Dark Lipstick Picks

I put some of the most highly recommended dark lipsticks to the test.
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I put some of the most highly recommended dark lipsticks to the test.

In January, I'm all about a dark lip since I've found that wearing a dark shade has the singular ability to take a cozy knit from boring to alluring. In researching a new dark lipstick to buy for the season, I came across countless recommendations from beauty editors proclaiming their "favorite" moody, vampy option—but found hardly any consensus. The wide variety of recommendations inspired me to put some of the most popular dark lipsticks to the test. It was surprising to see that in some cases, what one editor adored, didn't work for me at all and vice versa . See my take—and grades—on some of this season's most beloved dark lipsticks (as well as the perfect sweater for each), below: 

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Lipstick: MAC in 'Diva'
Sweater: Elizabeth And James Feather Sweater (available in burgundy here)
Notes: As soon as I put this lipstick on, I loved that it was the perfect mix of not too glossy, but not too matte. It has a creamy consistency that made it easy to work with and apply. After barely blotting it, the beautiful, raisiny-red color remained. 
Grade: A

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Lipstick: NARS in 'Bette'
Sweater: J.Crew Cream and Grey Sweater (similar here)
Notes: At first glance, this was my favorite—its deep, deep garnet hue looks like candy. I ran into problems applying it since it goes on a little too smooth and glossy, smearing easily. I was close to grading it an A before I got some on my teeth a few minutes into wearing it, which didn't happen with any of the other lipsticks.
Grade: B

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Lipstick: Charlotte Tilbury in 'Glastonberry'
Sweater: Isabel Marant Étoile Striped Sweater
Notes: This has a purple goth look to it that's really cool and fashion-forward. It was also easy to apply and had the perfect amount of shine to it without being glossy.
Grade: B+

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Lipstick: Hourglass in 'Nocturnal'  
Sweater: White and Warren Striped Sweater (similar here)
Notes: This lipstick is a little shinier than I'd like, but it has a good balance of not going on so easily that it smears, but also not being so matte that it's difficult to apply. The color is a cool purplish mauve that's dramatic without being all-out vampy.
Grade: A

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Lipstick: Dolce and Gabbana in 'Desire'
Sweater: Black Skull Sweater by 360 Cashmere (similar here)
Notes: This option is extremely matte which made it difficult to apply—it got caught as it moved across my lip. I liked how it looked once on, but to me, the negative experience with the application outweighed its other benefits.
Grade: C

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Lipstick: Urban Decay in 'Bruise (Sheer)' 
Sweater: TopShop Distressed Sweater (similar here)
Notes: The name of this shade (aside from being slightly off-putting) is also misleading—this shade definitely isn't sheer, but is a deep and appealing dark eggplant meets berry. It has a little more shine than I would like, but the color is beautiful and it went on nicely.
Grade: B

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Lipstick: Lipstick Queen in 'Wine Sinner' 
Sweater: J.Crew Latte Sweater (similar here)
Notes: My favorite thing about this shade is that it's a true brownish-red while being approachable and safe for daily use as long as you balance it with natural eye makeup. It also goes on incredibly smoothly and left my lips feeling hydrated. The only reason I didn't give it an A is because the color feels a little dated.
Grade: A-

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Lipstick: 'One of a Kind' by Rimmel
Sweater: Isabel Marant Étoile Red and Blue-Striped Sweater (similar here)
Notes: There are several things that turned me off of this lip. First, it has a sweet, figgy berry smell that's a little overwhelming and the structure of the tip made it difficult to apply in a precise line, especially for such a dark wine color. It's also far too smooth and smeared almost as soon as I put it on. I immediately gave it a "C-" when I applied it, but because it firmed up and became more stable upon drying, I bumped it up a letter grade.
Grade: B-

Overall Thoughts: It's easy to see why beauty editors favor such a wide variety of dark lipsticks since each tube has its benefits—Urban Decay in 'Bruise Sheer' is the easiest to apply, but NARS in 'Bette' and Charlotte Tilbury in 'Glastonberry' are my favorite colors
Lipstick Queen in 'Wine Sinner' is my pick for best daytime dark lip, and MAC in 'Diva' and Hourglass in 'Nocturnal' tied as my overall favorites for ease of application, glossiness, and color.

Not feeling moody? See my picks for my favorite summer lip stains here.