Nude eyeshadow is one of the most important elements in the never-ending quest for the perfect “no makeup” makeup look. However, there are all kinds of different takes on nude makeup for eyes, including dozens of different nude eyeshadow palettes that even combine saturated colors with neutral eyeshadow shades. With so many different options out there, how can you choose the right nude eyeshadow color for you? As always, we’re here to break it down.
To start you off, we’ve listed our very favorite nude eyeshadow palettes and our reviews about what makes them so great and for who. We’ll explain how to choose the best nude eyeshadow colors for your skin tone and eye color.
We’ve included a step-by-step guide to applying neutral eyeshadow in a way that is long-lasting and flattering. We’ve finished off with a few tips and twists on neutral eyeshadow to keep things interesting.
Nude Eyeshadow Makeup Guide: Contents
• 19 Best Nude Eyeshadow Palettes to Buy
• How to Find the Best Nude Eyeshadow for Your Skin Tone
• How to Pick the Right Nude Eyeshadow for Your Eye Color
• How to Apply Nude Eyeshadow Like a Pro
• Nude Makeup Tips: Ways of Wearing Nude Eyeshadow
To create the most smashing nude makeup looks, here you have 19 cult-favorite nude eyeshadow palettes to grab right now!
1. Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics
As always, I believe in starting with the originals. Urban Decay’s Naked palettes are holy grails for a good reason, since they are filled with totally wearable neutral eyeshadow shades. The second Basics palette is all-matte, with 5 beige, taupe, and brown shades that are either neutral or cool, perfect for sculpting the eye. It won’t take up space in your makeup bag, but it’ll be all you need for that nude makeup look. It is available at Ulta Beauty.
2. Huda Beauty The New Nude Eyeshadow Palette
It’s lovely to find a mixture of soft mattes and intense shimmers in a nude eyeshadow palette – after all, some days you want to go soft, while others you want all the drama. This is a nude eyeshadow palette that leans towards rosy, with a lot of pink, mauve, and peach takes on the typical nude shadows, along with some really gorgeous pressed micro-glitters.
The palette contains 18 shadows so you can really play around. As far as nude makeup goes, it would definitely look most natural on those who have cool pink and orange undertones to their skin. It’s still a super flattering option for all other undertones! Find it at Sephora!
3. Smashbox Cover Shot Eyeshadow Palette in Minimalist
This is a true nude eyeshadow palette, with just a few metallic shades for when you want a hint of glamour. It contains 8 eyeshadows that can give anyone that perfect nude eye. One of my favorite things about this palette is the awareness of how shadows are really used. The matte and shimmer highlight tones come in a bigger size, which is appreciated, since I tend to hit pan on those shades first in any palette. You can buy it at Nordstrom.
4. Tarte Tartelette In Bloom Clay Eyeshadow Palette
If you find it really hard to choose between warm and cool nude makeup colors, consider this exquisite palette from Tarte. It features all kinds of nude eyeshadows, from light highlight shades to dark crease shades, with neutral, yellow, and red undertones. It’s a 12-shade palette that is primarily matte but with three gorgeous metallics. Pick it up from Sephora!
5. Kevyn Aucoin Emphasize Eye Design Palette in Unblinking
All on its own this nude eyeshadow palette might not be enough, but this is certainly a gorgeous addition to your neutral eyeshadow collection. It is one of the more dramatic options in this list, with two intense metallic shades, three wearable nude mattes, and a super shiny liquid shadow that can be used both alone or as a base to the shades in the palette. This is an eyeshadow palette that leans towards golden, and is best for those with warm undertones to their skin. Order it online from Net-a-Porter!
6. Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Eyeshadow Palette in The Sophisticate
Eyeshadow quads have become seriously underrated in recent years, so we love seeing superstar makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury bringing them back. This all-matte quad is all you’ll need to craft a sculpted nude eyeshadow look or two. It contains a matte beige highlight shade, a warm taupe, a cool brown, and a deep espresso. It’s a palette best suited for medium and dark skin tones with all kinds of undertones. It is available for purchase at Sephora.
7. Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Natural Eyeshadow Palette in Medium
This portable nude makeup palette consists of 5 very wearable cool and neutral tones. If your skin leans towards neutral or cool then this nude eyeshadow palette could be an easy go-to, since it contains all the shadows essential for a complete eye makeup look. Most of the shades are matte, but there is one shimmery highlight in case you like a glow. The compact itself is a gorgeous gold embossed with the iconic Chanel logo. You can find it at Nordstrom.
8. Marc Jacobs Beauty Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Palette in Glambition
The unique blend of warm, neutral, and cool shades in this nude eyeshadow palette is ideal for anyone who doesn’t feel confined to undertones. The mattes in it include a neutral beige, a rose taupe, a gray taupe, and a true chocolate brown. For real drama there is a silver-flecked black, not to mention the metallics: a cool champagne and a warm bronze. Pick it up at Sephora!
9. Colourpop Double Entendre Pressed Powder Shadow Palette
You might be sick of all the cool-toned nude makeup palettes we’ve been showcasing, so finally here’s a very robust 12-shade palette that is decidedly warm and fiery. It features a blend of mattes and metallics with incredible pigmentation and excellent staying power.
Even the lightest colors in this nude eyeshadow palette are not particularly light, so if you have fair skin this might not be your first choice. If you have medium to dark skin, on the other hand, this might be the only neutral eyeshadow palette you’ll ever need. Buy it from Ulta Beauty!
10. Too Faced Natural Eyes Eyeshadow Palette
We’re back to cool and neutral eyeshadow palettes with this delicate selection from Too Faced. It offers a lovely blend of mauvey and peachy takes on nude earth tones that combines mattes and shimmers, and isn’t afraid of getting really dark or really light. Honey Pot stands out in this palette as a warm gold combo breaker. It is sold at Sephora.
11. Bobbi Brown Haute Nudes Palette
One of our favorite things about this nude eyeshadow palette is that the two largest eyeshadow pans are filled with colors that can work as blush and highlighter, for those of you who really don’t want to deal with too many different nude makeup products. The shades here lean towards pink for the most part, in a way that’ll flatter almost all skin types. The pigmentation is excellent, and the shadows themselves will stay in place all day long. This palette is available at Nordstrom.
12. Hourglass Graphik Eyeshadow Palette in Myth
This little palette of mattes is sure to please. On the lighter end of things, we have a couple of rosy taupes for the lid and as transitional shades, while as we get darker into the browns the shades get warmer as well. It is a surprising blend of shades that would work best for those with warm undertones that are not afraid of a bit of color. It is the best nude eyeshadow palette that can be purchased online via Net-a-Porter.
13. BareMinerals Gen Nude Eyeshadow Palette in Rose
If you haven’t found the cool nude eyeshadow palette for you quite yet, this little compact is quite the contender. It comes with six shades from very light for highlighting the lid to very dark for the crease and liner, not to mention a couple of metallic options for added glam. The colors are blendable and buildable, which is ideal for daily makeup looks, and the massive mirror makes it ideal for makeupping on the go. You can get it at Nordstrom.
14. Edward Bess Natural Enhancing Eyeshadow Palette in Sunlit Sands
We love a two-in-one, and this nude makeup palette definitely fits that definition. The flawlessly gleaming selection of shades here can be used on its own, like six individual eyeshadows, or they can all be swirled together for that perfect sandy bronze. That’s right, you can use this on your eyes or on your cheeks for a gorgeous effect, particularly if you have a warmer skin tone. Order it from Net-a-Porter!
15. NARS Duo Eyeshadow in Portobello
This matte neutral eyeshadow duo provides the perfect eye contouring for those with warm and olive undertones. It is made up of one medium shade perfect for transitioning or blending a crease color (could also work on the lid for someone with dark skin), and a slightly darker brown shade that is a bit more neutral and could work as an all-over crease color for light and medium skin tones. Get the duo from Nordstrom!
