A Face of the Day With a Dramatic Plummy Black Lip, and an Old Lip Trick From My College Days

Published in: Face of the Day (FOTD), MAC Makeup

MAC Strong Willed

Yeah, I’d walk my cat lookin’ like this…

True story: It was 1994. I was in my second year of college at Davis, and I’d become full-on obsessed with the idea of wearing a dark, almost black, matte red lipstick, but I couldn’t find the color at any of the drugstores in town.

It didn’t help that Davis was a small town out in the middle of nowhere. No, seriously, it’s pretty built up now (they have a Gap!), but back then it was just farms and cows as far as the eye could see.


Cutting-edge makeup (for the time) was not easy to track down.

Eventually, I realized that I probably wasn’t going to find what I wanted on a shelf. I was about to give up when, one day, inspiration struck!

With a black eyeliner, I lined and filled in my lips, and then layered my darkest red lipstick on top.


I ended up rockin’ that look so hard to chem class, you don’t even know.

Today that same trick with eyeliner on my lips came in handy again while I was getting ready.

MAC Strong Willed Pro Longwear Eyeliner

So, I’ve been wanting to try something like that Goth-ish look from Lorde’s Tennis Court video. In the video she wears a striking look with eyeshadow in a cat eye shape, with white liner on her lower water line and a dark, dramatically delicious purplish black lip.

Since there isn’t a lot of color on her eyes and cheeks, it puts the focus firmly on her lips.

Gah! I love it.

MAC Bamboo, Soba and Cork

The eyes? Super easy. I used a few MAC neutral eyeshadow staples (Bamboo, Soba and Cork) to create the lifted, cat eye shape.

Wouldn’t you know it, though? The ONE TIME I needed the white eyeliner that I hardly ever use, I couldn’t find it, so I used a pale beige eyeliner on my water lines instead (Rimmel Scandaleyes in Nude).

I didn’t do much with my cheeks. Just some light contouring (using MAC Give Me Sun Bronzer) and highlighting (Becca Opal).

Last, but not least — the lips!

I really wanted them to look dark, almost black, so I ended up using — yup, you guessed it — an eyeliner, MAC’s Pro Longwear Eyeliner in Strong Willed ($19.50), a matte plummy black.


MAC Strong Willed Pr Longwear Eyeliner

Yep, I’m wearing eyeliner on my lips… MAC Pro Longwear Eyeliner in Strong Willed

First, I prepped my lips with a lip balm to help the liner apply smoothly. Then, I lined and filled in my lips.

To get a crisp edge all the way around (really makes bold lips pop), I took MAC’s Chromagraphic Pencil in NW25/NC30 ($16), a flesh-colored multi-purpose liner, and outlined just outside my natural lip line. Then I carefully blended the edge with a pencil brush.

MAC Strong Willed Pro Longwear Eyeliner

Let’s go down to the tennis court…and talk it up like yeah, yeah!

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 27 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Noon says:

    Ugh you make goth look so classic and wearable, I love it.
    Noon recently posted … this is your lash chance, come out with your lids up!!

  2. ReneeP says:

    I used a blue eyeliner with a pink to make my perfect purple lip color in ’96. I was in 11th grade. I made it like the ‘ombre’ thing they are doing now, where it was more purple on the outer bit. Loooved i

    • Karen says:

      Ya know, I never thought to try blue liner! I will give that a go. 🙂

      Did you ever wear dark purple lip liner with frosty beige lipstick? That was my jam in ’96.

  3. Vanessa says:

    Oh my gosh, I love this! You look absolutely amazing!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Vanessa! Do you ever wear dark lips like this?

      Happy Friday!

      • Vanessa says:

        I really want to try dark lips, but I’m worried about buying a lipstick that I won’t use very often (as you can see, I’m a little on the frugal side haha). I guess I could try the eye liner + lipstick combo.

        I love your eye make-up in this look too, by the way. It goes so well with the lip!! 🙂 Squeeeee *excited*

  4. hanna says:

    This look is much more wearable than I thought!
    hanna recently posted … Fall Oasap Order and Giveaway

  5. Lena says:

    oh my god karen, i caught my breath when i saw the first picture! what beautiful makeup and beautiful photography, awesome!
    to be honest, i’ve never seen the appeal of goth. you changed me with this post!
    Lena recently posted … Zoya Zara nail polish and EACH bracelet (or: How a princess inspires fashion choices)

  6. meredith says:

    Fierce, I love it.

  7. Rachel P says:

    This look. is so. ROCKIN!!! I love how you experiment and bring us back in time to your old go-to looks, it’s all just so exciting, seriously- I am a very be-as-you-are person but sometimes I just think people who don’t wear makeup are missin out on fun stuff like this!!

  8. Karen says:

    Hi Rachel P,

    Thanks lady! If you try this lip you have to send me a pic. I would love to see it!

    • Rachel P says:

      I have to try it for sure! When I do, I’ll definitely send along a pic. This particular eye is something I do fairly frequently, but the lip is different and I gotta attack the look just right!

  9. KAREN. I love this! I can’t for the life of me wear black lips (I always end up looking like an awkward goth), but on you — WOW.

    Absolute, complete love! 😀 😀
    Rae // theNotice recently posted … On finding your niche, and making the most of it | Elie Saab: an overview

  10. Katie says:

    This look is a big fat “YES.” Karen, you look so ~*cool*~ in this minimal goth look. I cannot wait to break out the vampy lip come fall. (Why is still sunny in the Bay Area??)

  11. Maggie says:

    Whoaaa…Davis alumna here too! Yay! What a coincidence! =D

    Haven’t worn lips that black out in a while–last time I tried something similar it was more of an ombre look–with plum in the center gradually darkening to black.

  12. Isabelle says:

    You look absolutely gorgeous here! A lot of others wouldn’t be able to pull this off with still looking classy.. But you do! I also love your hair here, it’s a great combination 🙂

  13. buckycatt says:

    U may b an evil genius! I will ponder while looking at your dark lips for awhile.

  14. Danielle says:

    I absolutely love this look on you! I am a huge fan of dark lips!
    Danielle recently posted … Julep Bare Face Cleansing Oil

  15. Frances says:

    I LOVE THIS!!! Do you have any recc’s for a drugstore purply-blue plum black like this one? I have Nightmoth and RiRi Heart’s MAC Talk That Talk but they are more red-wine blacks… you know what I mean? I’ve been obsessed with dark lips and did a dark emerald lip with Maybelline Eye Studio Master Smoky Shadow Pencil in Emerald Fury topped with a little fix plus prayed brush pat of L’Oreal
    Infallible Eyeshadow in Golden Emerald. It was awesome!!!

  16. I actually love this look on you and all the kitty rings 🙂
    Marina(Makeup4all) recently posted … Color Wow Color Security Shampoo and Conditioner Review

  17. MinxyMoo says:

    I usually just lurk, I mean look, around here. But I LOVE LOVE LOVE this look on you and just had to comment! You really work it, girl!!!! So awesome and “out there,” but still accessible. Totally cool. And I have to ask about your top. Love that too! Do tell where it’s from. Pretty please!!

  18. Kim says:

    This looks great on you. I thought Lorde’s look was a bit stark but it’s much more wearable on you. And I think your hair is cute like that. 🙂

  19. Elisa says:

    Wow! I LOVE this look! Girl, you’re like a chameleon 🙂 and everything seems to suit you! Niiiiice…

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