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Sometimes you want to wear lip color but don’t want to deal with the precision of applying lipstick. That’s where lip stains come in. Offering the best of both worlds, they offer plenty of pigment, but can be dabbed right on without much effort. Even better, they can deliver more than just color. Depending on which formula you opt for, there are hybrids that straddle both lip stain and balm, oil or liquid lipstick. Lip stains are known for their staying power, but the top formulas are infused with hydrating ingredients so you don’t have to worry about them drying out your pucker. These are the top drugstore lip stains that will make you and your smacker happy.
Best Overall: Revlon Colorburst Balm Stain
Revlon’s Colorburst Balm Stain isn’t your average lip crayon. It delivers the deep moisture of a balm and the lush texture of a lipstick. Whichever of the six shades you choose will bring the perfect hint of color that wears for a long, long time. The lightweight gel formula is easy to apply thanks to the chubby crayon, which also happens to be retractable, so you never have to worry about finding a sharpener.
Best Budget: e.l.f. Essential Lip Stain
The only cheap thing about this lip stain is its price. e.l.f.’s Essential Lip Stain has impressive staying power, plus major color payoff thanks to a formula that is packed with pigment for rich color. The pen-like tip makes application a cinch, so you won’t have to worry about streaks or smudges. It softens and moisturizes lips with its infusion of vitamin E.
Best Long Lasting: NYX Epic Ink Lip Dye
NYX’s Epic Ink Lip Dye will make it through your workout, meals—you name it. The dramatic, high-impact color is lightweight on your lips and dries to a matte finish, living up to its name of “Lip Dye.” It’s a great go-to when you want a bold lip that will last all night.
Best Balm: Neutrogena Moisture Smooth Color Stick
Tinted lip balms tend to deliver only a gentle hint of color. When you want a bit more drama but the same moisturizing magic, reach for Neutrogena’s Moisture Smooth Color Stick. The blend of shea butter and mango, which is packed with antioxidants, will hydrated even the most parched, chapped lips. One swipe delivers a touch of color, which can be built up for a major look. The twist-up applicator erases the need for a sharpener, and the smooth formula glides right on for easy application.
Best Color Range: L'Oréal Paris Infallible Lip Paint
When you’re looking to make a statement, L'Oréal’s Infallible Lip Paint is the solution. A cross between a stain and liquid lipstick, it packs in pigment like no other lip product and it lasts all day—and night—long. The luxe applicator paints on high impact color in a single swipe. Available in a range of finishes from matte to metallic, it also offers a high fashion color range. Unexpected shades like Navy Spy, Domineering Teal, and Lilac Lust are just a few of the bold and brave offerings.
Best Glossy Finish: Pixi by Petra Gel Tint and Silk Gloss
This dual-sided tube brings double the fun. One side has a gel-based lip stain while the other is a shiny gloss. You can wear them solo or together and layer the gloss on top for more of a statement. The stain has staying power while the gloss adds shine, and combined they’ll leave lips feeling hydrated and looking pretty.
Best Buildable Color: Revlon Kiss Cushion Lip Tint
Whether you want a dab of color or a vibrant pucker, Revlon’s Kiss Cushion Lip Tint will deliver. The water-based lip stain boasts buildable color—it’s impressive how pigmented it is for being so lightweight. The cushion top feels luxe, and so does its hydrating powers, thanks to the infusion of coconut oil.
Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular drugstore lip stains on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 12 different drugstore lip stains overall, screened options from 9 different brands and manufacturers, read over 30 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 4 of the drugstore lip stains themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.