alle black lipstick
photo: Jess Torres / Revelist

As a noted goth queen, I've been obsessed with black lipstick for most of my life.

When I wanted to wear it as a teenager, my choices were spending all my money on designer product, or using a waxy black eyeliner. I picked the eyeliner every time.

But now, it’s a brave new goth beauty world. Kat Von D is one of the most prominent brand owners in the world. Influencers who do “spooky” makeup get massive makeup deals. The dark path has gone mainstream — and I couldn't be happier.

The best part? There’s a whole new crop of black lipsticks at the drugstore. But frugal goths and aspiring evil queens want to know — just how good ARE they? And babes, I am here to help.

I tried *every* black lipstick at the drugstore to determine, once and for all, which is best. And honestly, the winner might surprise you.

First, let’s take a look at all 8 contenders for the title of "best drugstore black lipstick."

best drugstore black lipstick
photo: Alle / Revelist

I limited my testing to brands that are available at drugstores, OR brands available via online outlets like Ulta at a comparable drugstore price.

From L-R: Maybelline Color Sensational Loaded Bolds lipstick in Pitch Black ($7, Ulta), CoverGirl Katy Kat Matte lipstick in Perry Panther ($9, Ulta), Rimmel Stay Matte liquid lipstick in Pitch Black ($6, Walgreens), J.Cat Beauty Lipfinity Kissproof Lip in Wild Limo Rides ($5, Ulta), Black Radiance Perfect Tone lip color in Black Out ($3, Target), NYX Liquid Suede creame lipstick in Alien ($7, Ulta), e.l.f. Moisturizing lipstick in Black Out ($3, Ulta), and Black Radiance Brilliant Effects lip gloss in shade Black Diamond ($4, Walgreens).

Based on the swatches of all the products, I was in for a VARIED time.

best drugstore black lipstick
photo: Jess Torres / Revelist

From L-R: Maybelline Color Sensational Loaded Bolds lipstick in Pitch Black ($7, Ulta), CoverGirl Katy Kat Matte lipstick in Perry Panther ($9, Ulta), Rimmel Stay Matte liquid lipstick in Pitch Black ($6, Walgreens), J.Cat Beauty Lipfinity Kissproof Lip in Wild Limo Rides ($5, Ulta), Black Radiance Perfect Tone lip color in Black Out ($3, Target), NYX Liquid Suede creame lipstick in Alien ($7, Ulta), e.l.f. Moisturizing lipstick in Black Out ($3, Ulta), and Black Radiance Brilliant Effects lip gloss in shade Black Diamond ($4, Walgreens).

I compared these lipsticks on color and darkness, opacity, wear, and comfort. I photographed them when they were just applied, and then four hours later (because none of these are technically longer lipsticks, I didn’t do a full day). I also checked how much gets on your teeth and how much transfers off your mouth, because as any goth queen knows, that’s the worst part of the black lipstick life.

The first black lipstick I tried was Maybelline Color Sensational Loaded Bolds lipstick in Pitch Black ($7, Ulta). This is your standard bullet lipstick with a "creamy" finish.

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The Maybelline lipstick ($7, Ulta) was surprisingly easy to find — there was a full complement of them at my local drugstore, and EVERY major online merchant carries this lipstick. The power of the mass market.

I applied the Maybelline Pitch Black lipstick first thing in the morning, and right away I liked how it looked — and felt.

Smooth to apply with a slightly waxy consistency, it’s a true blue-black and is opaque with two coats.

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If you’ve ever worn a Maybelline lipstick, you know EXACTLY how this one feels, which is amazing, since “trend” lipstick shades often deviate WILDLY from the quality of the “parent” line.

None got on my teeth during application, and a mere smudge kissed off in my transfer test. I was feeling good about the Maybelline black!

Four hours later, it had worn down significantly — and unevenly.

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The Maybelline Pitch Black lipstick started out strong, but things began going wrong at the two hour mark, when I ate half a cookie and got a black line under my lower lip. I expect black lipsticks to fade over time — they're a high maintenance shade — but this was VERY uneven.

It also started to feel dry and sandpapery on my lips, and look, I'll put up with a lot, but I am NOT here for dry lips.

Overall, I give the Maybelline black lipstick three Morticias out of five — a solid choice, but could be better.

I was impressed at the opacity and true darkness of this black lipstick, but I also don't want to be fussing with my color every 30 minutes.

