Omagaaaa this is our first beauty post! (TBH it really was only a matter of time until I caved. )
Some of you may know that I was on Youtube for several years as a beauty blogger, focusing on hair and makeup. As I advanced in my (offline) career, my uploads slowed to a trickle and eventually stopped altogether in 2016. I may come back to it one day, but I do not see it happening in the near future.
So: Red Lipstick?
Alright, on to the topic at hand! Yes, I will be talking about myself for a few paragraphs. Yes, I will touch on colorism. No, you should not be uncomfortable with it. That said, if you are, scroll down to the beauty talk JUST READ. #kthxbye
Red lipstick occupies a particular place in my heart for many reasons. I am always looking for a new one to try out, and red is the main shade I reach for on days I decide to step away from being basic. And if you pay attention to my posts, you will realize that (more than) half of them feature some reddish hue on my pout. 💋
My fascination with red lipstick (and makeup in general) originates from deep in my childhood. My mother is a baddie, and she made me see early on that all lip colors could look great with the right liner. (She unfortunately favored black/deep plum liner for all colors back then, but we won’t get into that today- love you, mommy!)
I grew up thinking I could not WAIT to be old enough to rock all those colors. However, unfortunately, as most dark-skinned little girls, I had some narrow-minded people around me (kids AND adults) who convinced me that someone as dark as me would never look good with any bright colors on their face. I clearly recall people laughing at me when I would try some of my mom’s lippies out, telling me my face looked like a baboon’s butt (just thinking about me makes me angry, even today.) I let those words get to me, and even after I was old enough to wear makeup, I ended up sticking to dark liner paired with sheer glosses or vaseline. Indeed, even though I started wearing full faces of makeup around 2007, I do not recall owning an actual lipstick until 4 years later because I was terrified of looking ridiculous.
In 2011 though, I somehow ended up at the MAC counter in Syracuse, NY. I asked them for a red lipstick to match my complexion, but I was feeling very self-conscious and insisted that I needed the darkest red hue they had (I did not believe I could rock bright red.) The artists recommended Dark Side, and that was (finally) my first foray into the world of lipstick.
Fast forward a few months later, I had been watching A LOT of beauty videos on YT. I watched bloggers RAVE about MAC Ruby Woo, and I started seeing a glimmer of hope… I took my courage, went to MAC, tried it on and … it worked! I was ecstatic! I picked up a tube and proceeded to make it my favorite lippie for the next couple of years. The Woo will always occupy a special place in my heart. By its sheer existence, it shattered all the stereotypes that had been drilled into my head for far too long. It fundamentally challenged a lot of the assumptions I had acquired over the years and pushed me to try things out for myself. I therefore continued experimenting with makeup and ended up trying dozens of other red lipsticks (and plenty of other bright colors.)
In conclusion, while it may look like nothing to most, to ME, red lipstick represents courage, rebellion and doing whatever I DAMN. WELL. PLEASE. I will likely never stop wearing it, even at 90. I’ll be that sassy grandma on your block rocking a bright lip and a fresh perm rod set in her little scooter. 🛵
The Best 10 Red Lipsticks for dark skin (2017 edition)
That was a long ass intro— on to the actual content! I am super pleased to bring you this list I built over the years. I own every single one of these lippies, so this list is based on my own opinion as a melanin-rich red lip lover. I am always researching and buying more reds, so I will keep updating it with new finds as time passes. The criteria I will be discussing below are hue, longevity, cost and my personal thoughts on the product. Plus selfies, aye!
Pertinent background info:
- I am usually the darkest shade in most foundations lines. Some of my shades include:
- Lancôme Teint Idole 560 Suede C
- Fenty Beauty 490 (480 winter shade)
- Smashbox Studio Skin in 4.4
- NYX Control drop foundation in Deep Espresso (mixed up woth Chestnut in the winter).
- My undertones are kind of wonky, but I would say they are neutral-ish.
- I will be trying some of the lipsticks on with a dark cranberry liner, Colourpop Ellarie (very similar to MAC Nightmoth)
- I will complete a kiss test on a napkin.
- I am not a huge fan of reds that show up pink or orange on my skin (I love TRUE reds), but there are a few below that may work for you (undertones play a huge role in how a color looks on the skin, and mine are a little wonky as mentioned above).
#10 Red Lipstick for Dark Skin: NYX Black Label lipstick in Extreme Red
This one was a random beauty supply store purchase. I knew nothing about this “luxury” line from NYX, and still don’t know all that much; I just know that the line is being discontinued but that you can randomly still find this color at Walmart o or on eBay (point in the previous paragraph remains). This is a red lipstick with a pinkish undertone, very creamy (a little too much, actually), with some minute glitter accents leading to a slightly iridescent finish.