16. Lancôme Color Design Eyeshadow Palette in Beige Brulee
Nude makeup doesn’t get any simpler than with this little palette that leaves no room for questions. These shadows all lean towards light, with blendable matte colors that are perfect for crafting a barely-there makeup look. There are 5 colors in the compact, most of which are matte, and one that is a shimmer. The colors lean either towards neutral or warm, but will suit most skin tones. It is available at Ulta Beauty.
17. Dior 5 Couleurs Couture Eyeshadow Palette in 537 Touch
Matte and marvelous! This 5-shadow palette gives a lovely blend of peachy and golden matte tones for nude makeup looks that are never too dark or in your face. The shadows have a long-lasting, buildable formula that is oh-so-user-friendly. This nude eyeshadow palette is definitely ideal for those with lighter skin. The palette can be bought at Nordstrom.
18. Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam Eyeshadow Palette
Few things are as fun as a palette that allows indulgence in shimmer, despite also featuring a lot of matte nude eyeshadow shades. The 12 different shades here will allow you to truly experiment, since no two colors are alike. These shades lean mostly towards golden and orange, so they can work for all types of undertones, and the buttery formula is sure to please. You can purchase this palette at Sephora.
19. Maybelline The Nudes Wear Eyeshadow Palette
We’re finishing off with a surprisingly affordable nude eyeshadow palette for lovers of all things golden. The ultra-warm shades in this palette are perfect for those with warm or olive skin, and they pack quite a bit of drama with a gorgeous mix of metal and matte. This is a true all-in-one option that also has black for lining the eyes along with some very dark brown shades for smoky eyes. Buy it from Ulta Beauty!
When it comes to rocking nude eyeshadow, the truth is that there is very little room for error. Even so, if you’re choosing your first neutral eyeshadow palette you certainly want to take your skin tone into account. Having a palette with colors that suit your skin will make the process of putting together nude makeup looks a total breeze.
First it is best to determine the darkness level and the ratio of light to dark eyeshadows that you want in your palette, based on exactly how dark your skin tone is. It’s practically a given that a color that might look very dark on someone with pale skin might be the perfect highlight shade on someone with darker skin.
You want your neutral eyeshadow palette to include at least one shade that is lighter than your skin tone, one shade that matches it in strength, and at least one or two shades that are a touch darker – one of these could also work for filling in your eyebrows, depending on your hair color. Having a very dark crease shade would also be nice, as that shade can double as an eyeliner.
If you’re unsure when looking at the nude eyeshadow palette, then simply swatch the colors on your arm and see how they compare to your skin tone. If you’re purchasing online then try and find swatches of the eyeshadows on someone whose skin tone is similar to yours.
Determining Your Skin Undertone
After getting darkness out of the way, it’s important for us to talk about undertones. Before we get into the undertones you’ll find in nude eyeshadow palettes, figure out what your own undertone is. The easiest way to find this out is by looking at your skin and the way your veins peek through it.
• Warm undertone refers to skin with a lot of yellow to it, where the veins appear slightly greenish.
• Cool undertone refers to skin with a lot of pink to it, with veins that appear more purple. Neutral undertone refers to skin that has an equal amount of both so it looks quite beige, with veins that appear blue.
• Lastly, there is olive skin, which can be either warm or neutral depending on whether there is any yellow in the skin, with veins that appear very green.
Nude Eyeshadow Undertones
Nude eyeshadows tend to come in three different undertones, similar to the skin: yellow, red, and blue.
True neutrals contain an even mixture of the three, and therefore their undertones are nearly impossible to make out. These shades seem like the truest beiges or browns, and they will suit all of the skin undertones I mentioned earlier.
Some nude eyeshadow palettes will include eyeshadows that all have the same undertone, while other eyeshadow palettes will include a mixture of undertones.
