Black lipstick has had its comeback. No longer are black lips the marker of goths – they have instead found their place in the fashion world. Every makeup enthusiast now owns at least one tube of her favorite black lipstick, which she is able to apply flawlessly for a dramatic yet chic look. Black lips are perfect for conveying confidence, intensity, and all-around badassery, so don’t be afraid of that sexy tube of black cream.
If you’d like to join the fold and embrace the darkness of black lipsticks, well, we’re more than supportive! We’ve crafted a list of the very best black lipsticks for you to try, with various options that range in opacity and drama so you can either jump into the pool of black lipstick head first, or ease in gently with something sheerer.
I’ll help you figure out how to make black lips a regular part of your look with application advice, as well as will help on how to put together a makeup look that includes black lipstick.
Black Lipstick Shades & Black Lip Makeup Tips: Contents
For that edgy look that sticks in mind, here you have 11 black lipstick alternatives to choose from and experiment.
1. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Perversion
The Vice lipsticks are well known for their creamy texture and easy, opaque application. Their black lipstick in Perversion is one of the best out there, especially when it comes to roll-up bullet lipsticks. It is extremely pigmented and lasts all day, without drying out the lips. You can get it from Nordstrom.
2. Givenchy Beauty Gloss Interdit Vinyl in Noir Revelateur N16
Black lip products don’t have to turn your lips into a veritable black hole. Instead, they can infuse your lips with just a hint of darkness, like this vampy black lip gloss. It imparts a dark shine to the lips, studded with an iridescent shimmer. It enhances your natural lip color, or intensifies any lipstick worn below it. Order it online from Net-a-Porter!
3. NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment in Paint It Black
The NARS lip pigments DO. NOT. MOVE. This is extremely important when it comes to black lipstick, since there is nothing worse than it smudging or getting on your teeth. The formula feels light on the lips, and the coverage is matte and opaque. It is available for sale at Nordstrom.
4. Black Up No Transfer Double Effect Liquid Lipcolor in LMS 01
This is a totally unique take on black lipstick that will be super fun for anyone with a theatrical flare. These matte liquid lipsticks are absolutely loaded with glitter, for a double effect where one moment your lips look matte, and the next they shine bright. The black lipstick version is embedded with silver glitter for that gorgeous night sky effect. Buy it from Sephora!
5. MAC Girls Lipstick in Black Night
If you love a cream lipstick, here is another one of the best black lipsticks in bullet form, this time from MAC. This unique lipstick is flecked with golden shimmer for a touch of glow, and it is sheerer and more warm-toned than other lipsticks on this list. You can buy it from Nordstrom.
6. NYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Alien
I’ve recommended these NYX lipsticks before because they perfectly rival their more expensive counterparts in longevity and opacity, not to mention color range! This black shade is especially phenomenal, with its long-wearing formula and sophisticated matte finish. It is sold via Ulta Beauty.
7. Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick in Tar Pit
Smashbox makes some of my favorite liquid lipstick formulas, so no surprise that they’ve made the best black lipstick for those who like a matte, super precise look. It comes in a gloss-type applicator, with a pointy brush perfect for lining lips. Pick up this lipstick at Nordstrom!
8. Dior Rouge Dior Liquid Lip Stain in 908 Extreme Black
Dior may not be the first brand one thinks of when looking for the best black lipstick for them, which is unfortunate because they really created a contender for the title here. This matte black shade gives a classic dark pout without the typical heavy feel of a lip stain, and lasts a long long time. You can find it at Nordstrom.
9. Lipstick Queen Black Lipstick in Black Lace Rabbit
This black lipstick shimmers with a silvery touch, giving a perfect night-time sky effect to lips. This creamy bullet formula is super sheer, so it only lightly darkens and enhances the natural lip color, or any lipstick it is applied over. It is sold online through Net-a-Porter.
10. Anastasia Beverly Hills Matte Black Lipstick in Midnight
Pulling a bullet lipstick is already an elegant affair, but it becomes doubly so when it’s a sexy ABH bullet in opaque, matte black. This creamy formula has the opacity and matte finish you’d expect from a liquid lipstick, but none of the dryness, making it one of the best black lipsticks for those who like an old school technique. It is available for purchase at Nordstrom.
11. Lime Crime Velvetines Matte Liquid Lipstick in Black Velvet
While Lime Crime may be a controversial brand, no one can argue that this is possibly the best black lipstick in a matte, long-lasting liquid formula. The velvet finish on this lipstick will not budge, move, or smudge, and the black color is as deep as they come. Buy it from Nordstrom!
The principle to applying lipstick is generally the same across the board, but the difference is that with black lipstick every little error or misstep becomes glaringly obvious, so your application has to be extra precise.
• Begin by prepping your lips to perfection. Exfoliate them with a lip scrub (we like the Dior Addict Lip Sugar Scrub from Sephora), and then layer on a hydrating lip balm. Wait a few minutes for the lip balm to really sink into the lips and then wipe off the excess. This first step is super important because black lipstick, especially when it’s on the matte side, can really emphasize dryness or chapped lips.
• Using a lip liner is an optional step. If you do prefer to line your lips beforehand, especially if you’re using a bullet black lipstick, your best choice is to use a black lip liner.
• Unless your lips are extremely full, I usually recommend slightly over-lining the lips when wearing black lipstick, especially if it’s a matte one. Black is a color that absorbs light and makes things appear smaller, so you want to counter that effect.
