Best Overall: Benefit Cosmetics Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain
There’s nothing better than a multi-use product that looks incredible no matter how you wear it — and few compare to Benefit Cosmetics Benetint Rose Lip Blush & Cheek Tint. Not only does it act as a stain for your lips, it also adds a gorgeous flush to your cheeks, too.
Upon application, the liquid formula looks pretty glossy, but as the color soaks into your lips and sets, the end result is very natural, leaving a tint that looks like you just finished a cherry popsicle. The best part is that the pigment won’t fade or budge — it’ll stay in place for up to eight hours, even if you’re eating and drinking. The swipe-and-go formula is ideal for those no-makeup makeup days to instantly add a pop of color to your face.
We do wish we could change the tiny applicator, though, because the brush is a bit flimsy and sometimes causes the stain to feather along the lip line. To avoid this, it’s helpful to use your fingers to blend out the formula.
Shades: 5 | Wear Time: 8 Hours | Finish: Natural
Price at time of publish: $30
Best Value: e.l.f. Glossy Lip Stain
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a quality lip stain. Case in point: The e.l.f. Glossy Lip Stain. The lightweight, glossy formula glides onto lips leaving behind a juicy, long-wearing sheen that’s completely buildable. One swipe gives you just a hint of color, while two coats increases the opacity — this customizable finish makes it a great lippie to transition your look from day to night. If you’re like me and need to have a lip product in every purse you own, this is one you’ll wish you had on hand in every single color. And at $6 a pop, it’s completely attainable to own each of the eight hues. The only downside is that the glossy finish is prone to fading, so to maintain a glazed look, you’ll need to reapply every so often.
Shades: 8 | Wear Time: 4 to 6 Hours | Finish: Glossy
Price at time of publish: $6
Best Splurge: Dior Addict Lip Tint
It’s one thing for a product to have pretty packaging, but when the formula inside is just as impressive, it’s truly a winner. That’s the case for Dior Addict Lip Tint. The velvety tint feels and looks luxurious, making it worth the extra pocket change. While the lip stain has a semi-matte finish, it’s still incredibly hydrating and keeps lips comfortable for hours thanks to its key ingredient, cherry oil.
As much as we love the formula, the color payoff isn’t where we want it to be. The product is actually quite sheer in comparison to other lip stains. Keep this in mind, especially if you decide on a darker hue because it won’t be as bold as you would expect it to be.
Shades: 12 | Wear Time: 6 hours | Finish: Semi-Matte
Price at time of publish: $38
Best Color Payoff: FENTY BEAUTY by Rihanna Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain quickly went viral on TikTok shortly after its release in June, which ultimately led to the product selling out by the beginning of July. Luckily, the product is back in stock, and you’ll want to grab it stat.
The application differs from other stains because you actually want to wipe it off after you apply it — this removes the glossy excess, but you’re left with a beautiful, natural-looking pigment that makes your lips look like you just enjoyed a juicy popsicle. The shade names are just as delightful as the color payoff, too: Strawberry Sangria, Berry Banger, Mai Type, and Zesty Bestie are odes to the feelings and flavors of summer.
If your lips are prone to drying out, make sure to exfoliate before applying this lip stain. The formula tends to cling onto dry patches, and can make the overall finish appear splotchy.
Shades: 4 | Wear Time: 7 Hours | Finish: Natural
Price at time of publish: $24
Best Matte: L’Oréal Paris Rouge Signature Matte Lip Stain
If you’re always on the go and looking for a lip stain that will get you through an entire day, this is the one for you. While lip stains are designed to stay on longer than other lip products, the Rouge Signature Lightweight Matte Lip Stain from L’Oréal Paris creates the ultimate transfer-proof look. Personally, I usually opt for more matte lip stains, and this is one of my favorites because I don’t have to worry about reapplying during long work days — even after lunch or a coffee break. The pointed applicator allows you to precisely apply the product, and makes it easy to line as well as fill in your lips. The formula feels heavy when you first put it on, but rest assured that once it dries you won’t be able to tell that you have anything on your lips.
Shades: 37 | Wear Time: 10 hours | Finish: Matte
Price at time of publish: $6
Best Shade Range: Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick in Always Red
It’s not common to find a lip product that’s available in over 20 shades, let alone nearly 100. But Sephora is here serving variety and quality with their Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick. When testing the product I couldn’t help but fall in love with the color range, which includes everything from trending colors like Coral Sunset (a brick red), to all-year staples like Honeymoon (a nude pink). The best part is that once you apply the product it truly does not budge — I even tried Dare To Be Pink, a hot pink, and it stayed for hours without fading, feathering, or transferring. If you do choose a darker hue, you may need to swipe on an extra layer on the center of your lips because I find it to be a little sheer after just one swipe.
