Throwback Thursday: Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick


Black Honey made its debut in the US in 1971 and this deep, blackened rasin hue became an instant success. In 1989, when Black Honey was later launched as an Almost Lipstick, no one realized how quickly it would become an iconic lip colour. A precise blend of red, blue, orange and yellow pigments in a sheer base allows Black Honey to look beautiful and different on virtually every skin tone, making it a cult favourite.


Originally conceptualized as a “black turtleneck” for lips, the shade uses a blend of pigments (red, blue, orange, and yellow) meant to flatter women of all ethnicities and skin tones.

It has that goth look but isn’t heavy,” said Beth Mumm, executive director for global product development at Clinique. “People wanted to put in less effort than in the ’80s. The cool thing was to find one product that was simple and elegant.”


Despite of how it looks almost black in the tube, Black Honey actually applies as a sheer yet buildable wash of color. The deep berry shade fit in nicely with the whole 90’s aesthetic making Black Honey the “It” color of the decade. Hollywood celebrities like Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, and Drew Barrymore made the already insanely popular shade even more popular during the 90’s by wearing it out and about. Pretty soon every tween and their mother had a tube of their own.


Black Honey is still Clinique’s top-selling lip color. The company ships one stick every two minutes globally, one every three minutes in the United States.

Ever since it came out on the market, Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in the shade Black Honey has achieved cult classic status, gotten numerous awards, appeared in countless magazines, and is still going strong to this very day. As a matter of fact, Clinique put out a Black Honey Set (consisting of: almost lipstick, nail polish, gloss, and eyeliner) inspired by the “universally flattering” shade not too long ago to celebrate Black Honey’s 25th Anniversary.

I don’t remember how or when I heard about Black Honey but I do remember that it took me a looong time to find a tube of my own. This was pre-youtube and even pre-blogging and as you might have gathered, Kuwait was (still is) very… limited. At every Clinique counter I visited, I’d ask about Black Honey and they’d answer with blank stares. “Are you sure it’s from this brand?”, one of them asked. I’d see them rummaging through the lipsticks so I’d explain that it was not a lipstick. It was actually an Almost Lipstick. Try explaining that to ill-prepared sales assistants. I’d explain that an “Almost Lipstick” came in a slim, thin tube and applied like a balm. More blank stares. Many years later, I finally found a tube of my own. I was obsessed with it for awhile because up till that point, I was all about nude lips (corpse-like nude) until I found my holy grail lipstick by MAC called Relic which was a silver-y lilac (also corpse-like) so Black Honey was me delving into color (un-corpse-like). After 3 or so years, I figured it had expired so I stopped using it but I held on to it (I wanna say at least a decade or so) just so I could blog about it when the time came. I could always just go and purchase another one because it really is worth repurchasing but I’m not confident in the fact that I’m ever going to find it again, at least not in Kuwait. Plus I think it’ll be fun to compare the updated packaging (I’m sure they’ve updated it since I first bought it). Whoops, nevermind. Just checked Sephora’s website, and it’s still exactly the same packaging. I set this out the night before to blog about it today but my little niece had gotten into it which is why it’s currently in this state. She used it as a crayon and because of it’s emolient texture she managed to “color” my things pretty sufficiently -_- I believe it’s serendipitous though (which is why I took photos of it that way as opposed to wiping it down) because now you can sorta’ see the color, which isn’t as scary as it looks in the tube.

I really like the no-fuss, light-weight packaging. Some might consider it too plain but I actually enjoy the utilitarian aesthetic. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them, as always. I’ve taken a close-up shot of the bottom but the writing is so small that it’s barely legible which is why I’ll just tell you what it reads. At the top Almost Lipstick and at the bottom Black Honey (Who would have guessed?). The other shot is of Clinique’s C logo which is situated at the top of the reflective cap.


Black Honey is touted as being a universally flattering shade, a MLBB (my lips but better) color, etc… and even though by now we’ve all gotten sick of hearing those phrases repeatedly because they’ve been used and abused to death, Black Honey truly does live up to the hype. It looks different on everyone so some women have qualms with it pulling too brown on their lips but I mean it is called Honey after all so there’s that. It all depends on the pigmentation of your actual lip color. It looked great on the palest of pale hollywood celebrities who sported it during the 90’s. It looked great on women of color. It even looked pretty good on me (I of the sallow skin), complimenting my blonde hair beautifully. Somehow whenever I wore Black Honey, my brown eyes would look almost green! I liked the fact that it had a glossy finish even though it was a darker color because it made my lips look juicy. I also liked that just like the Nivea Lip Care Sticks (blogged about here) it left a pretty stain behind. Aside from the Asian Market (because they’re always ahead of the game by a decade or so) I believe Clinique’s Almost Lipstick was the first of it’s kind, a balm and lipstick hybrid. There are plenty of offerings from all kinds of brands nowadays though (for example, the Jordana Easyshine Glossy Lip Colors that I talked about awhile ago here). It might sound like a cop-out but when the whole world has been saying for years that Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in the shade Black Honey is a must-have, there’s gotta’ be something there, right? I can safely confirm that Black Honey is indeed worthy of being a legend!

One thought on “Throwback Thursday: Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick

  1. Pingback: H&M Buy Two Get One Free (Avenues, Phase III Branch) | LuLu ♥'s Makeup

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