makeup for black dress

Need the perfect makeup for a black dress?

Our combination of academic research, tutorials, and makeup tips below will help you look stunning and rock any black dress to any event!

Whether it’s a formal event, or an important date night, our evidence-backed makeup ideas and tips are specifically tailored to wear with a black dress. Plus, we reveal why black is the dress color for a formal event!

Just keep reading!

Creating The Perfect Makeup Look to Wear With A Black Dress

Black flatters every skin tone, and there are so many different looks you can achieve with black dresses! Almost any makeup pairs well with a black dress. So, how do we narrow it down to just one look when we want to look our best?

A unique way is to read into some beauty studies and find out how our makeup choices influence how we are perceived!

Related: Discover the most attractive makeup looks to pair with a red dress!

Makeup For A Black Dress – Hiring A MUA?

If it’s for a super special occasion, consider hiring a professional makeup artist. Jones and Kramer (2016)1 found that women were deemed more attractive after getting their makeup done professionally compared to doing the makeup themselves.

Struggling to decide on a look? We recommend deciding on your lip color first. If you make the lips your main focus by picking a dramatic lipstick shade, you will know to go softer on the eyes and face.

Black is “modest and arrogant… lazy and easy – but mysterious”

– Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto9

Does Wearing A Full Face Help You Look More Attractive?

In a study by Mulhern et al. (2003)2, participants judged a full face of makeup as more attractive than no makeup at all. Eye makeup makes the biggest positive difference, next came foundation, and then finally lip makeup made the least difference.

Eye makeup apparently makes the biggest difference to your perceived attractiveness. Keep that in mind, however, we recommend deciding on your lip color first. If you make the lips your main focus by picking a dramatic lipstick shade, you will know to go softer on the eyes and face.

Related: How much makeup is too much makeup?

LIPS: Choose The Lipstick Shade Before The Eyes

Red Lip Color – Judged As Feminine And Attractive

A lot of women are scared of bold red lips, however, a red color lipstick pairs beautifully with a black dress!

Stephen & McKeegan (2010)3 revealed that women look more attractive and appear more feminine to men when they have red-colored lips. Another study, Gueguen (2012)4, even suggests that women are approached more at the bar when they wear red on the lips compared to pinker or browny-nude shades!

Related: Discover the Best Office Makeup according to research!

Purple And Deep Red Grungy Or Vampy Lips

A little black dress is a perfect outfit to pair with a grungy 90s makeup or flirty 20s flapper look. If that suits your style, consider pairing your favorite black dress with a black or super dark red lipstick!
A dark lip color also looks great with a cleaner eye makeup look for a sophisticated, vampy style.

makeup for black dress

Nude, Glossy Lips: Wearable & Simple

If darker shades like deep red are a little out of your comfort zone, there’s nothing wrong with a simple lip gloss and nude lips. Going simple on the lips allows for a more dramatic eye makeup, plus it gives the illusion of fuller lips!

EYES: Dramatic Or Toned Down?

The world is your oyster when it comes to eye makeup for a black dress! In this section, we help you complement your eye look with the lip choices above for a seamless look. Guaranteed to suit a black dress!

Best Eye Makeup For A Dramatic Lip Color

Unless you want the full grungy look, it’s quite hard to pull off colorful makeup on both the eyes and lips! We recommend natural makeup on the eyes to complement darker lipstick.

Simple Yet Glamorous Eyes For Red Lips

Choose a light brown matte eyeshadow and gently blend it into the crease and outer corner of your eye. Add a lighter brown on the eyelid and the lower lash line. Place a brighter white color in the inner corners.

If you are going to a special event, a touch of gold can add some glamour to this makeup look. Blend a sparkly or glitter gold color directly on the eyelids and blend it into the rest of your eyeshadow.

Finish off the eye look with subtle winged eyeliner and lashings of black mascara.

Smokey Eyes With Nude Lipstick | Makeup For A Black Dress

Any kind of eyeshadow pairs well with a little black and nude lipstick. Warm colors and jewel tones are ideal for this black dress makeup look. For a bombshell effect, choose a black shadow paired with grey for cool-toned smokey eyes.

Warm tones help light eyes pop, while cool tones pair nicely with brown eyes. However, both of these looks can complement any eye color!

makeup for black dress

Warm Smokey Eye

  • Start off with an eyeshadow base.
  • Next, apply a neutral skin-toned brown shadow on your eyelid.

  • Blend a warmer brown into the crease of your eyes to add definition.

  • Add a shimmery copper shade along your eyelid and on the lower lashes.

  • For a more dramatic eye makeup look, apply a dark brown or black eyeliner into your waterline and tight line.

Cool Toned Smokey Eye

A cool toned smokey eye follows the same process as the warm look, just with different colors.

