Anything but invisible, this enduring look is about subtle sophisticated glamour.
We talk a lot about colour trends in makeup, but undoubtedly one of the strongest influences for some seasons has been the nude look. Shades of beige may not appear the most exciting thing on the page, but on the face they are subtle and chic.
Women of all ages are comfortable in makeup that doesn't scream look at me, yet effortlessly enhances. Done well, nude is a look that will always be in style, just make sure you put enough effort into it. The trick is to use contouring and layering of shades rather than just putting on one swipe of barely there colour.
Prep skin, fill brows, softly outline eyes and ensure cheeks and lips look plumped with a healthy glow. This will allow your natural features to be seen to best effect, rather than coated in obvious colour. For a party look, amp up the impact with a little bright colour - applied to nails or lips is most effective - or try a more subtle update with safari or metallic shades.
Here's our selection to get you inspired, starting with the foundation steps for a building a great nude look for daytime, then a few ideas (see sidebars) to add intensity for a more impactful evening.
1. Bobbi Brown Rich Lip Color in Uber Nude Beige $54
and High Shimmer Lip Gloss in Bare Sparkle $50 Nude throws the state of your lips into light relief so make sure they are in good condition before applying lipstick.
When you do, choose a moisturising yet lasting formula such as this one which also comes in three other flattering shades (Uber Pink, Uber Suede and Uber Beige) to ensure a neutral for all skin tones. Layer on a little gloss to dress-up the look for evening. Bobbi Brown has also introduced a new longwear Creamy Matte Lip Color collection with good neutral options and has an impressive range of eye shadows, some flecked metallic. (From selected department stores and pharmacies.)
2. Zoya Professional Lacquer in Kennedy $23
Finding the perfect nude nail polish to suit your skin isn't easy. Some people suit a warm colour base, others look better with cooler tones. Zoya makes it easy with a range of shades. We like this creamy beige called Kennedy. From selected salons.
3. Napoleon Perdis The Ultimate Nude Palette $79
Perdis labels this collection of eight eye shadows and four highlighting and contouring blush tones "can't go wrong colours". You can also use the shadows to define brows and by matching a powder to one of Napoleon's nude lipsticks create a chic matte finish by pressing a little into the lips. The palette comes with a makeup guide to day and night looks and is an addition to the Nude Bar selection from the Australian brand which was the official makeup at the Emirates marquee at Melbourne Cup last week. (At selected Farmers stores.)
4. Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Under-Eye Primer $76
By day it is best to hydrate your under-eye area with a light cream or gel, leaving heavier eye creams for evening. This ensures concealer and foundation goes on smoothly rather than caking into fine lines. Or try this specialist primer designed not only to smooth skin, but to brighten dark circles and help disguise signs of tiredness. Check out Smashbox's facial primers also.
5. Estee Lauder Invisible Fluid Makeup $80
This makeup is best on relatively even-toned complexions; it really does look all-but invisible so is ideal for those who need only a lighter coverage but want a little refinement. The trick is it is "adaptive" meaning skin shows through for a natural look. There's a good colour choice, but, of course, plenty of more disguising options available if you prefer these. (Selected department stores and pharmacies.)
6. Clarins Skin Illusion $82
This loose powder lightly glides on to give the coverage of foundation, but with a transparent finish, thanks to mineral and plant extracts. The brush built into the jar lid is a boon. For those who prefer liquids, Clarins also bottles its Skin Illusion formula, or you can use both, with just a touch of powder to set your foundation and deter shine in the T-zone. (Selected department stores and pharmacies.)
7. M.A.C Prep + Prime $99
It all starts with the skin, so if yours is oily or combination get it in tip-top condition before applying your foundation or powder just where needed by using this primer for a radiant base. The gel emulsion hydrates and smoothes, while also controlling oil and using pearl powders for brightening. (From M.A.C Britomart, Botany Downs and St Lukes and Smith & Caughey's.)
* Try Becca or Dermalogica's primers with sunscreen for outdoor parties.
8. Nars Larger than Life Longwear Eyeliner in Rue Bonaparte $50
This flesh-toned wind-up pencil eyeliner is a gentler way to wake-up the inner-eye than rimming it in white. Gives a subtle brightening effect by turning pinkish-toned skin to a more neutral shade, allowing eye colour to shine forth. (From Mecca Cosmetica stores.)
9. Revlon ColorStay Overtime Lengthening Mascara $28.50
Longwear formulas are perfect for parties when you want your beauty products to go the distance. Revlon excels at them, across its ColorStay range. This mascara with a sensible smaller brush is the latest addition and there's also a new concealer to ensure eyes, not what's underneath, are the focus. (Available from pharmacies and selected department and variety stores.)
10. Lancome Le Regard Pro Brow Expertise Kit $68
Use the light colour to outline your arch after defining your brow by mixing the right match from three shades of brown powder which can also be used on the eyelid. The palette contains tweezers to complete your grooming kit and there's a separate Brow Shaper gel ($28) available.
Safari shades are particularly flattering on those with olive skins, but lightly applied and mixed with gold will work on all complexions. Because they come from within the same natural earthy palette as nudes, the look is a happy variation, but it can be made more intense with bronzed shades. This blurs the line between safari and our other summer party favourite - metallic.
Yves Saint Lauren creative makeup director Lloyd Simmonds particularly likes khaki ... "a universal colour that highlights the colour of the eyes". It provides a new variation for smoky-eyed glamour and is stunning twinned with matte lips. Apply your lipstick, he advises, using a finger on the centre of the pout for a natural-looking "bitten lip" effect. Try a sheer nude shade by day and a deeper nude tone for evening, or step it up by brushing on red.
Yves Saint Laurent Pure Chromatics palette No. 10 $105
This palette is a standout in a collection YSL says has been designed for the "contemporary Amazon". Go urban jungle in khaki tones shot with metallics and check out the limited edition Dare to Glow gel illuminator ($76) in three sandy shades. (From selected department stores an pharmacies.)
YSL La Laque Couture in Khaki Arty $47
Nail the newest neutral shade or try a soft denim blue to contrast with nudes.
Dr Hauschka Kajal Eyeliner No 7 $41
Apply on the upper and lower lash lines then use this green pencil's attached smudger for a soft outline. It comes from a cosmetics collection called Slow Mood which is inspired by savannah shades. (For health, pharmacy and department store stockists.)
Metallics are perfect for parties, they lift a look, but need not scare the horses if you stay within a mostly nude palette. M.A.C's senior NZ makeup artist, Amber D, says adding a metallic to your kit is a quick update. "You can wear it on its own, washed on with a blending brush or with beautifully curled lashes and a coat of mascara."
M.A.C Mineralize Eyeshadow in Magnetic Attraction $50
There's plenty of earthy-toned metallics to choose from at M.A.C. Mine deeper shades for drama and remember the colour can be applied sparingly or built up strongly.
M.A.C Cremesheen Glass in Celestial Kiss $48
Some of M.A.C's Cremesheen glosses and lipsticks ($40) now come infused with crushed pearls for a luminous frosted finish. I much prefer the Cremesheen formula to regular gloss because it covers evenly, including in the lighter shades like this one, and it is less sticky.
Bobbi Brown 24 Karat Shimmer Brick $99
Shimmer Bricks are a staple in several shades from Bobbi Brown, but this is a limited edition mix for summer. Use for soft glow across cheeks or pick out the five individual shades to add a sparkle to eyes.