Until I began my career as a beauty editor, I frequently described myself as a creature of habit when it came to makeup. For years, my makeup bag consisted of five key products that were dependable and versatile, keeping my makeup routine simple, straight to the point, and under 15 minutes spent sitting cross-legged in front of a mirror. While I'm currently not wearing a full face of makeup every day (lip gloss, mascara, and a flush of color on the cheeks are all I need to feel put-together when in a time crunch), lip stains have wiggled their way into my routine as a fuss-free finishing touch to any makeup look.
I don't blame you if you're asking yourself why lip stains have suddenly spiked in popularity over the past few months. Part of me wants to assume it's thanks to social media users who, after rediscovering these products in the arsenals of their favorite brands, have taken it upon themselves to share the news. The other part of me is hoping it's indicative of an industry-wide push toward products that require no touch-ups during a full day of wear. Either way, lip stains are everywhere again, and I couldn't be happier.
Perfecting the Transfer-Proof Lip
What is it about lips stains that have beauty lovers everywhere hooked? My educated guess is that it has everything to do with fuss-free application. Like all makeup products, when applied properly and with care, lip stains can completely transform your finished look. How to apply it, however, depends on the formula. For cream-based lip stains that are full coverage and highly pigmented, starting at the center of your lips and sweeping the product toward the outer corners makes for an even base to build the color. Alternatively, you might have an easier time applying water-based lip stains in a similar way to how one might apply lip gloss.
Lip stains may also differ in their finish: drying matte, shiny, pigmented, sheer, or with diffused color. It might be worth it to study a lip stain's packaging before making the investment for transparency about everything from the ingredients that make up each product's unique formula to tips for application and predicted drying times. My biggest piece of advice? Opt for a lip stain that's both long-wearing and transfer-resistant for a natural-looking wash of color that lasts all day.
Below, you'll find the 10 best lip stains on the market based on thousands of reviews and my personal product go-tos. There's an option here for everyone, from YSL Beauty's crowd-favorite Vinyl Cream Lip Stain to Rose Inc's Lip Cream, the brand's newly released long-wearing lip stain. Ready to learn more? Keep scrolling.
Best Overall Lip Stain: YSL Beauty Vinyl Lip Cream
As a longtime fan of YSL Beauty lip products, I was ecstatic to discover the high reviews on this lip stain. It has high coverage, offering its wearer high-impact vinyl shine with a creamy formula that glides smoothly and evenly onto the lips. Its unique diamond applicator ensures this by promoting perfect lip contouring.
Customer review: "Um, I love this lipstick. I've tried many different formulas: trying to see what lasts but doesn't have a matte finish! I love the long-wear formulas but hate the heavy feel and dryness of most liquid lips. I'm not sure why it took me so long to stumble upon this one but YSL has it right! All day staying power, goes on smooth, keeps your pout pristine!"
Pro: Applies smoothly and evenly
Best Matte Lip Stain: Rose Inc Lip cream
For the majority of my makeup-wearing life, I've steered clear of matte liquid lipsticks for fear of drying formulas. One of Rose Inc's, the Lip Cream, differs from so many other products on the market thanks to a formula featuring fermented botanical complex, hemi-squalane, and squalane to strengthen the moisture barrier, add hydration, and smooth the lips. It's a resounding yes from me.
Customer review: "Do you remember how god-awful liquid lipsticks used to be? Well, this is not that. Not even close. It's so so so much better. I wore it to a wedding and it stayed in place for hours without wreaking havoc on my lips. It feels totally comfortable and lightweight. Plus, it has this candy-like smell when you apply it which I think is a cute little quirk. All in all, I'm really happy to have my hands on Of Stars and Dreamed of You."
Pro: Buildable color with a diffused, matte finish
Con: Not completely transfer-proof
Best Red Lip Stain: Dior Addict Lip tint
One thing almost everyone can agree on? Finding the perfect red lip color is much more easily said than done. That was until Dior's Dior Addict Lip Tint in Natural Tea arrived on the scene. Not only is the formula of this lip stain incredibly hydrating thanks to the addition of cherry oil, but it's also packed with natural-origin ingredients. The shade Natural Tea is my idea of a red lip that's complementary to all skin tones.
Customer review: "This has to be one of the most underrated lip products—it goes on lip a hydrating gloss but lasts like a stain. I own three of the colors (Poppy, Tea, and Peach) and have not experienced feathering with any of them and the staying power is excellent. I usually apply two to three layers to start to build up an even base and then just need to touch up the center of my lower lip after lunch. So nice to find a non-drying lip stain."
Pro: Formula designed to flatter all skin tones
Con: Reapplication needed during the day
Best Drugstore Lip Stain: E.L.F. Cosmetics Glossy Lip Stain
On the hunt for a lip stain that offers sheer coverage with a long-lasting, glossy tint? It might be time to add this Glossy Lip Stain by E.l.f. Cosmetics to your collection. This lip stain will offer all-day shine and definition with a formula featuring mango-seed butter for soft, supple lips and a sheer pop of color. My go-to shades? Pinkies Up and Spicy Sienna.
Customer review: "If lip gloss and lipstick are too high maintenance, this is for you. It truly does stain and doesn't leave a sticky, heavy residue behind and does not transfer once you wipe off the initial layer. When you wipe off the product, you're left with a wash of color and it's not just a tiny hint. The pigment is vibrant without being too loud/obnoxious. I feel confident about not having to reapply or touch up every few minutes. It wears evenly without looking patchy."
