A bold lip definitely has a time and a place, but for most of us scarlet red or deep berry just isn’t what we reach for on a day-to-day basis. Enter the nude lip, the idea being that it’s close enough to a natural lip colour that it doesn’t look out of place at an 8am breakfast meeting.

You can opt for a colour that almost exactly matches your natural lip – adding just a bit of definition – or have a bit of extra fun with it, going for a nude orange or brown.

With natural make-up having a bit of a cultural moment, there’s no end to the options out there but here are some of the best nude lipsticks on the market.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent. 

 

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Very Victoria: £24, Charlotte Tilbury

Let’s get this out of the way – it’s not Pillow Talk. The iconic nude from Charlotte Tilbury is a cult classic, worn by beauty lovers from YouTube Lily Pebbles to style guru Alexa Chung. As a result, it’s constantly sold out, but you may be missing a trick by signing up to waiting lists rather than picking up Pillow Talk’s slightly less hyped-up sister, Very Victoria. Don’t be put off by how dark it looks in the bullet, as it comes out a beautiful rosy shade with mauve undertones. But because it is a touch deeper than Pillow Talk, it can be more flattering on a wider range of skin tones, particularly if you struggle with the “corpse look” when wearing more cool-toned lip shades. While the colour is beautiful, it’s really the formula that makes it worth the price: it’s rich and creamy, and completely matte without dragging on the skin when applied or drying down to a flaky, tight feeling. It doesn’t settle into fine lines and it lasts hours (through coffee and lunch if eaten carefully) and when it does start to fade it doesn’t go patchy at all, just seems to magically evaporate evenly. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth the money.

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MAC Matte Lipstick in Taupe: £16.50, Look Fantastic

A close runner-up for the Best Buy, this MAC shade is much warmer-toned, a deep terracotta with brown undertones. Like all MAC Mattes, it’s highly pigmented and goes on opaque at first swipe, drying down fast to a long-lasting, transfer-proof finish which has no shine, and mimics the natural texture of the lips. After a few hours of wear it can start to feel a bit dry though, especially if you reapply, so it’s perhaps not one to wear for 12-hour days if your lips are on the dry side already. The formula across the line is incredibly consistent, so it’s worth going into store and trying out different shades – if you prefer a rosier colour, Mehr is a great option.

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Rimmel Kate Moss Lipstick in 08: £5.50, Superdrug

This was one of the first lipsticks Kate Moss collaborated with Rimmel on, and it remains one of the best nudes available on the high street. It’s a muted mauve pink in a highly creamy and pigmented formula, which settles to a satin finish. Despite feeling incredibly comfortable on the lips, it doesn’t smudge easily and can handle a lot of reapplication without looking patchy. The only downside is the scent, which is incredibly sweet and slightly reminiscent of cheap body sprays that were trendy among tweens in the Nineties. That said, it doesn’t linger long and for the price it’s probably worth enduring.

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Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupté Shine: £26, Feel Unique

If you prefer your lipstick a little more on the sheer side then this is the one for you. Yves Saint Laurent’s Rouge Volupté Shine has gained cult status among beauty buffs for its “oil-in-stick” formula that, thanks to six sensorial oils, leaves your lips moisturised and coated with a tinted glossy sheen. Our favourite shade for a your-lips-but-better look is Nude Lavalliere which errs on the pink side. 

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GOSH Matt Velvet Touch Lipstick in Cinnamon 013: £8, Superdrug

Another great high-street option, this isn’t as brown-toned as the name would make it sound. The colour comes off as a slightly pinker version of MAC Taupe, giving the lips a rosy “just bitten” look. Blotted or blended, it would look more natural for lighter skin tones, while using a heavier hand will give a deeper effect. It’s matte, long-lasting, and surprisingly comfortable for a high-street option.

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Osmosis Lipstick in Skinny Dip: £20, SkinStore

This is a pricey option but well worth it if you value the quality of your ingredients. Osmosis was founded by a doctor looking to create make-up that would be just as good for our faces as skincare. From the feel of it, this lipstick fits the bill. It’s a creamy texture with a satin finish, while being completely opaque. It’s not the longest lasting but it fades nicely, and the shade Skinny Dip is a fairly universal pink – a true “your lips but better” colour. The packaging is also a huge bonus – it’s about half the width of a usual lipstick which makes it sleek-looking (reminiscent of a 1920s cigarette holder) and easy to carry around, although it might make everything else feel stubby by comparison.

