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.
Send Nudes $15.00 (gloss)
Brown nudes can be tricky, especially if you don't want to drown out your face and still bring color and dimension. I loved the caramel-brown sheen of Send Nudes. This gloss was easy to apply, and the color was long-lasting as well.
The Lip Bar
Writer Rana Campbell / xoNecole
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.
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.
Wearing "Praline" and "Tiramisu" by NYX
Writer Rana Campbell / xoNecole
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.
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.
Writer Rana Campbell / xoNecole
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.
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.
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.
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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Rana Campbell is a Princeton University graduate, storyteller, content marketing strategist, and the founder and host of Dreams In Drive - a weekly podcast that teaches you how to take your dreams from PARK to DRIVE. She loves teaching others how to use their life stories to inspire action within oneself and others. Connect with her on Instagram @rainshineluv or @dreamsindrive.
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Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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Featured image by Giphy