  • Apply a neutral, taupey grey or brown onto your eyelids.

  • Blend with a matte grey into the crease.

  • Next, blend a glitter or shimmer silver or grey onto your eyelid.
  • Drag some of this shimmery color on the lower lashline and tap it into the inner corner.

  • For smokey eyes, add kohl eyeliner to the waterline and tight line.
  • Add lots of mascara or dramatic false lashes.

To transform this look into an even more bold eye makeup, add a statement liquid liner on the upper eyelid. Apply a few coats of mascara and then apply long and full cateye lashes on top.

Classic Makeup Look – Perfect With Any Makeup For A Black Dress

If you are not sure which lip color you prefer, opt for a liner look. A statement eyeliner suits any color on the cheeks and lips! Dramatic dark liquid liner pairs beautifully with a little black dress.

Keep the eyelid bare or add a neutral skin tone brown color all over the lid.

Apply liquid eyeliner with an angled brush upwards on the outer corner to create the winged liner look.

The perfect makeup look for a black dress – it makes the eyes the focal point, without being too dramatic to wear with red lipstick.

classic eye makeup

Base Makeup – Flawless Foundation & Sculpted Cheeks

  • Start off with a flawless, medium to full coverage foundation and concealer base.
  • A sculpted, contoured face works well with any makeup look if you are wearing your little black dress to a night time event.

  • Add glow to your cheeks with a liquid or cream highlight in a champagne shade.

Make sure your blush color does not clash with your lipstick.

  • Opt for a hint of peach or a neutral blush if you are wearing red on the lips.

  • A coral-pink shade works great on the cheeks with nude glossy lips.

Perceived Slimmer & More Attractive In Black Or Red

A number of experiments reveal that the color a woman wears influences how she’s perceived by her peers.

However, as we discussed in our red dress article, replications of these color effects studies have mixed results. The phenomenon seems to exist but maybe it has a smaller influence than we first thought.

You may have noticed your stomach looks flatter when you wear black, while it looks more prominent when you wear white.

Black is widely known to have a slimming effect on the body. Finney (2006)5 explains that white reflects light and draws attention to the eye which enlarges the appearance of a white object. Black absorbs light and deflects attention away from the black object.

 Black is “the most slimming of colors”

-Christian Dior9

Focused On The Upper Body In Black | Focused On The Waist-Hip Area In White

In an experiment by Sidhu et al. (2021)6 31 caucasian female undergrad students reviewed CGI images of other (Caucasian and African) women wearing the same dress in red, grey, white, green, blue, and black.

The participants rated those same women higher in body attractiveness and slimness when they were wearing a black or red dress. When the women wore green and grey, they were rated lowest in body attractiveness and higher in body size.

Color also appears to influence which body parts our eyes focus on. When the CGI images wore black, participants focused their eyes on the upper body and less on the legs, while they concentrated on the waist-hip region when the images wore white.

The skin tone of the women influenced how the color was perceived on them. The CGI women with African heritage were rated higher in the white, blue, and green color than the CGI caucasian women were.

Roberts, Owen, and Havlicek (2010)7 analyzed how men rate photographs of women in a black shirt compared to green, blue, yellow, white, and red. Women were rated most attractive when wearing black and red, and both of these colors had almost equal effects.

Formal Dresses In Black Or Red Make You Look More Attractive Than White

The impact of color also seems to apply to formal dresses. Results from Pazda et al. (2014)8 revealed that a woman in a knee-length red or black dress was rated more attractive than when that same woman wore the same dress in a white color.


1. Facial Cosmetics and Attractiveness: Comparing the Effect Sizes of Professionally-Applied Cosmetics and Identity, by Jones and Kramer (2016) 

 2. ‘Do cosmetics enhance female Caucasian facial attractiveness‘, by Mulhern et al. (2003)

3. ‘Lip colour affects perceived sex typicality and attractiveness of human faces.’ by Stephen and McKeegan (2010)

4. ‘Does red lipstick really attract men? An evaluation in a bar.‘ by Gueguen (2012)

5. ‘How to be a budget fashionista: The ultimate guide to looking fabulous for less.‘ (Ballantine: Random House) by Finney, K. (2006)

6. What colour should I wear? How clothing colour affects women’s judgement of other women’s body attractiveness and body size by Sidhu et al. (2021)

7. ‘Distinguishing between perceiver and wearer effects in clothing color-associated attributions‘ by Roberts, Owen, and Havlicek (2010)

8. ‘Perceived sexual receptivity and fashionableness: Separate paths linking red and black to perceived attractiveness.‘ by Pazda, Elliot, and Greitemeyer (2014)

9. ‘Darkness: A Cultural History‘ (pp.230-233) by Edwards (2018)