I wrote about my favourite lipstick of all time – Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey – in 2016. Read that article here. Even though this lipstick had been around since the 1970s, I first started using it in about 2000. At that time, Clinique had discontinued it but the outcry was so great that they brought it back. I used to buy mine in the UK at Dickins and Jones, because Sweden did not sell it.
I love this lipstick because it looks dark in the tube, but on your lips it turns into a natural veil of colour for your lips. It darkens your natural colour but seems to adapt to everyone’s skin tone. You can apply it lightly or heavily; it does not fade into patches because it has the texture of a gloss once on your lips. When it fades it does so naturally, and it is easy to apply.
So imagine my surprise when I saw this in my local magazine recently. Black Honey is now available in Sweden and it’s gone viral on TikTok with a whole new generation of people. I did a nose around the internet and it seems to be sold out everywhere, just like many years ago! I wonder if they know it has been around for 50 years?
It may look dark and moody in the tube, but on your lips, it’s sheer bliss. Created to look incredible on everyone, here’s why Black Honey was a game changer when it launched, and why it continues to be our #1 selling lipstick.
Beauty breakthrough: In an era when everyone had disco fever and loved bright colors and flashy fashion, Clinique introduced Black Honey—a deep, dark raisin color that surprised and delighted anyone who dared to try it. Why? Well, it appears to be a goth-like dark stain, but the second you slick it on your lips, it transforms into a sheer veil that makes everyone’s lips look amazing. That’s because Black Honey is a perfectly calibrated blend of blue, red and yellow pigments in a creamy, balmy base (not quite a lipstick, but more than a sheer gloss), that melts into your lips and bumps up their color—it’s truly the best version of what you already have, and it works for every skin tone. “Editors, celebrities, and everyone loved—and still loves!—Black Honey because it’s flattering on everyone. It’s magical. It makes your teeth look whiter, it makes your lips look gorgeous, and it’s very forgiving—you don’t even need a mirror when you put it on. It’s functional, yet so desirable,” says Janet Pardo, Senior Vice President Product Development.
From gooey gloss to Almost Lipstick
Black Honey was first launched in a gloss pot. In fact, Clinique founder Carol Phillips named it Black Honey because the texture of the gloss looked like a yummy, gooey pot of honey. Yes, that was the ‘70s. Black Honey had a second breakthrough moment in 1989, when it debuted as what it is now: Almost Lipstick in Black Honey. At the time, women were juggling careers, family, and chasing their dreams more than ever; convenience was key. And the makeup trend was full-coverage, intense color. Here came an alternative and a solution. Almost Lipstick put flawless Black Honey color in a sleek, chic tube that could fit in any bag and be applied in a flash. A cross between gloss and lipstick, Almost Lipstick feels incredible to wear, has shine but isn’t sticky, and gives lips that just-ate-a-plum look while being easy to wash off.
Black Honey is often referred to as the makeup equivalent of a chic, black turtleneck; there’s no guesswork involved, just easy confidence. And because it looks great—and different—on everyone, it’s the secret beauty weapon that people are genuinely happy to tell their friends about. Decades after it first hit makeup counters, there still isn’t a lip shade around that can hold a candle to this your-lips-but-better color. We also love how this review sums up why it’s a cult classic.
Cool fact: One tube of Almost Lipstick in Black Honey is sold every three minutes. (The word is that people keep one in every bag.)