Some makeup products transcend time, and Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in the shade Black Honey is one of them. Originally launched in 1981, this balmy wash of color is one of only two Almost Lipstick shades available today (the other is Pink Honey). In fact, Black Honey is so popular, one reportedly sells every two minutes. But what makes it iconic?
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Tested July 2020
Liz originally introduced me to Clinique’s Almost Lipstick, so long ago now that she probably doesn’t even remember doing it. On one of her trips to Seattle, we visited the Clinique counter at the flagship Nordstrom and honestly I don’t even remember the year. Don’t worry, I’m not still using the same tube. Actually, I had run out of this and for whatever reason had not recently repurchased. When Liz and I talked about go-to items to review for this site, Almost Lipstick came up for me. This shade is the perfect “bitten” color in the easiest formula. So I wasted no time in repurchasing “for the blog”.
Let’s start with the obvious “almost” in the name. I would say Black Honey is almost as pigmented as a traditional lipstick and almost as long wearing. Because it’s more balmy than most, this formula wears away faster and goes on a little sheer. For me, these are actually pros because it means I can swipe this on and go and don’t have to worry about whether or not it has worn off evenly (a common problem for my chronically dry lips).
Clinique’s official statement on this product is vague; perhaps they feel it needs no introduction? Here it goes: “Transparent pigment merges with the unique, natural tone of your lips to create something wonderful and yours alone.” Unlike those gimmicky shade-adjusting-based-on-pH lipsticks that always seem to end up Barbie pink regardless (Liz reviewed one here), this sheer and glossy formula simply lets your natural hue shine through. The Clinique website swatch looks vampy, as does the bullet itself, but I promise the wine/raisin shade of this balm is the most wearable lip color I own. I really need to quit hunting for “that perfect red wine hued lip stain” because Black Honey is that but without the drying/patchy effects of a stain.
I must have a type because I recently picked up a Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in the shade Red Dahlia, which looked to be the exact same color as Black Honey (definitely not the same price tag though, Burt’s is only $4.99). Clinique still reigns supreme, however, because the Burt’s shade is barely tinted and has as much staying power as chapstick (maybe less because it feels extra emollient). Still, I enjoy it for no makeup days. I’ve received compliments on both when I’ve worn them so I’ve include swatches side by side.
Piggybacking on the popularity of this Almost Lipstick shade, Clinique now offers Black Honey in a range of products and formulas. I haven’t tried these, but know of: Cheek Pop, Moisture Surge Pop™ Triple Lip Balm, Superbalm™ Moisturizing Gloss, The Best Of Black Honey All About Shadow™ Palette, and even Chubby Lash™ Fattening Mascara, all in the shade Black Honey.
The weightless feeling of Clinique’s Almost Lipstick is the part I can’t really describe. I hate feeling like I’m wearing makeup of any kind. This isn’t “like nothing”; instead, it’s somehow better. My lips feel moisturized but not slippy or greasy and certainly not sticky. I’m surprised by how pigmented I can build it up to be and it always lasts longer than I expect. Also, I don’t think Clinique planned this but they somehow created a formula that doesn’t melt when left in your car’s cup holder during the summer. I should know, that’s where I keep it. If my husband suggests a last minute dinner or I decide to meet friends on the fly, Almost Lipstick makes me feel a little more pulled together and vibrant (it also doubles as cheek/eye color in a pinch). This is one of those “you just have to try it” things, but there’s a lot of product in this slender tube so you won’t regret it. Plus, Clinique often has sales and free gifts, which is the perfect time to pick this up!
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