Seasonal fashion expectations are the worst. And I’m not talking about trends here. I’m not talking about questionable short-lived items like harem pants or fringed boots that, like fruit flies, spring up all of a sudden, invade the environment and quickly die. I’m talking about expectations, age-old scriptures from the higher powers of fashion that mandate, year after year without fail, a color palette of dying leaves in the fall and a ubiquitous tidal wave of pastel monstrosities come spring. “On Wednesdays we wear pink,” except for an entire season.
And now we have summer. Sticky, melty, sleep-with-people-we-don’t-like-because-they-have-AC summer. Summer when the beauty trends are all juicy this, coral that, brights and neons and bronzes good enough to eat but probably toxic, all the magazines hell bent on getting you the glossiest gloss and most “believable” faux glow.
But what about the rest of us, those who prefer to marinate in the SPF 85 until our skin stops existing altogether, whose only acceptable version of a natural glow is a post-bourbon flush and who refuse to wear white ever, Labor Day be damned? We are creatures of principle. Just because the weather changes doesn’t mean we have to. For the night crawlers among us who would like to update their beauty arsenals but insist on keeping things dark, dark, dark no matter what time of year, I’ve compiled this list of shadowy shades as an antidote to the standard-issue brights that are currently de rigueur. Refreshing as leaning against a cold stone gargoyle on a hot summer day.
1. Rituel de Fille Forbidden Lipstick in Shadow Self
Those who are constantly on the search for the perfect blue-black will know how hard it is to find a color with depth, as complex on the mouth as it looks in the tube. As if the name alone didn’t make you want to own it, Shadow Self is a slightly metallic blue-black with a red undertone that shifts between a beetle-like sheen in bright light and a plush warmth in the dark. Rituel de Fille lipsticks are handcrafted from a bare-bones lineup of natural ingredients and come housed in a thin twist-up container (I don’t know, there’s just something more romantic about those) and their light, refreshing herbal scent totally counts as an interaction with nature, even if you’ve just been sitting in your room all day.
2. Ardency Inn Modster Long Play Supercharged Lip Color in Black Is Blue
A lovely, sophisticated blackened navy with an indigo undertone and semi-matte finish, slightly less inky than Shadow Self and considerably smoother to apply. Takes a couple coats for full opacity, which makes it useful as a darkening agent for lighter lipsticks and a solution for reds that aren’t blue-toned enough. Creamy, long-lasting and pretty damn close to universally flattering for a cool-toned shade. Oh and the case has a magnetic closure, which is pretty fancy too.
3. Portland Black Lipstick Company Lipstick in Undead Red
First of all, can you expect anything short of excellence from a company with the tagline “All-natural makeup for that un-natural look”? The answer is no, you cannot. PDX Black Lipstick Co. creates the twisted colors of your dreams, from crystal white to gunmetal to many-hued greens and violets and blues, all from ingredients that make biological sense. They are packaged in convenient lip balm style tubes and are very highly pigmented, moisturizing and have a slight minty smell/taste. Here we have Undead Red, a dark, dark rusted brown-red, exactly the color of dried blood. Obviously a staple.
4. Melt Cosmetics Lipstick in Space Cake
For some reason, it is insanely difficult to find supersaturated, completely matte lipsticks in non-traditional colors. This is where Melt Cosmetics answers our prayers. Space Cake is the iron-colored lipstick your alien alter ago has been craving all its life – a rich, opaque hard-edged gray with a chilly blue base that’s not the least bit pigeon-esque.
5. MAC Cosmetics Lipstick in Cyber
It is extremely possible that when it comes to innovation, pigmentation and wearability, MAC can do no wrong. Cyber is a blackened eggplant with a blue undertone and a slight sheen, as pervy-sexy as the name implies. To be worn with head-to-toe PVC or to the grocery store. Or with head-to-toe PVC to the grocery store.
6. NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Train Bleu
Only the slightest bit warmer-toned than Cyber and super super matte, Train Bleu is the lip color that does not f**k around. It comes in a pencil, which absolves one of the tedious step of drawing on lip liner, and stays put basically forever. Reimagined as a life partner, this lipstick would be the most idyllic kind: low maintenance, spellbinding and fiercely committed.
7. Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Intense Lipstick in #50
Unadulterated semi-glossy pure black, evenly opaque in two coats. Long lasting. Non-drying. Highly pigmented. Badass.
8. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in Black Dahlia
At this point it’s safe to assume that almost everyone on the planet is familiar with the magic of Lip Tar, but for those who are not, Lip Tar is basically the lip color equivalent of methamphetamine – even a tiny amount is probably too much. Black Dahlia is a well-balanced blackened crimson-burgundy that can be layered to opacity or dabbed on with a finger for a gorgeous deep berry stain. (Side note: Because this is literally paint in a tube, if precise application is your goal make sure to have a lip brush and/or liner on hand, and probably be sober.)
9. Givenchy Rouge Interdit Magic Lipstick
This is black lipstick for people who don’t want to wear black lipstick. Actually an overpriced pale berry lip balm. Given an honorable mention because it looks hot in the packaging. Not actually recommended.
10. NYX Extra Creamy Round Lipstick in Bruised
Creamy, grungy pitch-dark blackberry at less than the price of a beer. Elemental.