How to Go Nude

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Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/Getty Images

If you’ve ever applied nude makeup you probably know what it means to look washed out, or worse, like you haven’t done a thing. “A lot of women thinks nude means pale,” said Kimberly Soane, Bobbi Brown’s director of global artistry, when nude is actually about highlighting your natural skin tone. Here are some tips on how to get this timeless, goes-with-everything look.

The Best Nude Lipsticks, Glosses and Pencils

Lips
The key to nude lips is choosing a shade with a hint of color. You’re not trying to neutralize your entire face. Needless to say, the color of your skin tone determines what product you choose, but the idea is to brighten your pout.

For pale skin, try a peachy-pink color; for olive skin tones, choose a warm color with gold or caramel undertone, like NARS Buenos Aires Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil ($24; available April 15 at Narscosmetics.com); and for darker skin choose a deep honey or light coffee color.

Nails
A nude polish is a universally flattering color that works with every outfit. Yep, all of ‘em. The nice thing about a neutral nail is that you don’t necessarily have to wear polish; if you’re happy with your natural nail, just add a glossy coat.

But a nude nail can look very bridal, and while we adore the classic imagery, it might not be ideal on a day-to-day basis. Choosing a good color depends on how bold you want to go; we like the beige-colored Sally Hansen Smooth and Perfect polish in Dune ($5.50, Drugstore.com). As long as the color appears natural and makes your nails look healthier than before, you’ve perfected a nude nail.

Editor’s Picks: The Best Spring Lipsticks

Skin
The idea with nude skin is to enhance your natural skin tone and draw out your best facial features. “When you create a makeup [look] based on the tones already found in your face, you will, in fact, create your perfect personal nude,” said Soane. Like choosing the right blush: “If you pinch your cheek, that will be your perfect nude blush,” she added.

Also note that your skin’s nude will change with the seasons. What works in winter may not work in the summer. We really like Bobbi Brown Brightening Finishing Powder ($50, Bobbibrown.com). After you’ve applied your makeup, dust this powder across your face lightly to blend colors and add a little evening sparkle to your face.

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Create a Nude Look (from left to right): NARS Buenos Aires Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil, Bobbi Brown Brightening Finishing Powder, Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips in Nude, Sally Hansen Smooth and Perfect polish in Dune

Eyes
The fantastic thing about a nude eye is that it kills two birds with one stone: hides dark circles and adds a little color to your face at the same time. Depending on the look you’re going for, you can use a nude shadow to conceal a rough night’s sleep. Select a color almost identical to your skin tone and apply generously to your lids.

To draw attention to your eyes and enhance their natural color, follow the same color guidelines that you did for your lips. Try Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips in Nude ($11, Ulta.com), a product with nine shades to help you figure out which one matches your tone.

Have you mastered the nude look yet?

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