Shades: 79 | Wear Time: 10+ Hours | Finish: Matte
Price at time of publish: $15
Best Plumping: Buxom Serial Kisser Plumping Lip Stain
If you want an extra boost in the pout department but are wary of getting fillers (we get it, needles can be scary), Buxom Serial Kisser Plumping Lip Stain is a great alternative and immediate solution that doesn’t require long term commitment. The serum-like formula features hyaluronic acid (an ingredient used in fillers) to hydrate and plump, and it coats your lips with a juicy, glossy color. You won’t experience the uncomfortable tingling sensation that you get with other lip plumpers, making it very comfortable to wear, too. Though the color payoff lasts for about four hours, you’ll probably need to reapply if you grab a bite to eat.
Shades: 7 | Wear Time: 4 Hours | Finish: Gloss
Price at time of publish: $22
Best Drugstore: Maybelline New York SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick
While this product is technically marketed as lipstick, it acts just like a lip stain, earning itself a spot on the list. The precision applicator is shaped like an arrowhead, which allows you to have the utmost control when applying — this is key, especially since matte finishes are more difficult to correct once dried. And once it’s dry, you best believe it’s not going anywhere. Like the name suggests, it has super staying power and is completely budge-, transfer-, and kiss-proof for up to 16 hours. I even went out for pasta with a friend after work, and there was minimal fading after the meal. Keep in mind that the formula does take a little bit longer to dry. As a result, it may feel stickier compared to other products on this list, but once the lightweight formula sets, you’re good to go.
Shades: 40 | Wear Time: 16 Hours | Finish: Matte
Price at time of publish: $7
Best Moisturizing: Clarins Water Lip Stain
Lip stains have a tendency to feel more drying than other lip products, but this one from Clarins could double as a lip balm thanks to ultra-hydrating ingredients like aloe vera and raspberry. The four shades initially apply bold and bright, but as the day wears on they sheer out and look more natural. The watery consistency of the formula can be hard to control with the included applicator, so we recommend applying it with your fingers for the best results.
Shades: 4 | Wear Time: 8 Hours | Finish: Natural
Price at time of publish: $29
Best Sheer: Victoria Beckham Beauty Bitten Lip Tint
Sure, Victoria Beckham Beauty Bitten Lip Tint looks gorgeous, but what makes it stand out is what it does for your lips behind the scenes as you wear it. Not only does it keep lips hydrated with ingredients like squalane, but it also subtly plumps lips thanks to sodium hyaluronate and mustard sprout extract, which also work to soothe the lip area so you won’t experience that irritating tingly feeling that comes with some plumpers. If you prefer a more sheer lip, this is the perfect product for you because it provides a very low-key, natural look — but if you prefer more dramatic color payoff you may want to go with something else.
Shades: 4 | Wear Time: 10 Hours | Finish: Natural
Price at time of publish: $36
What to Keep in Mind
Similar to lipsticks, lip stains also come in a range of finishes. Although it’s more common to find matte or satin formulas, some lip stains can be glossy, too. While finish is totally a personal preference, matte and satin lip stains tend to wear longer than those with glossy ones. For a matte formula, we recommend Dior Addict Lip Tint, but if you’re after a more satin or natural finish opt for our best overall pick Benefit Cosmetics Benetint Rose Lip Blush & Cheek Tint. As for a glossy option, you can’t go wrong with Buxom Serial Kisser Plumping Lip Stain.
While you can’t really turn satin or glossy products matte, professional makeup artist and founder of Beia Beauty, Brittany Lo, says that you can make matte products glossy by swiping a clear lip gloss on top.
Not only do lip stains look more natural, but they were also invented to be long-lasting. Most formulas will stay put for four to eight hours, but there are others that can last upwards of 10. (Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick can last up to 16 hours!) Keep in mind, though, that how you prepare your lips will impact the longevity of your lip stain. Lo recommends grabbing a lip scrub, then swiping on a layer of lip balm to give your lips a boost of hydration before applying your stain.
Typically, a lip stain can dry out your lips much more quickly than other lip products, so it’s important to look for ingredients that maximize the hydration factor. Lo says to look at the label and opt for formulas that contain oils, beeswax, or humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. All of these will help lock in hydration so your lips stay comfortable all day. We find Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain to be one of the most comfortable, non-drying lip stain formulas.
If the formula doesn’t have these ingredients Gloria Lu, Cosmetic Chemist in Residence at Revela and creator of Chemist Confessions suggests “layering a lip balm over top to keep lips moisturized.”