• Either using your lip liner, the sharp point of your bullet lipstick, or the wand of a liquid lipstick (making sure it doesn’t have too much product on it), begin outlining your lips with small strokes. I like starting by drawing a little V at the Cupid’s bow, and then slowly working my way outwards toward the outer corners of the lips. You want to draw the outline with connected short strokes rather than trying to get a perfect line with one stroke.
• Once you’ve finished lining your lips, apply your black lipstick to the center of your lips, and work your way outwards until the lipstick comes into contact with the outline.
• If you’re using a bullet lipstick, use a tissue to blot your lips to prevent any excess product wiping away. Read the black lipstick tips section to get some more suggestions to prevent smudging and increasing black lipstick longevity.
• Double-check your black lips in a big mirror to ensure that your lip line is clean and even. Go over your lip line again with a black lipstick or lip liner if necessary. If not, you’re done! Enjoy your gorgeous black lip look!
There are no strict rules about how to wear black lipstick. If you want to rock black lips with a dark smoky eye and ultra-pale skin you can definitely be my guest, but I’m going to give some suggestions that are a bit less traditional goth and a bit more sophisticated.
• Go Ultra Clean: The classiest way of wearing black lipstick is to rock either a matte or glossy black lip with very pared-down makeup – think Lorde in the Tennis Court music video or Kendall Jenner for Dior in 2016.
Make sure your skin looks flawless and that your foundation is perfectly applied, but otherwise wear little visible makeup: just some mascara, groomed eyebrows, and just a hint of contour and a natural blush. This look allows the black lips to stand out and shows a lot of sophistication.
• Pin-Up Inspiration: Black lipstick gives the perfect twist to a traditional pin-up makeup look. Pair your opaque black lips with sharply winged eyeliner, long and lush eyelashes, peachy-pink blush, and maybe even a faux beauty mark.
• Dark Instaglam: So while these days most makeup artists have a love-hate relationship with the contour and highlight-heavy Instagram beauty looks, it is undeniable that this is one of those makeup styles that are strong enough to work with black lips.
It is still better to avoid a full smoky eye, but a touch of brown eyeshadow, big false lashes, hyper-reflective highlighting, deep contouring, clean gradient eyebrows, and full-coverage foundation can absolutely work with black lipstick.
• A Touch of Smoke: So while I do think a massive smoky eye is too much with black lipstick, a hint of smoked out eyeliner or just a small dotting of dark gray or black eyeshadow blended into the outer corner of the eye can actually work quite nicely with black lipstick. The key is to be very light-handed and focus on the blending when creating the smoky look, and stick to the mantra that less is more.
• Playing with Color: If you’re feeling creative, black lipstick doesn’t totally prevent you from playing around. Since black is a neutral, you can certainly consider adding a color to your look. A wash of a matte neon shadow from lid to crease with otherwise pared-down makeup can lead to a very high fashion makeup look that is totally runway worthy.
• Subtle Black Lipstick: If you are just dipping your toes into the makeup world, you can ease your way into wearing black lips with a sheerer take on black lipsticks and glosses – I recommended a few of those earlier. You can wear them over bare lips to enhance them and work with any kind of makeup look, or over your favorite lipstick to give it a bit of depth.
• Black pencil eyeliner can double as black lip liner or even as a black lipstick if applied all over the lips. Not all eyeliners are safe to use around the lips, though, so you’ll have to email the supplier to find out if their eyeliners are lip-safe.
• You can also use either dark purple, dark maroon, or a colorless lip liner if you don’t have a black lip liner available.
• If you’re finding it difficult to apply black lipstick straight from the tube, find yourself a small lip brush with a tapered end, like the Make Up For Ever 304 Lip Brush from Sephora. This will give you more control and ensure a more precise lipstick application with a cleaner lip line.
• Concealer is your best friend when it comes to correcting any black lipstick errors. Use a small cotton bud (the pointed ones work best) dipped in concealer like an eraser, to get a cleaner lip line and fix any smudges.
• This trick works both to mattify black lipsticks with a creamy finish, and to increase the longevity of any lipstick: once you’ve finished applying your black lipstick, pull apart a two-ply tissue so that you are left with just one ply. Hold the ply over your lips, and with an eyeshadow brush or a sponge tap black eyeshadow unto your lips through the tissue. Remove the tissue, and you see that your lips will have become set with a matte finish.
• Even while following this trick, you still might find that black lipstick requires a bit more maintenance. Make sure to carry your lipstick tube and a small mirror with you so you can check your lipstick and touch it up throughout the day.
• On the other hand, if you have a black lipstick with a matte finish, you can spice things up by occasionally layering some gloss over it, giving your lips a sleek look. Opt for either totally clear lip gloss, black lip gloss, a dark purple lip gloss, or clear lip gloss studded with a bit of glitter.
• You want to make sure your outfit fits when you wear black lipstick. A pink sundress won’t work with black lips (although a dark red one might). Keeping your outfit simple with dark colors is an easy match for black lipstick, but sometimes all it takes is a single edgy accessory, like a pair of combat boots or a leather jacket to turn any outfit interesting enough to work with black lipstick.
• I don’t recommend nor condone this approach, but you might see others suggesting it so I’d be remiss not to touch on it. I am speaking, of course, about the suggestion that you wear a dark burgundy, purple, or maroon lipstick if you’re too nervous to wear a black lipstick.
We’re not about that life here, though. All dark lipsticks are excellent, of course, but if you’re thinking of trying black lipstick, then don’t hesitate – be brave and just go for it!
Photos via @beautybekky, @lolaliner, @frakillerqueen, @beautsoup