To be or not to be… practical? That is the (ultimate beauty) question. The plight of all makeup wearers has always been the choice between practicality and aesthetics—especially when it comes to lipstick. We’ve adapted, of course. Carrying mini mirrors in our purses, constantly reapplying and blotting, and counting on our friends (the good ones) to tell us if we have any smudges on our teeth. But does it have to be this way? What if we could go out without digging for the right shade of lipstick to replace the coat now smudged on our coffee cup? Enter: lip stains.

Lip stains are not new, but they’re increasingly becoming the lip product of choice. We’re entering a new age where the best makeup is made to suit our lifestyles, not get in the way of them. From multi-tasking products to trends that celebrate what we actually look like, it was only a matter of time before we swapped out smudgy lipsticks for long-lasting color choices for all skin tones.

Featured image of Lani Halliday by Belathée Photography.

Image by Teal Thomsen

Lip trends are no longer just about the color du jour. The best products prioritize hydrating ingredients and powerful pigments. The matte trend gave us long-wearing products, but the trade-off was the dry lips. The recent glazed lip trend offered hydration, but not the transfer-free pouts that work for our everyday lives. So if you’re seeking products that nourish your lips and last through the day, read on to discover the best lip stains on the market.

Image by Belathée Photography

The Difference Between Lipsticks and Lip Stains

There used to be just lip balms and lipsticks. Now we’re spoiled by choice. Lipsticks are your classic creamy makeup staple. But now there are also liquid lipsticks, which give you the same coating and coverage without the waxy coating.

And then there are lip stains, lip tints, and lip oils taking over the beauty sphere. But what sets them apart from each other? Let’s investigate.

  • Lip Tints: A sheer color option for a more effortless look
  • Lip Gloss: A sticky gloss coating that gives your lips a shiny surface
  • Lip Oils: An oil-based product with a liquid, glazed finish
  • Lip Stains: A long-lasting liquid that absorbs into the skin instead of sitting on top of them

What makes a lip stain long-lasting?

Unlike other lip products, lip stains don’t just sit on top of your lips. They absorb into your skin to create a long-lasting pigment that doesn’t budge. Since the pigment is not on the surface of your skin, it’s transfer-proof.

Image by Michelle Nash

Ingredients to Look For in a Lip Stain

The best lip stains are as nourishing as they are pigmented. Look for ingredients that give your skin moisture and lasting hydration, such as:

  • Jojoba oil
  • Shea butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Squalane
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Beeswax
  • Honey
  • Aloe vera
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Avocado
  • Vitamin E
Image by Michelle Nash

How to Apply a Lip Stain

The right lip stain goes—and stays—on smooth. But preparing your pout doesn’t hurt. Some lip stains go on with just one swipe or a couple for more buildable coverage. Others, you have to swipe or peel away.

Whatever type of lip product you choose, proper lip care can boost your lip health:

  • Use a lip scrub weekly. To avoid your lip product flaking or sticking to dry patches on your skin, add an exfoliating lip scrub to your routine to give yourself a clean slate.
  • Try a nightly lip mask. The best way to hydrate your lips is to drench them with a nightly lip mask. You’ll wake up to hydrated lips, which create a healthy canvas for your daily products.
  • Choose your lip balm wisely. Did you know that some lip balms slowly suck the moisture out of your lips? Choose one with hydrating ingredients like natural oils to nourish your lips instead of just applying a synthetic glossy coating.
  • Remove with an oil-based cleanser. How you take off your lip stain is just as important as how you put it on. By gently wiping (don’t rub or scrub!) with an oil-based cleanser, you can easily remove pigment without drying out your lips.
Image by Belathée Photography

The Best Lip Stains for Vibrant Color and Long-Lasting Coverage

FENTY BEAUTY Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain

The hype is real. This squalane-infused lip stain delivers rapid hydration in a bleed-resistant formula. And it’s available in a range of flattering shades for all skin tones. Just wipe off the glossy formula to reveal a soft tint.

r.e.m. beauty Practically Permanent Lip Stain

Color in your lips with this ‘permanent’ lip stain marker. The pen-like applicator makes it easy to apply this long-wearing, weightless product that stays in place.

L’Oréal Paris Rouge Signature Matte Lip Stain

This lightweight rouge is a matte finish that won’t dry out your lips. The formula lasts through the day for a deep pigment you can count on.

