How to do Dark Lips - Sigourney's Edit

Dark lips just feel so right, right now. Whether you choose berry, cherry, merlot, or mahogany, as long as it’s deep down the red, brick and purple palette it will feel totally of-the-moment. But be warned, there is an art to shade selection, lip preparation and application. For a pro's perspective, we asked makeup artist Filomena Natoli (who we profiled in her gorgeous home, here) for her best dark lip tips.

  Sigourney wears  MAC Lip Liner in Garnet  and  MAC Lipstick in House Wine . Blazer by   Ellery  .

1. Prep your pout

 Sigourney wears  MAC Lip Liner in Auburn   and   Smith's Rosebud Salve  .  Dress by  Zimmermann .

Sigourney wears MAC Lip Liner in Auburn and Smith's Rosebud SalveDress by Zimmermann.

Dark and bold colours show up dryness and flakiness so it's super important to prep. "Before applying a dark lip, lips must be smooth soft and supple," says Filomena. "Gently buff the lip with a warm moist face cloth or try Fresh Sugar Lip Polish. It buffs like a sugary balm and leaves the lip soft and moisturised." 

2. Start with a dark liner

A deep shade needs to be applied with precision, so a lip pencil will give you the control and the definite line that you need. Filomena swears by MAC lip liner in Vino or Night Moth.  Line the lips and then fill them in before applying your lipstick over the top – this will help the shade last, as well. 

3. Go around the outside with concealer

 Sigourney wears  MAC Lip Liner in Vino   and   MAC Lipstick in Media  .  Coat by  Max Mara . 

Sigourney wears MAC Lip Liner in Vino and MAC Lipstick in MediaCoat by Max Mara

For a seriously pro finish, go around the lips with a little concealer on brush, says Filomena.  “Use the concealer brush to tidy up the line of the lip if you make any mistakes and then lightly line the outside to give a sharp clean line. It also creates a slight highlight to give a little projection to your pout.”

4. Pick your poison

When shopping for a dark lipstick, always try before you buy. If you can, go to a department store or makeup boutique and get the makeup artist to select a shade for you. “Generally if you have a yellow undertone to your skin, go for the darker shades that have warmth to them,” explains Filomena. “If your have pink undertones go for cooler purpley shades.”

For a bold look, Filomena loves MAC lipstick in Media, Hang Up or Cyber. “These have been seen on catwalks all over the world but they also translate well into the real world when done properly,” she says. “In winter we all tend to wear more black and this lip colour can really lift an outfit. Great for wow factor lips. However they don't work so well on thin lips.” 

For a less intense look, try rich rusty auburn tones. She suggests lining and filling the lip with MAC lip liner in Auburn and dabbing the centre of the lip with a little paw paw or rosebud salve for a glint of moisture. “This is a great option if the balmiest black cherry tones are not your thing or as a nice change to red.”

For a subtle look, go for garnet and ruby lip stain or a classic red lipstick.  “Never-fail tones are MAC lipstick in Ruby Woo, Chanel Rouge in Rebelle and Nars lip liner in Red Square

5. Make it matte

To be perfectly on trend, steer clear of dark gloss. “A matte finish looks more modern,” explains Filomena. “Gloss also can tend to make the colour bleed and look a little too intense.” Instead, she suggests lining the lips with MAC Lip Liner in Garnet and adding a layer of MAC Lipstick in House Wine on top for a modern day look. 

6. Balance it out

Keep the rest of your face clean and dewy with not too much on the eyes and little to no powder. “Over powdered skin can take it to 'Goth territory,” says Filomena. “Just do an application of mascara onto well curled and separated lashes. A clean winged eye also works."


Seven more shades to try:

Best for sensitive skins:

Best for darker skin tones:

Best for dry lips:

Best for budget:

Best purple for fair skins:

Best for medium skin tones:

Best for splurge: 


Story by Sigourney. Photography by Jake Terrey. Makeup by Filomena Natoli. Hair by Amanda Kowalevsky Oscar Oscar Paddington.


Do you ever rock a dark lip?
Could you?
Would you?