I remember the first time I wore black lipstick. I was hesitant to buy it. My first encounter with lipstick was a Ronald McDonalds-esque shade of red, and it immediately drew ire from my grandmother who made sure to mention that “bright red don’t look good on dark women,” and that “only Jezebels wear that color.” Thanks, Grandma!

But black lipstick is a different kind of beast altogether. It isn’t as alluring or safe of a choice as a classic red. I used to think of black lipstick as something sinister, something that only the grungy wore in order to scare people off. That was until I bought my first tube, a $2 Wet n’ Wild lipstick from CVS, appropriately named “Pagan.” I wore it every day for a week after that, and enjoyed every single one of the looks it drew on my small, suburban Catholic college campus.

A week ago, I did a Google image search for “black lipstick,” and I was met with dozens of images of white women. There were five images of women of color at most, and those images were mostly of Lupita Nyong’o and Rihanna, which sums up the range of our representation in the media.

#BlackGirlMagic has been brewing for centuries, although the mainstream is just catching wind of it, and for all of the natural hair celebrations and melanin-worshipping, there still lacks a place for bold black beauty in society.

It never fails that every time I’ve worn black lipstick, whether to hit the dance floor or a Walmart aisle, a fellow black girl will tell me that she loves the lip color, but “could never pull it off.”

Show me the receipts

Black beauty has never fit in with the blonde, blue-eyed narrative that was packaged and sold to us. Black skin stands out and always will. “I wear black lipstick because I was born “other,” and I got tired of trying to be something other than who I am.”

Here are three reasons why you should too:

1. To redefine “black on black”

wear black lipstick
Photo: Kimberlee Jackson

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “Black on black?” Probably not images of black love and celebration. When we hear the phrase, it usually precedes attempts to excuse injustice and refute our right to exist. Wear black lipstick to embrace what so many people fear, and maybe in some small but defiant way, you can reclaim the beauty that lies in being boldly black.

2. It’s unapologetic

wear black lipstick
Photo: Kimberlee Jackson

Black has always been a forgiving color, but it’s time to stop apologizing. Black lipstick is a shade that demands to be acknowledged and worn as is. It can’t be softened. When you wear black lipstick, there is no hiding but instead a proclamation of your right to be who you are, and not in a way that seeks to ease the discomfort of others.

3. It goes with everything

wear black lipstick
Photo: Kimberlee Jackson

History has often tried to whitewash away our culture, our beauty, and our spirit, but the color black has always been an essential color. The little black dress has been said to go with everything, and the color black has always been universally flattering, but somehow black skin became something that didn’t quite go with the other outfits. Black lipstick is a shade that doesn’t need to be tampered with or altered in order to be flattering. It needs no liner and no mixing. It is for the little black girl who will grow up thinking that being alternative is only something that white kids do. It’s for the black woman who is afraid of the dark, and it’s for black guy who knows that masculinity cannot be seen by the naked eye. Black lipstick goes with everything and everyone, and to wear it is to stop being afraid of your dark.

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