Remain Neutral: The Best Nude Shadows, Lipsticks, and Bronzers for Every Skin Tone
Walk down any drugstore aisle or browse any beauty counter and you might be seeing nude-- as in flesh-toned lipsticks and neutral shadow palettes of course. Sure, there are seemingly endlessly different versions of neutral shades, and sometimes finding the perfect tone is a real trial. Nailing that "no makeup" look requires figuring out shades that not only complement your skin tone but also create dimension, without being as obvious as a statement red lip. Case in point: the rose-tinted neutrals Kerry Washington wore to the 2015 Oscars. If you have a medium-deep complexion with cool undertones like the star, follow in her lead and play up the pink hints in your skin. Her makeup artist Carola Gonzalez did just that, using the cool plum shadows in Neutrogena's Cocoa Mauve palette ($10; neutrogena.com) to create a shimmery nude eye, which was topped off with an ample sweep of liquid liner and a few generous coats of mascara. She then used the Neutrogena Blush & Bronzer Duo in Raisin Glow ($12; neutrogena.com) for a believable flush. A petal lip served as the final touch. After lining Washington's pout with a pink lip liner---we love Tarte's one-size-fits-all version ($18; tartecosmetics.com)---she swept Neutrogena's MoistureSmooth Color Stick in Juicy Peach ($9; neutrogena.com) over the top.
Looking for your own neutral makeup picks? We put together a comprehensive guide on finding the most-flattering neutrals to complement your complexion. Click through our gallery to find out your perfect match of nude eye shadow, lipstick, blush, and more!
If You're Very Fair
Though uber-warm bronze tones may look out of place against porcealin complexions like Meghan Trainor's, soft rose gold hues, like the ones found in Urban Decay's Naked 3 Palette ($54; sephora.com) prove to be especially flattering. Follow the same rose-tinted hue with your blush and lipstick. Because pale beige tones can wash you out, a sheer coral gloss like Clinique's Mega Melon ($17; clinique.com) adds dimension without stepping too far out of the nude category. A complementary blush like Benefit's Coralista ($28; benefitcosmetics.com) imparts a believable flush.
If You're Light with Warm Undertones
Fair complexions with hints of olive should follow in Rita Ora's lead, who, at the 2015 Oscars, worked a peachy-keen nude look on the red carpet. The star's makeup artist blended Rimmel's Mono Blush ($8; drugstores nationwide) into the hollows and apples of her cheeks as a contour, then created a pink-toned neutral lip with the Rimmel Provocalips in Dare to Be Pink ($7; ulta.com). Though Ora opted for a cat-eye to finish the effect, off the carpet, a palette of Earthy shadows with a peach mid-tone hue for blending, like Dolce & Gabbana's Quad in Nude 110 ($60; sephora.com) will come in handy for both minimalist and smoky looks alike.
If You're Light with Cool Undertones
For a nude pout that pops against your cool complexion, opt for a sheer finish like Jessica Chastain's, which will allow just enough of your natural lip color to show through. Her makeup artist Kristofer Buckle used his Lip Crayon in Nude Subdued ($42 for four; beautysmostwanted.com) over a layer of Kiehl's Lip Balm #1 ($7; kiehls.com). Switching between the YSL Couture Palette ($60; yslbeautyus.com) and his Always Flawless Day to Night Palette ($48; beautysmostwanted.com), the pro sculpted out her eyes using soft brown shades. For your most-flattering blush, opt for blue-based petal tones, like the pink pan in Buckle's Day to Night Palette, as anything that tips too far toward the warm end of the spectrum can give off a too-obvious burnt sienna tint.
If You're Tan with Warm Undertones
Medium skin tones like Nicki Minaj's can get away with working colors from both ends of the spectrum, though they are especially flattered by peach hues with hints of orange, or warm pinks like YSL's Rouge Volupte in Nude In Private ($36; yslbeautyus.com). Seek out a bronzing and highlighting duo similar in shade to Marc Jacobs' Instamarc Palette in Dream Filter ($49; sephora.com) to emphasize the gold tones in your skin. Go easy on the eyes with a few warm metallics like gold, copper, and bronze, or the rich chocolates in Giorgio Armani's Eyes to Kill Palette in Bourdoir ($60; giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com).
If You're Tan with Cool Undertones
Hey there, bronzed goddess! If your olive complexion has slight pink or blue tones, keep up with Kim Kardashian and go for the bronzy metallics in the Hourglass Modernist Palette in Obscura ($58; sephora.com) and terracotta brown hues, like NARS' Blush/Bronzer Duo in Laguna/Orgasm ($42; narscosmetics.com), which is paired with a flattering apricot blush. A mauve-tinted neutral like Anastasia's Liquid Lipstick in Pure Hollywood ($20; anastasiabeverlyhills.com) holds the perfect amount of contrast, but in terms of nude lips, both pink and brown-based colors will work—just decide which finish you like best, and steer clear of colors that appear too orange against your skin.
If You're Medium to Deep with Warm Undertones
Makeup artist Shannon Pezzetta complemented the terracotta tones of Jennifer Hudson's complexion with a sweep of Cargo's Blush in Laguna ($26; cargocosmetics.com), topped off with MAC's Bronzing Powder in Golden ($25; maccosmetics.com). Keep the sunny vibe going by swapping your pale beige lip for a sheer citrus, like Bare Escentuals Pop of Passion Lip Oil-Balm in Tangerine Pop ($16; sephora.com), and complete your look with Dior's Palette in Cuir Cannage ($62; nordstrom.com), a set of metallic rust and mahogany hues.
If You're Medium to Deep with Cool Undertones
Though complexions like Kerry Washington's can easily veer between cool and warm tones without much issue (save for overly-orange products, of course), her makeup artist Carola Gonzalez chose to complement the pink tones in her skin with Neutrogena's Shadow Palette in Cocoa Mauve 40 ($10; neutrogena.com), and used the Blush & Bronzer Duo in Raisin Glow ($12; neutrogena.com) to impart a soft flush. A rose-tinted nude lip finished the effect. Gonzalez started by lining Washington's pout with a pink lip liner—we recommend Tarte's one-size-fits-all version ($18; tartecosmetics.com)—and layered the Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick in Juicy Peach ($9; neutrogena.com) over the top.
If You're Deep with Warm Undertones
Play up the gold tones in your Lupita Nyong'o-like skin with equally-warm metallics—a shimmery nude lip like Lancome's Amande Sucree ($31; lancome-usa.com) adds a touch of dimension, while the Blush Subtil Palette in Nectar Lace ($31; lancome-usa.com) takes the guesswork out of your perfect bronzer and blush combo, arming you with a warm apricot, tawny fawn, and soft gold for all your contouring needs. Lancome's Color Design Palette in Golden Frenzy ($50; lancome-usa.com) creates the perfect bronzed smoky effect, and the pan of gilded shadow on the left-hand side is particularly gorgeous for highlighting your brow bone, and the inner cornerrs of your eyes.
If You're Deep with Cool Undertones
Cool complexions like Alek Wek's are flattered by rich hues with slight blue undertones, so opt for a translucent berry lip like Urban Decay's Sheer Revolution Lipstick in Shame ($22; sephora.com), which imparts a faint tint with just enough contrast. In lieu of bronzer, pick up a champagne-toned powder to highlight your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, and any other areas you want to make pop—we love Charlotte Tilbury's Swish & Pop Blush in First Love ($40; nordstrom.com)—and concentrate a cool rose blush on the apples of your cheeks. The soft taupe hues in Bobbi Brown's Hot Nudes palette ($65; sephora.com) are flattering on your skin, especially the shimmery chocolate shade in the corner.