Guest Review: OCC Lip Tar & Face Primer (& Other Deep Makeup Thoughts)

This beauty review was contributed by my super-good friend Zoë, whose blossoming lipstick addiction has definitely affected our friendship in a neutral-to-positive way, and I am very grateful that she is sharing her experience with Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics – a vegan, 100% cruelty free makeup line that we both adore – on Broke & Beautiful. You can find Zoë lurking Tumblr or covering the Boston Blades, Boston’s female hockey team, and the rest of the time she’s sleeping on this mattress.

OCC Lip Tar & Face Primer Review

I’m definitely an advocate of having a few investment pieces in your makeup arsenal. High quality beauty products in your favorite everyday colors or unique products for very special occasions are worth an occasional “treat yo’self.”

OCC Lip Tars aren’t super cheap (3x more expensive, for example, than NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams, which you can pick up at Ulta, and they’re not bad). But OCC is a widely reviewed brand that is respected among makeup industry professionals, and they’re also vegan and cruelty-free. The main selling point of Lip Tar is how super pigmented it is–they profess totally opaque coverage and bright coloring with just a small amount of product.

Each shade of Lip Tar is priced at $18 and comes in a tube, and they now include a little brush to go along with each new tube. OCC recommends that you use the Lip Tar Primer with your Lip Tar, but if you want to buy a more versatile product, you can also purchase their Skin Primer for use on all parts of your face.

I decided to contribute my review because unlike many makeup reviewers out there, I’m not a pro or even really an avid hobbyist. I usually only wake up 30-40 minutes before I leave the house in the morning, which is really just enough time to shower, get dressed, put lipstick on, and go. I work in IT support, which means I have to be prepared for sitting at my desk, going to meetings, and moving dusty computer equipment at various points of the day. I’m low maintenance as a rule, but I also love fashion and lipstick and looking cute–as long as it doesn’t take too long for me to put it on.

So for me, Lip Tar was intimidating. I bought my first one years ago as part of a special edition spring release, in 2012. The shade was a super rich baby pink called Ophelia which looked awful with my skin tone, and I didn’t know that a primer product would have helped application–it went on cakey, wore horribly throughout the day, and just didn’t seem worth the mess, especially because my color choice had backfired on me.

I took a chance nearly three years later by picking up Hoochie this winter as well as the skin primer, and then I got Stalker and Electric Grandma (which is a metallic, not a matte) as Christmas gifts. Suddenly, I have a pretty exciting collection of Lip Tar to review!

I was a little nervous at first about receiving Hoochie since my previous experience had been so disappointing. But the primer makes a world of difference. Here’s my process for applying Lip Tar in the morning. Even in a hurry, it won’t take more than a few minutes.

Applying OCC Lip Tar with Primer

Applying OCC Lip Tar with a brush

1.) After a shower, exfoliate with a lip scrub. I use Mint Julips by LUSH.
2.) Add a quick layer of any old lip balm.
3.) Apply OCC Skin primer. I just put a tiny drop of it on my fingertip and smooth over my lips. I let it set for 15-30 seconds.
4.) Apply Lip Tar. Use the included brush, and just a tiny drop (not even enough to coat the bristles). “A little goes a long way” is a phrase that has never been truer than with OCC Lip Tar–you’ll be able to cover your lips with just this much.

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OCC Lip Tar in Hoochie

OCC Lip Tar in Hoochie

OCC Lip Tar in Stalker

OCC Lip Tar in Stalker

Hoochie at the laundromat and Stalker at my office. These are straight iPhone photos with minimal color correction. Lip Tars are super vibrant! I get a lot of comments and compliments about Hoochie in particular.

I reapply at midday after eating lunch, and the second coat is always shockingly brilliant, even after the first coat has been half-smeared away by a sandwich.

Hoochie and Stalker are both great shades that wear nicely throughout the day and are less drying than other matte lipsticks I have. Getting them on isn’t as easy as quick-swipe-bottom-lip-quick-swipe-top-lip-and-press like a standard lipstick, and they do require a little extra care.

For example, if you accidentally get some on the wrong part of your face, good luck getting it off completely before your next shower, even with soap and water. And the primer is absolutely necessary, it seems, to prevent cakey finish and smearing. (If you want a recommendation for some low-maintenance [and cheaper!] matte lipsticks, those will be coming in a future review.)

Electric Grandma needed a little bit of coaxing. The metallic finish seems like it settles differently in the tube than the mattes. When I first put it on, I was getting a very sheer, shiny, slightly coral-tinted finish, more glossy than pigmented metallic. I scoured the Internet for reviews of the shade and found that other people had gotten it to go on relatively opaque. So, I shook/massaged the tube to get it to mix. Advanced, I know.

OCC Metallic Lip Tar in Electric Grandma

Verdict: everything you’ve heard about Lip Tar being a great product is true, but if you need to be quick out the door in the morning like me, it might not be an everyday part of your routine.

If you’re in love with one of their shades, though, go for it (either with their Lip Tar Primer, $18, or skin primer). You can see them at Sephora now if you want to swatch on your own skin before you buy (like I should have done with Ophelia). I will say they’re not as truly matte as other mattes I’ve used (NARS semi-mattes spring to mind). The colors are bright, and they catch the light even if you don’t use a topcoat of gloss.

Also keep an eye on OCC’s website for sales–you might not always have to pay $18 for your favorite color as they have coupon codes fairly often.

Overall, Lip Tar is a pretty cool product to have around. When you wear these, it’s hard not to feel like you have the coolest face in the room.