I struggle to find the perfect nude lipstick. Most shades don’t match my skin and I end up looking like I have ashy lips. If you have any leads, please help!

Ncumisa says: When it comes to lipstick shades, we know that finding the perfect colour is a walk in the park. Whether you’re looking for bright reds or dark, rich blues, the options are seemingly endless. But when it comes to nude colours, finding the right shade for darker skin tones can be extremely challenging. Most nude shades are marketed as ‘universally flattering’ but if you’re black, you’ve probably experienced ‘universal’ nude tones looking ashy or milky on your complexion.

So, before I list our top go-to shades, let’s break down a few things.

What does ‘nude’ mean?

The term ‘nude’ has become relative. It can mean light pink or brown depending on your skin tone. Simply put, nude is a shade that is muted, understated and would resemble what your natural lip colour is. Many black women’s lips are deeply pigmented, and sometimes the top lip is a different shade to the bottom lip, making our quest to find the perfect shade a painstaking mission.

Four tips for how to choose the right nude lipstick

The market is slowly but surely expanding the tones available for dark-skinned women, from foundations to nude lipsticks. So if you haven’t found a colour that you absolutely live for, start shopping around.

  1. Try them on your lips, and not a swatch on your arm.
  2. Even out your natural lip shade by blending concealer, foundation or a powder over your lips before applying lipstick.
  3. Avoid beige tones as these tend to leave lips looking ashy. Instead, opt for colours on the dark-brown spectrum.
  4. If you do go lighter, go for salmon pink and taupe, and use a lip liner (in the same or a similar shade) to fill in your lips before applying the lipstick to avoid ashiness.

One more thing to keep in mind before you run to your favourite beauty counter is to always strike a balance with colours. Darker nudes on dark skin tend to look stark if your face is bare. Level things out with some eyeshadow, blush or a winged liner.

Our top picks

  1. NYX Professional Makeup Lip Lingerie Liquid Lipstick in After Hours 

NYX Professional Makeup
Lip Lingerie Liquid Lipstick R150

2. Bobbi Brown Lip Color in Brownie 

Bobbi Brown Lip Colour R390

3. MAC Matte Lipstick in Taupe

MAC Matte Lipstick in Taupe R245


You’re all ready to find your perfect nude lip.