Mishal Cazmi
Mishal Cazmi
@mishalc

Three Ways I Tried to Make Black Lipstick Less Intimidating

By February this year, it was official: black lips were going to have a major moment. Why? Because it was all anyone could talk about during fashion month, beginning with Fenty by Puma in New York and ending with Dior in Paris. Whether it was opaque tar-like lipstick or shimmery gloss, black was everywhere. Everywhere.

Then, a bunch of beauty brands announced they were coming out with black lipstick, including CoverGirl. This month, it launched its collaboration with Katy Perry made up of 11 demi-matte lipsticks (called Katy Katte Matte) and two mascaras (one black and one blue).

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Here’s what you need to know about the collection: Not only did the singer have 100% input on everything from the packaging to the lipstick shades, she also pushed for a BLACK lipstick, called “Perry Panther.”

So there I was at the launch in NYC, doubtfully looking at other beauty editors much braver than I casually sipping their cocktails with their soot-coloured lips. When it was my turn to pick a shade, I asked makeup artist Vlada Haggarty for coral. Because here’s the thing: As intrigued as I was, I have neither the edginess nor the cool insouciance to pull it off. Katy Perry’s full-on black lipstick at the Met Gala? I could never. But after returning to Toronto, I began toying with the idea. The fact that it’s demi-matte helped. It meant it was more hydrating and wouldn’t make as big of a mess. Maybe I just needed to figure out how to make it more wearable IRL. And so I did. Here’s my week of trying to make black work for me (with Haggarty’s help, of course).

Look #1: Straight up black lips
What you need:
Mascara, highlighter and a lip brush

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How to do it: Apply the lipstick straight from the bullet onto the center of your lips. Then, use a lip brush to define the outer edges. This way, there’s less of a chance of you looking like a member of the Suicide Squad. I would know.

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What I learned: Black lips on their own are so much of a look that you really need to tone down everything else. I chose to wear it with highlighter and some mascara. Once I had it on, almost everyone did a double-take. I am, after all, the girl who loves her pretty pink and coral lipsticks (see above). The reactions ranged from, “You look like a different person!” to “You look goth” to “Your teeth look so white!” I’ll take them all. Truth be told, I felt pretty good.

Look #2: The dark purple lip
What you need: 
A purple lipstick (I used “Cosmo Kitty”) and a lip brush

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How to do it: This little trick comes from Haggarty: “If you want to make any of your lipsticks a little darker—say your favourite pink—to give it a little boost, you can mix it with the black,” she suggests. Use the lip brush to scoop the colours onto the back of your hand but use your fingers to mix them together for optimal results. “Having it on your hand actually melts it a little bit.”

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What I learned: The black gave the purple lipstick a darker tinge. You need to pick the right shade to make it darker, otherwise it looks like pond water. Experiment with a few until you find The One. And don’t leave the chem lab experiment to the last minute because it won’t look pretty. I played around a bit until I was happy with the colour.

Look #3: Ombré lip
What you need: A red or pink lipstick (I used “Crimson Kat”) and a lip brush

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How to do it: A subtle take on ombré, this look lets black take a back seat because you’re only using it in the corners of the mouth. “I love this because it creates the illusion of a more pouty lip. It brings the centre forward, and then puts the corners in the shadow, so it’s like an optical illusion,” explains Haggarty. After putting a little bit in the corners, apply your main colour and blend, blend, blend using a lip brush.

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What I learned: At first, I was terrified of looking crazy AF. But turns out, it looks more subtle than I thought and not too hard to do. If you screw up, just add more red overtop and go back in with black to blend. Our EIC commented that it made my lips look pouty (as Haggarty said it would). So I took my pouty ombré lips and went out for lunch.

All in all, The Black Lipstick Experiment was a success. I came, I saw, and I conquered my fear of too-dark lipsticks. Will I go back to my all-pink-and-coral lipstick uniform? Definitely. Will I wear my black lipstick straight up? I just might.

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covergirl katy kat matte lipstick in Perry Panther

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covergirl katy kat matte lipstick in Cosmo Kitty

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covergirl katy kat matte lipstick in Crimson Kat

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covergirl katy kat matte lipstick in Perry Panther

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covergirl katy kat matte lipstick in Cosmo Kitty

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covergirl katy kat matte lipstick in Crimson Kat