What’s Your Definition of “Nude”?

December 28, 2009

I love the theme of nude-colored makeup for everything ranging from eyeshadows, lipsticks, and glosses but find it amazing how many different interpretations there are of this word “nude.” I personally associate nude with something the color of one’s natural skin, but with so many different skintones how does one define “nude”? Is there such a thing as a universally flattering “nude” lipstick or blush?

Take for example the following products that have the name “nude” – all of which are very different and not entirely flesh or skin colored.

Blushes (clockwise from top left):
Bobbi Brown Nude Shimmerbrick,
Dolce & Gabbana Nude, Chanel Nude

Eyeshadows (clockwise from top left):
Dior Nude Look 565, Dior Nude Look 365,
Bobbi Brown Nude Eyeshadow, Dolce & Gabbana Nude,
Edward Bess Nude, MAC Nude (d/c), Stila Nude

Lips (left to right): Dolce & Gabbana Nude Lipgloss, YSL #1 Pure Nude, Trish McEvoy Sexy Nude Beauty Booster, Bobbi Brown Stonewashed Nude, Bobbi Brown Nude, Bobbi Brown Nude Glitter, Chanel Nude Rouge Allure, Laura Mercier Nude Lips (sheer), MAC Creme D’Nude, Laura Mercier Barely Nude

Do any of these nudes work to give you a true “nude” eye, cheek or lip? I am still on my neverending quest for the perfect flattering nude blush and lip combo. I find my definition of nude is quite diverse as there are brownish nudes, pale nudes, golden nudes, beige nudes, pink nudes, peachy nudes etc. My holy grail nude eyeshadow is MAC Camel which has long been discontinued.

Tell me your skintone and what your favorite nudes are (nude-colors that is, not necessarily products with the name “nude” in them)!

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  • OMG I am so jealous of your makeup collection I love Peachy nude =)

  • i love the way you wrote this post. just so breezy!!! :)))

    maybe not the best word to describe but really enjoyed reading it. nude to me is also the colour of my skin tone in a nature state. i'd say not a NO-makeup look but colours that's just compliment my skin without adding much extras.

  • My skintone is MUFE HD 120. L/M yellow.
    Peachy nude lipsticks look best on me!
    I love Rimmel moisture renew in Nude attitude. Best nude I have tried. But the smell is just juckk.. πŸ™

    To answer the question.. Is there such a thing as a universally flattering "nude" lipstick or blush?.. I dont think so. But I do think that red is the best blush/lipstick color for everyone.

  • I know a lot of people classify as nude everything that is not bright. But it's not how I see it. To me, nude is myself but better: better skin, better cheeks, better lips. An unexperimented eyes should hardly be able to tell I am wearing makeup.

    I am pale and neutral-warm, my favourite nude foundation is Armani Luminous Silk (#4), nude lip is Guerlain KissKiss Baby in Rosewood and nude blush would be Mac Warm Soul.

  • this is such a great post and i am looking forward to read everyone here. I am myself looking for the best nude lip color for myself that doesnt give me that dead look. I still can't find it. I'm asian with light medium skintone and a lot of "HG nude" lipsticks wash me out!

  • This is a very interesting topic! I think of "nude" as different variations on a theme; cool, neutral and warm nudes (all of which almost invisible/barely there shades). In the cool spectrum there's pinky/ashy nude, neutral would be sand/wheat/taupe tones with no lean on cool/warm and warm nudes would be any type of peachy/cafΓ© au lait tones…

    Nude products for my skintone (NW20-ish)
    *LM TM "nude"
    *Benefit "leggy" velvet eyeshadow
    *Becca chantilly demi-matt e/s
    *GA #2 sheer blush
    *Korres natural #15 blush
    *LM stickgloss brown sugar

  • Anonymous

    Love your blog; it's always thoughtful and interesting. I call it "the thinking woman's beauty blog." I, too, am perpetually on the hunt for "nude" blushes (not orange or pink – nude, darn it), shimmery nude shadows, nude lipliner shades, etc. etc. Right now my two favorites in the latter category are Bobbi Brown "Blush," and Chantecaille "Tone."

  • Sarita

    Interesting post! I do think that there is a difference between nude and natural. For instance I think natural is more of a flushed cheek look rather than a monochromatic look which to me says "nude".

    Some nude colors I love are:

    Kevyn Aucoin creamy moist glow in Nuelle;
    Chanel's Tempting Beige Blush;
    Nars Zen Blush;
    Bobbi Brown Nude on Nude palette and Nude on Nude Shimmer palette.

    Those are just the ones that come to mind. I think that bronzers can also give that nude look as well.

