Black Might Be the Most Flattering Lipstick in the World

Are you surprised?

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All of a sudden, black lipstick is everywhere. Which is especially strange, when you consider the fact that for a long time, it was the purview of goths and those heading out on Halloween. Whether you know it or not, black lips are a trend that warrants your attention and, quite possibly, your participation. Why not?

Now more than ever, lots of people are wearing black lipstick to the office, to brunch, on nights out, on dates, etc. In many ways it's a natural progression—the classic red isn't exciting you anymore, you've played around with purple, and black is no more than a natural evolution.

A model in black lipstick, backstage before the show in Berlin. Photograph courtesy of Christian Vierig/Getty Images
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Just ask Kim Damio, the owner and founder of Portland Black Lipstick Company in Oregon, who's built an entire business out of the shade—proof enough, you might think, that it's no longer marginalized. "I dabbled with it as a younger person, but in my 20s I started wearing it regularly because I thought I looked beautiful," Damio says. As is true for the origin stories of so many businesses, it was Damio's frustrations with finding a black lipstick with natural ingredients that eventually led her to take matters into her own hands.

Kim Damio, wearing black lipstick, of course. Photograph courtesy of Kim Damio
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Damio started out making small batches for her and her friends, then she opened an Etsy shop that quickly proved successful. "I was really happy when people started showing up and having an interest," she says. "I think that once you start putting it out there, people start to want to put their own spin on it."

The Original Black Lipstick by Portland Black Lipstick Company, $14,

 Portland Black Lipstick Co. offers a variety of colors, including blues, browns, and reds, but black, of course, remains the collection's most popular option. "Some colors get made once a month, but black I have to make at least once a week, sometimes multiple times," she says. "Everybody looks good in black! I've never met anyone in black that I thought didn't look good—it's universally flattering across the world."

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The pretty makeup look from the fall/winter 2016 Louis Vuitton show. Photograph courtesy of Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

 Recent fashion weeks would suggest that the industry agrees with Damio. Supermodels, along with Lady Gaga, walked Marc Jacobs' fall/winter 2016 collection wearing the shade. Models also sported the hue during Berlin alternative fashion week back in March, specifically during the show.

A model wears black during the Marc Jacobs fall/winter 2016 show. Photograph courtesy of Randy Brooke/Getty Images
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Other designers are taking a cue from the dark side, employing colors that—while perhaps not technically black—are pretty close to it. For example, the girls in the fall/winter 2016 Louis Vuitton show wore a deep wine shade on their lips, while world-renowned makeup artist Pat McGrath went for a dark brick red at Bottega Veneta.

Model Mica Arganaraz after Bottega Veneta's fall/winter 2016 show. Photograph courtesy of Melodie Jeng/Getty Images
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Want to master the black lipstick trend? Damio and New York-based makeup artist, Kari Bauce, give us tips on wearing the most extreme shade of lipstick. Take note, then take it out in the wild!

For Pale to Medium Skin Tones

Of Monsters and Men singer Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir at the Hollywood premiere of Game of Thrones in April. Photograph courtesy of Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

This might be obvious, but the lighter your complexion, the more black lip color will pop. But that just makes it more fun! Pay attention to how it will appear with the rest of your look. "I would suggest for those with light skin to keep all other makeup to a minimum, unless you're deliberately going for a goth look," Bauce says. "A pale, pink tone blush to warm up the face, mascara, and brushed brows are all that's needed." Bauce notes that because black lipstick will be your centerpiece no matter what, any other face makeup should be soft and clean.

Get the Look: 

  1. Lip Tar in Tarred, $16,
  2. Duo Brush #12, $18,
  3. Beautifying Blush in Pink 14 by Sonia Kashuk, $10,
  4. Voluminous Carbon Black Volume Building Mascara by L'Oreal, $8,
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For Medium to Dark Skin Tones

Actress Megalyn Echikunwoke at the Los Angeles premiere of Underground. Photograph courtesy of Charley Gallay/Getty Images

"On darker skin tones, a little more makeup works without looking garish," says Bauce. "Use a deeper shade of blush—plum or wine tones are really complementary—and add a little bit of eyeliner." Bauce recommends either a simple cat eye or a thin, smudged line. "Add some brow filler, if needed, but don't overdraw," she adds.

Get the Look:

  1. Color Source Buildable Blush in Infrared, $22,
  2. Penultimate Eye Liner, $21,
  3. Matte Lip Velour in Voodoo, $14,
  4. Gimme Brow Eyebrow Gel, $24,

For Anyone Not Quite Ready for Black

Model Amy Willock wearing the dark red lipstick look after Emporio Armani's spring/summer 2016 show. Photograph courtesy of Melodie Jeng/Getty Images

If you aren't convinced you can pull off black lipstick, yet, Damio suggests that you mix your colors with the dark shade to ease yourself into it. "With black and white, obviously when you're blending paint for fine art, you can do anything," she says. "You can do the same with lipstick, and a little bit of black over another color will give you a really impressive look."

"If you put a blue-black and red together you get a purple. So you can do a lot of really cool stuff if you only have a couple of lipsticks and one of them is black," Damio says. She also suggests applying an ingestible-friendly glitter powder over black for added emphasis.

Ready or not, take a look at the pretty black (and almost-black) lip colors below.

  1. Audacious Lipstick in Bette, $32,
  2. Macaron Lippies in Chambord, $6,
  3. 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil in Blackmail, $20,
  4. Punker Semi-Goth Lip Gloss by Ardency Inn, $19,
  5. Studded Lip Lipstick in Nayeon by Kat Von D, $21,
  6. Color Statement Lipstick in 49 Brandy Berry, $6,

Which are your favorites? Circle them and share with your friends who might be willing to take a risk with you! 

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