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I was never the little girl drawing lipstick on her face and prancing around in big girl heels. Copious rounds of Duck Hunt and playing outside—a thing kids used to do—are what ruled most of my pre-adolescent days. Full-on tomboy? Not so much. But I was a somewhat serious kid with lofty ambition. I had zero interest in the acrylics on my mom’s fingers or the beauty products displayed inside my auntie’s ESSENCE magazine. So I know eight-year-old me would be utterly confused by her present-day counterpart’s passion for pretty perfume bottles and of all things: nude lipstick.
I love my lips. They’ve never been a source of insecurity for me. I love the curve in my Cupid’s bow, now bejeweled with a Medusa piercing, and the crooked lip line inherited from my mother. I don’t think duckface selfies are corny and outdated. In fact, I love that my mouth dominates half the screen every time I take one. My kissers are epic and for that reason, I don’t like coating them in color.
It’s not that I’m not afraid of red lipstick. It’s just not a status symbol for me. I find bold lip colors to be messy and not worth the effort. Getting it on your teeth is always a possibility and every time it happens, I wonder why I put it on at all as I scrub my sticky, splotched fingers in the bathroom sink. A nude lipstick-teeth collision simply isn’t as obvious. My lips cannot and will not flourish in such a vicious cycle, so I’ve adopted a J-Lo philosophy.
Allow me to explain.
Jennifer Lopez is gorgeous. We all know this. Jennifer Lopez has a beautiful backside. We all know this. Jennifer Lopez is also fiercely dedicated to nude lip colors.
And that’s something only people who live for neutrals have known for years, long before Instagram slideshows dedicated to her every makeup move existed. We can talk about that infamous Grammy dress year after year after year, but I find her refusal to wear anything darker than beige on her lips more iconic. I aspire to that same level of dedication and thankfully, the options for pulling this off aren’t in short supply.
I am constantly looking for that next nude to keep in my work bag, but these are the tubes that make the sidewalk feel like a red carpet.
A full-coverage peachy nude that goes on creamy and dries down to a comfy powder finish.
This beautiful mauve feels like a lip balm thanks to a vegan formula infused with cold-pressed fruit oils.
I don’t know how this nude-pink looks good on everyone, but it just does. We need the secret ingredient Charlotte!
One of Rihanna’s first Fenty Beauty drops is still my favorite product from the line to date. It tastes divine and perfectly enhances the brownish-pink tone of my lips.
If you’ve got brown skin with cool undertones, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a beige-nude lippie more perfect than this one.
One of the newest shades from Maybelline’s iconic Sensational line is also one of my new go-to’s. It’s somewhere between brown and pink and glides on smooth like a balm.
This entire brand is formulated specifically for women of color and has a nude for every shade of brown, whether you prefer pinks and mauves or browns and beiges.
Though I am impressed by the color payoff of every product in McGrath’s range, the lip gloss is just *chef’s kiss. There’s just enough shimmer without going overboard and it looks just as beautiful when you layer it over a neutral lipstick.
Another newbie in my stash is this drugstore bullet, anchored by botanical ingredients that give it a comfortable feel despite drying down to a matte finish.
Normally, I’m not into plumping formulas because, well, I don’t need them, but the hint of color in this gloss is so pretty, I can’t pass it up. If you’re sensitive to plumping glosses, the good news is that you only need a swipe or two of this to see the tint.
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