In the world of beauty, it's hard not to get swept up in the excitement of newness; fancy product launches that promise us the world or, at the very least, noticeably glowy skin, lengthened lashes, or fuller-looking lips. Sure, some do live up to their lofty promises, and may even become a firm fixture in our beauty bags, but it won't be long before another wonder product comes along to steal the spotlight. The real objective of any beauty product should, however, be longevity—to be eternally relevant and adorned long after the initial social media fanfare. It takes time, but the products that are worth knowing are the ones that remain in-demand once everything goes quiet. And that's certainly the case when it comes to this lipstick.
I was 11 when I bought my first beauty product; at least, one that didn't involve loose glitter. After months of raiding my mum's handbags to steal a slick of her favourite lipstick, she finally relented and allowed me to accompany her on a visit to the Clinique counter. It was there that I handed over the entire contents of my piggy bank, to be presented with Clinique's Black Honey Almost Lipstick in return.
If you're unfamiliar with Black Honey, allow me to bring you up to speed. Black Honey has been a part of Clinique's impressive beauty roster since 1971—a time when beauty looks were anything but subtle. That, however, is why it stood out in the first place. While the texture has received some tweaks over the years to turn it into the legendary Almost Lipstick formulation it is today; Black Honey holds the same appeal now as it did in the Seventies thanks to its colour.
When you slick it on your lips it transforms into a sheer, rose-tinted glossy veil, without the usual stickiness. Unlike other lipsticks of the time, Black Honey wasn't created to change the colour of your lips; it was developed to bump up their natural tone. Soon, it was one of Clinique's most in-demand buys, and, to this day, it continues to be the brand's best-selling lipstick, with a tube of the cult product being sold every three minutes.
One coat of Black Honey will give your lips a light, I've-just-eaten-some-cherries stain.
At some point though, I forgot about Black Honey, likely moving on to the matte formulations that began to dominate the lipstick market. I think I wore MAC's Ruby Woo for four years straight. Fast-forward to May of this year, however, when, in an attempt to keep myself busy while being housebound, I took to cleaning out my beauty archives—products I'd packaged up during my 2019 move from London to Edinburgh that hadn't seen the light of day since.
After sorting through two plastic boxes, I finally reached the base of the third where nestled in the lip edge surrounding the base, was a long, silver wand; a forgotten tube of Black Honey. Instantly overcome with overwhelming nostalgia, I immediately slicked it across my lips. Of course, this wasn't the exact Black Honey lipstick I'd purchased in 2001 but, upon applying it, I couldn't remember when I would have bought it. The balmy consistency was just as I'd remembered it, and the colour equally divine. Still, erring on the side of caution, I proceeded to sit myself down at my laptop to order a fresh tube. And since it arrived, I've refused to wear anything else.
Two coats and you can see the colour is gradually becoming deeper.
As far as application goes, it glides on so smoothly, with such an even distribution of colour, that you needn't even look in the mirror as you apply it. It doesn't catch on your teeth, nor does it fade or bleed. And, unlike other lip stains I've tried, it wipes off, even with an uncouth back of the hand, without a trace.
What I've also come to find is that the colour is more buildable than I remembered it being—one slick and it gives my lips a rosy hue. Two, and the shade intensifies, while the glossy texture ensures a multi-dimensional finish. Three, and I'm edging closer to the sultry berry shade I've always longed to wear but felt too dark by way of the densely-pigmented lipsticks I'd tried. Black Honey, however, is perfect.
Three coats in and I've achieved my ideal berry lip, without having to rely on cakey lipstick formulas.
At the same time I ordered my own tube (okay, two), I also purchased three additional Black Honey lipsticks—one for my mum, one for my aunt, and one for my grandma, all of whom are, and always have been, Black Honey devotees. Upon receiving hers, my grandma dually thanked me, saying: "Why would anyone use anything else?" Why, indeed.