How many times have you excitedly entered a makeup store looking for a nude lipstick only to find that there’s not one shade that fits your skin tone? Probably too many times to count.
When I started wearing lipstick, one of the main reasons red became a go-to color was that every time I tried a nude, I found the industry’s definition of nude didn’t work for Black women. The options were either rosy pink or extremely light taupe — so ashy against my skin that when I put them on, I looked as if I’d just bitten into a powdered doughnut.
Thankfully, things are slowly changing, and brands are creating more products, including nude lipsticks, made with dark skin in mind. Deep browns and caramel-like neutrals — which are the real nudes for darker skin tones — have become more prominent. Whether you prefer a matte, glossy, hydrating, or satin finish, there are more options now than ever before. Here are a few that we’ve tried and love.
For the Matte Lover
The Lip Bar is known for its amazing matte lipsticks. This cocoalike shade is a nude made for the deepest complexions, with a matte finish that feels smooth and silky.
The Cult Favorite
I haven’t stopped wearing this gloss since it came out earlier this year, and neither have countless other Ami Colé fans. Created specifically for dark skin, this is a “universally flattering shade” that makes my lips look good even on days when I feel like nothing else does.
If You Prefer a Luxury Lip
One thing about Dior is it knows how to formulate a lipstick. While I’m usually opposed to rosy nudes, this one surprisingly complements darker skin tones, especially when it’s paired with a deep-brown liner. The Dior formula is also super-nourishing so you don’t have to worry about chapped lips.
The Long-Lasting Option
If “doesn’t move an inch” were a product, it would be Fenty’s lip paint. Whether I’m out to brunch eating and drinking, or on the run with no time to reapply, this lip stays put. And in true Rihanna fashion, the chocolate-brown hue blends seamlessly with dark skin and has an incredible pigment. Although the matte formula does dry, it doesn’t give the lips a crackling effect.
For the Badass Woman (Literally)
UOMA’s Badass Icon collection was created to pay homage to iconic Black women. This shade is an ode to Nina Simone. The singer’s unapologetic embrace of her Blackness inspired UOMA to create an inclusive nude for a range of Black skin tones. From the smooth application to the effortless shade matching sans liner, you can’t go wrong with this one.
If You Like to Double-Dip
This creamy duo is a double-ended lip gloss that gives you everything: a light-nude pigment, a luminous shine, and a creamy finish. Wear the colors together or one at a time; either nude looks great on darker skin, and the gloss isn’t sticky.
Subtle But Still Savvy
Mented Cosmetics was created out of a need for nude lipsticks for Black women when there were few to be found. All shades are made with melanin in mind, from rosy to deep brown. This blend of pink and brown highlights dark skin while leaving a satiny finish on the lips.
If You Prefer Liquid Lipstick
Good liquid lipsticks are hard to come by, but Selena’s Lip Souffles are magical. This creamy matte formula comes in a brown shade that wears well alone or with a complementing liner. It also has a subtle scent that stays with you all day long.
The Dewy One
Dewy, rich, and highly pigmented, this lipstick is a fantasy for anyone who loves a deep nude. It’s probably one of the most comfortable lipsticks I’ve worn throughout the day (and has a way of complementing any outfit I wear with it). The sleek ombré packaging is stellar too.
The $5 Option
This was the first nude lip gloss I ever bought, which was a sigh of relief because I had finally found something that looked good on me. The Butter Gloss is a creamy, sweet-smelling product formulated for a smooth and shiny appearance. This brown shade melts into the lips for the ultimate no-makeup makeup look.
For a Dinner Date
Eating dinner and feeling like you need to reapply your lipstick every five seconds is highly annoying. That’s not an issue with this long-lasting liquid matte lipstick. Plus, the chocolate-brown shade is a match for almost every undertone.
For the Glossier Fan
Your favorite brand makes a nude for you, and it’s heaven in a tube. This easy-to-apply, lightweight lipstick is a smooth, sheer nude that leaves your lips moisturized and with a hint of pigment. It’s also buildable — and lasts throughout the day — for when you want a bit more color.
The OG M.A.C Option
This formula may have a glasslike finish, but the pigment isn’t completely see-through. The best seller has been a makeup-bag staple for years, and whether you like to apply it over your lipstick or wear it solo, this taupe-brown shade sits lovely on brown skin.
The Lightweight One
I reach for this nude when I want just a little something on my lips; it’s my go-to for Zoom. One application and a swipe of lip gloss over it, and I have just enough pigment for a day of working from home.
If You’re Indecisive
Can’t choose exactly which deep nude you like or don’t know what meshes with your skin tone? This bundle has four chocolate nudes that can be mixed to your liking (I love an inner toffee shade with an outer cocoa), or you can test the waters to see which hue you prefer. These matte lipsticks are infused with hyaluronic acid, and the nourishing, velvety finish can be felt all day long.
An Actual Rosy Nude (for Us)
Rosy nudes can work for darker skin tones, but they have to be pigmented with darker shades like this berry rose. The deepness of the berry balances out the pinks for a contrasting effect that works on melanin.
On Thursday, August 12 at 4 p.m. ET, join our beauty editors on Twitter Spaces for a discussion about all things Black Beauty Matters. Set a reminder here to join the call as they discuss how the beauty industry has (and hasn’t) changed since June 2020 and how we can move forward.