Milk Makeup

The Best Brown Lipstick For Dark Skin Is Inspired By The Wu-Tang Clan


A girl goes through a lot to find the perfect nude lipstick. I've swatched on my forearms and hands, have mixed and matched four shades just to get one, and have even tried matching my lipstick to my nipple color to find The One thanks to an ill-fated magazine tip from 2007. And because of cool brands like Mented Cosmetics and Fenty, I don't have to do that much altering — or, uhh, flashing — for a match. Nudes? I'm good. Browns? Not so much. To clarify: There is a difference between nude and brown lipsticks for Black women. In fact, the best brown lipstick for dark skin doesn't necessarily have to be a pure, true brown... although it does look pretty.

No, the best browns have dimension — much like dark skin — and often boast gold, purple, or pink undertones. They don't blend in with your skin, but manage to enhance it, and give you the type of something-something that makes people know you tried, but not too hard.

To be honest, I thought that the Milk Makeup and Wu-Tang collaboration would be on louder side (in a good way, of course). I mean, have you seen it? Each lipstick in eight-piece collection is inspired by the elements and wrapped with a gold dragon, an obvious nod to Wu-Tang's "fascination with Shaolin Kung Fu culture," according to a release from the brand, and is meant to "inspire the wisdom, beauty, and strength of today's modern warriors." That's a lot for a lipstick.

Khalea Underwood

Don't get me wrong: There are definitely some in-your-face shades, like Fire (an orange-red) and Frequency (a purple glitter, inspired by water). But the one that makes me tap into my "inner warrior goddess" is Cypher, the sheer brown inspired by mountain. Since it's high-shine, I don't have to stress out about applying it perfectly... and the sacred lotus water, cherry blossom, and ginseng in the formula helps it go on like a balm, rather than an uncomfortable matte. And in terms of the shade, Cypher is billed as a true brown — but I definitely pick up on some rosy undertones. The hint of dark pink helps with color-correcting my two-toned lips... and just so happens to look good with my pink Glossier Cloud Paint, too.

Khalea Underwood

After trying out the lipstick on InstaStory, my DMs were flooded with compliments and questions about where to find this exquisite brown shade. And I'll tell you guys the same thing I told my friends — act fast, because this is a limited-edition collection. But, in case it does sell out... actually, scratch that. When it sells out, there are still plenty of brown lipsticks out there to try. See some of my favorites ahead.

Wu-Tang x Milk Makeup Lip Color in Cypher


Milk Makeup

This rich cocoa shade has a shiny, satin finish made for layering.



Pat McGrath Labs

Pat McGrath's warm brown matte gets a packaging update in time for the holidays.

tarteist quick dry matte lip paint in Sis



Tarte doesn't get enough props for its cruelty-free range of liquid lipsticks, which have an impressive range of colors that last super long, too.

Superstay Matte Ink Un-Nude Liquid Lipstick in Protector


Maybelline New York

True story: I once wore Matte Ink throughout a full day of fashion shows, from a 9 a.m. call time to 9 p.m. tacos at my desk, while waiting for another show to start. It barely budged.

Powermatte Lip Pigment in Done It Again



At this point in the game, it's hard to reinvent the wheel when it comes to liquid lipstick. But NARS' liquified pigment formula truly does last long, and has an exquisitely powdery finish.

Color Statement Lipstick in 38 Double Espresso



Team Double Espresso with an equally dark pencil for a retro '90s vibe. Don't forget your cropped turtleneck and straight leg jeans!

Matte Jumbo Lip Pencil



Of course black|Up, the brand with melanin-friendly bases and palettes, has a perfect line of lip pencils suited to even out two-toned lips. Pair it with a lipstick or gloss, or wear it alone.

Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Whiskey


Bite Beauty

Try hard not to lick your lips after applying this pigment, as the formula is made with notes of cherry, mint, mango and vanilla.

Natural Nudes Intense Color Coconut Butter Lipstick in Indecent Proposal


Too Faced

Another under-the-radar line of neutrals is Too Faced's Natural Nudes line, which contains coconut butter for intense hydration.

Brown Bare Matte Lipstick



I will forever sing the praises of Mented, one of the first (and best) cosmetics companies dedicated to neutral lipsticks suited for darker skin. Since its launch in 2017, the brand has expanded to glosses, nail polishes, and red lipsticks, too.

Matte Lipstick in Antique Velvet


MAC Cosmetics

Among MAC's expansive selection of matte lipsticks lies Antique Velvet, a true chocolate brown.

Vice Lipstick in Nighthawk


Urban Decay

Many beauty lovers consider Urban Decay's 1993 a flattering nude... but Nighthawk, a darker reddish-brown, is just as gorgeous.