Nude Eyeshadows with Yellow Undertones
Dandelion beiges and warm taupes are nude eyeshadows with warm yellow undertones, and they tend to work best for those with warm undertones to their skin, as well as for those with olive undertones that are either warm or neutral.
As eyeshadows get darker, yellow undertones tend to become harder to detect, so most warm dark eyeshadows intended for crease will simply look like a neutral espresso brown. Larger palettes with nude tones for warm skin may also include a few metallics, including golds and bronzes.
Those with cool undertones to their skin have to be very careful if they want to wear yellow-based nude eyeshadows, as they can sometimes look unflattering. Peaches and copper tones also count as “warm” but they actually tend to work quite well for those with cool undertones.
Nude Eyeshadows with Red Undertones
Next let’s examine the red-heavy nude eyeshadows, which are easily the best for those with cool undertones to their skin although they also work for those with neutral undertones. Those with warm undertones can also wear these colors beautifully, but they won’t necessarily register as nude, and they will certainly require being more careful with the rest of the makeup color story.
These shadows include slightly peachy beiges and champages, rosy taupes and mauve browns. Cool crease shades include darker plums and reddish browns, although chocolate browns, which are more neutral, will also work well for those with cool undertones.
Some cool nude eyeshadow palettes will also include metallic shades like coppers and rose golds, which are technically warm shades but tend to work in pink undertones in the skin. Those with olive undertones to their skin will want to be careful, however, as the reddish tones might give their skin a sickly cast.
Nude Eyeshadows with Blue Undertones
Then there are the blue-based neutral eyeshadow shades, which usually work best for those with neutral and cool undertones, as well as for those with olive skin. These are the kinds of nude eyeshadow shades that register closest to gray, and they include white, gray-taupe, and espresso brown.
Additionally, gunmetal and soft brown-silver shades also fall under this category. These types of neutral eyeshadow shades blend well with cool eyeshadows, and they work beautifully for anyone who wants a nude smoky effect.
Universally Flattering Neutral Nude Eyeshadows
Lastly, there are the neutral colors that tend to work for everyone no matter their skin tone. These shades include true creamy beige and its metallic counterpart, as well as true brown and chocolate shades that really incorporate an equal amount of all of the primary colors.
These nude eyeshadow shades are great for creating a very neutral nude makeup look, but sometimes they require the added color boost of a nude eyeshadow with a more prominent undertone.
While skin tone is definitely more important when choosing your nude eyeshadow, you can certainly also take your eye color into account.
Best Nude Eyeshadow Colors for Brown and Hazel Eyes
Brown eyes are fairly neutral so any nude eyeshadow color can work well with them. The only neutral eyeshadow that those with brown eyes will want to avoid is one that matches too closely to their eye color.
A brown eyeshadow of the same strength as your eye color can have a negating effect that will draw attention away from the eyes, particularly if it’s applied strongly rather than as an accent. Instead, opt for nude eyeshadow looks that will open up the eye and brighten up the area around it. Blending metallics and mattes will be particularly fetching.
The actual undertones of the neutral eyeshadow palettes you choose should depend more on your skin tone, but you can still consult the color wheel, particularly if your brown eyes lean towards hazel. Nude makeup with cool gray or blue undertones will bring out golden flecks in your eyes, mauves will bring out green tones, while coppers and yellows will bring out blues.
Best Nude Eyeshadow Colors for Blue and Gray Eyes
Since blue eyes are decidedly cool toned, any warm nude eyeshadow will do a fantastic job of bringing them out.
• For those with warm undertones to their skin, golden and warm taupe eyeshadows are the way to go.
• Those with cool undertones to their skin will prefer to use coppers and peaches instead, as well as red-leaning browns.
Mauves and metallic rose tones also tend to look beautiful when framing blue eyes, even though they don’t intensify them as much. Neutral eyeshadow palettes with blue or gray undertones will actually have a subduing effect on blue eyes, so they should either be avoided or only used as a small accent to the crease.
