5 Ways to Wear a Dark Lip With Confidence

Throw off your beauty shackles and embrace a look that’s a little vamp, a little daring and a whole lotta sexy. Here’s how to wear a dark lip with style and confidence this fall.

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Dark lip colour
Photo: ShutterStock

Joining the Dark Side: A Dark Lip Primer

Succulent plum, brick red or chocolate brown? Take your pick. Deep, dark lipsticks are the beauty products to covet right now-and you can wear them no matter your age, skin tone or Netflix show preference. If you like the look, wear it! All you need to do is give yourself permission.

Not sure where to start? That’s where makeup artist and Elizabeth Arden trainer Jamie Petrovic comes in. Here are her pro tips for choosing a shade, applying your lipstick and balancing the rest of your makeup look.

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Michelle Dockery of Downton Abbey
Photo: Instagram @mararoszak

1. Pick a hue, any (dark) hue

Women tend to look best in cool makeup shades if they have cool-toned skin, and warm shades if they have warm-toned skin. Not sure what your tone is? If you have blue veins in your wrists and look good in silver jewellery, you have a cool skin tone (like Downton Abbey‘s Michelle Dockery, shown here) and should choose a lipstick that has a cool, blue undertone. If you have green veins in your wrists and look good in gold jewellery, choose lipsticks with orange, yellow or gold undertones. (Some women have a neutral skin tone and can wear any colour.)

How dark you go is a matter of personal preference. “I think the important thing is for women to feel comfortable and beautiful in whatever they’re wearing,” says Petrovic. “Just because it’s a dark lip colour doesn’t mean that only a certain type of woman can wear it.”

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Stila Lush Lips plumping primer
Photo: Stila

2. Prep the canvas before you wear a dark lip

Hands down, the most important steps of your dark lip application happen before you even reach for the lipstick tube. That’s because dark lipstick can bleed, fade or look bumpy if you haven’t first primed your canvas. Start by exfoliating to ensure your lips feel soft and supple. Petrovic recommends mixing Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant with sugar for a homemade scrub, or sloughing off dead skin with a granular cleanser.

Next, apply your foundation and take it over the lip line. “I find this is a really great way to set a clear slate,” says Petrovic.

Finally, smooth a lip primer onto your lips, working it into the grooves until the finish is dry and matte, not shiny or creamy. The primer will help anchor your lip pencil and lipstick and prevent feathering and fading.

Add these to your makeup bag:

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant, Fragrance Free, $29, Hudson’s Bay.
Stila Lush Lips Water Plumping Primer (shown here), $27, Sephora.

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Make Up For Ever Aqua lip pencil
Photo: Make Up For Ever

3. Fall in line

For most women, a neatly lined lip is the most polished look, and it can even make your lips appear fuller. Use a liner that matches your lipstick to trace your cupid’s bow, then follow along the edge of your lip line to the corners, drawing slightly above the edge instead of directly on it. “It’s very, very subtle,” says Petrovic. “But it will emphasize the curvature of the lips.” You can also fill in your entire lip with pencil to make your lipstick last longer.

Add these to your makeup bag:

Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Colour Precision Glide Lipliner in Hazelnut, $27, Hudson’s Bay.
Make Up For Ever Aqua Lip Waterproof Lipliner Pencil in 9C (shown here), $24, Sephora.
M.A.C Cosmetics Lip Pencil in Cyber World, $21, M.A.C. Cosmetics.

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bareMinerals Gen Nude Radiant Lipstick in Posh
Photo: BareMinerals

4. Lipstick app

Since many women apply lipstick in a rush or on the go, Petrovic recommends smoothing on colour directly from the tube, then working it in with a lipstick brush. “The creaminess of the lipstick will feel great when you get it right into the grooves,” she says. “You’ll feel the hydration and the staying power is even longer.”

Add these to your makeup bag:

bareMinerals Gen Nude Radiant Lipstick in Posh (shown here), $25, Sephora.
NYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Cherry Skies, $10, NYX Cosmetics.
Maybelline Colour Sensational Vivid Matte Liquid in Possessed Plum, $13, Maybelline.

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Woman with dark lip and dark framed glasses
Photo: Aleshyn_Andrei/ShutterStock

5. The rest of your makeup

According to Petrovic, “You want a complete-but very natural-eye look to balance out the dark lip.” For most women, that means a well-groomed brow, pale eye shadow and mascara. She also recommends keeping the skin clean and matte with foundation, concealer and a light blush. If you’re optically challenged, now is a great time to break out dark-rimmed glasses. The strong frames on the upper part of the face will complement a bold lip on the lower half.

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