Next, I tried CoverGirl's Katy Kat Matte lipstick in Perry Panther ($9, Ulta). It's another standard black bullet lipstick. I did like the sleek black and white packaging, though.

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Part of CoverGirl's extremely hyped Katy Perry collab, this lipstick ($9, Ulta) was much harder to find in stores — I had to buy it online instead. GUESS IT'S POPULAR.

The question is, will it taste like cherry chapstick? Let's find out.

It must be said: the CoverGirl black lipstick applied like a damn DREAM. It just glided across my lips! But when I took this glorious selfie, I realized something weird...

Up close, this "black matte" lipstick is neither fully black, NOR matte.

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It's not as obvious from far away, but up close you can see that this CoverGirl shade is such a warm black, it verges on green-gray. It's also not matte — this is a straight up satin finish here.

This lipstick is also very sheer. This was three layers, and I'd say there's still room for full opacity.

And perhaps you can already see the next problem...

THIS LIPSTICK IS MESSY AS HELL. It kissed off in my transfer test, and got all over my teeth from the second I put it on to twenty minutes after I took it off!

How! Dare! You!

Four hours later, the CoverGirl black lipstick had abandoned me as thoroughly as I had abandoned my hopes and dreams.

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It had faded at the center, but somehow gotten darker AROUND my lips. It had sunk into all the lines in my mouth. It had worn off on my chin. It was STILL getting on my teeth.

I mean, true — a sheer wash of this plus my natural lip color DOES make a cool dead roses shade. But that's not what I wanted.

I give the CoverGirl Katy Kate black lipstick one Morticia out of five. Do better, everyone.

morticia addams rating
photo: Alle / Revelist

The sooner forgotten about, the better.

My next drugstore shade: Rimmel Stay Matte Lip Liquid in Pitch Black ($6, Walgreens).

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Rimmel's bullet lipsticks are cult classics — so I was very interested to see if the liquid lipsticks ($6, Walgreens) measured up.

Rimmel's Pitch Black is a liquid lipstick with a velvety, flat, slightly angled applicator.

Unfortunately, the great looking applicator couldn't help me from what turned out to be a big ol' mess.

It may look OK from a distance — but up close, you'll see the real deal.

The Rimmel black lipstick was thin and watery, and applied in uneven streaks no matter what I did. I tried to layer coats to make it opaque, but every pass I made with the wand wiped off the layer underneath it. This was as good as I could get it, and I had to WORK.

matte black lipstick
photo: Alle / Revelist

>> Click here to buy

The applicator, which I had such high hopes for, ended up hurting more than it helped. It deposited the color in clumps, especially around my lip line, which made it incredibly uneven. You would definitely need a black lip liner with this product.

Additionally, it took an hour to dry down to a matte finish. That's just... why?

Fortunately, once it HAD dried, the Rimmel black liquid lipstick wasn't that messy. Very little got on my teeth, and there was minimal transfer. But alas — another problem surfaced.

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Let's get this out of the way: Rimmel lipsticks are, in general, known to have a VERY strong scent. Some people aren't bothered by it, but I've always found it overpowering.

The Pitch Black liquid lipstick ($6, Walgreens) is no exception. It has a smell that, to me, is like fruit punch-scented cleaning supplies. The smell started out strong, and did not fade once the color was on my lips. If you're someone who is sensitive to fragrance, you need to know this.

After four hours of wear, this is what the Rimmel lipstick looked like. On the bright side, it was still matte! On the not-so-bright side... everything else.

The Rimmel lipstick had held strong on my bottom lip, but unevenly abandoned the top. The uneven lip line had held strong, which had me feeling insulted. The lipstick was still as heavily perfumed as when I put it on. My lips were so dry, I expected chunks to start falling off.

I was done.

I give Rimmel's Liquid Matte black lipstick half a Morticia out of five.

The half is for the fact that this matte lipstick actually has a matte finish. Sorry, Rimmel. The London Look is not goth-approved.

Moving on, it was time to try the J.Cat Beauty "Lipfinity" Matte Kissproof lipstick in Wild Limo Rides ($5, Ulta).

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Based on the swatches, I was ENTHUSIASTIC to try this one. The J.Cat liquid lipstick ($5, Ulta) flowed onto my arm like black ink, and dried down to a super-matte finish. I was VERY excited to try it out.

The J.Cat black lipstick has a fuzzy, doe's foot applicator — and a POWERFUL smell.

