The only lipstick colour you need to buy now.

If you last wore dark lipstick when The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was on TV, Titanic was THE movie to see, and Gwen Stefani was wearing bindis then: PANIC.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding.

Dark lipstick formulations have come along way since the dry matte ones you dragged across your lips in the 90s. (Was it The Body Shop or Poppy that made that Vampy shade everyone wore?)

And since the 90s was such a killer decade it’s all coming back in fashion: the clothes (not Kepper jeans thankfully), the hair, and the makeup – including burgundy lips.

From near blacks to subtle berries, there is a flattering shade for every skin tone, read on to find yours and tips on how to wear it now.

(And fellow pale girls? This is our time to SHINE.)

For those of us who don’t have full luscious lips, a lip stain (yes, they’re still a thing) is a less scary option for us thin-lippers. Clinique’s Black Honey is excellent and don’t be turned off by the almost black colour, it goes on completely sheer, and you can build it up to a darker colour. A lip colour with sheen like Black Honey helps to give the appearance of a slightly fuller lip, and conversely a matte lipstick will make your lips look thinner. So stay away from those.

I’m also going to throw in two words that strike fear into anyone with thin lips: Lip Liner.  But stay with me, a matching lip pencil is a great way to cheat the shape you were naturally given. The key to lip liner? Don’t go too heavy, and soften the edges with your finger/brush/cotton tip so it’s not too harsh. I reckon it’s much easier to apply liner over lipstick, rather having than the daunting task of drawing on a whole new lip shape.

1. What shade should I wear?

Finding the most flattering shade is easier said than done, right? Well, here it is in a nutshell: Burgundy lipsticks have different undertones: blue, brown, pink and red, and the key to getting it right is knowing what undertone suits you best.

Tip: swipe a tester lippie on a tissue and against the white background you’ll be able to see the undertone better than on the back of your hand.

For pale skin: pink undertones in berry shades look stunning on pale skin, as do blue-based deep plums. Pale skin is one of the only skin tones that can pull off the really dark almost black shades a la Rooney Mara above right.
Try: DuWop in Private Pink, Clinique’s Black Honey (a buildable sheer colour, which is great for novices), Bobbi Brown Lip Color in Rose Berry, Rimmel Matte Lipstick in 107, Becca Ultimate Lip Colour in Adele, Lancome L’Absolu Lipstick in Rose Reflet 08, Bobbi Brown Lip Color in Black Raspberry, Revlon Lipstick in Choco-liscous.

For olive skin: brown undertones suit olive skin tones (see J-Lo above right), and if you want a strong statement lip colour go for a blue-based shade (see Vanessa Hudgens above left).


Try: Bobbi Brown Lip Color in Desert Plum, Rimmel Lipstick in Sloane’s Plum, Becca Matte Lipstick in Antoinette, Lancome Rouge in Love in Rose Sulferous, Dior Addict Lipcolour in 989 Pinstripe Plum, Clarins Rouge Eclat Satin Finish in 07 Red Wine, MAC Mineralize Rich lipstick in All Out Gorgeous or the blue-based Lush Life.

For dark skin: a red base will really pop against dark skin tones (see Kerry Washington above left and Lupita Nyong’o above right), and for a sophisticated look go for a brown tone (see Beyonce).
Try: Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in Amethyst Shimmer, MAC Sheen Supreme Lipstick Quite the Thing, YSL Rouge Pur Couture in 08 Belle de Rose, Lancome L’Absolu Lipstick in Pense A Moi 131, Laura Mercier Rouge Noveau Weightless lip colour in Sheer Plum or Berry Pink.

2. Don’t overdo the rest of your makeup.

I’ve always subscribed to the play up the eyes or the lips not both make-up theory. And here it’s especially true. So downplay the rest of your makeup with the basics: framed brows, a swipe of mascara, and blush (see below).

Clinique’s Black Honey – the best, not-at-all-scary dark lipstick you’ll ever meet.

Good to know: lipsticks with a purply base will unfortunately highlight any redness in your skin i.e. under-eye circles, pimples and rosacea. To avoid this pay extra attention to these areas when concealing.

3. Blush = the key.

Ok, I’m aware I’ve mentioned two scary make-up products in the one post (dark lipstick AND blush) but stay with me here.  Unless you want to look like a goth – not that there’s anything wrong with that if that’s your intention – blush is the key to not looking washed out.

Forgo any bronzers or peach colours and opt for a blush similar in tone to your lipstick. This will help tie the look together. I like Clinique’s Cheek Pop in Berry Pop.

4. Use a lip brush.

I know, I know, who has the time to apply lipstick with a brush these days? But spending a bit more time than you usually would is crucial to pulling off a dark lip colour. Trust me, I recently tried to apply a long-lasting (read: impossible to get off) dark lippie in the elevator. Big mistake. Big. Huge.

5. Skip the gloss.

Dark lipstick looks better without lipgloss. There I said it. That’s not to say you have to go to  the other end of the lipstick scale with a matte lipstick but gloss applied over your carefully lined lips just messes up your handiwork.

Need more inspiration? Flick through this gallery of celebs wearing dark lippie:

So dark lipstick, thumbs up or thumbs down?
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