5 Tips for Wearing Dark Lipstick

Hey there, lipstick lover! I want to tell you a secret… Wearing dark lipstick doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, with a few simple tricks up your sleeve, you can totally rock a bold, vampy lip like a pro. Trust me, I’ve been there – staring at that deep, dark shade in the tube, wondering if I could really pull it off. But guess what? You absolutely can, and I’m here to show you how.

So, whether you’re a dark lipstick newbie or just looking to up your game, get ready to pucker up and dive into my top 5 tips for wearing dark lipstick with confidence. Let’s do this!

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5 Tips for Wearing Dark Lipstick

Dark lipstick is having a major moment right now. From deep plums to blackened berries, these bold lip colors are everywhere. But let’s be real, wearing dark lipstick can be intimidating. The key is pairing it with other makeup elements that help soften the impact, and using application techniques for a flawless finish. I asked professional makeup artists for advice on how to wear dark lipstick in a sophisticated way—here are their best tips.

Choose the Right Shade for Your Skin Tone

When it comes to pulling off a dark lip, choosing the right shade is everything. You want a lipstick color that complements your skin tone, not one that washes you out or looks harsh. Makeup artists recommend considering your skin’s undertone when selecting a dark lipstick shade. “If you have cool undertones, go for deep plums or wine colors,” says celebrity makeup artist Sandy Linter. “Warm undertones look amazing in chocolate browns and brick reds.”

Prep Your Lips Before Application

Dark lip colors have a tendency to highlight any dryness or flakiness, so proper lip prep is crucial. Start by gently exfoliating your lips with a lip scrub to remove any dead skin. Follow up with a hydrating lip balm and let it sink in for a few minutes before moving on to lipstick application. This will ensure a smooth, even canvas for your bold lip color.

Use a Lip Liner for Precision

A lip liner is your secret weapon when it comes to nailing a dark lip look. Not only does it help define your lip shape, but it also prevents your lipstick from bleeding or feathering throughout the day. Choose a liner that closely matches your lipstick shade and carefully outline your lips, starting at the center and working your way out to the corners. Then, fill in your entire lip with the liner to create a base for your lipstick to adhere to.

Apply the Lipstick with a Brush

For the most precise dark lipstick application, forget the tube—use a lip brush instead. This allows you to build up the intense pigment gradually and get into every nook and cranny for even coverage. Load up your brush with color, then start at the center of your lips and blend outward. Keep layering until you reach your desired level of intensity. Blot with a tissue and reapply for extra staying power.

Pair with Minimal Eye Makeup

When rocking a bold dark lip, it’s best to keep the rest of your makeup relatively simple to avoid looking overdone. Stick to neutral eyeshadows, a thin swipe of eyeliner, and a coat or two of mascara. Let your dramatic lip color be the star of the show, and leave the smoky eyes or glittery lids for another day. A fresh, glowing complexion and groomed brows are the perfect understated complements to a statement-making dark lip.

Choosing the Right Dark Lipstick Shade

The key to pulling off a dark lip color is finding the right shade for your skin tone. You don’t want a lipstick that’s going to wash you out or make you look like a corpse bride. Makeup artists agree that considering your skin’s undertone is crucial when selecting a dark lipstick shade. “Cool undertones look best in blue-based plums and wines, while warm undertones can pull off brown-based reds and berries,” says celebrity makeup artist Sandy Linter.

Consider Your Skin’s Undertone

So how do you figure out your undertone? Look at the veins on the inside of your wrist. If they appear blue or purple, you have cool undertones. If they look green, you’re warm-toned. And if you can’t really tell, chances are you have neutral undertones. Once you’ve determined your undertone, selecting a dark lipstick shade becomes much easier. Cool-toned beauties should reach for deep plums, blackened raspberries, and eggplant hues. Those with warm undertones will look stunning in chocolate browns, brick reds, and burgundies with a brown base.

Experiment with Different Finishes

Dark lipsticks come in a variety of finishes, from matte to glossy and everything in between. If you’re new to the bold lip game, a creamy satin finish is a great place to start. These formulas offer intense color payoff but still feel comfortable and hydrating on the lips. Ready to level up? Try a matte liquid lipstick for a dramatic, transfer-proof look. Just be sure to keep your lips well-moisturized beforehand, as matte formulas can be drying. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a glossy dark lip can look incredibly chic and editorial—perfect for a night out.

Test Shades in Natural Lighting

Swatching lipsticks on your hand in the store is all well and good, but the real test is seeing how they look on your actual lips. Whenever possible, try to test out dark lipstick shades in natural lighting before committing. Department store lighting can be deceiving, making colors appear different than they will in real life. Step outside or near a window to get the most accurate representation of how a shade will look on you. And don’t be afraid to snap a selfie—it’s a great way to see if a color is really working for you.

Prepping Your Lips for Dark Lipstick Application

Rocking a bold, dark lip is all about the prep work. You can’t just slap on a deep plum or blackened red and call it a day—trust me, I’ve tried. To ensure a flawless application and long-lasting wear, you need to start with a smooth, hydrated canvas.