Yves Saint Laurent NU Lip and Cheek Tint

Hyaluronic acid and shea butter make this luxe lip stain a must-have for an effortlessly natural lip and cheek stain.

Benefit Cosmetics Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain

Another multi-tasking product that doubles as a lip stain and blush. This liquid color lasts for hours. It soaks deeply into your skin leaving it looking naturally flushed.

Ere Perez Beetroot Cheek & Lip Tint

A clean beauty favorite, this antioxidant-rich stain provides a hydrating formula made of nourishing beetroot extract.

Charlotte Tilbury Tinted Love

The non-drying hyaluronic acid and vitamin E-enriched formula glides onto your lips and gives you a vibrant, satiny finish.

Dior Addict Lip Tint

This viral favorite is formulated with cherry oil for unique, long-lasting hydration. Get 12 hours of comfortable, hydrated wear in just a few swipes.

RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek

This cream lip and cheek stain boasts a combination of buriti oil plus shea and cocoa butter to intensely hydrate while the concentrated pigment washes your skin with color.

Clarins Water Lip Stain

Drench your lips with hydration with this water-based treatment that intensely softens with raspberry water and aloe vera. It also protects the sensitive skin on your lips from environmental stressors with its anti-pollution complex.

Victoria Beckham Beauty Bitten Lip Tint

Layer on this weightless gelée for a buildable flush of color made with hyaluronic acid and squalane. Its flattering formula plumps and smoothes as it hydrates for an overall perfect pout.

Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Vernis À Lèvres Water Glossy Lip Stain

This vinyl lip stain offers full coverage without the hassle. The water-based stain softens and defines your lips while delivering intense color and smudge-free shine.

NARS Cosmetics Powermatte Lip Pigment

This liquefied matte color provides lasting, weightless coverage with a lightweight texture that instantly locks in moisture and color to suit any skin tone or occasion.

Honest Beauty Liquid Lipstick

Avocado oil and hyaluronic acid work together in this velvety, award-winning clean beauty liquid lipstick that acts like a lip stain and stays put for 6-8 hours.

Revlon Kiss Cushion Lip Tint

This powerful hybrid formula combines the effortlessness of a lip tint and the lasting pigment of a lip stain to achieve that natural, blotted look. The lush balm and pillowy soft cushion applicator create a buildable pigment with a moisturizing finish.

ColourPop Twice Shy Lip Stain

Get the longevity of a lip stain with the shine of a gloss with this hydrating, water-based formula that delivers buildable coverage with a glossy finish. Its antioxidant-rich ingredient list is packed with vitamins that rejuvenate the skin and fight free radicals.

Etude House Dear Darling Water Gel Tint

This vivid K-Beauty favorite contains fresh fruit extracts bursting with moisture, including vitamin-rich pomegranate and soapberry extracts.

Wonderskin Wonder Blading Peel & Reveal Lip Stain Kit

The unique peeling process of this lip stain is a TikTok favorite. Apply 1-2 coats of the high-tech hyper-stain then wipe away to reveal the signature touch-up-free color.

Flower Beauty Bitten Lip Stain

This refreshing, gel lip color moisturizes on application, then dries to a long-lasting tint. The gentle pigments apply like a gloss and stay put like a stain.

MERIT Shade Slick Tinted Lip Oil

Rosehip oil and omega-3, -6, and -9 essential fatty acids all support healthy barrier function and provide antioxidants for healthy skin. Meanwhile, jojoba oil forms a protective barrier to lock in moisture.

NOTO Botanics Multi-Bene Stick

This effortless multi-stick works as a contour, bronzer, and also pigmented stain for the lip, cheek, and eyes. The universally flattering shade imbues you with a sultry, earthy pink hue.

Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Liquid Lip Stain

This vibrant and colorful lip pigment achieves its bold, vibrant color with photopigments while softening and hydrating lips with shea butter and grapeseed oil.

Bossy Cosmetics Liquid Lipstick

This liquid lipstick may have a matte finish, but it contains vitamin E and vegetal glycerol for its antioxidant and emollient properties, protecting the lips against the effects of free radicals while also moisturizing for all-day wear.

LYS Beauty Speak Love Moisture Matte Lipstick

Chia seed oil conditions while hyaluronic acid infuses lips with intensive, long-lasting hydration. Maxi Lip visibly plumps while the powerful pigment delivers a one-swipe color payoff.

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