In Search of Maskproof Lipstick, Part 2: Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink in Cocoa Connoisseur

This is the second post in a series of three. In each post, I’ll wear a supposedly indelible liquid lipstick throughout a day of teaching and track its performance under a New York Times-approved double mask: a surgical mask, ear loops tightened and ends tucked in, with a cloth mask on top. Check out the first post here!

The second liquid lipstick I tested, Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink in Cocoa Connoisseur, was less than one-third the price of the first. Like YSL’s Tatouage Couture formula, the SuperStay Matte Ink line debuted in 2017, at the height of Instaglam. Also like the Tatouage Couture lipsticks, the SuperStay Matte Inks never quite penetrated my consciousness, let alone my wishlist, until very recently. But as the pandemic wore on (my state’s mask mandate for schools was just extended until February, sigh), I became more aware of liquid matte formulas I’d previously ignored.

A recent article in the New York Times praised the Maybelline Matte Ink in Dancer as a truly apocalypse-proof red lipstick: “If there is a lipstick for our masked times, this is it….Once you put it on, it may never come off, certainly not with soap and water, let alone on a mask.” Since I have apparently become the kind of thirtysomething who takes makeup tips from the Gray Lady, I resolved to try a Matte Ink shade. I went to my local CVS, which has the best makeup section I’ve ever seen in a drugstore—massive, up-to-date, well-lit, and immaculate—and spent no fewer than twenty-five minutes deliberating over the dozens of Matte Ink shades. At last I decided on Cocoa Connoisseur, which looked like the ’90s-style (or ’70s-style) warm brown I’d been hunting ever since I ill-advisedly destashed Revlon Matte Balm in Fierce.

Cocoa Connoisseur was released late last year as part of a five-piece coffee-inspired collection of Matte Inks. Each of the five has a thematic scent; Cocoa Connoisseur smells like a slightly chemical chocolate ice cream. You know what I mean: not the fancy Van Leeuwen or Jeni’s chocolate ice cream that costs $9 per pint, but chocolate ice cream from one of the big discount tubs at the bottom of the grocery store’s freezer section. I don’t hate the fragrance, but I could do without it, especially since it sticks around for roughly an hour after application.

The applicator is small, fuzzy, and teardrop-shaped, with a hollow in the middle. It picks up slightly more product than I need, so I often find myself wiping the excess on the rim of the bottle.

The shade is exactly the reddish brown I was hoping for. Here it is in direct sunlight:

I have several similar lipsticks, but most are more on the orange side than on the brown side. I took this photo indoors, in indirect natural light. L-R: Fenty Freckle Fiesta, Sephora Collection Coral Sunset, L’Oreal Cinnamon Toast, Cocoa Connoisseur, ColourPop Gallop, Melt 710.

I wore Cocoa Connoisseur for a full day of teaching (four classes plus work at the writing center, so lots of talking) last week. Here’s the lipstick just after application:

Putting on this lipstick reminded me why I’d initially abandoned liquid matte lipsticks. It wasn’t uncomfortable, exactly, but it felt simultaneously dry and tacky. And there was something…unrefined about its appearance on my lips. Bullet lipsticks often give dimension as well as pigment; liquid mattes just supply flat color.

I taught one class, then removed my masks. It had been about an hour since application, and the surgical mask was almost completely clean:

I was disappointed to see that the lipstick had smudged outside my lower lip line just a bit, but that was easily cleaned up with a finger. An hour later, at 10:20, it was still going strong:

I checked again at 11:30. The color hadn’t smudged further on my lips, but the tacky feeling had increased, and some more product had transferred to the mask:

I then ate a small lunch and taught two more classes. By 3:15, seven hours after I’d first applied Cocoa Connoisseur, my lips were looking decidedly patchy:

They didn’t look great from a normal distance, either:

And my mask had clearly seen better days:

Back home, I was glad to remove the lipstick, which I did easily by rubbing my lips with a dry paper towel. The product came off without even leaving a stain; so much for the claims in that New York Times article. My lips were none the worse for wear, which puts Cocoa Connoisseur ahead of several other liquid matte formulas I’ve tried.

I’ve worn Cocoa Connoisseur a few more times since my initial test. My verdict is that the SuperStay Matte Ink formula performs quite well for a couple of hours of masked wear, but starts breaking down after that, and certainly won’t survive a large and/or oily meal. I should emphasize, though, that I’m putting my lipsticks through an extreme test by double masking. Were I wearing a sturdy single mask for these trials, the lipsticks would likely fare better.

My main objection to this formula is that the initial tackiness never wears off; if anything, it gets worse as the day wears on. Also, it’s important to apply as thin a layer as possible, or else the liquid won’t dry down properly. However, I’d rather have a too-tacky liquid lipstick than a too-dry one, and I’m satisfied with Cocoa Connoisseur otherwise, though I won’t be sprinting back to CVS to pick up more Matte Ink shades.

The color feels particularly appropriate now that the leaves have started changing here in New England. Here’s Cocoa Connoisseur with Glossier Lidstar in Branch and Cloud Paint in Storm, and my very autumnal vintage vest:

In my next post: do we have a winner???

6 thoughts on “In Search of Maskproof Lipstick, Part 2: Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink in Cocoa Connoisseur

  1. I wonder if there are any brands that have come out since the pandemic started with a specifically mask-proof lipstick? A lipstick that is specially designed to withstand a mask – because the conditions are really unique, being hot and moist and all that jazz.

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    1. I don’t think any brand has billed a lipstick as maskproof, and I actually have a theory about that! I suspect that brands have steered clear of mentioning masks in their advertising because masks just have too many negative connotations. They’ve become wildly politicized, especially in the US but also in other Western countries. And even in places where they’re not politicized, they’re still an annoyance to wear, and they remind people of sickness and death. I think it would be a challenge for a brand to invoke masks in its copy without bringing up negative feelings in customers. Better to market lipsticks as “kissproof” or “burrito-resistant” or whatever.

      Or maybe companies are working on developing maskproof lipsticks right now, and it’s just taking a while to get them to market! Who knows.

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  2. Silk Naturals formulated their Stain Stick line to be worn under masks. I have a few of them. They don’t move on me with mask-wearing, but do require touch ups in non-mask-wearing situations after eating something. If you browse the site and become tempted to try some other stuff, know going in that their cream foundation works better as a concealer than their official cream concealer and their quite respectable peach corrector is called peach concealer. However, if you’re interested in balm stains, Holika Holika’s Water Drop Tint Bomb in cherry works extremely well. Let stress I am not affiliated with Silk Naturals or Holika Holika: I was just excited at the opportunity to demonstrate my knowledge in one of my two Specialist Subjects, mask friendly lipstick and snack products made with olive oil instead of seed oil.

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  3. I wonder whether liquid lipsticks might perform worse under masks because of the humidity? I can eventually get my one old Matte Ink lipstick to dry down after an hour or so, but maybe under a mask there’s too much warm breath happening to allow that to happen – then the transfer would be worse, too.

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    1. I agree, the extreme humidity has to be the main issue, especially if you’re talking while wearing a mask. My experience after a year and a half of masking is that there are quite a few lipstick formulas that can survive an hour or two under a mask, but possibly none that can survive an entire masked day.

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