It doesn’t need to be autumn to wear dark lipstick, but there’s something about the cooler temperatures, longer evenings, and changing leaves that make a lot of people want out break out deeper, vampier lip colours like burgundy, plum, espresso, and even pure inky black. And while picking out a gorgeous dark-hued lipstick is a lot easier than say, finding your perfect nude, the mass amount of options on the market does make it intimidating to know which ones to invest in. That’s why we consulted some of the top makeup artists in the business, on both sides of the pond, to come up with a comprehensive list of the best dark lipstick shades out there.
For starters, many of the makeup artists we spoke to prefer dark matte shades over dark shades with a shiny or satin finish. “It’s personal preference, but I feel it looks more modern and it is easier to wear knowing it stays put,” says London-based makeup artist Caroline Barnes, a point makeup artist Samantha Lau (who regularly works with Dua Lipa, including that major blue eye shadow moment at the Grammys) reiterates. “As an artist, I’m drawn to the soft matte formulas for dark lips if I’m using a lipstick that has medium or full coverage. I feel it just looks better in the overall look.” That being said, while many of the shades on this list are matte, there are a few sheer and shiny options for those who don’t like the look or feel of matte lipstick, or who want a subtler way to play around with deeper lip colours.
Another important factor when wearing dark lipstick actually has nothing to do with colour at all, but rather the prep work you should do to ensure your lipstick doesn’t look dry or flakey. “Prepping the lips is definitely one of the most important things before applying any lipsticks in general, but especially crucial for dark lipsticks,” says Lau, who has her process down to a science.
“First, I slather the lips with a hydrating lip balm, like the Dr. Sturm Lip Balm (£40) or the Omorovicza Lip Balm (£34) (which I understand are quite expensive but I’m quite the connoisseur for lip balms because I have dry lips). I also love the original version of Lanolips (£11), which is fantastic for nighttime and for winter months,” Lau explains. “I do the rest of the makeup and when it comes time for lips, I blot off the excess lip balm (if it hasn’t been absorbed into the skin already), and follow up with the Lanolips lip scrub (£13) to make sure all the dead skin is off. I then wipe off the scrub and reapply lip balm. I let that sit for a bit before blotting off the excess and then lips are ready for lipstick application.”
Now that we’ve addressed formula and process, all that’s left is perusing through these pro-recommended shades that range from makeup artist-developed brands like Charlotte Tilbury, Pat McGrath Labs, and Lisa Eldrige, to drugstore options from companies like Maybelline and Revlon, with a few indie brands like MDM Flow and Surratt Beauty thrown in the mix. And lastly, many of the colours on this list work with all skin tones, simply because of how much pigment they have. “With bold shades you are making an impact with your look,” explains Barnes. “The shades which are deep and rich create a stunning contrast against any complexion.”