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Updated December 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best black lipstick

Dark lipstick makes a bold statement, but there are few makeup looks as dramatic as black lipstick. For years, it was thought of solely as the uniform of moody goths, but it’s shown up on fashion week runways for designers like Dior and Marc Jacobs, so it might be time to consider it for your makeup bag.

But black lipstick isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s edgier than bold red lipstick, which can be intimidating for some. However, you can find black lipsticks in various finishes and pigmentations, so you can choose a more wearable formula that better fits your style.

If you’re thinking about adding black lipstick to your lip color wardrobe, start by deciding which formula you prefer, the finish you like best, and the opacity you want. You’ll also want to identify other features that make black lipstick more comfortable to wear, such as undertones and wear time. A good shopping guide and product recommendations can help you find the best black lipstick for your makeup bag.

a woman with dark lipstick
If black lipstick is too intimidating, ease your way into wearing it by trying a deep maroon, plum, or wine lipstick. That can help you get used to seeing yourself with a dark lip color.

How to buy the best black lipstick

Formula

As with other lipsticks, there are two main formulas for black lipstick: traditional bullet lipstick and liquid lipstick.

Bullet: This is the most traditional form and probably what most people think of when they hear the word “lipstick.” It’s a cream poured into a tube and hardened to form a solid bullet-shaped stick of lip color. The bottom of the tube twists to expose the tip so you can apply the color to your lips. Black bullet lipstick comes in more varieties of pigmentation and finish than liquid and feels more comfortable on the lips. However, it doesn’t wear as long as liquid lipstick and isn’t transfer-resistant. If you want a black liquid lipstick that has a comfortable feel on the lips and offers multiple finish options, a traditional bullet lipstick is your best bet.

Liquid: This formula has a thinner texture and comes in a tube with a brush or doe-foot applicator that allows you to paint the color on your lips. The liquid is typically opaque and richly pigmented. Most formulas have a matte finish, without shine or shimmer. Black liquid lipstick provides the longest wear time. However, it can be drying, so it isn’t the most comfortable option to wear. If you don’t want to worry about touching up your lipstick or cleaning up smudges or smears throughout the day, a black liquid lipstick is a better bet.

Pigmentation

Because black lipstick is meant to make a bold statement, most formulas are quite pigmented, some more than others, however, so you should consider how dramatic a look you want. Richly pigmented black lipstick is opaque, so none of the natural lip color shows through. Opaque lipstick offers a longer wear time.

You can find some black lipsticks that are semi-sheer, which allows some of the natural lip color to show through. These are usually more comfortable to wear and can be an ideal option if you’re new to wearing black lipstick and prefer a subtler look. These lipsticks won’t wear as long, however.

If you can’t find black lip liner, you can line your lips with a black eyeliner pencil.

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Features to look for in black lipstick

Finish

Black lipstick is available in several finishes. The most common include the following:

Matte is a flat finish without shine or gloss. It’s usually the most pigmented lipstick finish, though, so it’s ideal if you want the boldest black lip you can get. However, it’s also the most drying finish.

Semi-matte isn’t entirely flat and doesn’t dry out the lips the way a matte finish does. It offers excellent pigmentation, though the wear time is shorter.

Cream lipstick has a smooth texture that glides easily over the lips. This finish has a sheen and is comfortable to wear. However, black cream lipstick isn’t as opaque and doesn’t last as long as one with a matte finish.

Satin finish falls between matte and cream and has a slight sheen or gloss. It can wear longer than cream lipsticks but not as long as matte formulas.

Undertones

All black lipsticks might seem the same, but there are slight differences in the undertone. For example, some have a blue base, so they work well with cool skin tones. Others have a red undertone, making them a flattering match for warm skin tones.

You can also find black lipstick with a neutral undertone, such as brown or gray. These shades tend to look good on all skin tones. If you’re new to wearing black lipstick, you might prefer a shade with a rich purple undertone. This shade looks less harsh than others.

Wear time

Black lipstick makes a bold statement, and you don’t want to worry about it fading or requiring touch-ups throughout the day. That’s why it’s important to consider the formula’s wear time when shopping.

