It’s a cult classic for a reason.

What’s old is new again—is that how that saying goes? Whether we’re talking fashion or makeup, trends that go out of style always make a resurgence, even if it’s a couple of decades later. This is the case for the Clinique Almost Lipstick in the shade “Black Honey,” a quintessential ‘90s lippie, born in 1971, that’s making its rounds on social media now.

What is the Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick?

A silver tube of Clinique lipstick uncapped to reveal a berry-toned shade.

Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Clinique’s Black Honey shade was introduced in 1971.

Introduced more than 50 years ago, Black Honey launched as “a deep, dark raisin color that surprised and delighted anyone who dared to try it” during what the brand calls “an era when everyone had disco fever and loved bright colors and flashy fashion.” The most important attribute of Clinique’s $20 Almost Lipstick is its sheer hue with a slight sheen that makes it “not quite lipstick, not quite gloss.” Its lightweight wash of color lends itself well to every skin tone, which is what caused the non-lipstick to gain the cult-like following it has. The Almost Lipstick contains emollient ingredients like castor oil and candelilla and carnauba waxes to leave the lips feeling moisturized, too. The formula comes in two shades, the beloved “Black Honey” (a deep berry) and “Pink Honey” (a light pink).

What’s it like to use the Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick?

Three women of different skin tones wearing without the Clinique lipstick (top row) and then wearing the lipstick (bottom row).

Credit: Clinique

The Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick was designed to suit any skin tone.

The Almost Lipstick glides onto the lips like a balm, depositing a very subtle amount of color on the first swipe. My lips are naturally light pink and after a few swipes of Black Honey, my pout transforms to a deep berry tone that looks different depending on the lighting I’m in. It appears like a cooler brown-purple at night but a more vibrant raspberry when the sun is shining. I like the chameleon aspect; it appears darker and bolder at night when I may want a deeper tone, but its transparent formula allows the sun to shine through it and lighten up the color when I want something less vampy for daytime. My lips feel plush post-application—like I can rub them together with zero resistance or stickiness. Similar to most balms, the color and moisturizing feel don’t stick around long on me, but I also have a tendency to rub my lips together (bad habit!). Still, the color fades naturally without feathering or looking patchy.

What do I like about the Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick?

The author wearing the Clinique lipstick with one coat (left) and two coats (right).

Credit: Reviewed / Jessica Kasparian

I’m wearing the Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick in one coat (left) and two (coats) in the photos above.

Whether I’m bare-faced or made-up, I like to add a hint of color to my lips, which to me appear pale without anything on them. My favorite type of lip product is one that results in a subtle, popsicle-stained look. I like a hint of pink, berry, or coral that won’t cause me to worry about coloring within the lines of my lips while I’m out and about or how it’ll look wearing away. Clinique’s Black Honey gives me that lip stain and hassle-free application in a slim, twist-up tube that’s easy to throw in my bag. Also, on my skin tone, the color gives a hint of ‘90s grunge glam that is fun!

What do I dislike about the Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick?

A light colored rectangle lipstick box.

Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Clinique’s Almost Lipstick is a balm-lipstick hybrid.

As the color fades on my lips while wearing this, so does any moisture it provides. This is one of those lip products that feels good immediately post-application, but leaves your pout feeling parched after it wears away. I’ve heard rumors about balms that are designed to be drying to keep you reaching for them. I’m not accusing Clinique of such things, but I suspect I’d need to reach for this quite often if I relied on it as my only lip balm throughout the day.

Is the Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick worth the hype?

A silver tube of lipstick stands with its cap showing a

Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Clinique Almost Lipstick comes in a slip, twist-up tube.

I understand the hype! This lipstick is foolproof—something many of us look for in a daily lippie. If that’s what you’re looking for, I don’t not recommend this, but there are plenty of other hydrating, balm-like lipsticks out there now. This one just happens to transcend time.

If you’re not sold on the Clinique Almost Lipstick or if its sold out (as it often is) when you’re reading this, I suggest checking out the Glossier’s Ultralip, Billie’s Super Salve, or Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez’s With Gratitude Dewy Lip Balm—all of which offer moisturizing, sheer shades.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.


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