I’ve taken some iconic nude and my-lips-but-better coloured lip liners and found their dupes for you! Let’s have a look at Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk, Huda Beauty’s Trophy Wife and MAC’s Whirl and their dupes! (Also, at their prices, formula and texture, plus how they wear.)

What’s nude for me might not be nude for you, and I’ve to admit that some of the pencils I’ll be talking about aren’t nude for my NC15 skintone, but rather a my-lips-but-better shade (MLBB). (Also, bare in mind that my lips are pigmented.) On another skintone, these might work as nudes, too!


So, why nude lip pencils?

best nude lipliners
Nudes and their dupes!

I’ve to admit, for the longest time I didn’t see the appeal. But then, on a whim, I got one of Kiko’s Creamy Colour Comfort Lip Liners and loved both the colour and texture. I started to play around with it, and layered it with glosses, and also used it to tweak nude lipsticks whose shades weren’t that right for me. Some of the liners are also great to wear as a lipstick on their own. Also, in the wake of nude, matte lips in the last years, I was curious about some hyped products that I wanted to test on my own.

Btw, all liners are made in Germany. I just found that interesting. We also have two different formulas to compare – the rather waxy, hard pencil that MAC still uses for their liners, and the gel-like, smooth formula that can be easily worn on its own that everybody else uses. Both have their merits, I personally don’t think that one is better than the other. Both formulas work well as a liner, none feathers for me. I personally like the gel-like finish more, because you can easily wear it on its own or as a base without hurting your lips.


Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Lip Cheat Re-Shape & Re-Size Liner (1,2g, $22)

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk liner dupe
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk and its (near) dupe, MAC’s Lip Pencil in Boldly Bare.

And the prize for the longest name goes to Charlotte! Congrats! Pillow Talk is still hyped above all other nude lipliners, because CT claims its an ‘universal’ nude that flatters all skintones. No, it doesn’t. Don’t let their pictures fool you, on everybody above NC/NW42, it’s going to look chalky (examples here). It’s a rosy beige with a warm, yellow undertone, and it matches my natural lip colour incredibly well. And yes, its an excellent formula, but I honestly don’t know if ANYTHING ever lasts 16hrs on my lips, and this one doesn’t, as well. Water- and transfer-proof is spot on, though. It’s very, very good on me.


Dupe: MAC Boldly Bare Lip Pencil (1,45g, $17,50)

best nude lip liners and their affordable dupes
Upper lip – MAC Lip Pencil in Boldly Bare. Bottom lip – Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk.

There’re a few dupes of Pillow Talk floating around the internet (Rimmel Exaggerate lip liner in EastEnd Snob comes to mind, also L’Oreal Infaillible Lipliner in Gone with the Nude) that I couldn’t test. But! MAC’s Boldly Bare comes quite close, and it’s also easier to get than Charlotte Tilbury. MAC describes it as ‘dirty red brown’ which makes me question their sanity. Instead, it’s a warm peachy nude. MAC’s Lip Pencils are quite hard. They’re easier to apply once they’ve warmed up a little, but generally, I find them rather uncomfortable, especially pitched against the other liners I tested. Once they’re on your lips though, they stay on and on. It’s an option though, if Charlotte Tilbury is hard to find in your corner of the world.


Huda Beauty Trophy Wife Lip Contour (1,2g, $19)

Huda Beauty Trophy Wife lipliner dupe
Huda Beauty Lip Contour in Trophy Wife and its dupe, Kiko Creamy Colour Comfort Lip Liner in Tea Rose (303).

On my light skintone, this Rosewood shade is clearly not a nude, but kind of a MLBB shade. Yeah, I cheated. But I suppose for deeper skintones it could totally be a nude, so there. Also, this totally doubles as a nude shade for me, because it’s neutral and goes with any eye look. I love it. They claim to be matte (duh), easy-glide, long-waering with an intense colour payoff. Check, check, check and check. They also are very comfortable to apply and actually so soft they can easily double as a matte lipstick.


Dupe: Kiko’s Creamy Colour Comfort Lip Liner Tea Rose 303 (1,2g, $8)

best nude lip liners
Upper lip – Kiko Creamy Colour Comfort Lip Liner in 303 Tea Rose. Lower Lip – Huda Beauty Lip Contour in Trophy Wife.

Fun fact: I got Kiko’s Tea Rose ages ago, and was both smitten with the texture and the colour. So picture my surprise when I bought Trophy Wife, compared both and noticed how similar they are. Kiko claims their Creamy Colour Comfort Lip Liners are transfer resistant, waterproof, and don’t smudge. Surprise, they don’t. Also, Tea Rose is a perfect match for Trophy Wife, not only colour-wise, but also the design and size is very similar, with Kiko’s gold packaging instead of Huda’s black. I also compared the ingredients, and they’re very, very similar. The first five ingredients that make up the bulk of the formula are, in fact, the same. It’s a formula that just glides over the lips and that I love, love, love.


MAC Whirl Lip Pencil (1,45g, $17,50)

MAC Whirl dupe
MAC Lip Pencil in Whirl and its dupe, Estée Lauder’s Double Wear Stay-In-Place pencil in Spice.

Described by MAC as a ‘dirty rose’, I’d describe it as a muted, soft brown with warm undertones. It’s again more of a MLBB shade for me, but of course, YMMV. This is a colour I enjoy wearing with cooler, neutral eye looks, and one I just added recently to my collection. The texture is nothing to write home about. I want to stress that there’s nothing wrong with it – it works perfectly well as it’s supposed to. I just don’t enjoy that waxy, hard type of liner as much as I enjoy the other formulas reviewed in this post. But if I want to wear Whirl as an all-over lip colour, I reach for the lipstick.


Dupe: Estée Lauder Spice Double-Wear Stay-in-Place Lip Liner (1,2g, $25)

great nude lipliners
Upper lip – Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-place Lip Pencil in Spice. Bottom lip – MAC Lip Pencil in Whirl.

This is the most expensive liner I’ve reviewed, and on the plus side, it comes with a lip brush. Did I ever use it? No. Then why is Spice even mentioned? Because it’s a better Whirl. Colour-wise, it’s a near perfect dupe, maybe a smidge darker. But I enjoy the texture so much more that I think it’s worth a mention. It’s not as smooth as the other gel-like formulas mentioned above, but it’s very similar, even if it drags just a tiny bit more. If you love Whirl, though, I think you’ll love Spice even more.


The best nude lipliners and dupes

best nude lip pencils
Comparison swatch pic: l – r EL Spice, MAC Whirl; MAC Boldly Bare, CT Pillow Talk; Huda Trophy Wife, Kiko Tea Rose

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Beauty junkie with about 20 years of beauty experience under her belt. Editor, writer and twindly's PR heroine. Has an unbelievably large nail polish stash and a passion for skincare. Gets a kick out of pretty powders.

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