Best Nude Eyeshadow Colors for Green Eyes
When it comes to green eyes and nude eyeshadow, pretty much anything goes. For maximum greenness, red-leaning nude eyeshadow shades including mauves, peaches, coppers, and red-leaning taupes and browns will certainly work best, but warm-toned eyeshadows with golden undertones can also be extremely flattering.
Eyeshadows with cool blue or gray undertones won’t necessarily emphasize the greenness of your eyes, but they will instead lend a smoky effect that can be quite lovely. There aren’t many green-leaning nude eyeshadows on the market these days, but theoretically these are the only eyeshadow tones that won’t emphasize your eye color.
• Prep: Makeup of all sorts always looks better when the skin below it is healthy. This means making sure your eyes are clean and well moisturized before you start your nude makeup look. You can use a dedicated eye cream, but even a gentle moisturizer can work to hydrate your eyes.
• Base Color: Set that layer of cream with your base shade, using a large fluffy brush and a tapping motion that won’t disrupt the base. The base shade is an all-over color that is neither darker nor lighter than your skin tone. This can also be the shade that is most prominent on your eyelid.
• Crease Color: Next, apply your crease shade, a neutral eyeshadow color that is just a few shades darker than your skin tone. Apply this nude eyeshadow with a small, round eyeshadow brush, in a windshield wiper motion. Starting at the outer corner of the eye, pull the shadow up into where the bone of the eye socket slightly sticks out just above the crease.
• Blend: Chances are you won’t need to blend out that crease color too much, but if you do you, you can do so with the help of the fluffy brush you used to apply that all-over base color.
• Highlight: Using a shade that is slightly lighter than your skin tone (you can also opt for a shimmery shade), highlight the inner corner of your eye. This will give you a brighter, more open-eyed look. You can also slightly drag that highlight color into the lid for added brightness.
• Deepen: If you’d like, amp up and deepen your look by applying a darker crease shade to the outer corner of your eye using a smaller eyeshadow brush. Blend it out along the edges just a bit with the round crease brush you used earlier.
• Shadow Liner: As an option, you can also use that dark crease shade to line your eyes your favorite way. Use a small eyeliner brush or angled brush. You can rock the nude eyeshadow as eyeliner along the top lash line, all around the eye, or only on the bottom in case you’d like the channel the ‘90s.
• Finish off: Fill in your eyebrows as you normally would. Swipe on a bit of mascara, and add any other elements that are key to your makeup look like concealer, foundation, powder, blush, lip products, and anything else you like.
• If you’re hoping for a true nude makeup look (just think of every actress in every film when she just wakes up), then stick to matte nude eyeshadow colors that are as close to your skin tone and undertone as possible.
Skip the dark crease accent and the bright inner corner highlight, and only apply one or two coats of mascara. Keep the rest of your makeup neutral, with raspberry blush and lip tones if your coloring leans towards cool or peach blush and lip tones if your coloring leans towards warm.
• If you want neutral yet smoky makeup, then change your nude eyeshadow routine just a bit: apply your medium crease shade to your lid, and use a darker accent color as a thick eyeliner. Smudge it along the lash line both above and below the eye for that perfect soft smoky effect.
• Nude eyeshadow colors are also perfect for a glam look! Once you finish applying your eyeshadow as I instructed earlier, apply a thin line of liquid or gel liner and wing it out. Pop on some false lashes and swipe on red lipstick for maximum seduction.
• If you want to open the eyes up a little bit more, line your waterline with a nude pencil or eye-safe concealer, in addition to highlighting the inner corner of the eyes. This will make the eyes appear bigger, brighter, and more awake.
• If you’re in a real rush, you don’t have to use eyeshadows for your nude makeup look! Instead apply your usual face powder all over the eye, and add just a touch of your bronzer in the crease.
Photos via @janicejoostemaa, @marianna_hewitt, @ymorbeauty