- Transfer/ Longevity: Not great, see kiss test
- Cost: A bit on the pricier side for a NYX product (around $14) but cheaper on eBay (watch out for counterfeits)
- Wear: Smooth and hydrating, but does not stay in place too well- slides around a little, leading to an uneven finish.
- Final notes: Solid red, but I dislike the amount of pink in it and I am not a fan of the glitter accents either, so I do not reach for it as much as others.
#09 Red Lipstick for Dark Skin: Bite Beauty High pigment pencil in Tannin (now a lipstick)
I randomly grabbed this one from Sephora one day. It is a basic deep red with some cool undertones, described as a “Poppy Red” on Sephora.com. I got this one in the high pigment pencil form, but it seems like it now permanently lives in the Bite Beauty lineup as a regular bullet lipstick. I reach for it maybe once every other month because, in spite of being gorgeous, I find it too pink and too dark to be a go-to red. That said, Bite beauty has some amazing lippies; they are beautiful and they smell (and taste) amazing, so check them out!
- Transfer/ Longevity: some transfer, but not sloppy. Fades very evenly, which is a major plus.
- Cost: $26
- Wear: very hydrating and comfortable; smells great.
- Final notes: a good option that works well, but a little on the pink side for my taste.
#08 Red Lipstick for Dark Skin: Buxom Full Bodied Lipstick in Scoundrel
Such gorgeous packaging! This lipstick is a blue-based red with a creamy formula and a glossy finish. While I feel like it shows up a little orange on me, I still reach for it here and there. It is unfortunately mostly discontinued, but it is pretty easy to find online; I linked an eBay listing above, and please find an Amazon listing here.
- Transfer/ Longevity: some transfer, see kiss test
- Cost: varies, depends on where you find it; saw from $9 to $29.
- Wear: hydrating and comfortable. It applies well but transfers a fair amount.
- Final notes: Solid option, gorgeous packaging. I would buy it again.
#07 Red Lipstick for Dark Skin: MAC Cosmetics Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo
While I still owe my first foray into bright red lipstick to the Woo, I will say that it has fallen lower and lower on my list every year. It is a gorgeous color, but I realized I thought it was a true red because… I had not come across a TRUE RED before. It is known as a blue-based red, but I now know that it pulls orange on me compared to other lipsticks I own, which is not optimal. The Retro Matte MAC formula is also very dry and tends to crumble a bit, as well as highlight every imperfection on the lip- I recommend a serious sugar scrub exfoliation before wearing it. That said- transfer is minimal due to that formula.
- Transfer/ Longevity: just a bit of transfer, see kiss test
- Cost: $17.50.
- Wear: dry, not comfortable but not terrible; smells like vanilla (or whatever MAC lipsticks smell like, which is YUMMY).
- Final notes: no longer my main bae, but I still got love for it!
#06 Red Lipstick for Dark Skin: Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Lipstick in Jolie-de-Vin
This one is a new discovery! I have known about Bourjois for a long time, but I was only able to get my hand on their goodies a few weeks ago when I was in London. Bourjois is a French drugstore brand that apparently does decent lipsticks, if this line is any indication. (I bought two items from it, and the second one is also featured in this list.) The formula is more along the lines of a glossy lip stain than a lipstick, as far as I am concerned. The color is rich, but not as opaque as my other liquid lipsticks. It never really dries matte and leaves a wash of color behind after the shine is wiped away. Jolie-De-Vin is a wine red color, deep enough to be worn at the office but sassy enough for the happy hour right after work. My only issue is that it is streaky (see swatch on arm)
- Transfer/ Longevity: minimal transfer, see kiss test (this one does transfer more than the other one from the same line I have, so I will call out inconsistencies from color to color)
- Cost: around $13 (£8, but the link above goes to Asos which charges $13.50 with free shipping.)
- Wear: very light and comfortable, but streaky to apply so a few coats are needed
- Final notes: Would buy again for the price, and will look for more shades.
#05 Red Lipstick for Dark Skin : Dose of Colors Liquid Matte Lipstick in Merlot
I absolutely love this lipstick. It is fun, bright, punchy and a whole lot of other great adjectives I can’t think of right now. It has amazing staying power, dries matte as the name indicates, has a great consistency and the color is just amazing; it is also a blogger favorite, as many a makeup guru swear by it. My only 2 issues with it— causing it not occupy in the first spot in this list: 1) it shows up as a deep purple-red on me, not a true red at all. 2) It does not dry completely, compared to some of my other liquid lippies. So while it LOOKS matte, I feel like it remains tacky for a long time, making it a little uncomfortable to wear. Side note- I discovered Merlot at my wedding makeup trial with @NubianBeautyOnline. I loved it so much I bought it for myself the next day.
