50 Shades Of Black: Still Pursuing The Best Black Liquid Lipstick

Published on May 10, 2017 by   ·   No Comments

Alright, you know a bitch don’t play – are you ready to head back to the Thunderdome?

That’s right – we are once again on the trail of the best black liquid lipstick you can buy and this time we have no less than 6 brands challenging our current champion!  Once again we will put all 7 through a series of tests including packaging and presentation, a smell test, the “one swipe” swatch impression, the all important removal test, and finally (and probably most important) will be the actual lip application.  In our first Thunderdome battle, Jeffree Star’s Weirdo and Lime Crime’s Black Velvet were both defeated and left the arena in shame.  Well, not that much shame…they both performed well, just not well enough to grab the title.

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Now that you know what we’re doing, let’s get a quick look at our seven contenders:

The Champion – Darkness Prevails, Makeup Monsters ($15.95)

Makeup Monsters is one of my absolute favorite brands of liquid lipstick, and this black has the same solid performance as the rest of the shades in the brand.  But it better not rest on its laurels – there are 6 high quality contenders just waiting to snatch the crown if this shade decides to slack off.

The Fan Favorite – Witches, Kat Von D ($20.00)

When I posted the original challenge, one of the first comments I got was asking if I had tried Witches by Kat Von D (shout out to Jazzi!).  That planted the initial seed for this post, so obviously this was the first shade I went out and purchased for this challenge!  Kat Von D is known for edgy beauty, but will that aesthetic be enough to carry her through to a victory?

The Halloween Queen – Black Cat, Pretty Zombie Cosmetics ($12.00)

This brand has the perfect Halloween aesthetic to really nail black lipstick, and some of the vibrant brights just got a really favorable review here in the Makeup Forum.  $12 for a great liquid lipstick from an indie brand sounds like a dream – but will Black Cat be able to channel the black of our darkest nightmares?

The Goth Goddess – Sleepwalker, Black Moon Cosmetics ($18.00)

Another favorite brand from the Makeup Forum, this shade seems to be pretty popular with the goth community.  But the metallics from this brand performed much better than the mattes – can Sleepwalker be roused from its slumber to take the title, or will it be caught napping in the Thunderdome?

The Unknown Quantity – Naughty, tarte ($20.00)

tarte is a brand that I have very little exposure to, and I’ve never tried any of their tarteist lip paints.  Will this shade be another hum drum product from a brand I’ve never found very compelling, or is Naughty the perfect dark horse to come out of nowhere and shake up this competition?

The Bargain Beauty – Alien, NYX Cosmetics ($7.00)

NYX Cosmetics is one of my favorite drugstore brands, and though they aren’t 100% consistent they are definitely more hit than miss.  If a $7 lipstick can defeat opponents that are up to three times the price, that would be a huge upset.  But will we really get what we paid for with this bargain beauty?

The Comeback Kid – Caviar, MAC Cosmetics ($21.00)

MAC Cosmetics used to be the shiz back in the day, but the the last 7 or 8 years, they’ve really gone downhill.  The one exception?  Their lip products.  Will this lip paint prove to be just as fabulous as the traditional MAC lipstick tubes, or am I just setting myself up for disappointment by giving this brand another chance?

These are the seven contestants that are vying for the title of best black liquid lipstick.  And just like Thunderdome, there can only be one winner!  Let’s dive in!

PACKAGING/PRESENTATION

Black 0 04Makeup Monsters just went through a packaging revamp and their new tubes are GORGEOUS!  They maintained a little bit of their former look with the neon green stripe just below the cap, and the rest of the bottle has a very elegant black floral/thorn design.  If they had been in those tubes when I did the original post, MM would have easily carried that round (instead, Jeffree Star’s Weirdo won that particular title).  But now, just like then, I have the original packaging and while I think it’s cute and attractive, it just isn’t the best of the pack.

