By Chinwe of Hair and Health

“Take that red lipstick off.all black people cann’t wear this for real”

 “Everybody can’t wear RED lipstick, baby u should have tried Wine,”

“Please stop wearing red lipstick when your complexion is very dark.  Uh!”


“My, my that red lipstick is ugly as pure hell!  It’s not for everyone.”

These are just a few of the negative comments posted under an Essence photo containing three black women – one of which is of dark brown complexion with red lipstick.  All of the above comments were, sadly, from black women.  Let me give you some background information:

Rocquelle (who was actually featured in this BGLH Natural Hair Style Icon post a couple years ago) is a beautiful, confident, sister with skin reminiscent of chocolate.  During a book signing event, a photographer asked to take her picture.  This photo, along with photos of many other women, would later be placed on and their Facebook page to showcase “hot natural hairstyles” that were snapped in Houston.  Then Facebook comments came pouring in concerning the “red lipstick” on the “dark-skinned” lady.  What do red lipstick and dark skin have to do with hot natural hairstyles, you ask?  You tell me!


The Facebook photo.

My first impression when I saw the above photo was: “Everyone is rocking red with their natural hair.”  If you asked me to focus on Rocquelle, I would’ve simply said, “That red pops.  It reminds me of a lipstick I own”.  That is all.  I would give the same response if I saw this lady: 


… or these two ladies:


All of their lipsticks are popping!

Now, of course, we live in a world where no two individuals are exactly alike, and thus opinions and perspectives will vary.  Some people like red lipstick.  Some don’t.  Plain and simple, right?  Well, not when red lipstick only becomes an issue if it is worn on a lady with dark skin.  That is called a limited view based on European standards, in my book.

So what is the problem, exactly?  Why does this red lipstick not look fine on a sister with dark skin?  How dark is too dark to wear red? Why would it look just fine on women with lighter complexions?  Who made up that fashion rule!?!  Have we been conditioned to think that way?  And the bigger question: When will we, as black women, stop putting each other down and so disgustingly?

In a country where black women are at the bottom of the beauty totem pole, it saddens me that we would kick each other further down that pole.  What makes it worse, in my honest opinion, is when we do so based on features that define us … “black” or African features, if you will.  Gabby Douglas and her “kinky edges”.  Rocquelle and her “dark” skin with red lipstick.  Blue Ivy and her “unkempt curls”.  So what does fit our standard of beauty, then?  Straight edges, white skin, and perfectly combed hair?  I will let that marinate.

It is unfortunate that some of us believe such odd “fashion rules” (i.e., “Red lipstick and dark skin don’t mix.”It is a shame that a lipstick meant to pop beautifully is not allowed to do so on dark skin. But this is bigger than the red lipstick. It is a shame that some of us deem the very features that are unique to us (our dark skin, our kinks and uncombed curls) as “the problem”.  It is a shame that we have consequently become “mean girls” amongst ourselves.

Fortunately there were numerous comments – also from black women and a black male – in defense and compliment of Rocquelle.  But we all know that it only takes one rotten apple (in this case, several) to spoil the whole barrel; we see it everyday with how media and television shows perpetuate certain stereotypes and negative stories in the black community.  It is a shame, because at this rate we will only help to keep ourselves at the bottom of that pole.  How fitting that this month is Black History month.

What are your thoughts?  Please share below.


Healthy hair care tips and more!

Leave a Reply

187 Comments on "Essence Mag Readers Attack Naturals For Being “Too Dark” to Wear Red Lipstick"

Notify of

It all depends on our skin’s undertone. Find the right shade that works with your undertone and any lipstick color works.

My grandmother had a deep brown complexion and unfortunately believed that she could never wear red lipstick. I really wish she’d had the confidence to break the “rules” of her day.


There’s been a lot of miseducation and a lot of unlearning needs to take place, but I appreciate articles like this and others on this topic. We have to discusses and call out this behavior when it happens so that people can do better. I think it’s to the point where some folks don’t even realize how negative they can be.


Red in the right shade/undertone looks good on everyone….She is beautiful and i dont see the problem. Heck, I envy anyone that can rock it, and other bright/bold colors, unapologetically. I just recently mustered up the confidence to wear a bold red lip. WERK!!


I’m dark skinned and I LOVE red lipstick!!!


Truth be told, not every color lipstick works for everybody. But it has nothing to do with the persons complexion. It has more to do with the overall person and the combination of the persons features.

Agreed. In addition to that, it has to do with the shade of the LIPSTICK, not the shade of the person wearing it. Undertones are real. And they matter. Black folks are so thirsty for reasons to say that OUR color is wrong. They’ll find any excuse under the sun to hate on dark skin. It’s pathetic. We ain’t NEVAH wrong to be black and dark. The lipstick is wrong for not complementing that. There are plenty of reds, pinks, oranges, purples, etc that POP on dark skin BEAUTIFULLY. Just because someone may have picked the wrong shade ONCE doesn’t… Read more »

I bet these same women turned into the Hulk when A$AP Rocky said that dark skin women should not wear red lipstick.

Ugonna Wosu