- Transfer/ Longevity: minimal transfer, see kiss test
- Cost: $18
- Wear: stays tacky for a while which makes wearing it a little annoying, but definitely bearable. It also definitely dries tight.
- Final notes: Love it, just not a true true true red for me.
#04 Red Lipstick for Dark Skin: Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Lipstick in Grand Cru
I mentioned above why I love Jolie-De-Vin. Same shit applies here for Grand Cru, except that the color is even better because it’s a brighter red, AND it is less streaky than its counterpart. YAS!
#03 Red Lipstick for Dark Skin: Milani Amore Matte Lip Crème in #35 Attraction
If you do not have one of these yet consider yourself a makeup lover- what are you doing?
This whole line is FIRE. The formula is bomb, the colors are great, the pigmentation is 100, and it smells like butterscotch. ALL OF THAT for $8 at the drugstore.
I own 2 of them (I have no idea why I don’t own like 5 more; I will remedy that very soon). While I like the other one as well, Attraction is just so so so good. It is just an honest red lipstick working hard for the money, y’all. It applies smoothly and lasts a fair amount of time (I do not recall how long), but for less than $10, the color and wear are just amazing. Just— so good. The only reason why this one is not the #1 on my list is that it dries a tiny tiny tiny bit tackier than my top choice, and has a little less wear. It lost by a margin as thin as Felicia’s edges.
- Transfer/ Longevity: minimal to no transfer, see kiss test
- Cost: $8- $9
- Wear: great wear, stays on for hours
- Final notes: Love it.
#02 Red Lipstick for Dark Skin: Napoleon Perdis DeVine Goddess Lipstick in Aphrodite
Describing this lippie is kinda hard. It is a true red, but it is also darker and not as bright as other reds. It is smooth and hydrating, but also semi-matte. See, I am already confusing myself.
I discovered this lipstick in Sydney, and actually headed back to the Napoleon store to get it on the day I was leaving Australia because I could not stop thinking about it. It is such a perfect classic red: not too bright, not too dark, comfortable to wear, not too cool or too warm, just perfect. The color really is a work of art, and the formula is rich, yet delivers the perfect amount of moisture without slipping and sliding. Magical. This is the red I ended up wearing for my actual wedding, by the way.
- Transfer/ Longevity: some transfer, see kiss test
- Cost: $25- $38 depending on the outlet; link above is Dermstore, $25
- Wear: great wear, stays on for hours and layers well.
- Final notes: Love it, super classic color, my favorite red bullet lipstick at this time.
#01 Red Lipstick for Dark Skin: Coloured Raine Lip Paint in Cherry Blossom
One word: BAE.
Super bright, super long wear, virtually zero transfer, makes my lips look amazing, pops in photos, great formula, does not make my lips Sahara dry, does not crack, makes my teeth whiter and future brighter— I mean, what else can I say? My only quibble with this one is that I did not discover it in time to wear at my wedding. It is by far the red I reach for the most, and there is a plethora of photos of me on the Internet to prove it.
- Transfer/ Longevity: Everlasting (okay no, it does come off a little in the center of the lip after eating greasy food)
- Cost: $17
- Wear: Very opaque, only one swipe needed; great wear, stays on for hours and dries very quick and very matte.
- Final notes: My favorite red at the moment.
Honorable Mention: Fenty STUNNA Lip Paint in #Uncensored
I was rooting for this one, and to be honest- after I saw some of the promo pictures, I wondered whether Cherry Blossom would have some serious competition.
Alas… as gorgeous as this color is, this is NOT a universal red, at least not for me- it pulls bright orange. Nyma Tang had a similar result here, even though she seems to have had a less orange finish than me. Honestly, when I go through Instagram photos using the #Stunnalippaint hashtag, all I see is red lips, and that makes me so sad! I wanted a new red to play with! The texture of this lip color is amazing, the formula is kind of liquid but also very opaque, and it has decent lasting power. It just happens to also be close to neon orange on me (I have similar results with MAC Russian Red, also pulls clearly orange on me in spite of being a red.) So I would say try it for yourself, because it has an amazing formula and is pigmented beyond belief; it just did not work as a red for me.
So this is the end of what is likely my longest post in the history of the universe (I started it on 11/15, I swear. ). I hope this will be useful to you ladies looking for a new gorgeous red for the holidays, or just looking for a new ride and die red lipstick.
If you read that far, thanks or sticking with me!
Until next time.