Kat Von D’s packaging is the most unique of the bunch – it’s the tallest and the skinniest tube.  Like a lipstick supermodel.  The cap has a silver design hand-drawn by Kat herself and her logo on the top.  The rest of the packaging is pretty is plain, which I think is good – sometimes less is more, and it lets her artwork and the shade really be the stars of this show.

Pretty Zombie’s packaging is decidedly cheap, but it’s still cute as heck!  The coffin-shaped logo with the zombie pinup is really adorable, and I actually really like that the shade name is prominently displayed on the cap.  I realize this will officially make me sound like a senior citizen, but I hate having to squint at those tiny shade name stickers on the bottoms of lipsticks.  It may not be the most high end on the list, but I can definitely groove with this cute tube.

Black Moon is perfect for those who like their cosmetics to look as good in their purse as it does on their face.  This packaging is monochromatic and sleek, and the hologram logo at the top is playful and stops it from being boring.  The one downside with this shade is that the black color of the product matches the gradient on the tube, so it looks solid.  But definitely a high end look over all.

Black 0 03Tarte isn’t off to a great start with this one – this packaging is just ho-hum.  In fact, tarte’s packaging is part of why I’m usually not drawn to the brand in the first place.  It’s not colorful to draw me in, but the simplicity of the design isn’t particularly elegant or distinctive.  It doesn’t look cheap, but it doesn’t look expensive.  It’s like a white girl in Ugg boots, yoga pants, and a puffy vest holding a pumpkin spice latte – basic as fuck.

The NYX packaging is definitely the busiest visually.  Because it doesn’t come in a cardboard carton, NYX prints the ingredient info right on the tube (Pretty Zombie is also boxless, but they opted for a slip of paper that isn’t attached and is removed when you break the shrinkwrap on the cap).  It definitely has a different visual feel than the others, but I don’t think it’s awful.  The top of the cap is molded to look sort of faceted and jewel-like and I think the choice of white ink on the tube is bold and attractive.  Not too bad, especially considering the price point (though they can’t just ride that price point to the victory – this shit better werk, bitch!).

MAC’s black bullet lipsticks are super iconic, and I think it was smart of the brand to model their liquid lipstick packaging off that same shape and look.  With the black shade, it almost looks like the lipstick’s bigger sister.  I’m not 100% inspired, it feels a little safe, but not the kind of safe that feels boring (*cough* tarte *cough*).

THE WINNER:

With 7 competitors, it’s sometimes going to be hard to pick one round winner, and this is one of those times.  I’m going to call this one as a tie between Pretty Zombie Cosmetics and Black Moon Cosmetics.  I think they are both doing great things, but also two very different things.  Pretty Zombie is kitschy and fun, with the little pinup zombie girl, and I really do like the prominent shade name.  It’s got a really coherent aesthetic and I just think it’s fabulous.  Black Moon, on the other hand, is super elegant without being boring.  The hologram logo is perfection and gives it just enough attitude, while staying very chic and expensive looking.  Black Moon puts a lot of time and attention into all of their packaging, and it shows.

The others were ok; the only one that was really a dud was tarte.  Better step up your game, Naughty!

THE SMELL TEST

Black CupcakeReaders may disagree with my judging for this round based on whether or not they prefer having fragrance added to their cosmetics products.  I absolutely do.  I’m not sure what they make liquid lipstick out of, but you get some weird smells off them – anything from mildly chlorine pool-esque to burning plastic (seriously,  smell Jeffree Star’s Drug Lord sometime – it’s wretched!).  Most of the brands in this challenge don’t have fragrance, which means that this round narrowed down pretty early.

The brands that had fragrance were Black Moon, tarte, and MAC Cosmetics.  Black Moon has a vanilla cake smell that is very similar to Lime Crime (the winner of this round last time) though slightly less intense.  The fragrance in the tarte is sort of a light mint, sort of like OCC’s lip tar with the strong hemp oil smell.  And MAC has a barely there vanilla that is similar to their tube lipsticks, but way more subtle.  One of these three will definitely be taking home this round, but here’s a rundown on the scent profiles of the other contenders:

Makeup Monsters – light and slightly plastic, nothing super unpleasant.
Kat Von D – similar to MM, but maybe a little less plastic?  Slightly more natural smelling.
Pretty Zombie – almost nothing, barely-there chemical smell.
NYX – very light, similar to PZ but almost a hint of some “fumes” coming off the wand?