Pro: Transfer-resistant, buildable formula
Con: Can be drying on the lips
Best K-Beauty Lip Stain: Peripera Ink Velvet Lip Tint
It's no secret that K-beauty brands have had an unparalleled effect on the beauty industry, which is majorly driven by products that have gone completely viral on TikTok, like Peripera's best-selling Ink Velvet Lip Tint. Here's what to expect from it: long-lasting, pigmented color; a lightweight, velvety-smooth formula; and a comfortable feeling. What's more, it comes in 25+ colors!
Customer review: "I really like this product. I've never used a lip tint before so I didn't know what to expect. The lipstick is thick. I put on a layer and let it sit for 15 minutes while I do the rest of my makeup and get dressed. Then I wipe it off and the prettiest hint of color is left. The color lasts! I went to a picnic, had buttered corn, fried chicken, and a hot dog and there was still color left. I highly recommend this."
Pro: Velvety smooth formula
Con: Pigment fades throughout the day
Best Long-Lasting Lip Stain: Nars Powermatte Lip Pigment
Meet the Nars product that made me fall completely in love with lip stains that apply like liquid lipstick but dry down to a matte finish. Similar to Rose Inc's Lip Cream, Nars's Powermatte Lip Pigment is lightweight and hydrating while offering long-lasting color saturation. With a single swipe, wearers can experience a full-coverage application that's smudge resistant and moves with the lips.
Customer review: "I got a sample size of this product in my Ipsy bag. The shade I got was Starwoman and it looks beautiful! It isn't a super bright red, however, it is a very wearable one even for different skin tones. I love how it applies like a regular liquid lipstick and dries down to a matte powder finish. No need to reapply it throughout the day unless you are planning on eating or drinking perhaps. I wore it for a few hours and it did not feather or budge. Love this product!"
Pro: Lasts all day—no reapplication needed
Best Affordable Lip Stain: Colourpop Fresh Kiss Glossy Lip Stain
The effort to find the perfect lip stain at drugstore prices is akin to spending countless hours in search of a diamond in the rough. Luckily for you, I've done all the heavy lifting and settled on Colourpop's Fresh Kiss Glossy Lip Stain as the lip stain that delivers luxurious results without breaking the bank. A hybrid lip formula that combines the longevity of lip stain with the shine of a gloss, this lip stain delivers hydrating color packed with vitamin-rich guava and lychee extract.
Customer review: "Just like with a scent, a lot depends on your body chemistry and in this instance, skin tone. I love this formula, and the color Sugar Snap is a great warm nude on me. I've gotten so many compliments on it. While you may have to reapply a couple of times throughout the day I find stains a lot less fussy than liquid lipstick, especially if you don't want a matte but also don't want a sticky gloss. I find that this dries pretty quick and even when fresh/glossy is still not high shine. For the price, I think it's worth it to try for 'lazy' lip color."
Pro: Does not transfer when set
Con: Can be drying
Best Pink Lip Stain: L'Orèal Brilliant Signature Shiny Lip Stain
When selecting a lip color, I'm almost never inclined to go for a vibrant pink. L'Oréal's lip stain in Be Captivating is the universal pink beauty editors and everyday makeup wearers alike have been longing for. It's a true powder pink with added depth, making it complementary to all skin tones. The formula itself, crafted from a blend of caring oils and rich pigments, makes for a brilliant, shiny finish.
Customer review: "This is my favorite liquid lipstick! I love how it applies and how it feels on the lips; it is very lightweight and leaves your lips feeling hydrated. I have Be Brilliant, which is a lovely wearable red shade, and Be Cheerful, which is a pretty pink with a touch of shimmer for everyday wear. The color wears evenly, even when it dries down. I love the packaging and the applicator looks and feels very luxe."
Pro: Comfortable, lightweight formula
Best Moisturizing Lip Stain: Fenty Beauty Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain
Leave it to Fenty to create a lip stain that brings all the hydration. Available in six vibrant shades (two of which, Gem and I and Fuchsia Wife, are limited edition), the Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain goes on glossy and leaves a soft, diffused color that's both feather and bleed resistant. Its formula uses oil-in-water innovation and squalane to keep the lips nourished and hydrated all day.
Customer review: "The Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain is a game changer for my lips. The formula is incredibly hydrating, leaving my lips feeling soft and nourished throughout the day. The lip stain provides a beautiful wash of color that lasts for hours, making it a perfect addition to my daily makeup routine. I highly recommend the Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain for anyone looking for a long-lasting and moisturizing lip product."
Pro: Extremely hydrating and nourishing
Con: Limited wear time
Best Transfer-Proof Lip Stain: Haus Labs Atomic Shake Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick
Vinyl-inspired makeup looks are on the rise, and I'll be reaching for this liquid lipstick to create my own take on the trend. For long-lasting, pigmented shine, apply Haus Labs' Atomic Shake Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick to your lips while separated and wait 15 seconds for its transfer-proof Shine Shield to activate. It's also water resistant, meaning you won't have to dodge your fork or straw in an attempt to preserve your makeup during a meal.
Customer review: "This product does exactly what it advertises. But you have to follow the directions exactly! Shake super well, apply, let completely dry, and don't touch lips together for at least 15 sec. Then you're set! I even fully licked my lips and rubbed them together, but they didn't budge. Color was what I expected, but I only tried one shade. I want all of them now."
Pro: Lasts all day
Con: Formula feels heavy on the lips