We Tried This ’90s Cult-Favorite Lipstick That’s Selling Out (Again)

The funny thing about trends is that, after enough time has passed, they always come back in some form or the other. As a millennial, it’s been amusing to see the resurgence of butterfly clips and bucket hats, lip gloss and other things I wore throughout my adolescence.

So when my colleague told me that Clinique Black Honey lipstick was blowing up on TikTok, I was not surprised. It seems par for the course at this point. (See: Olivia Rodrigo, who is one of the preeminent figures for Gen Z and looks like she stepped out of a Delia*s catalogue.)

Here’s what did surprise me: How hard it was to track down one of these lipsticks to write this very story. After weeks of inventory issues and shipping delays, I finally received a slender silver tube of Black Honey lipstick and immediately swiped it on to see how it looks on a 34-year-old me. (Truly, the last time I wore this lipstick was when I was 14, so it’s been…20 years. Yikes.)

clinique black honey lipstick swatch
Jenny Jin for PureWow

There’s a part of me that wishes I could pull up an old photo of a braces-clad Jenny wearing this just to have a point of comparison, but I’m also slightly relieved at the dearth of photographic documentation from those extremely awkward years.

Besides, I think adult me wears this berry-meets-mauve shade much better than I did in my tweens, when it most definitely wore me.

And now, after years of being a beauty editor and trying every lipstick under the sun, I can speak to the nuances of the lipstick. You know, things like texture (sheer and balmy) and finish (a subtle sheen). Color payoff (almost translucent to start but easily buildable) and the application itself (breezy thanks to the slim, ovular bullet).

But the true magic of Black Honey is that it melds to your natural lip color—no matter your lip color—so it somehow looks good on anyone but doesn’t look the same on everyone. In short, I can see why a new generation is falling in love with it.

In a world where there’s a new product every week, it’s oddly comforting to know that quality is quality and classics are classic for a reason. Clinique Black Honey lipstick was good 20 years ago when I first tried it, and somehow it’s even better now knowing how many options are available to us these days.

As of writing, it’s still sold out in several locations, so if you come across a tube at your (gasp) mall or department store, grab it. Or you could always get a similar product online. (We hear E.L.F’s Sheer Slick Lipstick in “Black Cherry” is a convincing dupe.)

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...