MUAs, not only at MAC but also at other blogger events like LFW, I have learnt the following: 

1. Kareena Kapoor's MUA uses a specially blended shade for her nude lips, it has been created especially for her. It does use MAC Cherish, but also some other lip pencil & lip color mixed in.  

2. Pale or fair skin needs the accent of lipstick to literally, bring some life into it. I for one, look very washed out without my lipstick, and have been asked if I'm unwell on days I have skipped it. I need that contrast of color between the skin & the lip

3. If you have pink or redness in your lips, you need your lipstick to have a bit of grey tone to neutralize that. A successful nude lipstick will be one which does that. Also it will need to have some coverage. It cannot be sheer like MAC Hug Me. The only way I can make Hug Me work is by using a natural lip liner underneath, it is too sheer otherwise. 

4. The closest I have come to a nude is MAC Velvet Teddy. It has enough grey to cancel out the redness in my lip, the matt texture provides coverage & the pink hint in it helps it not dull down my skin. 

5. One of the simplest ways I have figured is to just top off my lips with some glossy lip balm like Kielh's #1 or else Inglot 01 Lip defense treatment. It is not as exotic as Kareena's pout, but it is hassle free and looks appropriate with smoky eyes. 

It would be fair to say that I have finally come to the realization that unless I hire a personal MUA who can create my own special foundation nude lipstick, this is a color I should forgo. In all probability it won't even be too flattering on me. 

What has your search for your elusive nude lipstick been like?
Have you found one? Which one is it?


  1. Like you said, Hug Me is quite sheer but I find Hug Me & Jubilee to be really nice nudes even on my pigmented lips. Good enough to cover the natural pigmentation. Sometimes, I just fill my lips with MAC's Sublime Culture lip liner which is a pinky nude & then top off with a nude-ish gloss :D

    1. My natural lip color is a vivid pink, hence Hug Me doesn't work for me by itself. But I can see how it wld work well for someone with more brown in their lips :)

  2. True! True!
    I am not fair but all your points are true in my case too.

    I gave up on the nude lipstick search a yr ago.

    I told myself it was overrated(case of sour grapes :P)but in my search for it I have collected a dozen pinky brown lipstick/glosses, if they did not have the problem of shelf life, I wouldnt need to buy one ever!

    1. Hahahaha! Even I think they are overrated. But each time I see either KK or AJ sporting them, the urge returns! :)

  3. I am superrrr excited for this new feature Tanz :D ... we are poles apart in terms of skin coloring but nevertheless am looking for your reccos .. it will help me out in some or the other way am sure :D :D ...
    i tried all the 3 shades you suggested but your conclusion is the best " unless I hire a personal MUA who can create my own special foundation nude lipstick "

    my search for perfect nude lipstick made me buy so many shades from MAC ... Peachstock , Velvet Teddy , Hug me , Fresh Brew , Cherish and so on .. phewww

    but yeah my fav. nude lip combo is " Spice lip pencil with Velvet teddy lipstick and a gloss " or else "Spice lip pencil with new found nude gloss " works equally great for me .
    I loveddd your post Tanz :D :D and looking forward for all the readers fav shades :D

    1. Thanks a lot Rashmi! Your enthusiasm & appreciation means a lot to me :)

      I got Velvet Teddy after your nude lips post. :D

    2. same to same here .. :D :D ... see these small little things makes lot of difference ... :D i am here to learn and already biting my nails - what's next ? :D :D
      and am so glad you liked the color ... its a keeper then i guess :D :D

  4. I am yet to find my perfect nude but MAC's Taupe and Bobbi Brown's Brownie Pink is not doing a bad job till date:)

    1. I tried Taupe - it was too dark for me. It looked like brown lipstick. Not a good look on me.

  5. Not found my perfect nude either although my skin complexion is like opposite to yours..for me the challenge is not to look like a ghost with too light lipsticks..peachy and coffee browns are okay for me..Colorbar Creme Cup and Mac Taupe works for me

  6. This is a very interesting feature!! infact I sense u have a v.good understanding of what to mix/match whr/ with what! i read somewhere on ur blog that u match ur foundation to ur neck tone (i think) now thats something that wud never strike me..but it makes soo much sense!! :D
    I have about 4 pink-browns which I thought were nude..but only one is close to being a nude..I think! :-/

    1. Thanks Kejal! :D

      I match foundation to my neck because my face is a bit ruddy & pink & for some reason my neck is a bit darker then my face. In the past when I have matched foundation to only my face & purchased it - it has always turned out to be lighter than my neck. So I test it on my neck. If it matches my neck - the overall appearance is even - you don't get the dreaded mask effect :)

      I also initially imagined all sorts of pink browns & mauve shades as my nude. It was only when I looked closely at Kareena's makeup that I realised I was mixing up MLBB & Nude :)

  7. I'm dark (NC 45) and I've had a lot of problem finding that one perfect nude lipstick. I guess the closest I've come to is Maybelline Color Sensational lipstick in 'Crazy for Coffee'. I've also looked for that perfect brown which wouldn't be too orangy or too ashy on me. I haven't been as successful in this case.

    1. I think Nudes are even tougher to nail than Red.

    2. I'm a mac nc42 and mac hug me is a perfect nude on me ( i have pigmented brownie-reddie lips)

  8. Hii Tanveer! After a long gap, I found time to blog hop, loved the article...I found my version of nude recently, I needed a colour that wouldnt show up glaringly but i didnt want to go without colour and look lifeless....Lakme aquashine Fig works perfect for me! :)

    1. Awww! Welcome back Keerthi! :D Thanks for reading :) Fig sounds yummy! I guess I'm getting hungry now. :P

  9. I loved this feature. Its got tonnes of information. Lemme share my secret of a nude perfect lip that is neither too orange or too beige.
    Apply the same foundation or concealer that you used on ur face to hide the natural rosiness of the lip. In darker lips it evens them to proper skin color.
    Then slick on some clear or rosy tinted gloss for a glossy mouth or apply a lip tint like Benefit Posie tint for subtle rosy lips.
    If someone insists on applying a lipstick pick up your favorite pink and mix with a bit of MAC Flesh pot to get the color. Nude lips are good for all and can look better if done carefully.

    1. Thanks Neeraj! That is the point of this series - to deliver lots of information so that the Learning Curve of other's is shorter than mines :)

      Thanks for your tips - I will try them out :D.. Hopefully they will work for me :)

  10. you know covering up dark pigmented lips has always been a problem for me. But quite coincidently i found 2 lipsticks which look nude on mine.Revlon's cocoa sheer and streetwear's éclairs. I bought both on impulse without even thinking abt this 'nude lip thing' and when i used it it made my lips look perfect . They are not longlasting but it works !I love cocoa sheer to bits and have been using the shade practically everyday for work and for sober occasions from past 5 years.recently i came to know abt velvet teddy yet to try on my lips and decide !

    1. Sometimes stuff you pick when one is a novice turns out to be better than what you do as "expert" :D

      They both sound good! I'll check them out :)

  11. same 2 same problem..
    great post!! My learning curve def speeds up thanks 2 u!! :)

  12. I use a MAC colour called Touch. And even Elizabeth Arden's 8-hour lip moisturisers can work as nude lippers.


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