12 No-Lipstick Lipstick Shades

A bold lip is great: It's a statement you can make on literally a moment's notice without requiring you to go full Lewk. It's also less commitment then a smoky eye. But there's also middle ground between perfect Ruby Woo application and just wearing lip balm. A lot of middle ground actually, because that very look gets mentioned a lot in The Top Shelf. The terminology varies from the simple ("nude") to the vampiric ("just-bitten") to the inexplicable ("my lips, but better"), but it's essentially the same thing: a natural, healthy, "done" lip. Here's how it's achieved, in 12 distinct ways:

Oroma Elewa

Slider 2 - Oroma Elewa, Editor, Pop'Africana
"I’m obsessed with nude lips and for a long time, I couldn't find the perfect shade. I went all over the place and finally I discovered Film Noir lipstick from MAC, which I'm wearing now, and Photo by MAC. Sometimes I do two-tone, with Photo on my top lip. Call me crazy...why not?"

Anja Rubik

"Lord and Berry Ultimate Lipliner in Bare. It's a pinky brown that works perfectly with my lip color since I'm tan. I use it to overdraw my lip a little by the cupid's bow and on the bottom, but you can't even tell it's there. And I smudge it so it doesn't look like anything. It just enhances your lips but no one will know you're wearing it. You'll see the difference, though. Just...better!"

Nicole Trunfio

Slider 4 - Nicole Trunfio, Model
"If I want my lips to look full but natural, I line them with Laura Mercier's Lip Pencil in Natural Lips all over, then I smudge it in. I've had it forever. That's my secret...lip liner to make my lips look really bee-stung."

Azza Yousif

Slider 1 - Azza Yousif, Fashion Editor, Vogue Hommes International
"I had been looking for a nude for a long time—they’re either too pale or too dark—and I recently found the Clinique Chubby Stick in Whole Lotta Honey. It’s really good. And when I’m feeling glossier, I like Lanolips Lip Ointment in Dark Honey. It’s an Australian brand and they make the best glosses—so rich and thick, it’s amazing."

Nina Garcia

Slider 8 - Nina Garcia
"I have very big lips, so lipstick on me is very strong. I prefer a minimal lip, and for that I’ll use the Clinique Chubbies. They’re the best—just a little bit of color, but it’s also very natural and I can combine them—I have Bountiful Blush and Graped Up. If I need it to stay longer, I’ll use La Prairie Luxe Lipliner in Nude."

Eva Alt

"Lipstick has always been my favorite beauty product. But the best lip look happens when you brush your lips and they’re sort of red. Any lipstick that replicates that look, to me, is good. I’ll put on a million layers of Glossier’s Generation G in Like and it has a very blotted look so you can’t mess it up. Then there’s also Guerlain's hyaluronic Kisskiss Lipsticks that make your lips look more full."


"If I don’t wear red lipstick, I’ll wear some lip balm and Givenchy Lip Liner in Lip Brown. If it looks real and not too perfect, it looks a little mysterious."

Emily Ratajkowski

Slider 7 - Emily Ratajkowski, Model
"On my cheeks and lips I wear a berry lipstick—Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Natural in Copper Pink. It’s super nice because you can put on a tiny, tiny little bit. My lips are pale. When I get on set, people always ask me what I have on them because they’re so light. So, this lipstick gives my lips some dimension."

Maryna Linchuk

"My lipstick is Charlotte Tilbury Bitch Perfect. It's the best lipstick in the world. I usually go out like that—beautiful, clean skin, some mascara, and a lip. That's my makeup."

Joy Bryant

"Terrell Mullin, the makeup artist who I worked with on Rosewood, turned me on to Burt's Bees lip products, and now I wear Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon 100% Natural in Napa Vineyard. It stays on for a bit, and it kind of looks like my natural color."

Nahana Schelling

Slider 1 - Nahana Schelling, Creative Technologist
"I would love to wear a bold, bright lip, but lipstick just tastes disgusting. It tastes so bad that I can’t. And it feels like you have all this stuff on your lips…It gets everywhere, so I can’t. What I do is use this Nars tinted Lip Gloss that's super sheer, but I love it. It’s really nothing but I like using it anyway."

Emily Weiss

Slider 21 - Emily Weiss, Founder & CEO, Glossier
"I have a Nars Het Loo Satin Lip Pencil that we did a great campaign on for Into The Gloss a year and a half ago with Laurel Pantin—it's a great ‘90s color. Like, brick-ish, brownish red that's opaque enough to give you that Kylie Jenner coverage, if you want that. It really does give you that look that's like, ‘What lip color are you wearing? Wow.’ It’s a statement, so I only put on a little bit, and I mix it with lip balm."

—as told to ITG

Photos via ITG.

More beauty advice—for lips and otherwise—can be found in ITG's Top Shelf series.