Exfoliate Your Lips

The first step in prepping your lips for dark lipstick is to gently exfoliate away any dead skin or flakiness. You can use a lip scrub, a soft toothbrush, or even a damp washcloth to do this. I’m personally a fan of the Sara Happ Lip Scrub—it tastes like brown sugar and leaves my lips feeling insanely soft. Just massage a small amount onto your lips in circular motions, then wipe away with a damp cloth.

Hydrate with a Lip Balm

Once you’ve sloughed off all those dry bits, it’s time to hydrate. Apply a nourishing lip balm and let it sink in for a few minutes before moving on to lipstick. This will help create a smooth, even base and prevent your dark lip color from clinging to any dry patches. My go-to is the Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment—it’s pricey, but so worth it. The blend of sugar and emollient oils leaves my lips feeling plump and baby-soft.

Use a Lip Primer

If you really want your dark lipstick to go the distance, consider investing in a lip primer. These products create an invisible barrier between your lips and your lipstick, helping to prevent feathering, fading, and migration into fine lines. I’ve had great luck with the MAC Prep + Prime Lip. Just dab a thin layer over your lips before applying liner and lipstick, and you’ll be amazed at how much longer your bold lip lasts.

Applying Dark Lipstick Like a Pro

Now that your lips are prepped and primed, it’s time for the main event: applying your dark lipstick. This is where things can get a little tricky—one false move and you can end up looking like a hot mess. But fear not, I’ve got some pro tips to help you nail a flawless bold lip every time.

Outline Your Lips with a Lip Liner

A lip liner is non-negotiable when it comes to rocking a dark lip. Not only does it help define your lip shape and prevent feathering, but it also gives your lipstick something to grip onto for longer wear. Choose a liner that closely matches your lipstick shade, or go one shade darker for a subtle ombré effect. Start by lining the outer edges of your lips, then move inward until your entire lip is outlined. Be sure to use short, feathery strokes for a natural-looking line.

Fill in Your Lips with the Liner

Once you’ve got your outline, it’s time to fill things in. Using the same lip liner, color in your entire lip area. This creates a base for your lipstick and helps it adhere better and last longer. If you make any mistakes or your line looks a little wonky, don’t stress—you can always clean things up with a bit of concealer on a small brush. Just trace around the outside of your lips to create a crisp, clean border.

Apply Lipstick with a Brush

For the most precise application, ditch the bullet and use a lip brush to apply your dark lipstick. This allows you to build up the color gradually and get into all those nooks and crannies for even coverage. Load up your brush with color, then start at the center of your lips and blend outward. Keep layering and blending until you reach your desired level of intensity. If you want a really bold, opaque look, you may need to go in with a second coat.

Blot and Reapply for Longevity

To make your dark lipstick last even longer, blot your lips with a tissue after the first application. Then, reapply a second thin layer of color. This blotting technique helps remove any excess oils and creates a stain-like effect that won’t budge. For extra insurance, you can also dust a tiny bit of translucent powder over your lips through a single ply of tissue. This sets the color and creates a matte finish that won’t transfer or smudge.

Pairing Dark Lipstick with Your Makeup Look

A bold, dark lip is a statement in and of itself, so it’s important to keep the rest of your makeup relatively simple. You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard or competing with yourself for attention. The key is to create balance and let your lips be the star of the show.

Keep Eye Makeup Minimal

When rocking a dark lip, it’s best to keep your eye makeup understated and neutral. Stick to a wash of soft brown or taupe shadow on the lids, a thin swipe of eyeliner, and a coat or two of black mascara. If you really want to amp things up, you can add a subtle highlight to the inner corners of your eyes or under the brow bone. But skip the smoky eyes, glittery lids, or colorful shadows—they’ll just compete with your bold lip and make you look overdone.

Balance with Your Hair Color

Your hair color can also play a role in how dramatic your dark lipstick looks. If you have very fair or light blonde hair, a deep plum or blackened red can appear especially stark and high-contrast. To soften the look, try opting for a slightly sheerer or more muted dark lip color. Those with darker hair can usually handle richer, more intense shades without looking too severe.

Ensure Teeth Look White

One potential downside of dark lipstick is that it can make your teeth look yellow in comparison. To counteract this effect, try using an at-home whitening treatment or opting for a blue-based dark lip color. Shades with cool, blue undertones (think deep plums and berries) can actually make teeth appear whiter and brighter. Warmer, orange-based hues like brick reds and browns are more likely to bring out any yellowness.

Key Takeaway: 

Rock a bold, dark lip like a pro with these tips: pick the right shade for your skin tone, prep and prime your lips for smooth application, use liner and a brush for precision, keep eye makeup simple to let your lips stand out, and choose finishes that match your style. These steps will make sure you turn heads.


And there you have it, my friend – 5 game-changing tips for wearing dark lipstick like a total boss. From finding your perfect shade to keeping your pout looking flawless all day long, you’re now equipped with the knowledge to rock a bold, dark lip anytime, anywhere.

Remember, the key to pulling off a dramatic lip is all about confidence. Own that deep, vampy shade and wear it with pride. Because honestly, there’s nothing sexier than a woman who’s not afraid to make a statement.

So go ahead, swipe on that dark lipstick and take on the world. You’ve got this, gorgeous. Now get out there and let your lips do the talking!

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