Ask any woman of color about her experience with "nude" makeup, and she'll tell you horror stories about having to wear products that don't even come close to her natural skin tone. But now, after years of this issue being pointed out by the media—as well as consumers—things are starting to change, though not always simply for reasons like celebrating diversity. As the New York Times recently pointed out in a piece about the fabrication of nude in the beauty market, "inclusivity is commendable, but the fiscal incentive for more shades is not insignificant."
That said, there's still a long way to go with available nude products; for example, nude lip products tend to lean toward lighter pink and peach hues, which leaves people of color left to blend for themselves. We asked makeup artist Lindsey Williams to share her beauty wisdom and teach us how to create the perfect nude hue of our own. "When creating a nude lip, balance the lip with your skin tone," she says. "The nude lip is actually a bold statement, so carry it through with balance in the eyes and brows."
In addition to finding shades that complement your complexion, Williams dares women to "make a statement with your eyes using all types of creative approaches like layering up mascara, adding false lashes, dabbing gloss over dark shadow, and thickening your liner." She also recommends staying away from actual "nude" lip liners (unless they're invisible), in order to avoid creating shadows around your mouth.
So what is Williams' best advice for those suffering from years of marginalization at the makeup counter? Try before you buy—but then buy in bulk.
"For a well-matched nude lip, it may take many tries with various makeup brands to find the perfect match for you. Be patient with the process, go to cosmetic counters and stores like Sephora where you can test and play with a lot of different tones and shades before purchasing," she says. "Think of finding your perfect nude color like you would the hunt for the best-fitting jeans. You may be in the dressing room for a while, but once you find the perfect match, it’s magic. Ask for samples to take home and try in various light before spending a lot of money on tones that end up not working out."
Check out how Williams makes nude work on five different women and read her tips in the gallery, below.
Photographer: Savanna Ruedy
Hair: Remy Moore
If you don’t have a lot of time to commit to a blocked-out nude lip, try dusting a bit of your foundation lightly across your lip and layer with a sheer lip gloss. This gives you a fast everyday look that's easy to touch up and maintain through the day.
Urban Decay, NAKED Ultra Nourishing Lipgloss in 'Freestyle,' Maybelline, The Falsies Push Up Angel Washable Mascara in 'Black,' and Anastasia Brow Wiz in 'Chocolate.'
Explore various shades of peach or pink to find the right nude. Think of the nude lip as your under eyes; you need to find a shade that matches your skin and conceals the tone underneath. You want to quite literally block out your own lip color.
Edward Bess Ultra Slick Lipstick in 'Nude Lotus,' Maybelline Volum’ Express The Colossal Spider Effect in 'Classic Black,' and Anastasia Brow Wiz in 'Ash Blonde.'
Going with a nude lip will reveal the natural state of the condition of your lips, so EXFOLIATE and use copious amounts of lip balm for a day or two before you sport your nude lip look.
Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G. in 'Hepburn Honey,' Charlotte Tilbury Rock ‘N’ Kohl in 'Bedroom Black,' Legendary Lashes in 'Black Vinyl,' and Charlotte Tilbury Brow Lift in 'Cara D.'
Depending on how nude of a lip you achieve, balance the lack of color or tone with a heavier eye and well-groomed brow. Don’t be afraid to go bold with your eye makeup.
Burberry Full Kisses in 'NUDE NO.505' + Milk Makeup Face Gloss, Kiko Cosmetics Lasting Gel Eyeliner in 'Black' + Milk Makeup Face Gloss, Burberry Effortless Eyebrow Definer in 'Ebony No. 05,' and Burberry Cat Lashes in 'Jet Black No. 1.'
Tapping lip color on with your fingers is a great way to lightly build a wearable nude lip. The lip doesn’t always have to be heavily applied and can have a fresh feel with this type of application.
Tarte Cosmetics Lippie Lingerie Matte Tint in 'Racy,' Tarte Cosmetics Tartiest Clay Paint Liner in 'Black,' Tarte Cosmetics Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Mousse in 'Rich Brown,' and Tarte Cosmetics Tartiest Lash Paint Mascara in 'Black.'
If going completely “mannequin” nude, Lindsey recommends using concealer to buff out your lip color all together and then use a nude lipstick as close to your skin tone as possible. Apply dramatic false lashes to give your look a dimensional pop.
NARS Cosmetics Pure Matte Lipstick in 'Madére,' NARS Cosmetics in Brow Perfector in 'Salzbourg,' and StudioLashesNY.com MINK Lash in 'Elle.'