Last month, someone asked me how I would describe the color of my nipples—c'mon, you've had conversations like this—and even though I'm pretty closely acquainted with them, I had to peek into my bra in order to confidently characterize the shade.
Ultimately, I decided on a not-so-succinct "medium beige that a really pale person might tan to." And as soon as I said that, I realized I might also be describing a my-lips-but-better shade of lipstick. Oh, hello, lightbulb over my head!
The next day, I posted a call to my xoVain contributors on Facebook for experiment participation:
The reactions were a mix of enthusiasm and reluctance. Within seconds, Hannah reported that NARS Anita is the exact color of her nipples. Victoria and Lauren, on the other hand, were convinced that theirs would be too dark to work as a flattering lipstick color. (I bet it would look gorgeous, but I'll trust their instincts). Rachel just stared longingly at her nipples for a while as I took the opportunity to make terrible jokes.
And then, after I mentioned Ellis Faas's literally blood-colored lipstick in yesterday's news roundup and invited suggestions for other body parts that might inspire flattering makeup colors, one brilliant commenter got on my level.
Unlike blood, which is supposedly the same exact shade of red in everyone, nipples run the coloration gamut from ecru to bubblegum pink to purply dark brown. Two people who wear the same foundation shade may have very different nipple colors. So I was curious to see what my contributors came up with.
And after a couple weeks of gentle digital nudges, here's what a few of us determined.
For some strange reason, green hair has made me more willing to wear neutral lip colors. Not that I'll be retiring my reds any time soon, but having this bold color surrounding my face makes me feel less naked while wearing a "nude" shade, so to speak.
I love e.l.f.'s entire Studio Matte Lip Color range, and when I got this kooky nipple idea in my head, the shade Natural jumped out at me as familiar. I held it against my areola, and—yep, that's why it looked so familiar. Spot-on match!
It looks way lighter on my face than I expected, though; I assume that's because, as pale as my face is, my boobs are even paler, so the contrast between my boob skin and the color of my nipples is more obvious. I do like Natural, but it may require a more dramatic eye or heavier blush to look its best on me.
"This is admittedly more nipple-colored in the bullet than it is on the lips because it's pretty sheer. I would have to say that the nipple lipstick theory pans out for me because the shade works well for my coloring."
Maricar: Maybelline Color Sensation Lip Color in Touchable Taupe & Revlon Super Creme Lustrous Lipstick in Brazilian Tan
"I didn't have an exact match in my lipstick collection, so I mixed two lipsticks together instead. In my case, I think the theory works."
Morgan: Clinique Long Last Soft Shine Lipstick in Creamy Nude & MAC Lipstick in Styled In Sepia
"Finding a lipstick that matches my nipples was harder than I expected. Nipples are’t exactly the same colour all over, so I was aiming for a kind of average tone. What the beauty industry terms 'nude' generally reads too pink or coral. I eventually found a good match by mixing two shades. The resulting colour isn’t too far from my natural lip colour or my natural nipple colour, and it doesn’t look out of place on my face."
"My nip color is hard to nail. This is a sheer warm red-brown just like my princess ariel-olas. It's a great fall look for me that's not as loud as my usual lipstick. Who would have thought wearing your nips as lips would be less visually offensive?"
Sable: Maybelline Color Sensation Lip Color in Maple Kiss and Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Birkin Brown
"This is two lip colors mixed together, and it’s touch rosier than my actual nips by the teensiest bit."
Hannah: NARS Audacious Lipstick in Anita
"I've always thought this shade was 'my lips, but better,' and then [Marci] brought up the nipple-matching theory and, lo and behold, it was the exact right hue. My lips are naturally darker than most people's, I think, at least in comparison to my paleness. But yeah, Anita is a definite nip match; but not an areola match, I feel I should clarify. Areola hue would be too pale on me."
"I love this colour; it's like my lips but better, has a violet scent, and fades really well. And, oddly, it matches the ol' nips perfectly. Fun fact: it's really common for topless performers to darken in their nipples with lip stain if they are going to be under really bright lights so they don't just disappear entirely!"
"I was like Goldilocks trying to match colors to my nipples. This one's too light. This one's too pink. I never did find one that's JUST RIGHT, but this is the closest thing I found. (I should mention that I was legit trying these on my nipples to get the best match. Nobody can ever say I don't do my research.) While it's a little more shimmery than my actual nipples, 'cause, ya know, I'm not a mermaid, it's the right amount of brown. I found most of the nudes I tried to be too pink."
I'm sad that my contributors with darker skin felt this nipple-matching theory wouldn't work for them. I'm a big proponent of the idea that a "nude" lip color means your nude; or, in this case, your nipple color—if it's beautiful on your boob, it's probably beautiful on your face. But their misgivings come from a place of beauty "rules" typically applying pretty strictly to white women, so their reluctance is understandable.
"Beauty trends often ignore women of color, and it pisses me off," Victoria told me.
"While this beauty rule has the potential to work really well for those with very fair complexions, it's a pretty unanimous wash for those of us on #TeamDarkSkin," Lauren echoed.
I think that they'd look amazing in their respective nipple-matching lip colors, though. In fact, if the ladies above are any indication, my theory works better on everyone else than on me!
- What lip color do you think—or know—would match your nipples?
- Do you think this idea has the potential to be flattering on everyone?
- Anyone wanna test out the theory with a photo in the comments? (Again, no actual nipple photos necessary!)