Despite What Some Fancy Makeup Artists Say, Black Women Can (And Should) Wear Nude Lipstick

I refused to buy nude lipstick because I was told I "couldn’t" wear it. But now I know better.
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I refused to buy nude lipstick because I was told I "couldn’t" wear it. But now I know better.
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I’m back with another “they don’t make that for black people” story, except this one is slightly different. 

(Note: I know this isn’t just a brown-girl issue, but since I, myself, am a brown girl, who else am I going to target when it comes to things such as finding the right shade of nude lipstick for brown girls?)

Finding the right shade of nude lipstick is tough. It’s almost as tough as trying to find something to watch on Netflix on a rainy Sunday afternoon. If you pick the wrong thing, you risk the fear of someone who has your password knowing you recently watched two minutes of My Little Pony, because we ALL give out our Netflix account info. 

To avoid that type of embarrassment, we spend a lot of time reading Netflix descriptions and reviews just to make sure we don’t choose the wrong thing. The same idea applies when it comes to picking the right nude lippy: you have choose slowly and very carefully. And I should know, until about five months ago, I did not own a nude lip product. Here’s why.

I have very pouty lips, and I think they look better with a color. When I started to faithfully wear lipstick about four years ago, I was always willing to try just about any color. Reds, pinks, brights, darks, all of it. I didn’t care if no one else liked how it looked on me because I liked how it looked. I even had a friend tell me to my face that she didn’t like MAC’s Russian Red on me, and I simply laughed and replied, "So?" 

Another reason I refused to buy a nude lipstick is because I was told "black women couldn’t wear [nudes]." There's that c-word again. 

I was assisting on set of a photo shoot, and the makeup artist told the other assistant, who just so happened to be black also, and me that black women couldn’t wear nude lipstick because of our two-toned lips. 

A little two-toned lips never hurt anyone! Besides, there are nude shades that are pigmented enough to cover the lips just like any other color lipstick. So to me, that was just ridiculous. 

Unfortunately, that statement didn’t give me the courage to challenge the makeup artist’s suggestion and go on a hunt to find the perfect nude just to prove her wrong. Instead, it gave me the validation that nude lipstick and me weren’t meant to be, and it was time I let her go... 

....until last December when Rihanna released her RiRi Hearts MAC holiday collection with a nude called Bad Gal RiRi. I stood in line at Macy’s in the freezing cold for about 20 minutes, crossing my fingers that this nude would be The One. I had such high hopes for it that I did not apply any lipstick that morning. As soon I got into the office, I swiped it on, and to my surprise, I fell in love. 

Unfortunately, this gem, Bad Gal RiRi, is no longer available (unless you check eBay, which we do NOT recommend). MAC please re-create this shade, so that I can wear it forever!

Unfortunately, this gem, Bad Gal RiRi, is no longer available (unless you check eBay, which we do NOT recommend). MAC please re-create this shade, so that I can wear it forever!

It has a bit of a rosy tint to it, but I think that’s what I love about it. It doesn’t make my lips look as if they’re just a part of my face, but instead show that they're a feature on my face. But since the lipstick is no longer available, I barely wear it because I’m trying to preserve my tube for as long as I possibly can. And because I know soon it’ll disappear into nothingness, I’m testing out other nude options.

Here are a few that I’ve found work well for me and can work for many shades of brown. Just keep in mind that a nude lip doesn’t have to match your skin tone perfectly, and nudes with rosy tints could ultimately be your best friend.

The Winners

Surratt Lipslique in Brun Nude

Surratt Lipslique in Brun Nude

This Surratt Lipslique in Brun Nude has a hint of brown, but still lets the natural pink of the lip show through. The texture is like like a tinted lip balm, which is what I like about it. 

NARS Satin Lipstick in Bilbao

NARS Satin Lipstick in Bilbao

NARS Lipstick in Bilbao is a bit more sheer. It’s almost the exact same color as my lips, making the lipstick difficult to detect, other than a subtle amount of shimmer. 

MAC Lipstick in Touch

MAC Lipstick in Touch

MAC Lipstick in Touch is a mix between the Surratt and NARS shades. It’s browner, but still has a pinkish tint, and is the more opaque of the three.

I tested well over 30 shades of nudes for this story, but sadly, fewer than a third of them actually worked out for me. 

Regardless, I learned that most (actually, by most, I mean all) nude shades look WAY different in the tube than they they do on the lips. 

What I thought would work didn't, and what I thought wouldn't did. I tried on most of the lipsticks twice just to make sure, instead of giving up after the first applications. Patience: you need it for nude-testing.

Lastly, nude doesn't necessarily mean nude. We all have our own definition, whether it's wearing a shade that matches your skin perfectly, that doesn't match your skin but is still nude-colored, or that is similar to and/or complements your complexion. Whatever works for you, make it work. 

Below are some other nude shades that just did not work for me, but have the potential to work for my fellow brown girls:

L to R: Black Opal Bon Bon, Revlon Mink, Chanel Précieuse, MAC Jubilee, Maybelline Totally Toffee and NYX Cosmetics Tea.

L to R: Black Opal Bon Bon, Revlon Mink, Chanel Précieuse, MAC Jubilee, Maybelline Totally Toffee and NYX Cosmetics Tea.

Swatches of the above in the same order.

Swatches of the above in the same order.

Has this helped you in your search for a nude lipstick? Or have you already found your perfect nude? If so, please share your picks below!