In a sea of colorful eye shadow shades, it’s easy to overlook nude eyeshadow palettes. But ignoring neutral hues means you’re missing out on one of the most versatile, fun, and, dare we say, exciting color ranges. But before we get into that, let’s clear the air a bit on what a nude actually is. When many people hear that term, the first thing that pops into their head is plain Jane beige. But much like the rainbow of skin tones we come in, there are a surprising amount of nudes that can include everything from taupe to chocolate—even copper. Feeling enticed? Here’s how to find your ideal shade of nude, then pick out one of our best nude eyeshadow palettes to make a permanent part of your get-ready routine.
Find Your Best Nude
NYC makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci, explains that there truly is no such thing as a universal neutral. “Nude eye shadow is basically your skin tone. It’s the color of the skin on the inside of your wrist. That’s how you find the perfect nude for you.” Ciucci notes that nude shadows are not meant to blend into the skin like a foundation should, but rather a shade that’s subtle enough for someone to still see you are wearing color.
But that doesn’t mean you are doomed to an eternity of wearing one nude and one nude only. Ciucci notes that there is an entire exciting range of neutrals you can use to create everything from a smoky eye to a fun liner look.
Wear It Well
One easy way to make nude look its best? Add dimension. Ciucci creates a textured effect by sweeping on a flat, matte shadow first. Then, she pops a swipe of shimmer (or glitter if you want to go all out) in the center of the lid. This modern interpretation makes for a more impactful, yet still chic effect.
Another favorite of Ciucci’s is the monochromatic look. Think early 2000s J. Lo. Bronzed skin, bronze eyes, nude lips — sticking to one general hue makes for a beauty look that is anything but basic. “Playing with having the same tone on your full face is actually really modern looking,” says Ciucci, adding that another perk is that it’s next to impossible to mess up. “You’re wearing a trend in a way that is more understated.” She adds that mixing up your textures with this type of look is especially important because it creates a more flattering effect.
Nude (Shadow) Pairings
When it comes to nudes, there really are no rules. They can help you do no-makeup makeup like a champ, create sophisticated styles that make you look like the boss lady you are at work, and make application oh-so-simple for even the most novice makeup lover. But one of coolest tricks with nudes is that they allow you to unleash your sassy side. “Nudes create balance — they make those brighter colors more wearable because you aren't competing with anything else. Nudes are just the perfect blank canvas but they make you look polished.”
It truly is that simple. And it works with wherever you want to do a bright, be it your eyes, lips, or even cheeks. Don’t believe us? Here are three perfect color combos to start you off. Master these, then explore all of the other cool ways you can mix brights and neutrals.
Berry + Peach
Straight from the vine, a ripe berry lip is the perfect accessory for all of your summer soirées. While usually most popular in the fall, Ciucci says that berry is actually summer’s best lip hue. “I love a berry lip because it makes your teeth look white! When you pair that with a peachy nude eyeshadow, it’s very summery and girly.”
Red + Copper
While it may sound a bit odd, Ciucci says that one of her favorite bright cheek looks is the faux sunburn. No, not the tomato-red “I forgot to re-apply my sunscreen” effect — she means naturally flushed post-sun skin. The key is to make it subtle and believable. To do this Ciucci suggests creating a chevron shape with your blush: Grab a red or orange-y blush (try NYX Ombre Blush) and apply the color at the top of your cheekbone, then apply color towards the apples of your cheek and then towards the jawline to make a small arrow shape. Then use your brush to blend the color upwards and you’ve got a beach-day complexion. A copper eye shadow pairs gorgeously with this, creating a kind of updated take on bronzer. “They compliment each other because they are from the same color family, and work together to achieve that sun-kissed effect,” explains Ciucci.
Blue + Tan
Think you need to master all kinds of complicated tricks to pull off bright eye colors? Lucky for you, all you need to know for this one is how to apply mascara. “I love a tan eye with an electric blue mascara — it's slightly rock and roll but it's subtle at the same time,” says Ciucci. Instead of a big block of color on your eye, which can be tough to pull off unless you are a makeup master, colorful mascara is quick and easy. “You get a cool look with minimal effort,” she raves.
While there’s no wrong nude, there are some shades that look extra amazing on certain skin tones. So click through to discover the best nude eyeshadow palettes for you, at a price that fits your budget.
Universally appealing for all skin tones, this perfectly coordinated set takes the guesswork out of multi-shade eye looks. Featuring shimmer and satin textures, the shadows can also be used to contour and create a lifted, more awake appearance.
Those with medium skin should gravitate towards tans and taupes. Ciucci says that rather than focus on textures, her favorite look for medium tones is to combine a warm shade with a cool one. “I like to put cool and warm tones together because it's contrast-y and it makes it impactful,” she explains. She advises swiping the cool hue on the entire lid and then using the warm shade underneath the eye. This creates an alternative take on the traditional smoky eye that’s flattering and fierce, without being over the top. This budget-friendly pick gives you two texture options — shimmer and matte — for a multitude of warm-and-cool combo.
Because you can’t talk about nude shades without mentioning the coveted, now-legendary Naked palette. Its massive success and countless spin-offs can be attributed to its genius take on neutrals. The eye looks it can create are virtually endless and there’s no wrong way to combine them. Every shade was made to coordinate and complement each other. It’s the Holy Grail of nude palettes for all skin tones.
E.L.F Need It Nude Eyeshadow Palette
If you have dark skin, Ciucci says you absolutely must add copper to your shadow wardrobe. “Copper is basically a highlighter for dark skin — it’s like strobing.” She suggests combining it with a rich chocolate shade for maximum impact. “Apply the copper all over the eye and then do the chocolate on the inside and outside corners,” Ciucci instructs. By leaving that open space in the middle of the lid, you create a highlighted eye, but Ciucci says that the chocolate on the inner and outer corners adds that extra “oomph.” The molten-metal shimmers in this handy compact can create a gilded gaze that would make King Midas jealous.
Pixi by Petra Mesmerizing Mineral Palette in Opal Glow
For fair-skinned ladies, Ciucci recommends a soft peach and a shimmery champagne. “I would use peach all over the eye and underneath the eye as well, then pop the champagne onto the center of the lid.” This six-shade set of mineral shadows is inspired by precious opals. The shadows are silky to the touch and go on smooth, adding a soft and feminine glow to your gaze.
Inspired by a pro makeup artists’ go-to shades, this palette is a carefully curated collection of every type of nude. Use the pale shades as a base, while sweeping the richer shades in your crease for dimension.
About the Author:Megan McIntyre has been a beauty editor for almost a decade, but a beauty addict since the tender age of six, when she first discovered the allure of glitter nail polish.
As a writer and editor, Megan honed her skills and became a master trendspotter and product reviewer. She’s been known to spend hours in her beauty closet testing the latest shades and innovations. She’s always game to try on the newest bright eyeliner shade, or daringly dark nail lacquer and loves nothing more than telling anyone who will listen which cool new products she’s obsessing over.
Megan lives in Brooklyn with her husband and adorable Schnoodle Ellie, along with more lipsticks than an NYC apartment was made to handle.