THE WINNER:

I’m actually going to give this to tarte.  The Black Moon and MAC smells are yummy, but they also smell fake as hell. The minty smell from the tarte lipstick is actually the most natural of the bunch, and I love a mint lip product.  There is maybe a small undertone of chemical beneath the mint, but it’s very faint.

All in all, I didn’t find any of these to be unpleasant.  MM and KVD have the strongest odor of the “unscented” group, so if you don’t like that chemical sort of smell I would definitely recommend you steer clear.

All in all, these 7 lipsticks are all still pretty solid contenders.  But now we move into the real tests – how does the product itself look and wear?

SINGLE SWIPE SWATCH TEST

Let me just start by saying that filming these tests with seven shades was much harder than filming with only three.  Excuse the shakiness – I was using a camera clamp attached to my bookshelf where I shoot product pics, but it kept bouncing, and I didn’t have a hand to steady it.  For this test, I gave all 7 lipsticks a single swipe, top to bottom, and then see how consistent the application in, if there any problems with how it applies, and how quickly it dries.  Here’s the video:

Makeup Monsters: this applied mostly even, a little thick at the top, and dried quickly and evenly.  Definitely a matte black even with just one swipe.
Kat Von D: Thicker at the top, and the color is a bit uneven throughout.
Pretty Zombie: Definitely thick at the top, really black and dark, applies evenly, and one of the fastest to dry.
Black Moon: Very dark and applies evenly, only one thick spot towards the bottom.  Definitely a beautiful matte.
tarte: Extremely thick on the edges, applies very unevenly and is sheer in several spots.  This one never really dried all the way, even after about 10 minutes.
NYX: Pretty black color but not matte, and a very long drying time.
MAC: a little thick on top, even and opaque, and probably the blackest black.  Slightly shiny.

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THE WINNER:

Another tie; MAC would have been the out and out winner this round, except that it dries down to more of a satin matte rather than a true matte.  The cosmetics industry has taken the word matte and pretty much lost any sense of what matte is actually supposed to be, and this lipstick is a perfect example: it’s gorgeous and dark, but not true matte.  If we’re talking about an actual matte, I’m giving this to Black Moon Cosmetics.  It’s not only a true matte, but it’s one of the darkest of the blacks.  Some have a little bit more of a deep gray tone when dry, but not Sleepwalker.

tarte really applied terribly in this round.  Things are not looking good for this contender.

I found similar results when I painted my more intense swatches for the removal test, except that I was really impressed with how easily NYX applied.  I wasn’t sure about that particular doe foot applicator – long and straight with no curve, no bend – nothing.  The top three (in no particular order – at least not one I’m giving away here!) are Makeup Monsters, Black Moon Cosmetics, and MAC Cosmetics.

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L to R: Makeup Monsters, Kat Von D, Pretty Zombie, Black Moon, tarte, NYX, and MAC

REMOVAL TEST

Black lipstick is intense as fuck, so being able to remove it without scrubbing off 10 layers of skin is essential.  For this test, I painted thick swatches on my forearm and let them dry completely (or as completely as they would get in 10 minutes while I prepped my notes!).  Then I added some Josie Maran Argan Oil, rubbed it around, and attempted to wipe it off with a Tyra Beauty Pop It Clean Wipe.  Here’s the video:

Black liquid lipstick is tough and most of these left a fair amount of “shadow” behind after being wiped off.  The easiest to remove was NYX, but Pretty Zombie and tarte were also fairly easy to remove.  Makeup Monsters left behind the most black residue, and MAC removed pretty easily but left a strong outline.

THE WINNER:

NYX is the clear winner here.  It has a softer texture even when dry, so this helps it remove easily.  None of them were too labor intensive, but NYX easily edged out the competitors in terms of getting gone!

