The 6 steps to pulling off a goth lip

Zoe at the ARIA awards wearing a goth lip


Film noir lips, goth lips, flapper lips, raisin lips, ‘90s lips – I do nay care what you choose to label the dark wine-brown-plum shades smeared all over the lips of the beautiful and famous right now, but I DO care how you create this look at home, should you be so bold.

1. First thing’s first.

How “good” are your lips to begin with? If they are normal or juicy, proceed. But if they are thinner than the average, or creased with time, then I gently and lovingly recommend you pop that burgundy lipstick down. I do this not to prevent you from having fun and being on-trend, you understand, I do it because dark lip colours only serve to further accentuate thin or aged lips. And draw attention to them. And do you no favours.

2. Get the tone right.

If you’re quite fair, cooler toned, and have a pink undertone to your skin, then choose shades that are berry-esque. Such as Lancôme Rouge in Love Lipcolor in Fiery Attitude, which is what Katy Perry wore to the Billboard awards, or NARS Pure Matte Lipstick in Volga, which is what Kate Bosworth wore to the MET gala, or Revlon Super Lustrous Cream Lipstick in Black Cherry, which is a far sight cheaper than both the previous options.

If you’re more tanned, or olive/dark-skinned, then look for deep reds with a browny/brick base – think Camille Belle’s lips at the MET gala. (She used CK One lipstick in Smooch.) Or Monica on Friends.

Sneaky hint: You should be able to convincingly cheat the overall look by using a brown eyeliner as lip liner and going over it with any existing plum/deep red lipstick you already own.

3. Know that a lot of focus will be on your skin.

Which is a kind way of saying: if you’re not having the best skin day, then perhaps go for a lighter or more subtle shade of lipstick. Goth lips, like her cousin Red Lips and sister, Bright Lips, throw an inordinate, and some might say unfair amount of attention onto the state of the skin. So, be sure to prep the skin properly with your moisturiser and primer and illuminating base and lord knows what other fancy and exciting tricks you’ve got up your sleeve, and then apply at least a medium amount of foundation coverage. Flawless, uniform skin is a must with this lip.

Note: This does not mean you need to go for an all over matte finish and then use powder. It just means you might want to go for a bit more coverage than sheer so that the canvas behind your lip art is uniform.

4. Brows! Pay attention to your brows.

Take a look at any of the photos in the gallery above – apart from the wine-coloured lips, what stands out the most? That’s right! The ears. No, the eyebrows. They are filled in with powder and pencil, and shaped and groomed to perfection. This is because when you are playing up the lips, and leaving the eyes relatively bare, (which you are, for the record) it is even crucial than to make the brows a feature. It frames and balances out the drama of the lips, and ensures that the eyes don’t get lost. (Sat Nav would also help.)


5. Keep the rest of the face simple.

This is not a look for a lot of bronzing, or a lot of blush, or a lot of eyeliner, or a lot of eye shadow. It is a look that emphasises two things: the lips and the skin. So spend most of your time making sure they look their best. That said, don’t forget about your cheeks and eyes – just think of them as back up singers rather than soloists. A tiny smudge of brown shadow blended into the top (and bottom if you like) lash line for definition with a lot of mascara is perfect for the eyes, and be sure to apply foundation (and powder if possible) over the eyelids to make them look fresh.

The modern way to do the cheeks with this, and steer you away from looking vintagey and contrived or too bronzed and OTT, is to lightly blend on a mix of golden bronzer and brick or rose coloured blush a little further up the cheek than you would usually do. The look should be a flush of glow with a touch of golden/terracotta colour. Just doing blush (and in too-pink a shade) makes you look like a silent film star; just doing bronzer all over makes you look untidy. If in doubt, don’t do any cheeks.

Having said all that: If you want to do a subtle stain or gloss version of this lip, I definitely recommend using all-over bronzer. Very fresh.

6. Take time to apply the lipstick correctly.

First because you can’t afford to make mistakes with such a dark colour, second because the amount of time you put in dictates how long it will last. I recommend filling in and outlining the lips first with either a matching lip liner, a nude lip liner (MAC Spice is a universal winner) or a long-last liquid or “texta” lip stain first. (Like Covergirl Outlast Lipstain in Saucy Plum)

Then paint on the lipstick – choose a creamy, silky texture to prevent it getting dry and crusty – with a lip brush. Blot and paint once more. Pop your index finger into your mouth then pull it out to get any excess looking to cling to your fangs, and you’re ready! (For 1995!)

PS. I’m not saying you necessarily should try the goth lip. As with fashion trends – cue poo-catcher harem pants and cut-out bandage dresses – some beauty trends are a bit tricky and do not flatter the Vast Majority of Us. This is definitely one of these trends.

Zoe is an author, columnist and porridge fan. Her books include the beauty bible Amazing Face, dating and relationship guide Textbook Romance, and three novels, Air Kisses, Playing The Field and The Younger Man. Find more info on her here, or supervise on her daily procrastination here and here.

Please understand that Zoë cannot respond to ALL your questions – but never fear, there are readers that are bound to know the answers, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Would you try the goth lip trend?