The threat of an El Niño has been hanging over the heads of West Coasters for the past couple of months, but up until a few days ago, it looked like everyone’s winter was going to be even milder than fall (i.e., nonexistent). For better or for worse, it seems like the seasons are finally kicking in, just in time to bust out transitional winter-to-spring makeup trends.

Dark lips are a usually linked to cold-weather, but over the past few seasons, we’ve seen more and more spring/summer shows dotted with darker tones, a welcome change amid the sea of neutrals and no-makeup looks that typically accompany warming temps. From Burberry Prorsum’s stylized oxblood to the stained ‘90s mauve at Cushnie et Ochs, the colors were just the beginning. Instead of just relying on the shades themselves to speak volumes, the artists played with textures, like matte, blurred and ultra-opaque. The result? Endless options and inspiration.

“Coming off winter, most people find themselves with dehydrated, chapped lips,” says makeup artist Emily Cheng, whose resume includes work for perennially cool brands like Aritzia and Fashion Gone Rogue. “If you’re wearing a dark color, always star by treating your lips to a scrub, like Fresh Sugar Lip Polish.” This season, Cheng suggests opting for deep, earthy colors with brown undertones, as well as rich, berry shades. Good news: The dark lip is as easy as it is versatile, and Cheng is here with three ways to prove it.

Blurred Babe: Apply lip balm to create a hydrated base, then blot off any excess with tissue. Using your ring finger, begin dabbing and pressing your color of choice onto the lips. For a berry kissed stain, apply only one to two layers. For a deeper finish that has softly blurred edges, apply three to four layers, then blot with tissue in between.


Need: Your Kit Game Changers

Lined and Loaded: If you’re using a lip liner, always fill in the entire lip, as well as lining the outside edge. Liner tends to stay on much longer than a lipstick, and you won’t want to be left with an outline if your lipstick does wear off. For anyone with peach fuzz or dry skin around the lips, opt for a harder pencil, since softer pencils tend to catch on peach fuzz and enhance any texture, like dry skin.


Need: Your Kit Game Changers

Make it Matte: Since matte finishes accentuate flakiness, go the extra mile and leave a healthy amount of Aquaphor on your lips for a few minutes before applying any color. The technique is similar to a classically lined look, depending on your formula of choice. When trying to make a satin-finished lipstick matte, blot with tissue between each application, lightly dusting with translucent powder at the end. If you’re already working with a matte formula, apply liner and lipstick as normal. Any time you feel that the color is too deep, simply dab on some lip balm and blot off til you feel comfortable with the shade.


Need: Your Kit Game Changers

Artwork by contributing Highbrow illustrator Blair Breitenstein, @blairz.