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No shade, but this liquid lipstick smells like a bubblegum-scented paint marker. It is INTENSE.

But when I put the J.Cat on, I was in LOVE. Look at that incredible matte finish!

Wild Limo Rides — what a shade name — applied QUICKLY, dried down in a snap, and gave me the matte black lips of my dreams.

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She is RICH.

She is DARK.


I will say that because it dries down fast, perfectionists need to hustle. I take my time to get my lip outline right, but the J.Cat lipstick set so fat, I ended up a lil lopsided. But at such a cheap price point ($5, Ulta), I'm cool with needing a lip liner beforehand.

J.Cat went in on it's "kissproof" claim — none got on my teeth, and very little transferred onto my paper.

Four hours later, this lipstick had flaked off a little on the inside of my lips — and the flipside of a super-matte formula had come to light.

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Honestly, this is IMPRESSIVE wear for a $5 lipstick ($5, Ulta). The only issue I had with it is that, as the day wore on, my lips felt drier and drier. By the time I took this picture, they felt like the desert. I know that it's the rare matte formula that doesn't leave your mouth feeling parched, but this was extreme.

Overall, I give the J.Cat Beauty "Lipfinity" black liquid lipstick 3.5 Morticias out of five.

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The color, wear, and darkness are all perfect — you can't get a better liquid matte black for the price. But if you tend to get dry lips, the mega-parching formula might be a dealbreaker.

Next on the goth lipstick agenda — Black Radiance Perfect Tone Lip Color in Black Out ($3, Target). It's a satin-finish black bullet lipstick, with a unique rounded tip.

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The Black Radiance lipstick ($3, Target) was trickier than expected to track down — though Black Radiance as a brand is in most drugstores, finding an IRL store that stocked it's full line was tough. I don't want to say this is *definitely* because BR is a brand aimed at women of color, but it's something to consider. I ended up ordering this lipstick online.

I tried this creamy black lipstick on, and it was love at first swipe.

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You could have told me that this Black Radiance lipstick ($3, Target) was a luxury brand, and I would have believed you. The formula was SO nice to apply, and after subjecting my lips to multiple torturous black lipsticks, this was glorious.

The rounded tip of the Black Radiance lipstick came to my rescue. It helped me get the perfect lip shape with zero problems.

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Black Out ($3, Target) was also totally opaque in a single layer. Adding a second coat will make the lipstick a little glossier, but you don't need it for truly deep dark coverage.

A little bit of the color got on my teeth following application, and although quite a bit transferred off my mouth, it didn't seem to make much difference in how the Black Radiance lipstick looked.

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The transfer in this picture may have been because I did apply two coats of this lipstick, just to see what happened.

Four hours later, and this is how the lipstick looked.

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It's worn and a bit uneven, and honestly, this Black Radiance lipstick ($3, Target) started needing a touch-up after about two hours. If I'd have tended to it, this black lipstick would have gone the distance — and it does bear mentioning that it was BY FAR the most comfortable bullet shade I wore.

Overall, I give the Black Radiance Perfect Tone lip color four and a half Morticias out of five for comfort and extreme darkness.

For less than a cup of coffee, you can't do better.

Next, it was time to try everyone's favorite cheap black lip color — NYX Liquid Suede cream lipstick in Alien ($7, Ulta).

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The NYX Suede lipstick ($7, Ulta) is one of the best reviewed budget-friendly black lipsticks out there — I couldn't wait to see what the hype is about. I could tell it was popular, because this line wasn't available in ANY physical stores I went into, but luckily it was easily available online.

Alien is a "suede" finish liquid lipstick with a flat (but tilted) doe's foot applicator.

I put it on, and I really liked the thickness of the formula – but something started to bug me as soon as I took this selfie.

The NYX suede lipstick looks great, but... is it actually black?

Alien is meant to be black, and it's definitely dark — but to me, it looked more like a deep cement gray.

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Don't get me wrong — the applicator was excellent, and the color was consistent, dark, and velvety. But the NYX ($7, Ulta) was pretty clearly a dark gray lipstick.

Even though this questionable NYX shade was very creamy, it didn't get on my teeth a lot. It DID transfer quite a bit during my kiss-test... as well as get all over the rest of my life.

