Glow Guide

Wearing dark lipstick makes life more interesting

Wearing a dark lipstick in the day is a risk, but it makes life more interesting

Many women in Singapore take a softly-softly approach to day-time make-up. Discreet eyeshadow and a subtle lip colour are practically a uniform in most workplaces.

Rocking a purple lipstick can evince a flicker of self-consciousness amid the peach and pink-lipped corporate crowd.

But, as my recent forays into wearing darker lipsticks showed me, few people raise an eyebrow at a lip that is more goth than most.

It’s like what agony aunts say.

Stop worrying about how you look in a swimsuit. Every other female is probably too busy thinking about how she looks in hers to pay much attention to you. Just enjoy the infinity pool, already.

While deep red lips may be more suited to late-night temptress looks, experimenting with the dark during the day has its own appeal.

Deep berry shades appear to shrink the mouth to a dainty rosebud.

A dark lip can pull together a look like how the sharply etched mouth of a geisha completes her otherworldly mien.

On the flip side, wearing deep-toned lipsticks can feel costumey, which, as any Project Runway aficionado knows, is the death knell for chic-ness.

The one time I tried a red-brown shade that looked almost black, I felt like I should go full Halloween and add skull facepaint.

But I like how dark lipstick is a risk I take for the day. Requiring more effort, it makes life more interesting.

It doesn’t have the easygoing, wash-and-wear quality of lighter or brighter shades of lippie – so I need precise contours, otherwise my lips look wine-stained. So if your hands are unsteady, use a lip brush.

Watch out for fading after several hours, which can leave a burgundy outline enclosing pink lips. This is not a good ombre look.

Another trick is to use lip liner in a similar shade to fill in your lips to ensure a uniform darkness.

Using lashings of lip balm before painting in your lips helps as dark matte lippies are sometimes drying.

But, despite the prep work, dark lipstick can be attention-grabbing when worn in the daytime.


Deep berry shades shrink the mouth to a dainty rosebud. Dark lipsticks include (from left) YSL Beaute’s Tatouage Couture Matte Stain in No. 8 Black Red Code, Marc Jacobs Beauty’s Le Marc Liquid Lip Crayon in Burn Notice, Skinfood’s Plum Mellow Glow Lip Lacquer, #3, Sheer Plum, Palladio Intense Lip Paint in Deja Vu, MAC Lipstick in Rebel and Clinique Pop Matte Lip Colour + Primer in Icon Pop.  PHOTOS: ISTOCKPHOTO, DESMOND FOO

Here are some wearable darks that might make you feel like Rose Red among a sea of Snow Whites.

Suitable for fair skin, Palladio Intense Lip Paint in Deja Vu, ($11.90, available at Guardian stores) is a moisturising deep red that makes teeth look whiter.

Marc Jacobs Beauty’s Le Marc Liquid Lip Crayon ($38, available at Sephora) glides on like velvet. Its Burn Notice shade is the colour of wood, which sounds unexciting but flatters olive skin.

Darker skin tones may take well to MAC Lipstick in Rebel ($33, available at MAC stores), a soft maroon. Also try Skinfood’s Plum Mellow Glow Lip Lacquer, #3, Sheer Plum ($19.90, available at stores such as Guardian), a glossy number that is refreshingly cool when applied.

Icon Pop is a red lippie with warm orange vibes from the Clinique Pop Matte Lip Colour + Primer range ($35, available at Clinique and Sephora outlets), that should suit a range of skin tones.

Even though it is a deep brick red, it brightens up the face.

YSL Beaute’s Tatouage Couture Matte Stain in No. 8 Black Red Code ($55, available at YSL Beaute stores) is an intense, versatile red. Its lacquer-like colour reminds me of traditional Chinese rosewood tables, inlaid with mother of pearl.

• Glow Guide is a fortnightly column about beauty and make-up for everyday women.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2018, with the headline 'Going over to the dark side'. Print Edition | Subscribe