I Braved the Best Black Lipsticks for a Week
Here's what I *actually* loved.
I’m not much of a beauty risk-taker. Blush is a “special occasions” thing, and I’ve been using the same eyeshadow palette since high school. So when I set out to try out the best black lipsticks for a story, I had some trepidation.
Will I look like a goth wannabe? Could it be a smudgy mess? Might I resurface some unsavoury angsty teen memories? I’m happy to report that while black lipstick may be intimidating, it’s entirely worth the risk.
What to look for in the best black lipsticks
For the perfect inky lip stain, long-lasting quality is of the utmost importance. When you eat and drink and speak, your lipstick naturally dwindles. Pick something with staying power to avoid splotchy, worn-looking lips. We want to avoid that colour chaos.
Secondly, you’ll want a product that is as smear-proof as possible. Nothing is quite as humbling than walking around with makeup on your teeth — but with black lipstick, that blunder becomes all the more obvious. Then comes the wear experience. If your committing to a deep shade, you shouldn’t settle for sticky finish or crumbly texture.
The best black lipsticks I tried:
E.l.f. O Face Satin Lipstick
For a low price and exceptionally high quality, Elf tops FASHION’s list of the best black lipsticks. This rich hue is intensely pigmented with a deluxe creamy feel. I swatched this on before an outing with friends. I was pleasantly surprised by how it offered a bold look without feeling tacky on my lips.
It even stayed put for a few hours without a re-apply. Made with hydrating squalane and jojoba esters, it has a nourishing, comfortable feel. All in all, this lipstick offers an instant sultry aesthetic, without any real effort.
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Matte cubic packaging with easy-to-close magnetic cap
- If you love it, choose from 20 equally quality lipstick shades
- Because it is so pigmented, this one may rub off on things — so be sure to give it a good blot before you go out
Nyx Suede Matte Lipstick
Wearing this black lipstick unlocked a coolness in me I didn’t think I had. Choose it for the satin-y application, keep buying it for the fresh matte wear. Trust me when I say it’s so pigmented that you really only need one swipe for that crisp stark finish.
I debuted this at a birthday party where the dress code was “wear something you never wear” — perfect for my first spin with this decidedly severe look. Amid cake tasting and cocktail sipping, it only faded slightly, with just one reapplication over the course of three hours.
Despite an affordable price, it’s easily one of the best black matte lipsticks I’ve ever tried.
- Rich, velvety finish
- Easy-to-use glide-on product for an even application
- Matte finish
- As is typically the case with matte lipsticks, this has a slightly drying effect. To prevent this, prime your lips with a thin layer of hydrating lip balm.
Best with red undertones
Clinique Black Honey Lipstick
Disclaimer: This is not really black. But if you’re like me and find even the best black lipstick daunting, Clinique’s viral offering is a great entry point into the look. With a rich burgundy hue, it’s just dark enough to give you a moody lip without forcing you into full spooky-mode.
More like a tinted balm than a lipstick, it’s lauded for its ability to complement all skin tones. It’s super sheer and moisturizing, and on my pale complexion, it builds into a brownish sheen. I’ll admit it felt like a bit of a cop-out wearing this in a best black lipsticks challenge, because it’s a wearable staple that will definitely become a part of my daily routine.
- Deeply moisturizing
- So buildable and easy to apply that you can apply it on-the-go without a mirror
- Allergy-tested and fragrance-free for those with sensitivities
- Liquid lipstick finish in a more traditional tube applicator
- Casual, everyday wear that doesn’t require a full face of base makeup—wear it like a balm
- Designed to complement all skin shades, so it may not look exactly like the photos
Gucci long-lasting satin lipstick
This lipstick gave me a God complex. At $61, it’s definitely the most luxurious of the bunch, and it’s not hard to see why. Packaged in an elegant gold-hued tube with intricate embroidery designed by Gucci’s former creative director Alessandro Michele, it easily doubles as a trinket for your vanity.
It also smells delicious — a subtle sugared violet scent — but it doesn’t irritate your lips when worn all day. I sported this out to dinner at a ramen restaurant, and was happily surprised that it mostly stayed put, with the colour fading into a dark lip stain at the end of the meal.
The application is lightweight and creamy, resulting in a luxurious satin finish that feels totally indulgent. If you love it, Gucci also offers a range of other dark lipsticks.
- Vegan and silicone-free
- Hydrates lips instead of drying them out
- Designer packaging topped with the iconic “Gucci” logo
- Because it’s got a smooth satin application, this lipstick doesn’t form the most clean-cut line when you apply it. If you’re looking for a more distinct edge, try pairing it with a lip liner. We like this best-selling option from Nyx to set and secure your lipstick.
Best gloss finish
Make Up For Ever rouge artist lipstick
If there were ever a lip colour that encapsulated Halloween, it would be this one. Make Up For Ever’s dark indigo lipstick is so severe that upon application, it looks like a mysterious bluish black. Coming in a sleek sculptural bottle, the product gives a shiny satin finish adjacent of a deep gloss. It’s a cinch to pair with a classic black lip liner.
By the time I tried this one, I was feeling quite emboldened by my best black lipsticks expedition. After swiping it on to run errands, my lips felt nourished and glowy, and I was surprisingly comfortable in my moody get-up. Jenny Humphries would approve.
- Easy, even application
- Made with amino acids for deep hydrating black liquid finish
- Sleek bottle packaging that looks great on your vanity
- Pair with a black lipliner for greater definition
- Makeup artist-approved
- Not as pigmented as other options, so more in need of re-applications throughout the day
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