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Send Nudes: A Brown Girl’s Guide To Nude Lip Colors

I Tried It

Whether you're a makeup lover who loves a full face beat or someone who opts for a more minimal look - there's no denying the sleekness, timelessness, sophistication, and versatility of a nude lip.


However, for us Brown girls, finding the perfect nude lip color isn't always easy. With many mainstream brands failing to carry lip colors that work for our complexions, many a Brown girl (including myself) has found herself going the "do-it-yourself nude lip" route - having to improvise using a mix of lip liners, concealers, foundations and other products in order to create the perfect nude color. While DIY can be fun, finding the perfect nude lip color shouldn't have to be so hard.

In order to learn more about finding the perfect nude lip color, I spoke with some of my favorite makeup artists about the key to finding the perfect nude lip shade. Celebrity makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff, known for her work with Taraji P. Henson, likes to use nudes that are more pink or milk-chocolate. "Fenty has a shade called Uninvited, which is a gorgeous milk chocolate nude. Milani has a matte creme shade called Pretty, which is a stunning pink nude.

Atlanta-based makeup artist Noor, known for her debut product Skin Glass, explains that we need to be aware about the category of nudes. She explains, "You can have pinky nudes, peachy-nudes, and browny-nudes. Choosing the perfect one for your complexion based on your undertone and personal preference. Just don't choose anything that goes too chalky or otherwise you'll end up looking like a zombie! For tanner to deeper complexions, I love anything with a peachy undertone."

When all else fails, Noor has a pretty simple tip: "Look at the natural color of the lips and match that.If the lip has discoloration, then correct it with a warm-toned lip liner to even it out."

The secret to applying the perfect nude lip though is all about the liner. "I always use a chocolate lip liner on women of color and then I apply nude colors on top. I do this so the color doesn't read chalky or ashy in pictures and has a subtle gradient color," says Ashunta. If you want dimension, you can also try applying lip liner after applying the lipstick and then "blend the edges," adds Noor. Noor recommends NYX's Matte Lip Creme in the color London and Cork and Chestnut lip liners for darker toned women.

Armed with these tips, I went on my own personal nude lip color search, hitting my favorite Black woman-owned businesses first - and then venturing out to other brands with versatile nude lip color collections. I surveyed a wide range of contenders and came back with some of my favorites from the hunt. With the help of makeup artist Beneseth H., I was able to try and apply a wide range of products, including classic lipsticks, matte liquid lipsticks, and glosses.

Mented Cosmetics

Writer Rana Campbell / xoNecole

Wearing "Berry Me" and "Mented #5" by Mented Cosmetics

Berry Me $15.00 (gloss) & Mented #5 $16.50 (matte lipstick)

Mented #5 is one of my favorite nudes. This matte lipstick was easy to apply and needed no lip liner. To glam up the look and give it extra vibrance, I added Mented's Berry Me gloss to deepen the berry tones and bring out the fullness in my lips.

The Lip Bar

Writer Rana Campbell / xoNecole

Wearing "Savage" by The Lip Bar

Savage $13.50 (liquid lipstick)

Liquid lipsticks can be fun, yet tricky to apply. I used the application to "line" the lips then filled it in effortlessly. Savage is a deep reddish brown that wasn't overpowering, but still bold. What I loved the most about this color was that my lips still felt moisturized and the color stayed intact even after continuous wear.

Fenty Beauty

Wearing "I Quit" by Fenty Beauty

Writer Rana Campbell / xoNecole

I Quit $18.00 (matte lipstick)

This matte lipstick was a bit tricky. When first applying, the color came out too faint for my liking. However, after layering the color more, I loved the nude mauve color on my skin. For added color amplification and shine, I added a top coat of Broadway's Vita Lip Mint Oil gloss.

Jay Jill Cosmetics

Wearing "Rum Cake" by Jay Jill Cosmetics

Writer Rana Campbell / xoNecole

Rum Cake $16.00 (velvet lipstick)

If you're looking for a reddish-brown nude with lasting color power and character, Jay Jill's Rum Cake is a good pick. It was easy to apply and had a velvety lipstick finish. On my skin tone, I found that the red + brown wasn't too overpowering and still gave me a subtle finish.

