20 Best Lipsticks For Dark Skin

by Kathleen Loxton
Three dark skinned women wear pink, red, and plum lipstick

Whether you like your lipstick bold and bright, dark and sultry, or neutral and simple, a new lip colour is one of the easiest ways to instantly update an outfit.

However, if you have darker skin, you’re likely to have been advised not to stray from ‘safe’ beiges and plums, making even the slightest change in colour a little daunting. Luckily, we’ve got all the advice you need for mixing up your makeup with our roundup of the best bright, dark and neutral lipsticks for dark skin.

Shop The Look

[show_shopthepost_widget id=”2495456″]


What Shade?

First things first, we’re very happy to dispel the myth that dark and black skin tones can’t experiment with brighter lip shades. Whilst berry and deep plum lipstick will always look great on you, a bold, statement lip can look equally amazing – if you just follow to a few simple tips.

What Tone?

Of course, skin complexions are much more than just dark and pale. All of us have different undertones to our skin, which also hold the key to deciphering which shades look the best on us.

Most people fall into one of two categories: those with cool undertones, and those with warm. In order to figure this out, simply look at the veins on your wrist. If your veins are more blue in colour, you’re likely to have cooler undertones to your skin; if they look more on the green side, you’re probably a warm undertoned woman. Don’t assume it’s just pale skins that have cooler tones, either. Whilst pale skin is more likely to be cool, any skin complexion can possess both cool or warm undertones.

Four women reveal the underside of their arm to check for warm or cool undertones

Photo Credit: Beautylish

Once you’ve figured out which category you fall into, you can begin the search for a lipstick that truly flatters your skin. For cool complexions, try lip colours with blue or purple notes. Warmer skin tones, meanwhile, work best with peach, orange and coral lipsticks, which match the warmth in your complexion.

What Finish?

Be sure to pick a lipstick that’s highly pigmented and bold in its colouring, as lipsticks lacking in pigment can risk dark and black skin tones appearing ashy. To make sure you avoid this sheer effect, look for lipsticks containing a low amount of Titanium Dioxide, typically used to dilute colour. It’s also best to opt for either a matte or gloss finish when shopping for lipstick shades for dark skin. Gloss will help plump the lips and reflect light, whilst matte textures ensure that the colour is highly pigmented and guaranteed to stand out, no matter the shade.

Bright Lipsticks for Dark Skin

Despite the claim that dark skin tones should stick to classic berry shades, dark skinned ladies actually have the advantage of being able to pull off a variety of colours, so long as they’re highly pigmented.

If you’re looking for red lipstick for brown skin, cool undertones suit a deep, iconic red, whilst warm undertones work with an orange or coral based hue. Red lipsticks for olive skin tones should be a deeper shade, whilst warm and black skin tones should choose a red with a pinkish note. But of course, the colour spectrum for lipstick goes beyond just red! If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, why not try experimenting with oranges, purples, bright pinks or blues? Here are our top nine bright lipsticks for dark skin:

MAC Morange Lipstick
MAC Morange Lipstick (£16.50)
Gucci Audacious Colour Intense Lipstick in Iconic Copper
Gucci Audacious Colour Intense Lipstick in Iconic Copper (£30.90)
Laura Mercier Paint Wash Liquid Lip Colour in Fuchsia Mauve
Laura Mercier Paint Wash Liquid Lip Colour in Fuchsia Mauve (£22)
MAC Girl About Town Bright Pink Lipstick
MAC Girl About Town (£16.50)
NYX Liquid Lipstick Moscow
NYX Professional Soft Matte Lip Cream in Moscow (£6)
Sephora red liquid lipstick stain
Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Always Red (£11.50)
NARS semi-matte lipstick in funny face bright pink
NARS Semi-Matte Lipstick in Funny Face (£21)
Lipstick Pink Ilia Beauty Bright
Ilia Beauty Pink Kashmir Lipstick (£22)
Kat Von D Studded Kiss Neon Orange Lipstick
Kat Von D Studded Kiss Collection in Matte Neon Orange (£17)

