On nude lipstick, and why I’m not sure it actually exists.

One of my greatest weaknesses is my poor ability to cope when reality does not match up to my expectations.  I mean, I am bad at this, in the most acute sense.  For instance, if plans change (and I mean like just weekend plans), I’m shattered.  Or if you’ve given me long enough to get excited about something and build up a picture in my head of how it will turn out, and then it looks completely different … shattered.   Just a couple weeks ago some friends and I had plans to go to LA.  We had reservations at an amazing place, with plans to get dressed up and all that good stuff.  But then on that morning, as nothing more than a sad result of being awesome and taking care of her body, my friend threw out her back after spin class.  She could barely stand straight, but all I could think of for a good hour was BUT LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!! 

Yes, that’s how horrible a friend I am.  But we ended up dancing our butts off for the locals that evening anyhow, and if you happened to look right inside the Tuscany Club in downtown Fullerton that night you might’ve seen a sight for the ages in the form of me doing my “I’m going to make you feel very uncool for being here” dance, but that’s beside the point.

All you need to take from this is that I don’t react well when what I expect does not match reality.

So then, because you know me so well, you can imagine my never-ending frustration with the vague world of so-called “nude” lip colors.  OF COURSE YOU CAN, IT’S THE FIRST THING YOU THOUGHT OF!  But really, when someone mentions a “nude lip”, the first thing I think of is this.  Or this.  I have expectations of hues that tend to range from light beige to tan, and they’re always brown-based and lean more warm than cool.  But actually finding this so-called nude color that works on my own lips has to have been one of my most challenging feats in beauty.  I’ve found almost nothing that matches what I’ve seen in various pictures over the years.  Sometimes I believe that my lips, being very pinkish-grey, tend to off-set the tone of “nude” lip colors that I try.  Other times, however, I am fully mislead by what magazines or makeup companies will identify as “nude” and I give in to trying something that is nowhere near what I’m looking for.


The four lipsticks seen above have all been identified as belonging in the “nude” category, whether by name, by recommendation of another party, or simply by the naked eye.  The top shade is by Lancome and is called Natural Beauty.  It’s creamy and comfortable, with the greatest likeness to Ashely Olsen’s shade featured in the hyperlink.  I think I like this one best.  The second is Marc Jacobs and is called Moody Margot.  It’s described as a “brownish nude” by Sephora.  The third is from Yves Saint Laurent and is called Lush Coconut.  It’s shimmery, sheer, and smells like mango.  Finally, the last one is a “Glossy Balm” by L’Oreal and is called Lovely Mocha.  The latter was my most recent purchase, from two days ago.  I bought it on recommendation of People StyleWatch’s latest issue and its “Best Fall Beauty Trends” feature, which depicted the product as a “nude lip” color to try “for fair and medium skin”.

Oh.  And did I also mention that it’s bright pink?

real nudes

Aside from my wrist looking like a blotchy red mess, check out that shade at about 11 o’clock at the top there.  Yep, that’s our “lovely mocha”, recommended as a nude lip shade for fair to medium skin.  Talk about reality not matching up to my expectations- I literally gasped as I watched this color glide across my lips.  It’s the perfect shade of, um, rose, and nothing near what I’d hoped it would be.  That’s the Lancome on the far right, the sparkly YSL in the middle, and the Marc Jacobs at the bottom.  You be the judge of what’s the most classically “nude”; I can tell you that I’ve stopped taking the category seriously almost entirely by now.

It’s funny how when you think about it, it’s hard to define what a “nude” shade of lipstick should look like anyhow.  Nude according to who?  Nude in reference to what skin tone?  Because an Alek Wek shade of nude is entirely different from a Lindsey Wixson shade of nude.  Or a Joan Smalls shade of nude is probably not entirely the same as a Liu Wen shade of nude.  Yep, you get it.  Fifty shades of nude coming soon to a theater near you, complete with seventeen-year-old girls and all their moms on the weirdest mother-daughter dates you’ve ever seen.  I guess that’s why we try to say things like “nude for fair to medium skin”, but then you somehow end up with bright rose.  Maybe if you’re going for a nude lip, you just leave your lips … nude.  xo, MR


So, picking favorites isn’t easy.  I get all crazy when magazines come out with their “Best in Beauty” issues each year and they list off what they’ve determined to be the best body lotion, best facial exfoliant, best taupe eyeshadow, best bright eyeshadow, best sexy fragrance (as compared to fruity, among others), and so on and so forth.  I guess what makes me go all batty when I read such things is the horrible itch that develops in my brain that says I need … to buy … all of it … now.  Seriously.  I will breach all of my own contracts I’ve made with myself about “Natural only!” and absolutely no parabens or mineral oil in my body products if Allure tells me that that big bottle of deliciously buttermilk-y thick-as-batter body cream that smells like Paula Deen’s house filled with cinnamon and sugar and the laughter of ten thousand happy children (for only $10!!) is uhhhhh-mazing, despite the 100% petrochemically-derived ingredients.  Give it to me.

It takes a lot of effort for me to sort out what my own favorite products really, really are. It’s difficult to sort through all the voices, suggestions, images, and reviews.  But we can start small.  We can start with … lipstick.

Now, I can really hang with all kinds of lip color.  This is only referring to lipstick, a kind of lip color that I probably wear the least.  I picked my favorites of four shades- red, pink, beige/nude, and dark.

MAC Lipstick in Russian Red–  I know their Ruby Woo shade is equally as popular, but it’s just too dry for me.  This gem of a red can be worn everyday with a decent amount of comfort, and it’s flattering on all skintones.  The “flattering” part is kind of big for me too, because I have this weird quirk of getting especially irritated at seeing the wrong shade of red on a girl.

CoverGirl LipPerfection Lipstick in Spellbound–  This is one hot shade of pink, and I love it paired with just black topliner and mascara.  It may seem scary in the tube, but just think of it as a happier alternative to red.  I like to wear it in the fall when it’s less expected, and it’s stunning against an all-black ensemble.

Yves Saint Laurent Volupte’ Sheer Candy in Lush Coconut–  I still haven’t nailed the beige/nude category to satisfaction. I feel that every kind I try is still just a little too pink, and I’m looking for that J.Lo beige that looks incredible on tan and olive skin.  For now, this one is sheer (more like a gloss stick) and smells like mango.  I wear it when I just want to add a little something to my lips besides balm.

L’Oreal Colour Riche Lipstick in Spice–  This stuff is just so … vampy.  I’ve been so inspired by Camilla Belle’s rich, daring lip color at the MET Gala this past year and this seems to get me pretty darn close to the look.  I like a slightly Twenties look with a dark lip, kind of costume-y.  And there’s no better season for color like this than autumn.

So tell me … any favorites of your own?  Brands you swear by?  Recommendations for me?  xo, MR