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B. Matte Lipstick in Snatched: £7, Superdrug

A nice, neutral mauve, this is a very comfortable formula. It doesn’t dry out the lips or look too flakey and it stays put fairly well, although it’s definitely not as matte as some of the other options – there’s a bit of sheen in there, which makes it a little more flattering. There are no bells and whistles here in terms of colour or packaging, but it’s a good, affordable everyday option if you’re looking for a low-maintenance nude that will go with any make-up look.

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Make Up Forever Artist Rouge Mat in M101 Caramel Beige: £18, Escentual

This is an odd formula, which feels like it has all the benefits of a liquid lipstick, but comes in a solid form. It goes on completely opaque, matte and transfer-proof. As a result, it is a bit drying so not for those who like their lips to feel moisturised, but the colour is so distinctive that it’s worth it: a deep, pinky mauve that could almost dip into berry territory once built up were it not for its cool undertones, which keep it firmly in the neutral camp. The classic-looking black metal Make Up Forever packaging works less well on a lipstick than the brand’s face products but at least it looks striking enough that you won’t confuse it with anything else while rifling through your lipstick collection.

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MUA Luxe Velvet Matte Lipstick in Seven: £3, Superdrug

If you’re looking for a great budget option, this is definitely the one for you. At £3 the most disappointing element of the product is the packaging, which feels and looks pretty cheap, but the formula itself is impressive: creamy, pigmented, matte, not patchy at all and not too drying (although definitely not the most hydrating of matte lipsticks either). The colour goes on opaque from the first stroke and the distinctive shape of the bullet, which has the flat edge in the middle, actually makes it pretty easy to apply. The neutral shades are all pretty, but Seven is probably the most universally flattering – very similar to the GOSH version in Cinnamon. It’s not the most durable product though – we dropped ours with the lid on and the lipstick snapped inside. Being rather clumsy, we do this a lot and know that higher end lipsticks could withstand rolling off a table once or twice. That said, the fact that we were genuinely disappointed in it breaking speaks volumes considering how many nude lipsticks we own.

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Burt’s Bees Lipstick in Sunset Cruise: £10, Boots

If you would expect a brand known for its lip balms to create a highly hydrating lipstick, you won’t be disappointed by this product, which feels just like a coat of moisture on the lips. As a result, it’s a sheer, slightly glossy finish, although the colour can be built up. It’s surprisingly long-lasting, but fades down to a skin-like stain effect. Sunset Cruise is definitely more of a summery coral shade but if that doesn’t float your boat (geddit?) they do have a decent range of colours. The square-shaped packaging does feel unnecessarily bulky though, especially as the actual product comes in a fairly slim bullet.

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Buxom Big & Sexy Bold Gel Lipstick in Nude Exposure: £15, Cult Beauty

This is another one with slightly absurd enormous packaging, although the magnetic lid is highly satisfying to play with. It offers a pale, peachy shade which would probably suit either very pale or very deep skin tones best – anywhere in between can make the colour look a bit too similar to the rest of the skin. The gel formula is incredibly comfortable and leaves a nice sheen to the lips. It’s not particularly long-lasting but it layers well so as long as you can keep topping it up throughout the day it’s a great option.

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Ainsel Lipstick in Trench: £21, Ainsel

Ainsel is a new, fun brand with a conscience – its products are cruelty-free and manufactured in London from food-grade pigments. Trench is a true beige matte for that classic 1990-retro, Kim Kardashian look. It’s not too warm or cool-toned, making it flattering to most complexions and a nice option if you have a lot of colour going on with the rest of your make-up look. It lasts a good five hours on the lips through food and drink without bleeding or drying out. It’s not completely transfer-proof and it can fade a bit, but it layers weif you need to top it up throughout the day.

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The Verdict

You really can’t beat Charlotte Tilbury for nude lipsticks, but if you’re looking for a reliable all-rounder, MAC’s Matte range has you covered with a huge range of shades and a long-lasting matte finish. For a more affordable version, GOSH Matte Velvet Touch is a good high street option, and MUA Luxe Velvet Matte is the best value for money if you want to dip your toe into the nude matte trend without breaking the bank. If you prefer a sheer finish with more of a shine, Burt’s Bees has the most hydrating formula, and if you fancy experimenting with cool new independent brands and support a cause with your purchases without compromising on quality, Ainsel is the one for you.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.