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In decades past, if you were looking for black lipstick, you had to wait until October to find it — or use an eye pencil as a stand-in. But these days, more and more brands are beginning to offer something other than pink, red and plum.
Beauty expert Meirav Devash has “been wearing black lipstick since way back in the early ‘90s when you had to stock up on it — and your fishnets, natch — for the entire year when the Halloween store came to the mall,” she says. “That stuff was awful. Waxy, or worse, greasy, and when your hair would catch a breeze it would get stuck to your lips and you’d wind up with black smears everywhere.”
These days, of course, the best black lipsticks for Halloween and otherwise are sold year-round, so there’s no need to settle for costume makeup. “A great black lipstick is long-lasting and doesn’t transfer, but also doesn’t feel like wearing a coat of house paint,” Devash says. “Matte is best, but without some moisturizing ingredients, matte black shrivels your lips like a raisin,” she adds, saying that you must “exfoliate and moisturize first because black really highlights scaly spots.”
According to Nyx Cosmetics global director of education and training Erika Guinn, finding the best black lipstick for you isn’t any harder than finding the right red. “The three [most important] qualities of a good black lipstick also apply to different colors: You want the best color payoff, easiest application and the texture of your choice,” she says.
Ahead, find the best black liquid and matte lipsticks, according to the experts.
$8 at Nyx and Ulta
“When I wear matte, I’m going for a bolder statement,” says Guinn. “It’s also where I tend to use deeper colors, because there is no transfer or smearing, and it always stays perfect.” This affordable favorite will give the color payoff and comfort of a quality lip color.
$27 at Macy’s and Smashbox
A favorite of NYC-based makeup artist Rachael Krutchkoff, who works with brands like Marc Jacobs and Parade, this liquid lipstick is a true black.
$45 at Sephora
“When it comes to a traditional lipstick that leans matte, Gucci Beauty’s Long Lasting Satin Lipstick in Crystal Black is my go-to,” says makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci, who works with brands like Saks, Steve Madden and Paravel. “The pigment is rich, the feel is creamy and the finish is shine-free. The packaging is also pure luxury.” Krutchkoff agreed that this shade from Gucci is one of her must-haves for a stay-all-day look.
$25 at Make Up For Ever
This makeup artist favorite is well-loved among customers, too, for its smooth application and pigmented finish.
$26 at Saks Fifth Avenue and Nars
This nearly-black orchid lipstick from Nars falls in between matte and sheer. “Just use lip liner to outline and fill in the lips before applying lipstick so it doesn’t run,” says Krutchkoff.
$29 at Pat McGrath Labs
“Grab a black lip liner or eyeliner and shape the natural lip line, then fill in the whole lip,” says Guinn. “This acts as a base for the black lipstick, and it will keep it from shifting. I also layer my lipstick and set it with translucent powder in between. This locks it in and makes the lips look smoother.”
$7 $4.27 at Walgreens
“It’s only seven bucks so you don’t have to be a lifestyle goth for a decent price-per-wear,” jokes Devash. “It starts out creamy with a bit of sheen and it wears to matte, which is cool.” For some shine, Nyx also has a metallic version of the formula.
$24 at MAC and Ulta
“This one’s super pigmented and super matte, plus the doe-foot applicator is actually useful in getting a precise application,” says Devash.
$18 at Black Moon Cosmetics
“It’s velvety and matte, it lasts for hours and it’s created by goths,” Devash says, calling it one of her favorites. If Sleepwalker is sold out, there’s also a dramatic black metallic shade, Castle.
$10 at Nyx and Ulta
“I’m addicted to our new Lip Lingerie XXL Matte Liquid Lipstick in Naughty Noir,” says Guinn. “It’s jet black, easy to apply and it looks gorgeous on all skin tones — you just have to be bold to rock this black lipstick trend!”
$16 at Lovecraft Beauty
“You can also do a cool vampire ombre look by lining in black and filling in the lips with a blood red, then blending,” says Devash. “Or a grungy version lined in black and filled in and blended with a clear gloss or Lovecraft Beauty Goth Wave Gloss, which is sheer black plum with iridescent purple sparkle. (Lovecraft Beauty, I should mention, is a goth-owned brand by makeup artist Francelle Daly.)”
$15 at Sephora
Fenty Beauty’s Stunna Lip Paint was one of Ciucci’s favorites, but since its black shade was discontinued, this pick from Sephora’s in-house collection makes for a much-lauded dupe.
$7.98 at Amazon
This matte liquid lipstick has Ciucci’s go-to doe-foot applicator and a stay-all-day formula.