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I don't know what kind of dark magic NYX did to keep this semi-shiny cream lipstick off my teeth, but I'm so glad the brand did. I *do* wish that a little of that magic could have stopped Alien ($7, Ulta) from rubbing off all over my cups, fingers, food, and even pens over the next four hours.

Four hours later, NYX's not-exactly-black black lipstick looked like this — which is not bad!

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The Liquid Suede was not sold as a longwear lip product — but for a semi-shiny liquid, this is some EXCELLENT wear. I found that it tended to smudge and smear off, rather than fade or flake off, so if you can keep your life away from your mouth (lol), this is the drugstore buy for you.

Overall, NYX Liquid Suede lipstick in Alien gets 3.5 Morticias out of five.

If you're not messy and you don't mind your blacks clashing, it's the lipstick for you!

Then it was time to test out e.l.f. Moisturizing Lipstick in Black Out ($3, Ulta). This is a "hydrating" black cream lipstick in a chic black tube.

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I've never had anything but good experiences with e.l.f. and I was hoping its black lipstick would be no exception. The black shade of this lipstick line ($3, Ulta) was sold out, from what I could tell, throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan — but again, it's easily found online.

Right from the start, I was HOOKED on this formula. It was the perfect blend of darkness and shine.

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I felt like a regal queen immediately — which is, of course, the end goal of any dark lipstick ($3, Ulta).

Up close, I was even more impressed by e.l.f. — for $3, I got a rich, deep black lipstick that fulfilled all my goth queen dreams.

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In retrospect, I could have applied a second coat for FULL opacity — in HD, it's clear my application was a little streaky on the top lip. But overall, e.l.f. gets full marks for darkness, richness, and easiness to apply.

I was initially put off by how much of this black lipstick got on my teeth after application, and how much transferred off my mouth...

...I was ultimately DEEPLY IMPRESSED at how evenly e.l.f.'s black lipstick wore off after four hours of wear.

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It didn't feather or peel. It faded evenly, and am I nuts, or is it STILL kind of a pretty color?

All things considered, I give e.l.f. Moisturizing Lipstick in Black Out 4.5 Morticias out of a possible five. Truly amazing, and impeccable for $3.

>> Click here to buy

Well done, e.l.f. — this is just proof that you don't need to spend tonnes of money to get a great ~spooky~ product.

The last drugstore black lipstick that I tried was Black Radiance Brilliant Effects lip gloss in Black Diamond ($4, Walgreens). As a black gloss, this product was a major outlier — but I decided to give it a shot anyway.

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This black lip gloss ($4, Walgreens) doesn't seem to be available in many retail stores, and is even tricky to find online.

But guys. I think it's worth it.

Because this Black Radiance gloss? Is filled with multicolored GLITTER!

OK BUT SERIOUSLY. I was expecting Black Diamond to be a sheer black tint. No; she is as opaque as liquid latex, and as shiny as my soul.

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I. Could. Die.

Up close, this black gloss is GENUINELY stunning. And if all that mattered was how it *looked,* this would be the goth home run to end all home runs.

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Unfortunately, the Black Radiance gloss ($4, Walgreens) which, yes, WAS this opaque over bare lips was sticky. It was blobby. It got ALL over my teeth, transferred onto everything I looked at, and stained my soul. It began feathering out into the fine lines around my mouth within ten minutes.

If you don't like sticky glosses, you won't like how this feels very much. If you're after a single stunning photo, though? Yeah, you need it.

Friends, I did not make it to the four-hour mark. I wiped this gloss off, beautiful as it was, after 20 minutes.

I just couldn't take the sticky blobbiness anymore.

I'm not going to rate the Black Radiance gloss, because there's nothing similar to compare it to. Instead, I'll say that if all you're looking for is a goth gloss that looks like liquified magic to wear in a quick photo, look no further.

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This is pure glistening majesty. I only wish it stayed put.

So, after all that, which is the VERY BEST black lipstick at the drugstore? Luckily for all of us, there are TWO winners.

best black lipstick drugstore
photo: Alle / Revelist

That would be the e.l.f. moisturizing lipstick in Black Out ($3, Ulta) and Black Radiance Perfect Tone lip color in Black Out ($3, Target). Both of these lipstick EXCELLED at darkness, wear, and comfort — and made me feel like the ultimate dark queen while wearing them.

It's interesting that BOTH of these shades outperformed the other drugstore black lipsticks that were twice the price. Money can't buy a dark heart, and it's not always an indicator of a quality black lipstick, either.