The Search for the Perfect Nude Lipstick

nude lipstick collection

I’ve never been big on dramatic lipstick. The rare occasion I will wear something on the dramatic side, it’s usually a bright red, deep red, or dark shade of wine or purple. And I only do that when the outfit really calls for it. I feel much more myself when I wear something in the nude family.

Actually I never used to wear lipstick at all. When I was growing up it was lip balm and gloss all the way. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I even owned lipstick. I felt like that was what moms and old ladies wore.

nude lipstick swatches

It seems like lip products have either blown up with options in the past few years or I am just finally aware of them all. Sheer lipsticks, lip crayons, matte lipstick, liquid lipstick — now there’s a version of just about everything!

nude lipsticks

You might not know this but the first few years I had my blog, I rarely posted photos of myself. Like hardly ever. I thought it was weird. It wasn’t until I started being in photos a lot that I was like, eek — I need something on my lips! My lips are thin and my upper lip line isn’t super defined. Let’s just say lipstick does WONDERS for me. Now I totally get it and I’m on board.

Once I was ready for lipstick, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find the PERFECT shade. I would hear my girlfriends talking about their perfect shade and how long it took them to find it, or hoarding colors that have been discontinued. I realized, oh wow, ok I have this all wrong — there is a perfect shade for me — now I just have to find it.

nude lipstick swatches

The good thing about my job is that I get a lot of beauty products sent to me to try out, so I didn’t buy all 17 of these lipsticks — I did by 8 or 9 of them over the years. Honestly some of these are probably past their expiration date and should probably be thrown out.

nude lipstick collection

I can honestly say, I’m still on the hunt but have found several great colors for me. I have a few that I tend to go back to more frequently than others, and it’s funny how different nudes can be! Cool nudes, warm nudes, dark nudes, sheer nudes, coral nudes, pink nudes, brown nudes.

I have figured out over the years that pinks and corals just don’t look that great on me. With my skin and teeth they just never do me any favors. I tend to favor the brown family and cool nudes (think a nude version of mauve or purple).

nude lipstick swatches with colors

If you are on the hunt for the perfect nude lipstick like I still am — I’ll go through all of these and tell you my thoughts to help you decide. Honestly I feel like I hate buying lipstick until I’m really close to sure it’s going to work for me so I really value other blogs that do swatches.

You can return cosmetic products at most stores even if you’ve used them, but I think a lot of people feel really bad about doing that. But I’m also not a huge fan of trying on makeup products in store (ew!). Especially lip products. So hopefully some of my descriptions might help you in your nude lipstick quest.

LAURA MERCIER Brown Sugar — Clearly I’ve used this color a lot. It’s actually called a stick gloss. It’s a cool sheer and was one of the first nude lipsticks I had. It’s a great everyday color. I need another one!

TOM FORD 06 Abandon — This sheer lip shine is on the coral side. I actually don’t really wear it much anymore, but it’s just really hard to throw away Tom Ford. I think the sheer coral would work on me in only very specific situations, and I haven’t had one of those in years. I do love the packaging though.

BAREMINERALS Tutu — This color is on the pink side for me. If I need a pink, it’s one of the pinkest I can handle. Love the formula and the matte black packaging.

BITE BEAUTY Custom Color — I had this color made when I was at the Lip Lab in NYC. Going to the lab is really fun, and you can make your perfect color! I need to go back! I still even have the recipe for this color when I run out because I’m definitely going to get the exact same formula. It’s a darker cool nude in a matte formula and it’s one of the colors I wear the most when I want some color.

BAREMINERALS Honeybun — This is a good brown for me. I think I started liking browns when the 70s trends came back in the last two years. People started wearing more brown lipsticks. This is the result of that.

TOM FORD 03 Casablanca — Again, the packaging is gorgeous. I bought it a long time ago and it’s still a great color, very high pigment with a satin finish, but now I feel like it’s a smidge too bright for me. Now I consider it more of a photo prop!

AVEDA 951 Sheer Primrose — This color is a great everyday nude!

NARS Cruising — This color is super sheer. It adds just a hint of color, which clearly I’ve almost completely used up. This color for me is a must in my nude collection. I’ll be buying it again as soon as I run out.

GUCCI 040 Rose Dragee — This is a pretty bold nude that is a good drama look for me if I need a warm nude.

GIORGIO ARMANI Milano 202 — This is a shade lighter than the Gucci color I have. The Giorgio Armani lipsticks are really good.

MAC Modesty — My first MAC lipstick, can you believe it? I actually got this one recently. It’s slightly cooler than the Gucci and Armani 202 colors, but still just as dark. I feel like it’s way darker in person than it looks where I linked it. Great formula. Smooth and creamy.

GLOSSIER Cake — People either love or hate these lipsticks. You do have to apply a lot to get the color on, especially with this color cake, but it’s a great everyday matte color for me when I want to look like I’m not wearing lipstick. They call them sheer and matte so that is exactly what you can expect. As much as I like the white packaging, my stick fell out and my package has cracked. It’s not so bad to where I can’t use it, but still.

CLARINS 31 Tender Nude — This color (can we talk about the name because it’s kinda funny) but it’s just too coral for me to wear.

CUSTOM — This is a custom lipstick color that was made for me, and I LOVE it but the company isn’t around anymore that I can find. It’s very similar to my other custom color from Bite Beauty. This one is a little more sheer and slightly glossy than my custom color from Bite Beauty. I like having both options.

CLINIQUE CHUBBY STICK 08 Graped Up — This is considered a balm. While it’s sheer, it definitely deposits color. Really good creamy formula. While I like the product, I often put it on and then wipe it off. I think I look at it and think it will be sheer and it really just has a lot of color. I might need a lighter color.

GIORGIO ARMANI Daybreak 508 — Again the Armani lipsticks are really good. I bought this one a few years ago I think before I realized that pinks don’t really look that great on me. So It rarely gets used anymore, but it’s a great pink.

TORY BURCH Pas Du Tout 01 — This is a lovely sheer lip color. It has hints of shimmer/sparkle in it. I don’t think they make lipstick anymore though it is hard to find.

nude lipsticks

I probably only use a third of these on a somewhat regular basis…I should probably do a clean out!

My top 6 favorites that I currently wear the most are the NARS Cruising, my two custom colors, Laura Mercier Brown Sugar, MAC Modesty, and Glossier Cake.

nude lipstick swatches

Bottom line is — finding the perfect lipstick colors is a long search. If you find yours quickly, consider yourself lucky!

I’ve actually added a few more nude lipsticks to my collection since these photos were taken so I’ll have to do an update soon!

nude lipstick collection

Of course, now I need to know what some of your favorite lip colors are! Are you a fan of a certain color or nudes? Have you found the perfect shades for you?

nude lipstick swatches with colors

Photos by Emma Weiss