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The transformative power of the right nude lipstick is not unlike that of well-fitting underpinnings—when done well, it enhances your natural features without ever revealing how. Pulling off the perfect flesh-tone shade for you is a process. Here, we walk you through it step by step.

Consider your undertone.
What qualifies as a nude lip look, anyway? Since there are infinite skin tones, identifying your best complexion-matching colour requires some experimentation, but you can use this as a guide:

LIGHT: To avoid looking washed out, milky or alabaster skin tones should opt for soft, dusty baby pinks with a sheer formulation to add warmth and separation between the lips and the skin. In short, think pink and avoid the dreaded ‘dead nude’. Try Artdeco Perfect Lipstick in Nude Antique Pink.

MEDIUM: When it comes to nude lipsticks, medium tones have a myriad of options. Paler, more peach-toned nudes, like Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Weirdo, are really sexy on olive skin—if you don’t believe us, just ask J-Lo. The trick is to pick a nude that’s both sheer and moisturizing for a monochromatic polish. Alternatively, you can go with a darker, honey beige, like the Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick in Insatiable Ivory, to play up the warm, golden undertones of your skin.

DARK: As a general rule, the darker your complexion, the darker your lip shade should be. Pick a nude that’s lighter than your actual skin tone (think caramel, milk chocolate, and rosy brown shades) and imparts a faint touch of gold shimmer. By reflecting the light, it will make your lips look naturally fuller and poutier. Isn’t that kind of the point? Try Smashbox Be Legendary Liquid Lipstick in Girl, Please.

Neutralize your palette.
If you think finding the perfect nude is only about flattering your skin tone, think again. The pigment of your un-made-up lips is a major factor in colour payoff. Press your lips together a few times so that blood will rush to them and look at the colour at the very centre of your lips; your most flattering nude should match it.

When in doubt, you can take out the natural pigment of your lips entirely by taking your concealer (yes, the one you just covered a blemish with) and swiping it across your mouth. Top it with a light coat of clear gloss and voila, you’ve created the perfect blank canvas to go in the buff.

Prep your pout.
Speaking of buffing, neutral tones are notoriously unforgiving so you’ll want to exfoliate with a lip scrub to leave lips sloughed and soft. Nude lipsticks accentuate dryness and fine lines, so this is a must. We recommend the Rodial Lip Scrub, which exfoliates and hydrates lips for double-duty care.

Think about texture.
Due respect to Kylie Jenner and the rest of the Kardashian crew, but not everyone can pull off a mega matte finish. Whether you're more of a glossy girl, matte maven or prefer a creamy in-between, the key is to find a shade and formula that you're comfortable with rather than what's on-trend at the moment. From there, the possibilities are endless.