NYX

Wearing "Praline" and "Tiramisu" by NYX

Writer Rana Campbell / xoNecole

Praline & Tiramisu $5.00 (gloss)

You can't go wrong with these colors from NYX. I mixed the two together to get a natural pink + peach finish. These glosses are recommended staples for an everyday, basic makeup look.

Osmosis

Wearing "Skinny Dip" by Osmosis

Writer Rana Campbell / xoNecole

Skinny Dip $25.00 (lipstick)

Throughout this process, I found that finding lip colors that match my natural lip color were very important. On its own, Osmosis' Skinny Dip was too bright. When paired with my MAC Chestnut liner, it gave me a super natural nude pink lip with sheer pink coverage. With this lipstick, less is more.

100% Pure

Writer Rana Campbell / xoNecole

Wearing "Rum Nougat" by 100% Pure

Rum Nougat $26.00 (gloss)

This super peach nude is definitely not something I'd wear for an everyday, on-the-go makeup look. However, I loved how much color could be applied to my lips without have to over-layer. If you're someone who likes a bright nude with maximum color intensity and brightness, this could work for you.

AJ Crimson

Wearing "No Shade" by AJ Crimson

Writer Rana Campbell / xoNecole

No Shade, $20.00 (lipstick)

I loved the creamy, natural, barely there brown finish on this lipstick. It was easy to apply, and the applicator tube was very stylish (an added plus). It matched my skin color almost identically, so I'd probably mix this with a pink gloss for added definition.

Prime Beauty

Wearing "Au Natural" by Prime Beauty

Writer Rana Campbell / xoNecole

Au Natural, $15.00 (matte liquid lipstick)

I love learning about black woman-owned brands that weren't on my radar before. If you're looking for a brown liquid matte lipstick that has pink undertones, add this to your list. The formula also feels very moisturizing even after application, which is very important when wearing matte lip colors. If you are looking for something a bit brighter, try Prime Beauty Strip instead.

Thrive Causemetics

Wearing "Ruth" by Thrive Causemetics

Writer Rana Campbell / xoNecole

Ruth, $26.00 (gloss)

I'd never heard of this brand before searching for nudes for this project, but loved how the taupe tone paired with my skin. It can be worn alone or layered on top of another nude color for a shimmering effect. Here, I used my MAC Chestnut liner to help define and direct the powerful shine of the product towards the center of my lips.

Here are some of the biggest lessons I learned while finding the perfect nude lip color:

1. Finding what works for your undertone and natural lip color is important.

As someone who has natural two-toned lips, I generally gravitate towards brown nudes but really ended up loving the pink and mauve-hued nudes that matched my lip color. There is no one size fits all when it comes to nudes, so take the time to understand your unique color profile preferences. Thanks experts for this crucial tip!

2. It really is all about the application.

Take your time when applying nude lip colors. Make sure the product is applied smoothly. Don't be afraid to add layers for maximum color effect.

3. When in doubt, line it out.

MAC's Chestnut lip liner (or any dark brown liner) is the truth. Creating a gradual lip color gradient helped mute nude colors that may have seemed too bright for my skin color at first.

4. Don't be afraid to have fun and get creative.

I loved added gloss to amplify some of the shades. At the end of the day, there are no set rules when it comes to finding the right lip color. Experiment. Combine colors. Find what works for you.

Most Affordable: At $5.00, the NYX Butter glosses are great options when you need a simple nude color on the go, that you won't be too mad if you lose.

Best Color Range: Made especially for women of color, Mented Cosmetics offers a wide range of nudes from pinks and peaches to brown and berry-tones.

Brand I've Never Heard Of Before But Loved: Though pricery, Thrive Causemetics Ruth was the perfect nude, shimmery, yet colored gloss for my lips. It was easy to apply and created a beautiful gradient when paired with my Mac Chestnut lip liner.

Wildcard: Fenty's matte lipstick I Quit paired with a clear gloss gave me a mauve-nude that I surprisingly loved. It's something I wouldn't normally do, but from here on out, would love to try again.

What are some of your favorite nude lippies?

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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