Lip stains seem to magically amend all of lipstick’s most common complaints — the dryness, the heaviness, the cracks and feathers and need to reapply every time you eat, drink, speak, or breathe. Since the pigment literally bleeds into your lips, rather than sits on top of them, the best lip stains are smudge-proof, ridiculously long-lasting, and neither sticky nor greasy. Lip stains come in many forms, though, so you'll have lots to think about as you peruse these options.
Although their claim to fame is the Korean-born
popsicle lips trend, not all stains are quite so sheer or watery. Some have matte or velvet finishes, others have a balm-like consistency, and still others feel more like a gel or gloss. But they’re all layerable, no matter their formulation, and they’ll fade to an even, impermeable wash of color that you’ll probably be buried in. (Kidding, but you’ll probably need an oil cleanser to remove it.)
Scroll on to shop 10 of the best lip stains out there, which hail from both Korean and American brands. Pro tip: Try tapping them onto your cheeks for a chic, monochromatic look, and to get even more
mileage out of these genius formulas.
If you’re staying true to the popsicle effect, you’ll need
Etude House's Dear Darling Water Tint to do it. This cult-classic Korean lip stain is water-based, so the pigment bleeds to a gradient-like finish when you dab it onto the center of your lips. Loyalists say it’s much longer-lasting and less drying than other water-based tints, thanks to the addition of moisturizing pomegranate and grapefruit extracts. The brand also makes a gel-based version for even more longevity, intense color payoff, and lots more shades to choose from — but this is the classic. It works nicely on cheeks, too.
For an even more intense effect, pick up this
Peripera lip tint. This is another favorite among the K-beauty crowd, and the rare lip tint with a powdery finish, which gives it a blurred, airbrushed effect. Unlike most velvet-finish lipsticks, though, this won’t bleed or feather, and the shades remain just as bright, vivid, and pigmented when they wear down as they are upon first application. Bonus points for the cute squeeze-bottle packaging.
Here’s another hybrid-esque
lip stain, this time via the blissful union between a stain and a matte liquid lipstick. It boasts the watery consistency and weightless feel of the former, the full coverage and opaque finish of the latter, and the bulletproof lasting power of both. After several hours (and, yes, several meals), the opacity wears down to a traditional stain-like wash, but it never clumps, flakes, or cracks. The 34-shade range is really generous, too.
Make no mistake: This
Revlon Balm Stain is not a tinted lip balm. It’s a bonafide lip stain — ultra pigmented, sticks around after a full meal (plus cocktails, dessert, and coffee) — but it’s formulated with nourishing ingredients like shea butter, mango butter, and coconut butter, so it feels comfortable and moisturizing. Reviewers also love the chubby, crayon-inspired point, which feels deliciously smooth and creamy, as well as the handy retractable packaging.
Hyaluronic acid gives this
Buxom lip stain some “plumping” action (just a nominal amount, so don’t expect to look like an Instagram filter), while vitamin E, jojoba esters, and sunflower seed wax impart a silky, emollient finish. Some reviewers say this is more “gloss” than “stain,” though the color sticks around for hours even after the shine wears off. You can achieve an ombre effect with it, too, which is tough to do with a gloss. My verdict? A solid stain.
Tint Fit Shine from moonshot, a cool, Gen Z-leaning Korean brand, is another option that reads more tint than stain. That means it’s not as long-lasting as some of the other stains on this list, and it has a softer color payoff — but if you prefer a glossy to a matte look, you might be willing to sacrifice longevity for that coveted dewy effect. Choose from five fruity-fresh shades — apricot, coral, rose, orange, and berry — all with that juicy yet natural-looking finish.
Infused with aloe, cherry oil, jojoba oil, and virtually every vitamin and antioxidant that matters, this
IT Cosmetics Lip Flush brilliantly combines the hydrating, conditioning, and revitalizing benefits of a lip treatment with the long-lasting color of a stain. “Nothing makes my lips soft like this product,” one reviewer raved, while another noted that the color remains vibrant and true hours after application. 08
Editor’s Pick: Best Multipurpose Balm
Jillian Dempsey Cheek Tints may be marketed as blushes, but hear me out: They look gorgeous dabbed on your lips, too (and your eyelids!). Especially lovely if you prefer a softer, more natural effect, the cream formula imparts a radiant, dewy flush, and the all-natural formula feels comfortable and nourishing, thanks to the addition of coconut oil, shea butter, and plant extracts. The pigment is surprisingly long-lasting, considering that smooth, buttery texture. This is a totally holy grail product for me — I don’t go a day without sporting my preferred shades, Bloom and Petal (either separately or layered together), pretty much all over my face.
Wonderskin lip stain feels a bit like a science experiment, in the best possible way. Straight from the tube, the lip color deposits as a metallic blue-purple mask, which you’ll let sit between 10 and 45 seconds depending on how intense you’d like the color to be. Then you’ll spritz the mask with the included activator spray, peel it off, and find your shade of choice in a transfer-proof, waterproof finish. According to reviewers, that revolutionary application method isn’t just a gimmick — it actually results in an incredibly long-lasting pigment. “Applied it at 2:30 a.m. and wore it without touch up WITH A MASK ON and at 2:30 p.m. it was still on!!” one customer confirmed. How’s that for longevity? 10
Another Gorgeous Lip Stain With A Powder Finish
Between its soufflé-like texture and blurred, powdery finish that makes your lips look naturally fuller,
I’M MEME I’m Mystery Blur Tint is the platonic ideal of a velvet-finish lip stain. The teardrop-shaped applicator boasts an ultra-pointed tip for precise, controlled application, and the color really seeps into your lips, so it’ll linger long after you’ve wiped it off. The 10-shade range has a distinctly dark-romance vibe (think merlot, cranberry, and burnt caramel, all with dusty finishes) that would look beautifully moody under candlelight.