How to Wear a Deep, Dark Lip Color - Tips & Tricks

Makeup & Beauty Tips on How to Wear a Deep, Dark Lip Color

Share your best tips and tricks for how to apply, wear, and maintain dark lip color!  Feel free to share your experiences, how you mastered techniques, or what you struggle with.

My Tips

  1. Apply a lip pencil in either a color similar to yours, clear, or similar to the lipstick (the latter is my preference).
  2. Apply the dark lip color using a lip brush for maximum precision–you really want crisp, even lines when working with such a bold color.
  3. Apply concealer outside of the lips and blend towards the lips to clean up any stray lip color and help bring the lips forward.

Thanks to Teresa for this week’s topic!


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Carla Avatar

Hourglass Aura lip stain makes a great long-lasting base for plum/wine lipsticks. It’s on the sheer side, so you’re not left looking like you’ve spackled your lips with globs of raspberry jam, or something. The stain is even nice when worn on its own.

Cross Avatar

i usually cover my lips in a lip liner of a similar color, and once i’m done with everything, i use a clear lip pencil around the edges of my lips! that helps clean up any mistakes and also ensures that the color won’t feather. (i find that this works really well with occ lip tars, which tend to bleed all over the place on me within minutes of application.)

Wwendalynne Avatar

I know well defined dark lips are de riguer, but sometimes I think my lips look better after my lipstick has worn off a bit. My suggestion for a different approach: ditch the lip liner and go for a sexy unstructured look. This look is great for people with naturally well-defined or fuller lips.. I think dark lipstick can look even more amazing when it is blotted down, particularly matte shades. Apply lipstick as normal and then use your finger or a small sponge to lightly blur and smudge the lipline. A light touch with cream concealer or even liquid highlighter can work well at this too, but the key is not to completely obliterate the lip line, just to pounce/soften it. Blot lips with a tissue. Pair with a messy unstructured one eyeshadow look..preferably something brown, black, muted or shimmery and plenty of mascara. Grab your moto inspired jacket. Good to go.

Carla Avatar

Something I like to do when I wear just about any lipstick, but especially when I wear deep, dark shades, is to apply a similarly-colored stain as a kind of base. This makes the color look more even, and it won’t be nearly as obvious when the lipstick starts to wear off.
If it’s an extremely dark color, like MAC Night Violet, I also like to soften it a bit by applying a drop of light shimmery gloss (think “She-Zam!” Dazzleglass) on top.
Also, when I wear a dark lipcolor, I try to get my skin looking as close to flawless as humanly possible, and make sure my brows are perfectly groomed.

Rachel Avatar

I actually find the best application is to find a bullet shape that you’re comfortable with and (provided the lipstick is creamy enough) apply from the bullet. I like the slightly unstructured look so I find this just gives that slight softness around the edges and helps make the look less formal. I avoid lipliners like the plague because my lips are chronically dry and they just make matters worse. The best advice though, however you choose to apply, is to rock that dark lippie! Don’t be too paranoid about bleeding, teeth-transfer or wear, just go and enjoy the power!

Aelita Avatar

When I wear my fave dark lipsticks(chanel rouge noir or tom ford black orchid) I try to opt for as little of other make up as possible! like a very natural looking foundation(bb cream or tinted moisturizer) well blended into the skin, may be some light reflective concealer for under eye area, a little brow correction, and mascara) some times I use highlighter and/or blush(mac tenderling is the best as its very natural and not overpowering) other times I use a little shading powder like mac harmony,) if my eyelids are reddish then I use mac paint pot in groundwork lightly swept and well blended to cancel the red:) well and if I have any breakouts or redness in my skin then I simply don’t wear dark lipstick on those days:) as no matter how well you conceal, the redness in the skin can make the whole look appear untidy and just wrong lol)

Rachel Avatar

I actually find that the right lipstick (particularly reds) de-emphasises redness in the skin. My favourite at the moment is Illamasqua Howl, which for whatever magical colour reason makes my skin look bright and flawless without any redness, even with minimal base product.

Alison Avatar

You can push a dark berry lipstick on with your fingers and work a tiny bit of lip balm in for a “stained” finish that’s much more forgiving than full on lippie as it wears off. Blotting with a tissue also helps push the colour onto the lips.
If I want to wear an opaque, strong dark lip I’ll often use a slanted eyeliner brush to create a precise outline, particularly at the cupids bow.

Tori Avatar

I apply the lipstick in multiple very sheer layers and then take a step back and look in the mirror every time I add a layer. I then conceal and even out of the complexion and powder for polish. For eyes, I stick with one colour, usually platinum. Then for balance, I draw a bold, black eyeline. Everything has to look very simple but flawless and it takes a lot of time and effort. But it’s fun to do every once in a while. 🙂

Rachel Avatar

I often go for a flawless foundation, and stray away from anything matte. Eyes are neutral if anything, and I prefer my brows to be freshly done. One thing that I do struggle with, however, is blush. Any recommendations? I always worry that if I put on any it will look like too much, and if I don’t put on any I feel washed out and awkward. Thoughts?

Elle Avatar

I agree with Nath Attack. If I ever attempt a dark lipstick I feel it must be balanced with bold lashes and brows as well. I’m loving the dark “Great Gatsby” look that is in right now. Perfect timing considering its fall now. Does anyone have a suggestion for lipstick that actually stays put?

Gita Avatar

My go-to for lipstick application is to line the lips and fill with first layer of lipstick using a brush. Then, I pat on with my finger a layer of sheer mineral powder, followed by a second layer of lipstick (straight from the tube). I may edge with a little concealer if needed, or a little more lipliner, but I’ve found this gets the product to really stick and stay on the lips. The other thing I recently got was an OCC lip tar in Black Dahlia which very closely resembles my MAC Diva lipstick and burgundy lip liner. Using those items in conjunction (lip tar first) was some SERIOUS staying power! Just a thought, especially since I think the lip tars are great on their own but can also pair well with a lipstick for double the wear time and finish!

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