Painting on a neutral is the easiest way to look pulled-together, like you did something fresh and different with your makeup (without looking like you’re wearing much). But picking the most flattering nude isn’t as simple as you’d think. Go too pale and it’ll wash you out—sometimes, even age you. Go too deep and the color of your face will look darker than it actually is (like you chose an unsuitable shade of foundation).

In search of the perfect nude lippie for the New Year? Here’s our complexion-coded guide for every skin tone, whether you’re fair, medium, or gorgeously tan.


If your complexion is similar to Andi Manzano’s or Zhang Ziyi’s, match your lipstick to the natural color of your lips. If they’re pale, go for a powder pink nude. If they’re pinkish or reddish, go for a soft rosy nude.

COLOR DOS: A hint of pink. This will warm up your complexion, even when you’re wearing a negative-color lipstick.
COLOR DON’TS: Nudes that are too beige. These will make your complexion seem pasty and ashen.

WE SUGGEST: Tarte’s Power Pigment in Exposed, Sonia Kashuk’s Velvety Matte Lip Crayon in Blossomy Nude, Mizon’s Correct Combo Lipstick in Nude Brown, Laneige’s Serum Intense Lipstick in Sheer Beige


If your skin tone falls somewhere between Karen Pamintuan and J.Lo, your best shades go both ways—paler than your complexion, or even darker! Barely-there beiges, healthy pinkish nudes, and honey-colored hues will all look pretty on you.

COLOR DOS: Pink-based, beige-based, and brown-based neutrals, both sheer and opaque. Experiment to see what you like best!
COLOR DON’TS: Frosted nudes—these can be aging (and graying) for your glow.

WE SUGGEST: CoverGirl’s Lip Perfection Lipstick in Sultry, Buxom’s 3-in-1 Full-On Lipstick in Amsterdam, The Face Shop’s Face It Artist Touch Lipstick Moisture in BR801, Chanel’s Rouge Coco Hydrating Crème Lip Colour in Mademoiselle


If you’re rocking a tan like Bianca Gonzalez or Naya Rivera, go for “dessert shades” like caramel nude and rosy brown (also called chocolate nude). The idea is to make your lips blend into your complexion without disappearing completely.

COLOR DOS: Rich nudes with a hint of bronze or gold in them. Also try mauve—a cross between old rose and brown sugar.
COLOR DON’TS: Powder-pale nudes. These will look like chalk on your pucker.

WE SUGGEST: NYX’s Soft Matte Lip Cream in Cannes, Suesh’s Nude Lip Color Pot in LC15, Elizabeth Arden’s Ceramide Ultra Lipstick in Honeysuckle, Neutrogena’s Moisture Shine Gloss in Healthy Peach 500 or Pure Cider 220