  • Liquid lipsticks generally offer the longest wear time, an average of 8 to 10 hours.
  • Matte bullet lipsticks last between 6 and 8 hours and are usually more comfortable and less drying.
  • Cream and satin lipsticks offer the shortest wear times of 3 to 6 hours. As a general rule, the creamier or more hydrating a formula is, the more quickly it fades. However, these more moisturizing lipsticks are more comfortable to wear.

Applicator

If you choose black liquid lipstick, it’s a good idea to consider the applicator type. All these lipsticks come in a tube with an applicator built into the lid. Some formulas have a doe-foot applicator while others have a brush.

  • Doe-foot applicators are tiny sponges that are often pointed to allow for precise application.
  • Brush-tip applicators aren’t as precise, but they can spread the product more easily.

Cruelty-free

For many people, animal testing is a deal breaker when it comes to beauty products. If you want to use black lipstick that hasn’t been tested on animals, look for a cruelty-free formula. These products usually feature a bunny icon on the packaging that indicates the lipstick and its ingredients haven’t been tested on animals.

a woman with black lipstick
DID YOU KNOW?
Black lipstick works well as a base if you want to darken another lipstick shade. Apply the lighter shade on top of the black in layers until you reach your desired shade.
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How to accessorize black lipstick

Lip exfoliator

Black lipstick is fairly unforgiving and will show all the dry spots and chapped areas on your lips. Prep the skin by using a lip exfoliator first. The exfoliator gently buffs away dry skin so your lips are smooth and ready for lipstick.

Lip primer

If you want to create a long-lasting base for your black lipstick, start with a lip primer. It smooths your lips, so the color goes on evenly. It can also help prevent the color from fading, feathering, or bleeding, ensuring your lipstick lasts as long as possible.

Lip liner

To keep your black lipstick from bleeding outside the lip line, first outline your lips with a lip liner. However, finding black lip liner can be tough, so you might want to use a liner that matches your natural lip color instead. You can also find clear lip liner that pairs well with black lipstick.

How much does black lipstick cost?

Inexpensive

The most affordable black lipsticks are typically bullet formulas. These contain lower-quality ingredients, so they’re not as hydrating as high-end formulas and don’t last as long on the lips. These lipsticks generally cost $3 to $14.

Mid-range

These black lipsticks include higher-end bullet formulas and liquid lipsticks with lower-quality ingredients. They offer more staying power, with some formulas lasting 6 to 8 hours. These lipsticks typically cost $14 to $30.

Expensive

The most expensive black lipsticks are luxury brand bullet formulas and high-end liquid lipsticks. They offer longer wear times, staying on the lips for up to 10 hours. These typically cost between $30 and $44.

Use a lip brush to apply black lipstick as precisely as possible within the natural line of your lips. The brush helps you blend the color evenly.

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Tips

  • Use a lip scrub before applying black lipstick. Dark lipsticks are pretty unforgiving and cling to dry flaky skin. Exfoliating your lips before you apply the lipstick ensures that it goes on smoothly.
  • Hydrate your lips with a balm. Once you’ve exfoliated your lips, moisturize them with a lip balm to help the black lipstick go on evenly.
  • Opt for a matte finish for the most drama. Because matte lipstick is more opaque than creamy formulas, it has a much bolder look on the lips.
  • Apply clear gloss over black lipstick if it looks too flat. The shine and added moisture can make the lipstick more comfortable. Apply it only to the center of your lips so it doesn’t smear around your lip line.
a woman with dark lipstick
Bring your black lipstick with you so you can touch up when necessary throughout the day.

FAQ

Q. Does black lipstick require lip liner?

A. You don’t necessarily have to wear lip liner with black lipstick, but it’s a good idea. Lining your lips helps keep the color on your lips, so it doesn’t bleed or feather outside the lip line. Applying a base of lip liner can also help the color last longer.

Q. When is black lipstick appropriate?

A. It’s really up to you. If you feel comfortable and confident wearing black lipstick, it’s appropriate for any occasion. But if you’re self-conscious about wearing such a bold color, opt for a sheer black lipstick or a creamy formula so it isn’t quite as dramatic as it would be with a matte finish.

Q. What eye makeup works best with black lipstick?

A. When you wear black lipstick, it should be the star of the show. That’s why it’s best to pair it with a subtle, neutral eye look. You can even skip eyeshadow entirely and just line your eyes and apply mascara for a simple, understated look.

 

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