Black lipstick may once have been consigned to the realm of Halloween and goths, but it’s officially entered fashion’s runways this season. Models brought moody attitude to the look throughout AW19: with black-cherry lips at Yohji Yamamoto, pristine punk noir at Marni, the darkest burgundy at Rejina Pyo and minimalist black lip liner at Chalayan. Makeup lovers ready to diversify, your time is now.
Here are Vogue’s top 4 tips to mastering the elevated black lip:
1. Preparation is everything
Unlike the sartorial equivalent, black lipstick is far less forgiving. Chapped or dry lips are instantly noticeable the darker you go; so, applying lip-masks and balms before the pigment is an essential first step.
Once your lips are smooth and well hydrated, it’s all about creating a neutral base. International lead makeup artist at Nars, Vincent Ford, advises: “To prep, start by applying a liquid concealer, like Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, around the top and bottom of the lip line. Then lightly powder the outside of the lips with a loose translucent powder. This will help to achieve a crisp lip line and keep the colour from moving.”
2. Find the right shade of black—no, really
Not all black lipsticks are created the same. A deeply pigmented, matte product is very different to one with a waxy texture, or a high-shine glossy hybrid. Matte lipsticks will have the best staying power and are much easier to top up, compared to gloss that can fade and feather at the edges.
“I like to use a black lipstick that has a bit of a dark purple undertone,” says Ford. “This blends better with your natural lip shade and doesn’t look too harsh.” Or, for an entry level, take inspiration from models at Tommy Hilfiger and Rejina Pyo AW19, where dark, moody hues—rather than pure black—evoked that same sense of gothic. Think deepest burgundies, plummy purples and intense cherries, for a great alternative to the full-black lip.
3. Build the intensity of your black lip
To keep dark lip colours in place, layer up the products underneath. A primer is a good place to begin, followed by an initial base of your chosen black-ish shade, plus lip liner around the edges to seal. Blot with a tissue and blotting powder to embed the colour, before further applications of lipstick: step and repeat. This method will really set the colour for long-lasting wear.
4. What should the rest of your makeup be doing?
Keep the rest of the look super neutral: this is not your Halloween facepaint. Think natural shades for the face, light-reflecting under-eye concealer and soft-focus skin, so the emphasis remains solely on the darkest of lips. Possibly add a little eyeliner to define the inner lash-line; but strictly no eyeshadow.
“When I do a black lip, I like to have a balanced look,” says Ford. “For the eyes, I tightly line the waterline with smudge-resistant eyeliner in black or a dark blue (Nars High Pigment Longwear Eyeliner in Via Veneto or Park Avenue works well for this). Then finish with a coat of mascara on the top and bottom lashes to complete the look.”