Whether you are goth at heart or love experimenting with new, bold makeup looks, black lipstick is something to try at least once in your life. And if you aren’t so self-confident or lack ideas, we are here to inspire. Check out how to wear black lipstick in real life, as well as how to apply it flawlessly!
In this article:
How to Apply Black Lipstick
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!
How to Pull off Black Lipstick
There are no strict rules about how to wear black lipstick. If you want to rock black lips with a dark smokey 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.
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.
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.
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 smokey 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 smokey 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 smokey 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 Lipstick Tips and Tricks
- 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 @lolaliner, Instagram