As the world begins to open up and audacious, glam beauty looks sprint back into the picture, it’s time to get reacquainted with one of the easiest, no-fail makeup ideas for the holiday season: the dark lip. But how do you find the best dark lipstick for your skin tone? We consulted the experts: celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic, who works with Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Chrissy Teigen, and editorial makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci, who’s worked with brands like Marc Jacobs, Versace and Gucci for some answers.
“When choosing the right dark lip, it’s about a sliding scale of depth when it comes to skin tone,” says Ciucci. “If you’re super fair for instance, a rich plum will read as the right amount of drama. If you’re medium-olive, an eggplant will look super chic. If you have dark skin, a deep ebony shade will pop.”
With so many factors like skin tone, undertones and lipstick finishes to consider, choosing the right dark lipstick for you can be tough. But Dedivanovic, who has his eponymous cosmetics line, Makeup by Mario, says there are a few things to keep in mind: “The first is the depth of color, or how light or dark the shade is,” he says. “The darker the shade, the more dramatic the look because there’s greater contrast between your complexion and lip color. The second is the tone, or how warm or cool the shade is. Some examples of dark, cool shades are berries, plums and burgundies, whereas dark, warm shades include browns, rich chocolates and deep reds.”
Still not sure what works for you? “If you’re in doubt, choose a neutral shade that has a mix of warm and cool,” says Dedivanovic, who employs the same theory when choosing a true red lipstick. “The perfect true red has equal parts blue and yellow and looks great on almost everyone.”
If all else fails, just have fun with it! After all, makeup isn’t supposed to be a true science. Ahead, the best dark lipsticks for your skin tone—and the exact shades to shop now.
“Dark lipstick can look amazing against fair skin, so don’t rule out darker shades without trying them on first,” says Dedivanovic.
MAC Cosmetics Satin Lipstick in Verve ($19; maccosmetics.com)
MAC Cosmetics Satin Lipstick in Verve
Ciucci loves this muted brownish-plum for lighter skin tones. (More than 170 5-star reviews agree.)
Makeup By Mario Ultra Suede™ Lipstick in Jesse ($24; sephora.com)
Makeup By Mario Ultra Suede™ Lipstick in Jesse
Dedivanovic calls this shade from his line “a less dramatic option. It’s a pretty pinky, mauvey, brown that looks good on almost all fair skin tones.”
L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Original Satin Lipstick For Moisturized Lips ($7.69; target.com)
L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Original Satin Lipstick For Moisturized Lips
Reviewers say this satin lipstick “goes on smooth” and is “highly pigmented” for a lasting finish.
“I like to play with complimentary shades when picking a dark shade,” says Ciucci of olive-toned skin. “If you have cooler undertones, reach for warmer based lipsticks like bricks or chestnuts. If you have warmer undertones, think plums or deep berries.”
Makeup By Mario Ultra Suede Lipstick in Garth ($24; sephora.com)
Makeup By Mario Ultra Suede Lipstick in Garth
“I love a brown-based shade on olive skin,” says Dedivanovic, who calls this shade “a beautiful brown that has a perfect hint of cool.”
Revlon ColorStay Overtime Lipcolor in Limitless Black Cherry ($13.99; cvs.com)
Revlon ColorStay Overtime Lipcolor in Limitless Black Cherry
This hydrating longwear lipstick lasts up to 16 hours—and is the perfect plum hue for olive tones.
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Unveil ($25; sephora.com)
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Stunna Lip Paint Longwear Fluid Lip Color in Unveil
Ciucci’s go-to color for olive-toned skin, this chocolate brown hue has a matte finish.
“If you have dark skin, a deep ebony shade will pop,” says Ciucci.
Maybelline Composer Super Stay Matte Ink in Protector ($10.19; target.com)
Maybelline Composer Super Stay Matte Ink in Protector
Ciucci loves how this matte ink lipstick becomes the focal point on anyone with dark skin.
Milani Color Statement Lipstick in Sangria ($5.99; ulta.com)
Milani Color Statement Lipstick in Sangria
Reviewers say this deep plum shade gets them tons of compliments. Even more, “the application is creamy smooth, and it’s pigmented just from two swipes,” says one reviewer.
Dior Rouge Dior Refillable Lipstick in Enigmatic Velvet ($38; sephora.com)
Dior Rouge Dior Refillable Lipstick in Enigmatic Velvet
This deep burgundy lipstick from Dior has a matte finish—and more than 1,000 rave reviews.
“I love a deep, rich brown on deep skin tones,” says Dedivanovic.
Gucci Rouge à Lèvres Mat Matte Lipstick in 703 Toni Purple ($43; sephora.com)
Gucci Rouge à Lèvres Mat Matte Lipstick in 703 Toni Purple
Ciucci’s go-to shade for deep skin tones, this dark purple lipstick from Gucci is about as luxe as they come.
Makeup By Mario Master Mattes Pro Lip Palette ($60; sephora.com)
Makeup By Mario Master Mattes Pro Lip Palette
Dedivanovic recommends this palette for all skin tones to mix and match shades based on your mood. But for deeper skin tones, mix the deepest hue — a true black — with any of the reds or purples for a truly deep lip color that won’t budge. “Regardless of your makeup skill level, you can make any shade lighter, darker, cooler, or warmer in seconds,” he says.
Nyx Professional Makeup Shout Loud Satin Lipstick ($8.50; ulta.com)
NYX Professional Makeup Shout Loud Satin Lipstick
This deep chocolate brown has a satin, cool-toned finish.