Under the microscope...Black lipstick

In theory: Black lipstick was the most striking beauty trend to emerge on the autumn catwalks, with models sporting glossy ebony lips at YSL and Giles. Naturally, fashionistas and experimental beauty junkies were seduced by the bold look, hence the waiting lists for Lancôme's Black Phia lipgloss, out next month.

In practice: To stand any chance of pulling off this look, perfect application is crucial. Invest in the best lipstick you can afford – Dr F plumped for Shu Uemura's Rouge Unlimited BK 099 (£16), a glossy formula which is as nice as black lipstick gets (www.shuuemura.com). Lipliner is also a good idea, so check out ranges for black skin for suitably dark shades. Needless to say, this won't look great with blue eyeshadow, so work on a flawless base and keep the rest of your make-up minimal.

Observations: Dr F found herself oscillating between thinking it looked terribly chic and just terrible. Over the course of a day involving Topshop, the supermarket and drinks in a trendy bar, there were innumerable odd looks and several Halloween-based jokes. A few fashion-savvy girlfriends thought it rocked; the boys universally thought it was horrible. It was high maintenance, too, with plenty of retouches needed to avoid looking like a bad teen goth.

Analysis: Road-testing any extreme look equates to giving random strangers carte blanche to comment on your appearance, so you'll have to take it on the chin or have some witty retorts up your sleeve. Dr F had moments of feeling like a fearless fashion warrior (particularly as this is a look that directly contravenes the basic "make-up makes you more attractive" idea), but plenty more of just feeling silly.

Prescription: If done well (and that's a big if), this is a look that will make you stand out from the crowd – and there's nothing wrong with that. It's worth snapping up a good black lipstick while they're easily available and waiting a while to use it – it doesn't do to be too on-trend!

Further experiments: If you fancy a slightly less extreme version, try MAC's new satin lipstick in Cyber, a deep purple that stops a few shades short of black (£11, www.maccosmetics.co.uk).