lip stain
Never reapply your lipstick on a night out ever again with these lip stains. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Lip stains are exactly what they sound like - a faux colour tattoo for the pout that doesn't budge or transfer all day long and then some. It's the low-maintenance lip product you've been searching for to save you from reapplication and touch-ups on a night out.

But the idea isn't novel. Beauty brands like Benefit have had lip tints out since the 1970s, and they're considered a staple in the Korean make-up scene, too, where Peripera, Etude and Rom&nd stock some of the bestselling ranges. Today, there are different ways of 'staining' the lips, but they all deliver similar results.

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We reached out to Anoushka Kamboj, a bridal makeup artist based in Dubai, who is better known by her alias Elani (@elanimakeupartist) on Instagram, for application tips and the right shade to pick for your skin tone. Scroll to find out why these stains are likely to replace your everyday lipstick. And if you want that effortless, no-budge lip colour, we have just the list for you, featuring trending products.

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1. Best Overall: Benefit Benetint Lip & Cheek Stain

Benetint remains a classic product in the beauty community. Kamboj keeps it in her rotation for frequent application on her clients, noting its great colour payoff. You can glide the doe-foot applicator on the lips and dab it on the cheeks for an effortless flush. The stain is a sheer, non-clumping water tint that's infused with coconut oil so you get an even application in one go. Reviewers who prefer a deeper rose colour say the tint is buildable with more layers. While it can be worn on its own, users usually pair it with a lip gloss or a lip liner for a gradient effect.

2. Best Liner Stain: Sacheu Lip Liner Stay-In

If you want a lip liner that will not transfer all day long, then pick up the Sacheu peel-off liner stain. The thick liquid is drawn around the edges of the lips, and after 20 minutes, the film dries down into a consistency that's perfect for peeling. Viral clips on TikTok show users slowly peel the film tint off to unveil a semi-permanent lip liner that they, then, colour in with lipstick, gloss or other tints. The vegan, fragrance-free lip peel features hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to keep lips from drying out, for easy removal. This stain is in the shade P-inked which reviewers describe it as a berry colour. One qualm is that the product has a short shelf life due to its tattoo-like formula.

3. Best All-Rounder Stain: Clarins Water Lip Stain 

Clarins' lip stain isn't too far behind our Benefit pick. You only need a few drops of this pigmented water stain to get naturally tinted lips that last through your morning coffee, lunch and dinner. Its bestselling shade Violet Water is also perfect for achieving the trending cherry cola lips, and all you need is a brown lip liner to go with it. The formula contains organic aloe vera and raspberry water with an anti-pollution complex to keep the pout hydrated. Fans on TikTok put the stain to the test, and are immediately impressed by how intense the colour payoff is. Some even prefer it over their Benetint.

4. Best Glossy Stain: Rom&nd Juicy Lasting Tint

Most lip stains offer a matte finish, but K-beauty products take it a step further. Rom&nd's Juicy Lasting Tint is a cross between gloss and stain, so you're getting a long-lasting colour that's glossy and sheer. Once the shine wears off naturally over time, it leaves behind a base tint. Arguably the hottest lip product in South Korea, this tint saves you the trouble of layering with balms and gloss, and doesn't settle into the cracks of dry lips. Try out its bestselling mauve shade in Figfig to recreate your favourite K-pop star's make-up looks. Reviewers note that the product is not sticky and stains lips nicely once it wears off.

5. Best Budget: Peripera Ink Mood Glowy Tint

Peripera's Glowy Tint is another great glossy stain that gives the appearance of plump lips. Infused with lily and witch hazel extracts, the tint smooths texture and relieves a dry pout, with reviewers who are on tretinoin vouching for the hydration they get. It uses a high-shine glow formula that doesn't break even if you smack your lips after application, which is a habit best avoided with the Rom&nd product for the best results. The tint arrives in six flattering, natural shades, from beige to plum. Buyers say that it leaves behind a pretty stain on the lips once the gloss comes off. Several find it the perfect my-lips-but-better product to give their face some colour on casual errands.

6. Best Matte Stain: Etude Fixing Tint Lip Kit 

If a glossy tint is not your preference, then check out this K-beauty matte lip stain. The Etude Fixing Tint is what people reach for to get the airbrushed, blurred effect, where the edges are spread with a fingertip to remove any harsh lines. Not only does this look better than an overlined lip, but it also helps you achieve multiple gradient looks. Wait for 60 seconds after application before sipping on your coffee or wearing a mask - the tint becomes transfer-proof and lasts up to six hours. Our pick is Etude's mini lip kit featuring its most-loved shade Midnight Mauve, alongside Apple Carrot and Cranberry Plum. Its all-day stain is the best part about this tint for reviewers, who are shocked at how easily it goes on and blends without looking patchy.

7. Best for Easy Application: Wonderskin Wonder Blading Lip Masque

The only other peel lip stain on our list is this viral Wonderskin product that's for the entire lips. The tinting formula is a dark chromatic blue, which contains colourants and pigments for staining the top layer of the lips. The longer you leave the top layer on, the darker the stain will be, lasting for up to six hours, according to reviews. Though, you don't have to wait long as it stains quickly. It has a gentler removal method, too - all you have to do is wipe it off with a damp cloth or make-up pad. Fans on TikTok try out different shades that complement their skin tone, from deep to fair, with natural results. Buyers say they've eaten and even slept with the lip masque on so there's no need for them to redo them. To avoid patches, they suggest exfoliating before applying.

Is lip stain better than lipstick?

The internet's obsession grew from the TikTok-viral Sacheu lip liner stain. Clips of make-up enthusiasts peeling off a dark coating swirled on social feeds, and people took note of how the layer gave way to a lips-but-better flush. Temporary stains create the perfect long-lasting base for lipstick, gloss and other lip combos without being eaten away.

Our make-up expert doesn't leave the house without a swipe of her favourite lip tint by Dior. Kamboj said: "Lip tints have a watery base so when you apply them, they melt into your skin rather than sit on top of your lips. There's no transfer and it looks natural, compared to lipsticks that are thick and creamy. More and more people are opting for tints because they look like your own lip colour."

What's the best way to apply lip tint?

As much as stains are casual, they can even be worn with full glam make-up using a brown lip liner, adds Kamboj. The key is to contour with subtle pinks and browns, and, then, fill in the space with a tint of your choice. To recreate the iconic K-beauty lip gradient, though, Kamboj says that the pigment placement differs. Add a few dabs of a brighter tint to the centre of the lips, feather it out with your fingertip and lock it in with a nude lip liner.

Our expert opts for stain shades that are closest to her natural lip colour. "For someone who is olive or yellow undertoned, you tend to look washed out naturally, so pink and red lip tints really bring out the colours in your face," she explained. Those with deeper complexions and yellow undertones will find purple tints more flattering. Meanwhile, fair skin tones usually opt for peach and coral colours, adds Kamboj.

One common complaint with tints and stains is that the colour tends to settle in the cracks of lips, looking patchy and uneven. Kamboj says that this is the result of a chapped pout, and it's easily solved by exfoliating and hydrating before application. "You don't have to be too careful when applying a tint - it can be manipulated easily. This is an amazing product for beginners," she said.

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