Finding the perfect nude lipstick has been an ongoing struggle for decades.
Typically, nude lipsticks are synonymous with muted browns, soft blushes, and peach tones, but there’s a fine line between the timeless nude and frosted lips, which – despite their recent reappearance – we want to leave in the noughties.
When colour-matching foundation, the common terms ‘warm’, ‘cool,’ and ‘neutral’ surface, which also apply when finding a nude lipstick.
But how can we decipher which type we are? Step forward, vein testing.
What is vein testing?
The vein test involves assessing the colours running through your veins in the forearm, which correlate to the three aforementioned skin tones.
Code8 Beauty’s global makeup artist, Sasha Ghodstinat, tells me: “Blue veins denote cooler tones, green is warmer. If you can’t tell, or if it’s in between, you’re neutral, and have warm and cool undertones.”
However, a cool undertone does not mean we balance it with contrasting warm tones, but instead draw out those natural hues.
How can your veins help find the perfect nude lipstick?
“People assume their perfect nude is the opposite to their undertone. It’s not,” says Ghodstinat.
“If you’ve got blue veins (therefore cooler tones), choose lipsticks with violet or blue tones in them. For green veins you want yellow tones, so it’s warmer and enhances your skin tone.”
“The depth of the lipstick colour should correlate with your skin tone; the lighter the skin, the lighter the nude, the darker skin, the darker the nude.”
“Warm skin tones with green, hazel or brown eyes can opt for warm tones, such as peach, while those with cool skin tones and blue or grey eyes could try rose-based hues,” says Flanagan. “Olive skin tones suit beiges, browns, or a berry or mauve-adjacent nude. Deeper skin tones can experiment with dark caramels and rich cocoa hues.”
Other tips for finding your perfect nude
How can we tell if we have found the perfect colour match? “The right nude puts your features back and your whole face in harmony,” says Ghodstinat. “The eyes pop, the hair colour stands out, and it brightens the skin tone. The wrong nude lipstick, which verges on an extension of your concealer, washes us out, flattens the face and dulls our eye colour.”
Marogy affirmed the wrong nude will make your whole aesthetic look off. “It would likely make someone’s teeth more yellow or grey. The colour will look like it is just sitting on the lips, opposite of an intentional lip naturally enhancing someone’s glow.”
Solution: inject some colour, but not too much it’s not nude – it’s about “balance,” says Ghodstinat.
Alternatively, try the jewellery test. This involves putting silver or gold jewellery next to your veins to see which best complements your skin. “Silver represents the cooler undertones, gold represents warm tones,” says Ghodstinat.
Another tip to find the perfect nude lipstick is to assess the pigment in your lips. Some may have stronger pigment in their lips, or be dehydrated, which mutes your natural lip shade and makes finding a nude lipstick to match more problematic. To combat this ensure you, and your lips, are hydrated.
Just like our wardrobes, the perfect nude lipstick can vary depending on the seasons.
“Naturally, the pH level in your blood and the heat will warm up your melanin so you will look warmer in the summer, even if you have cool undertones, hence why seasonal makeup is so important,” says Ghodstinat.
Not only is the vein test useful for finding your perfect nude lipstick, foundation and concealer, but it’s a “universal rule” we can apply to our wardrobe, jewellery, and hair colour, she says.
The vein test can completely change your perception of nude lipsticks – it certainly did for me. After my visit to Code8 Beauty (the brand has a personalised lipstick lab) I discovered I have blue veins, and a cool neutral undertone, but the natural pigment of my lips is a strong pink. After years of praying soft peachy hues and muted brown lipliners buffed in would suit me, I discovered my perfect nude is a not-so-subtle pink.
Not sure where to start? These are the lipsticks I recommend to everyone…