Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar

OCC lip tar is an opaque liquid lipstick that has developed a cult following due to its numerous vivid shades. Each tube comes with a brush to allow for flawless application. They colors are bold and the product isn't sticky in the slightest.

I have already waxed poetic about my love of olden time-y insults as product names. Charmingly, OCC lip tars are awash with casually insulting product names, including Psycho, Harlot, Strumpet, Stalker, Hoochie, Grandma and Trollop. It's no "Pox Marked Varlot"... but perhaps they'll make that one next.

Although lip tars are hardly a new product, hopefully what I lack in timeliness can be made up for in ludicrous numbers of pictures (and math).

Unfortunately, OCC has recently raised their prices... again. Lip tar now costs $18 for 0.33oz ($54 per ounce). For many of us, me included, that is prohibitively expensive if we want to build up a substantial collection of colors.

Luckily, there is one really nice solution: Retro Wombat, a Kansas City based lip tar lover, has a storenvy store where she splits lip tar tubes into four leakproof vials. At $5 a vial, she makes a very tiny profit, but the prices are more than reasonable. The majority of my colors came from her store.

Swatches from left to right: Harlot, Stalker, NSFW, Beta, ChaCha, Grandma, Trollop, Hoochie, Strumpet, Rx.
To apply lip tars, I put a small dot in the center of my lip and blend out using a lip brush.

This should be enough product to cover my entire lips. 
I have ten lip tars: Harlot, Stalker, NSFW, Beta, ChaCha, Grandma, Trollop, Hoochie, Strumpet, and Rx.

Harlot is a bright, orange-based popsicle red.

OCC Lip Tar in Harlot
Stalker is a bright, blue-based red.

OCC Lip Tar in Stalker
NSFW is similar to Stalker, but it is more of a classic, true red.

OCC Lip Tar in NSFW
Beta is "magic marker" orange. It's a bit oddly named, since I assume they are referring to the fish, but beta fish tend to be blue or red.

OCC Lip Tar in Beta
ChaCha is a light, creamsicle orange.

OCC Lip Tar in ChaCha
Grandma is a gorgeous, classic coral.

OCC Lip Tar in Grandma
Trollop is a summery, watermelon pink.

OCC Lip Tar in Trollop
Hoochie is a bright lilac.

OCC Lip Tar in Hoochie
Strumpet is a purple-y burgundy.

OCC Lip Tar in Strumpet
Rx is a vivid cyan blue.

OCC Lip Tar in Rx
Because of laziness, I found it too time-consuming to test every single lip tar's lasting power. However, I did conduct four separate four-hour tests. I divided my colors in four broad categories and chose a representative from each: coral/orange (represented by Grandma), a light color (represented by ChaCha), an unconventional color (represented by Rx) and a classic red (represented by NSFW).  Every one of them passed the four-hour test with flying colors. NSFW did have a tiny bit of barely-noticeable fading, but the rest looked as if they had just been applied. None of them were drying or otherwise uncomfortable.

The four-hour test on Grandma
The four hour test on ChaCha
The four hour test on Rx
The four hour test on NSFW
Given the recent price increase, I decided to investigate the value of this product in comparison to a traditional tube of lipstick. To do so, I used my handy dandy accurate-to-the-milligram scale to measure the mass of an application of lip tar. I chose to do this because I have frequently heard that you use less product with OCC lip tar than with a traditional lipstick. Here were my findings:

Harlot- 0.006g

Stalker- 0.015g

NSFW- 0.007g

Beta- 0.012g

ChaCha- 0.017g

Grandma- 0.022g

Trollop- 0.016g

Hoochie- 0.018g

Strumpet- 0.015g

Rx- 0.012g

That makes the mean about 0.014g. We've previously established that the average lipstick application is about 0.008g. So, clearly, an application of lip tar requires more product than an application of traditional lipstick. Part of that may be because lip tar is lost on the brush every time you apply it.

Based on these numbers, there are about 668 applications of lip tar in a tube. 668 applications of Covergirl lipstick, at $6.99 for 425 applications, would be valued at about $10.99. 668 applications of MAC lipstick, at $15 for 354 applications, would be valued at $28.31.

(To further elucidate: Ounce per ounce, if lip tar were the same size as a MAC lipstick, it would cost $5.45 at its current pricing. Application for application, it would cost $9.53. Obviously, both of those prices are well below the cost of a MAC lipstick.)

So, unsurprisingly, the value of OCC lip tar depends on how much you are willing to pay for lipstick. However, given the fabulousness of OCC's pigmentation and lasting power, I think it is well worth the cost.