LIP APPLICATION TEST

This is it – the big event!  I try on each of the seven lipsticks on my lips to see how it applies and how it dries, and how it looks on my lips when all is said and done.  I’m not going to waste time writing about – let’s watch the video!

Not a lot of surprises here – tarte has been performing terribly throughout this whole competition, and this challenge is no exception.  I’m not even going to include this in my final rankings.  The smell was nice enough to take one round, but other than that it’s been a sad contender.  Unfortunately, nothing about this lipstick has piqued my interest for this brand.

I’m also not going to elevate Kat Von D’s Witches to the final rankings.  It was super patchy and just didn’t give me a decent application.  This is the second of two from this competition that I wouldn’t recommend purchasing.  All of the others will give you a decent experience based on what sort of finish you like, how dark you want your black, etc.  This one, however, is out.

THE WINNER:

For this one, I’m going to indulge in a 3way…a 3way tie that is.  The champion, Makeup Monsters, is just as good as I remember.  A dark black, dries down to a true matte very quickly, and no patchiness whatsoever.  Pretty Zombie Cosmetics is a lovely matte black and also quick drying (Black Moon is almost as good, but PZ just edges it out).  And MAC is a lovely application, if not 100% matte.  If you’re worried that true matte black is too intense for your look or your style, MAC has a satin finish that might be a good middle ground.

FINAL RESULTS

stylish black lipsThis was a tough contest. The first time around, Makeup Monsters beat both Jeffree Star and Lime Crime but I could still recommend all 3 brands as excellent options (though Makeup Monsters was definitely the best of the bunch!).  In this case, I can’t advance every contender to the final rankings, as Kat Von D and tarte were just too inconsistent.  They’ve been eliminated.  Now we have to come up with the final rankings for the remaining lipsticks.

In 5th place, NYX’s Alien.  It’s a great option for makeup mavens on a budget, but it never really dried down the way it should have, making it easy to remove but bad at making a great impression.  Again, if cost is an issue then you werk the shit out of this lipstick – I’m sure you can.  But if you don’t mind spending a little bit more cash, there are better options available.

In 4th place we have Sleepwalker by Black Moon Cosmetics.  I love that vanilla smell, and it is a nice rich black, but there were a few minor flaws that knocked this down a bit.  If you love their metallics (which are fucking FLAWLESS!) and you want to be a brand loyalist this will give you a serviceable black but I think there are a couple of better options.

In 3rd place is the “comeback kid” – MAC’s Caviar.  This one really performed well and reminded me that whatever is happening with the rest of the brand (and seriously – what the actual fuck IS happening with them?!) the lip products are stunning and high quality.  Why only third?  MAC is one of the frequent abusers of the word “matte” and though the satin matte finish of Caviar is gorgeous and maybe a bit more “user-friendly,” it’s not a true matte.  Still, nice to see that MAC has liquid lipsticks that are easily as good as its tube lipsticks.

So, the final two.  We’ve got our returning champion, Darkness Prevails by Makeup Monsters, and a pretty fierce competitor, Black Cat by Pretty Zombie Cosmetics.  Will Makeup Monsters retain the crown, or will it have to pass the torch to a new winner?

Before I announce it, let me just say that both of these lipsticks are absolutely amazing, and the differences that are deciding the winner of this competition are minor, almost minute.  Either of these brands offer something fantastic, and while not as much of a “bargain” as the NYX lipstick they are both great deals at $15.95 and $12.00.  So who takes home the crown?  Watch the quick video below to find out!

There you have it!  If you have a favorite from this group (or our previous competition), plead your case in the comments below!  Have another brand of black liquid lipstick you think deserves its day in the Thunderdome?  Comment below and maybe someday there will be a round three (can there possibly be that many black liquid lipsticks in the world?!).  And now that I own 9 effing black liquid lipsticks, look for a post coming soon for ways to change and play with the look by adding shadows, highlighters, and lip toppers to achieve a variety of effects!

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Now Go Forth & Get Painted!

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