I’m a neutral nude lipstick lover but I since I have pigmented lips I can’t always pull off nudes. Many tend to either look super pale and chalky like concealer or are too dark on me – I know everyone has a different definition of nude when it comes to makeup, but to me a true nude is a your lips but better kind of color that is light and close to your natural skintone. I adore shades like MAC Cherish, Blankety, Creme Cup etc but they are almost impossible for me to wear alone without looking like I’ve swiped concealer all over my lips. Lip pencils often make it possible for me to wear lighter nude colors with blending or by creating a good softly lined base. If you’ve tried ordering lip pencils online like me then you know how hard it is to tell what the color looks like based on online swatches. I thought I’d roundup 20+ of my favorite neutral lip pencils alongside cult classics (some of which do not work for me even though they are wildly popular). As you’ll see below many times you can’t tell what the color will really look like until you swatch it. Also like nude neutral lipsticks, lip pencils have a wide variety of different undertones: warm, cool, pink, beige, peach, plum and brown.
Above photo: Diptyque Room Spray in Baies, Chêne candle recycled (boutique exclusive), stacked Blushes from Chanel and Hourglass
A bit of background on what I look for in lip liners. I like ones that are soft and glide over the lips. I’m usually not a line and fill kind of girl when it comes to lip liners. I prefer to wear them around the outer edge and blend it slightly inwards to the center of lips to create an outlined base and then fill with a gloss or lipstick. Since many pencils are super pigmented and super saturated in color to help extend the wear of lipstick, I find lining and filling the entire lip leaves the lips looking really dry and emphasizes lines. This of course can be fixed with a good lip balm, lip primer or gloss.
I have 28 lip pencils to share swatches of, I’ll link previous lip swatches if I have them. I was debating whether or not to swatch all on my lips – but nudes tend to look so different on me compared to everyone else. I think the swatches on the arms will help show the differences.
- Le Metier de Beaute Dualistic Lip Pencil in Nudite is a medium pinky brown creamy lip pencil, this one glides on the lips easily and is very pigmented, it has a smooth texture
- H&M Lip Liner in Au Naturel is included in the roundup because it’s a new one and the perfect neutral nude color and at $5.99 I couldn’t resist ordering it, on bare lips it’s a disaster for me, you definitely need to prep the lips with a bit of lip balm or primer, this is borderline too pale, but it works
- MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Cultured is new to me, it’s a long-wear mauvey nude pink
- MAC Lip Pencil in Subculture is my perfect nude pink, it has reached holy grail status for me, I’ve gone through 4 of them in my life, it’s the best light pink nude that is still wearable
- MAC Lip Pencil in Oak is a classic light flesh nude, it’s a classic for me because it has no orange undertone in it but doesn’t make me look dead, unfortunately I think it might be on the discontinue list – the only place I could find it was on Bloomingdale’s so I ordered 3 backups
- MAC Lip Pencil in Stripdown is another good true flesh nude, it’s brown in undertone and slightly warmer than Oak, it’s a good one but I know many find it too brown/grey
- MAC Lip Pencil in Boldly Bare comes second to my favorite Subculture, it’s what I wanted Spice to always be, Boldly Bare is the perfect pinky warm medium nude that works wonders with pale lip colors and glosses
- MAC Lip Pencil in Spice is a cult classic that was so popular when I was in high school, every cool girl owned it, on me it was always so brown and pulled orangey on my lips even though it swatches more neutral, I still use and wear it to tweak lip colors, it’s just not my favorite
- MAC Lip Pencil in Dervish isn’t really a nude, it’s more of a neutral medium rosy pink, but it falls into the neutral category for me, it’s a classic staple I think everyone should try
- MAC Lip Pencil in Whirl is another really good nude, it pulls more mauvey nude rose which I adore, the cool tones prevents it from looking orange or brown on my lips, it has enough depth to really define the lips perfectly
- MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Double-Time is a neutral medium warm brown-pink-nude, this lasts all day without budging
- MAC Lip Pencil in Soar is a medium to dark pink, it’s a bit darker and deeper on me than the traditional neutral, if you have deeper skin or deeper lips, this will probably pull more neutral on you than it does on me
- MAC Lip Pencil in Hover is another deeper neutral, it’s one of the deepest neutrals I own
- MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Staunchly Stylish almost matches Subculture but it’s slightly deeper and has a more pigmented finish
- Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Re-Size and Re-Shape Lip Liner in Iconic Nude is my perfect true nude in the sense that it’s a flesh-toned beige nude, this is a classic pigmented pencil that I think might be a universally flattering color
- Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Re-Size and Re-Shape Lip Liner in Pillow Talk is a classic rosy pink neutral, this one goes well with a lot of the Charlotte Tilbury Lipsticks like Bitch Perfect, Confession, Penelope Pink etc.
- Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Re-Size and Re-Shape Lip Liner in Pink Venus is a warm peachy pink, the color warms up the lips and adds life to the face
- Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Natural is a classic light neutral pink nude beige, if you’re looking for the perfect beige pink nude, this is it, compared to other formulas Chanel can tug on the lips a little, but they aren’t drying
- Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Beige Satin is one of the lightest colors I own, it’s borderline too pale for me, but I like mixing it with beige and nude lipsticks
- Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Beige Innocent is another pale pearly lip pencil from Chanel, it’s almost identical to Beige Satin but slightly lighter
- Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Nude is a cult classic that has been used on me for every single Chanel makeover I’ve had, it’s always seemed to be darker than what I envisioned a nude to be, but it’s almost magical – artists have used this with every lip color imaginable from red, pink, coral, beige, peach – this somehow transforms and defines lip colors in the most amazing way
- Laura Mercier Lip Pencil in Naked is light baby pink neutral, it looks super light on me, but when I blend it out, it evens out the lip tone
- Laura Mercier Lip Pencil in Chestnut is another cult classic that is super popular, it’s always recommended for the lipsticks I look at when shopping at the counter, it’s a mauvey warm neutral
- Marc Jacobs Beauty (P)Outliner Lip Pencil in Honey(bun) is a super pigmented creamy twist up lip pencil, all three shades of the (P)Outliner are reviewed here, Honey(bun) is a neutral bright peachy color
- Marc Jacobs Beauty (P)Outliner Lip Pencil in Prim(rose) is a rosey pink brown neutral
- Marc Jacobs Beauty (P)Outliner Lip Pencil in Nude(ist) is a beige brown nude
- Edward Bess Defining Lip Liner in Natural is in my top picks for lip pencil formula, it comes in a sleek twist up tube and mine have never dried out, I’ve gone through several pencils, it’s a great go-with-everything kind of neutral, texture is smooth and doesn’t tug the lips
- Nudestix Lip & Cheek Pencil in Soul is one of the few chubby pencils I really really like. I own a number of chubby sticks from different brands but always find them a pain to sharpen (they always get so messy). Nudestix has a wide number of great nudes, Soul is my perfect warm peach nude (swatched on lips here)
One more view of all the pencils:
From the * clockwise, Le Metier de Beaute Nudite, H&M Au Naturel, MAC Cultured, MAC Subculture, MAC Oak, MAC Stripdown, MAC Boldly Bare, MAC Spice, MAC Dervish, MAC Whirl, MAC Double-Time, MAC Soar, MAC Hover, MAC Staunchly Stylish, Nudestix Soul, Edward Bess Natural, Marc Jacobs Beauty Nudite, Marc Jacobs Beauty Primrose, Marc Jacobs Beauty Honeybun, Laura Mercier Chestnut, Laura Mercier Naked, Chanel Nude, Chanel Beige Innocent, Chanel Beige Satin, Chanel Natural, Charlotte Tilbury Pink Venus, Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk, Charlotte Tilbury Iconic Nude
Truffle Small Clarity Clutch in new Nude
I hope you found this roundup of neutral lip pencils helpful! I think the swatches show how different many of them are even though they look really similar just based on the pencils themselves. If I were pressed to rank my top picks, my absolute favorites/staples are:
Edward Bess Natural
Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk
Do you have a favorite neutral lip pencil? I’d love to hear about what your holy grail neutrals are!
Press samples featured include Marc Jacobs (P)Outliners x3, Marc Jacobs Enamored Hi-Shine Lip Lacquer in Moonglow, Nudestix Soul, Buxom True Nude Lip Foundation, Truffle Clarity Clutch