  1. Great post on lip tars. I've been very curious to try them out, but feared their potential drying-ness and price. Don't want to shell out $18 bucks for something that will last quite a long time but won't like. The store you mentioned, is it a physical brick-and-mortar store or do they have a website? I'd be very interested in buying from them!

    1. It's a very informal website. There's a link in the post!

    2. Wow, totally skipped past the storenvy part. I've never heard of this site before, so I thought it was just a typo! Thanks.

  2. I tried a lip tar in Hush, and the staying power was great but I didn't love the colour. I'd love to try Beta! When I first saw it I thought it might derive from beta carotene, but that's not really consistent with the rest of the names...

    1. I actually think you are correct! That would make a lot more sense. And they have a few names in that vein (e.g. red iron oxide).

  3. Oh my goodness you have made my day with that link! I've been dying to try lip tars but the price was just too high for me. I am so excited to get to try these, now I just have to decide on which colors...

  4. I have always wanted to try OCC liptars, but never bit the bullet because of the price. I was turned onto Sweetpea and Faye's liquid lipsticks as a more affordable alternative and ordered a few (only 8 dollars a pop) but they are reaallly slow with their turn around time-- I ordered about a week and a half ago and they JUST sent me a notification saying that they've shipped. Hard to blame them though being an indie company and all. Can't wait to order some of these lip tars and compare the two!

    Ps- the lip tars looked great on you! Even the colours that are a little coconuts.

  5. I want to try the blue one but I'm too scared! Ha! There is also a girl who sells samples on eBay as well, she ships FAST! I got a nice assortment from her (mostly nudes for me), but maybe I'll try some of the brighter colors too!

  6. I just checked my statistics today and it shows that some of my referrals are coming from your website.

    Thank you so much for the shout out and I'm glad you enjoy them!

    1. Thank you! You're great and you're providing a service that would otherwise be absent!

  7. I laid down $18 for a full size lip tar based entirely on this post. It's money well spent, frankly; it's a good enough color (NSFW) that I can wear it daily if I want a bold lip, and strong enough that I can wear it for stage work (I'm a professional classical singer) without it sliding off under the lights.

    The one complaint I have about it is that it goes a tiny bit pink on me instead of staying a true Dita Von Teese-type red. Do you know if there's another color that would work better, based on that scant information?

    1. Hm. It might be worth getting a color like Tarred or Black Dahlia to mix with it, and see if that serves you better. I would definitely recommend getting a sample for that one, though, as I haven't tried either of those colors.

  8. Hey there,

    Chanced upon this entry while searching for OCC Lip Tar reviews. The swatches for Trollop and Cha Cha have me a bit hooked too. I might get them, though I was originally thinking of getting only Ophelia.

    Great details and information you have here. Thanks a lot!

    Roxanne C.
    Laced IVory - Singapore's Beauty, Fashion & Lifestyle

  9. Ok, can you tell me how you apply? I do the same thing as you do here: dab on a small dot, done. But mine always fades off quickly! How do you get yours to stay?

  10. Now I need to figure out how to get my hands on this product in New Zealand!

    I am pathologically unable to keep lipstick from deteriorating into an awkward bright ring around the perimeter of my lips. I don't get it. I exfoliate, I moisturise, I apply with obsessive care. Even the so called 'Infallible' products that are supposed to 'Colorstay' forever... the ones that take six washes to get rid of the swatch on my hand... they just disappear. I don't *think* I have any excessive unconscious lip-chewing habits going on, and the lippy never winds up on my teeth... it just vanishes.

    Epic #firstworldproblem I know, but it is the bane of my beauty existence!

    1. You could try an Australian seller. I think Lipstick Republic and Vegan Beauty both ship to NZ.

      Personally, since most actual lipsticks range around the same price as lip tars ($15-$25) it makes no difference to me. But - the lasting power and the fact that they don't melt everywhere in summer makes them that much better than regular lipstick, even if the application is slightly more fiddly.

      About the only one I have that I hate is Batty. I can see why it's being discontinued; as nice as a metallic black sounds, it just isn't working. The colour seperates too easily and it's a pain in the ass to make it mix again; even when you can get it to mix, it's still watery and translucent.

      Also, they're utterly unforgiving on dry lips, which used to be a problem for me, but I discovered the wondrous sorcery that is petroleum jelly so it's no longer a major issue. With that being said, not the world's most moisturizing formula, but I've been finding that the more moisturizing the lip formula, the worse the wear time.


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