Dark Lipsticks for Dark Skin

Dark lipsticks have long been a go-to for darker skin tones, and for good reason. Not only do they look great, but also they stand out and instantly dress up any makeup look. Whilst the majority of dark lip colours suit you, there are some tips you can follow if you want to make sure your lip colour looks as good as it can. Dark mauve lipstick and deep browns are more suited to mahogany skin tones, whereas a deep plum lipstick or berry shades are best for olive skin types. Check out our top nine best dark lipsticks:

NARS Sheer Lipstick in Fast Ride
NARS Sheer Lipstick in Fast Ride (£21)
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Lipstick Glastonberry
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Glastonberry (£24)
Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope Lipstick
Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope Lipstick in Entourage (£35)
Stila Colour Balm Lipstick in Brigitte
Stila Colour Balm Lipstick in Brigitte (£16)
Iman lipstick taboo purple
Iman Luxury Lipstick in Taboo (£12.95)
Ellis Faas Creamy Lips Chocolate Caramel lipstick brown
Ellis Faas Creamy Lips in Chocolate Caramel (£23)
Lime Crime Velvetines black lipstick liquid
Lime Crime Velvetines Black Velvet Lipstick (£15)
LA Splash mousse liquid lipstick raven
LA Splash Smitten Lip Tint Mousse in Raven (£9.95)
Barry M Lipstick Matte Black
Barry M Matte Lip Paint in Black (£4.00)

Bonus: Nude Lipsticks for Dark Skin

Despite the myth that dark skin tones can’t wear nude lip shades, there are a number of nude colours that suit dark skin. Cool taupe colours usually work well for darker skins, but as browns and nudes can sometimes wash out olive to caramel complexions, it’s best to pick a gloss to reflect light and avoid dullness. Here are three nude shades to prove that bold isn’t always best:

Sleek Lipstick barely there nude
Sleek True Colour Lipstick in Barely There (£4.99)
MAC Lipstick Yash nude lipstick
MAC Lipstick in Yash (£16.50)
Lancome labsolu rouge henne dark nude
Lancome L'Absolu Rouge in Henne (£25.50)

Celebrity Lip Looks

If you are unsure as to whether a bold, dark or even nude lip is for you, take some inspiration from these dark-skinned beauties – proof that the colours that suit dark skin are limitless!

Bold Brights

Joan Smalls, Rihanna, and Gabrielle Union aren’t afraid to be adventurous with their lip colours – proving that confidence is the only thing you need to pull off all the colours of the rainbow.

Joan Smalls Bright Lipstick PurpleRihanna bright pink lipstick

Shop The Look

[show_shopthepost_widget id=”2495404″]


Daring Darks

Whilst Rihanna (left), famed for her bold makeup, proves that black lipstick on dark skin looks great, models Jourdan Dunn (centre) and Naomi Campbell (right) prove that deep plum lipstick and softer shades of red create an equally dramatic statement if you’re not quite ready to go all out.

Rihanna Black LipstickJourdan Dunn Mauve LipstickNaomi Campbell Dark Lipstick

Shop The Look

[show_shopthepost_widget id=”2495419″]


Natural Nudes

Who says dark skin can’t rock a nude lip? Whilst Jennifer Hudson (left) and Gabrielle Union (right) prove that nudes can provide a ‘my lips – but better’ look for black skin tones, Freida Pinto (centre) demonstrates how Indian skin works with a nude gloss to enhance natural lip colour, whilst also being the perfect partner to a smoky eye.

Jennifer Hudson nude lipstickFreida Pinto Nude lip glossGabrielle Union nude lipstick

Shop The Look

[show_shopthepost_widget id=”2495424″]


Lipsticks for Dark Skin 101

  • Figure out if you have warm or cool undertones to your skin before you start choosing lip colours.
  • Choose either a gloss or matte textured lip colour to avoid skin looking ashy.
  • Plum and berry shades are always a great fail safe option for darker skin tones, particularly if you’re looking for lipsticks for olive skin.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. Despite the myths, darker skin tones can work most colours, including brights and nudes, so try something new!

Don’t be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone when it comes to lipstick shades for dark skin. Every skin tone can work all lip colours if you just know your colouring and follow a few simple tips and tricks. So, pucker up!

Read more great articles on women’s beauty here at alexie.co.

You may also like