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The Tried-and-True MAC Lipsticks That Black Women Bank On

Everyone needs a signature shade.
Cierra Miller/STYLECASTER.

If there’s one makeup item almost all of us swear by, I’m willing to bet it’s lipstick. Despite the consistent swarm of product launches on our Instagram feeds, one thing that stands the test of time is a shade that makes you feel like you can take on the world, especially for us brown girls. For many, our intro to the best lipstick for our skin tone was through brands like Clinique and stores like MAC. Not only did they offer a variety of foundations and concealers that made it easier to find our match (long before the days of Fenty and Covergirl). They also had it easy to discover flattering lip shades for every type of mood. 

Despite whatever societal norms exist in beauty, there truly are no rules to who can wear what when it comes to makeup. “Black women come in many skin colors, so to say that there are things that are off-limits is unreasonable,” Fatima Thomas, a Senior Artist at M·A·C Cosmetics, told StyleCaster.As beauty standards and social attitudes change, our collective cultural aesthetic broadens. As an artist, my only guidelines rest on color theory, which means choosing intensities and saturations that flatter the particular skin tone I’m working on, regardless of the style of makeup.”

Of course, standing at the makeup counter can feel daunting, especially if you don’t know where to begin. According to Thomas, skin prep is very important. “Avoid applying lipstick to dry, chapped lips,” she says. ”Smooth and refresh lips with a lip scrub like our M·A·C Lip Scrubtious and a generous layer of M·A·C Lip Conditioner. After that absorbs, blot away the excess. If I’m wearing lipstick or applying it to a client, I always prep lips with M·A·C Prep + Prime Lip, an amazing product that’s like Velcro for your lip colors. It’s one of my top all-time favorite M·A·C products because it delivers extended wear that’s feather-proof.”

If you’re looking for some lipstick shades to add to your beauty arsenal, here are some MAC shades that flatter deeper skin tones.

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MAC Cosmetics.


“Twig” is a pink girl’s dream, especially when you’re looking for more of a sheer finish that’s also no fuss. The creamy satin color is a brownish-pink shade, softly muted to add the right level of color to the lips, no matter your skin tone (although I’ll point out it looks BOMB on brown skin).

MAC Cosmetics.

Ruby Woo

Of course, this list wouldn’t even be possible without “Ruby Woo,” a true cult classic. With blue-red undertones, this shade is a richly-pigmented red that dries down very matte. Pro tip: Make sure you moisturize your lips beforehand!

MAC Cosmetics.

Fresh Brew

This lipstick shade may come as a surprise to people, considering it’s a lipstick that one may feel could look ashy on browner skin tones. However for “fair to tan” women, according to Thomas, this shade with creamed coffee undertones offers an almost-there gloss that pops on a variety of tones.

MAC Cosmetics.

Spice It Up

Nothing looks cuter than lips that have been lightly bitten. “Spice It Up” is a gorgeous mulled brown berry tone, offering high shine as a lustre finish and a sheered out shade on the lip. It’s perfect for all shades of brown, and you can wear this alone or on top of another lipstick in your arsenal.

MAC Cosmetics.


If you, like me, love browns with a dash of purple in there, then you’ll fawn over “Viva Glam III” which comes in a matte finish and shows as a muted brownish-plum on the skin. It’s more of an earthy tone, but it’s great for beauty lovers who crave an intense and pigmented shade.

MAC Cosmetics.

Lasting Passion

If you’re a red kinda girl who loves a shade with more of a pink undertone, “Lasting Passion” is the right shade for you. Labeled as a “clean bright red”, it’s highly-pigmented and rich in formula, which makes it easy to apply and long-lasting no matter what time you put it on.

MAC Cosmetics.

Style Shocked

I love red lipstick with orange undertones, especially in the spring and summer when our skin is getting deeper in color. “Style Shocked” is a reddish-orange lip in the Powder Kiss collection, offering high pigmentation and moisture without bleeding. It’s extremely buildable and can be worn on all skin tones with or without a lip liner.

MAC Cosmetics.

Quite The Standout

So let’s say you like the shade of lipsticks but you don’t want to apply with a standard lipstick. The answer? MAC’s liquid lip colour, like “Quite the Standout.” It’s a bright orange-red shade applied with a doe foot applicator. This shade is for the daring, bright, bold, and colorful — it’s highly pigmented and shines on all skin tones, especially deeper ebony shades.

STYLECASTER | best MAC lipstick | lipstick for dark skin | lipstick for brown skin | MAC lipstick dark skin

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