We updated this article in March 2022 to add more information about each featured product and details on extensive testing done by the Good Housekeeping Institute, as well as expert commentary on application and selection tips.
Like a classic little black dress, a flattering nude lipstick is a must in every makeup wardrobe: It complements everything from minimal to bold makeup looks and works for casual everyday settings and special occasions alike. "Nude" is a color that can range from pale taupe to neutral beige to rich brown. You can find your ideal nude lipstick shade by considering your skin tone, undertones, texture and level of pigmentation.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab is constantly testing all types of lipstick formulas both in the Lab using technical evaluations and on consumer testers. In the Lab, they are tested for color transfer resistance and lasting power throughout the day. Consumers also rank them on factors including ease of application and removal, look and feel on lips, color payoff, and how well they hold up against fading. In the GH Beauty Lab's most recent lipstick test, scientists tallied 1,496 data points to find the top-performing lipsticks. Here, GH Beauty Lab experts share the best nude lipstick colors you can get for all skin tones, preferences and budgets:
Our top picks
- Best Matte Nude Lipstick: Bobbi Brown Luxe Matte Lipstick in Nude Reality
- Best Value Nude Lipstick: Maybelline New York Color Sensational Lipstick in Nude Lust
- Best Sheer Nude Lipstick: Rituel de Fille Enchanted Lip Sheer Semi-Matte Moisture Lipstick in Narcissus
- Best Pink-Nude Lipstick: Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture The Slim Matte Lipstick in Ambiguous Beige
- Best Nude Lipstick for Fair Skin: MAC Cosmetics Love Me Lipstick in Under the Covers
- Best Nude Lipstick for Medium Skin: Ctzn Cosmetics Nudiversal Lip Duo in Shade 11: Istanbul
- Best Nude Lipstick for Olive Skin: Mary Kay Gel Semi-Matte Lipstick in Bashful You
- Best Nude Lipstick for Brown Skin: L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Luminous Hydrating Lipstick in Brilliant Brown
- Best Nude Lipstick for Indian Skin: Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick in Freckle Fiesta
- Best Nude Lipstick for Dark Skin: Laura Mercier Velour Extreme Matte Lipstick in Fierce
- Best Nude Liquid Lipstick: NYX Professional Cosmetics Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Sandstorm
- Best Hydrating Nude Lipstick: BareMinerals Gen Nude Matte Liquid Lipcolor in Boss
When shopping for the perfect nude lipstick for you, consider the following factors:
✔️ Your skin tone: The best way to choose a nude lipstick to flatter your skin tone is by determining your skin's undertone, the underlying color your skin casts, says Renée Loiz, a celebrity makeup artist in Los Angeles and founder of Color May Vary. "Warmer undertones have peachy or golden tones, cool undertones have more reds and blues and neutral undertones are a mix of both warm and cool," she explains. "The easiest way to find your undertone is to try on silver and gold jewelry: If your skin looks good in gold, you’re a warmer undertone, if silver looks better, then you’re more cool undertone, and if both silver and gold look good on your skin tone, then you’re a neutral undertone." Skin with warmer undertones looks best in mauve-brown nude lip colors, complexions with cool undertones in pink-browns, and neutrals in either," Loiz says. As a general rule, for light to medium skin tones, look for nude lipsticks with mauve or pink hints; for dark skin tones, seek out chocolate browns with tinges of bronze.
✔️ Level of pigment: This determines how translucent or opaque the nude lipstick will appear on lips. Sheer lipstick formulas are subtle but can wear off faster, medium-pigmented lipsticks provide full yet soft coverage with more staying power, and full coverage lipsticks are completely opaque, usually lasting longest on lips but with a heavier or thicker texture.
✔️ Finish: The lipstick's finish determines what level of shine it has on lips. Shiny finishes reflect light, offering a glossy look; satin or cream finishes have a smooth and silky appearance; and matte finishes have a completely shine-free effect.
It depends on your desired result, Loiz says. "For a more saturated and strong look, outline your lips first with a nude lip liner, then apply lipstick straight from the tube onto lips, filling between the lines and blending to finish," she advises. "If you want a softer look, line lips and lightly apply lipstick on top with a lip brush." Choose a lip liner one to two shades darker than your nude lipstick, Loiz recommends.
As the Beauty Director at Good Housekeeping, April Franzino has over 15 years of experience researching, writing and editing makeup-related content utilizing the expertise of the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab scientists and top industry professionals such as makeup artists and cosmetic chemists. She is an expert in all makeup product categories, including lip, eye and face makeup; tools; professional services and more. April works closely with the GH Beauty Lab to coordinate makeup product testing and translate test results into best-in-class compelling, factually accurate science-backed content for Good Housekeeping.