  • Anonymous

    I don't think there's such thing as a good nude color for me. I stick to bronzer for some definition natural-looking definition. Otherwise, I like light, neutral, mid-toned, slightly browned down colors. . Nudes are usually beige-toned, and I'm lightish medium, somewhat golden-toned, with a flush of natural, brownish-rosy plum color on my cheeks. "Nudes" (i.e. beige) tend to take away my natural coloring, so I like the term "natural". As for lips, mine are also a brownish, plum brown, so a nude color does not enhance. All the MAs I've met have always steered me away from nudes for eyes, cheeks, and lips.

  • I have to echo the previous comment. I cannot pull of a nude look to save my life. (well maybe a nude eye.) Nude lips = dead carcass on me and nude cheek will never happen as I have rosacea. But on to your comments regarding the printed word versus beauty blogs. You have just made me realize that I need to cancel my magazine subscriptions. I feel the same was after perusing the pages. I can't trust their "take" on beauty products. I definitely rely more on beauty blogs where I can see swatches and get an unbiased opinion. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    There's only one nude for me – Nars belle de jour

  • I've never understood love of nude makeup… You can get a perfectly nude look not wearing any makeup at all! lol πŸ˜€ Natural, on the other hand, is something i do appreciate. For me "natural" is all shades of brown and subdued red/pink.

  • Anonymous

    I'm really glad someone else remembers MAC Camel,which is a perfect nude/fawn shade. Another old good one they dc'd was Butterscotch. I wish they would bring these colours back.

  • You always have the most beautiful collection pictures!

    And you know… I don't think I've ever really thought about a definition of nude… and I can't really think of one sitting here either. I know it when I see it though!

  • Nudes are weird. I feel that the darker one is, the less "nude" nude makeup is. Granted, I've spent most of my life searching for the perfect nude colors…but I still don't think I've necessarily been successful in that venture. And from judging by the range of "Nude" products you show in the pictures, I don't think makeup companies have quite figured it out either! =)

    Like I said, my idea of nude are colors that are slightly darker (i.e. a crease or liner color) or lighter (lid/highligh) than my skintone, and brighter. If I want a nude eye I'll usually do something like MAC Neutral Pink eyeshadow from lid to brow and MAC Era in the crease. It warms up my eyes but the slight shimmer/tone difference is enough of a makeup-y hint to show I'm not totally naked-faced. For blush, I use something brown-based, as I have naturally red cheeks. I usually reach for Bobbi Brown Blushed Rose Pot Rouge on these days. For my lips, I pick a mauve-brown color like P&J #10 Lip Lacquer.

    On the subject of nude lips, I do also own many "nude/corpse" lipcolors, my favorite being MAC Creme d'Nude. However, these colors are impossible to wear on a day-to-day basis unless I'm wearing very heavy eye makeup, as they wash out my face. Although I must admit, I kind of like that look.

  • Great post. I have "My fave nudes" sat in my drafts waiting tobe completed LOL

    I'm darker skinned (MAC NC50) and have a LOT of nude products – too many to mention. My fave nude lipstick is MAC Siss. I'd be here ll night if I started reeling off my fave nudes!

  • I think what is considered nude is soo subjective because there are soo many different skintones. I'm a MAC NC44 and what is nude on me, may not be nude on someone who's lighter or darker than me.

    I wear the following shade when I want a "nudish" look, they are really "nudes" per se, but when I wear them I have a nice nudish look going on.

    Mac Grain e/s
    Mac Soft Brown e/s
    mark. Cameo blush
    Mac C-Thru lipglass
    Mac Beaux lipglass

    And I have to agree with some other people's comments, you do have an impressive collection!!

  • MW

    oh I love you makeup ;D

  • Mocha Mish Mash stated exactly what I wanted to say: I think the term "nude" is subjective, considering how very different our skintones are.

    That being said, I consider "nude" to be just that: a variation of our skintones, be it white/pink/peach/yellow/mocha/espresso :-).

    And nude can be (to ME, anyhow) as subtle or as dramatic as you want it to be, simply because it's a color scheme to me, as opposed to color application (which would what I'd use the term "natural" for … "natural" is what we'd look like if everything about our faces was perfect, using our own personal "nude" shades to enhance & correct). I'm a HUGE "nudes" fan, but I wear my makeup more dramatically than most with those shades πŸ™‚

    So, to sum up:

    "Nude" = skintone color scheme
    "Natural" = nude colors application

    I'm not sure I've even made ANY sense here LOL … it's late, and I'm rambling, but I hope something I said can be put together to make sense πŸ˜‰