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South Korea is known for its beauty innovations, and one of the most popular products in the world of K-Beauty is lip tint. “Lip tints belong to a similar category as lip stains,” explains Da Seul Kim, brand manager for Peripera, a Korean cosmetics company. "Tints are richer in color and provide longer-lasting wear with a lightweight finish."
Chloe Chung, professional makeup and hair artist in New York City, says the beauty look favored by Koreans has always been a clear, translucent complexion (aka glass skin) and a contrasting lip. “Because we value skincare above all, it’s only fitting that a red, cherry-like lip accompanies the look,” she says. “Lip tints have become popular thanks to the gorgeous pigments, ease of use, and proven longevity.”
Kim adds that lip tints have become a particular sensation in K-beauty because they allow you to create a gradient look by adjusting the concentration of coverage. This trend is also known as an ombre lip. “The color starts out bolder and deeper on the inner layers of the lip and fades out to look lighter towards the edge of the lip,” says Kim. “It gives you the illusion of having fuller lips. It’s easy to apply, comfortable, and long-lasting in color.
Read on for the best Korean lip tints.
Best Overall: Peripera Ink Airy Velvet Lip Tint
This popular Korean lip tint is our overall winner, and for good reason. Chung describes it as “incredibly light,” saying that it “applies and wears like air.” She also notes the smooth, velvety matte finish, with her favorite shade being #8 Pretty Orange Pink. “It looks orange straight out of the bottle, but when you put it on it becomes an innocent pink, which is a nice unexpected twist,” she says. Users also rave about this K-beauty lip tint, noting the moisturizing formula and ability to build color for customized intensity.
Best Budget: Etude House Dear Darling Water Gel Tint Ice Cream
One of the best things about Korean lip tints is that they’re quite affordable. And this one in particular is a steal. While it might not come with a hefty price tag, it does have a lot going for it. The water-gel formula provides vivid color, and fruit extracts keep your pucker hydrated. Plus, the popsicle-like packaging is absolutely adorable.
Best Drugstore: Tonymoly Delight Lip Tint
Tonymoly is a Korean drugstore brand that makes a great, no-budge lip tint. This drugstore K-beauty lip tint has a lightweight formula with a sheer matte finish. It’s infused with rosehip, argan, and jojoba oils to ensure your pout stays smooth all day long.
Best Splurge: Ameli Hyper Waterop Tint
Chung is a fan of this splurge-worthy Korean lip tint. “Vamp Tint is inspired by a bloody red vampire lip—hence the name—and is the perfect hue for the fall and winter,” she says. “It also has a finishing shine to it, giving off the look of wet, dewy lips,” Chung adds that this lip tint has a lot of moisture, so it’s ideal for those with dry lips. “And the color stays on long after application,” she says.
Best Matte: Peripera Ink the Velvet
Kim explains that before “velvet” lip tints existed, most formulations on the market were water tints. While water tints are certainly long-lasting, they can be drying. Enter this cushiony matte formula. “Peripera cherry-picked the benefits of lipstick and lip stain for this tint,” says Kim. "It has a soft and velvety finish and the long-wearing formula doesn’t require retouching.”
Runner-Up, Best Matte: Sooniski Hush Velvet Lip Tint
This matte Korean lip tint also offers beautiful color payoff and smooth, long-lasting wear. The tint glides on lightly and stays where you put it—no smudging here. You can even apply it to cheeks for a cloud-like blush effect.
Best Shine: Holika Holika Heart Crush Glow Tint Air
Pump up the shine on your lips with this glowy Korean lip tint. It’s available in seven transparent shades that will make your lips look oh-so-juicy. What’s more, the formula is moisturizing so you can rest assured your lips won’t be dried out when you remove your makeup at the end of the day.
Runner-Up, Best Shine: Etude House Peach Jelly Tint
This jelly-like Korean lip tint provides tons and tons of shine, making it one of our faves. It comes in five peachy shades, from the light “Peach Coral” to the darker “Peach Red.” To keep with the peach theme, it’s even infused with a moisturizing peach extract.
Best Shade Range: Innisfree Vivid Cotton Ink
Most Korean lip tints are available in only a few shades, but this line comes in a whopping 18 hues. That makes it easy for every skin tone, from fair to dark, to be able to find their perfect match. Beyond the shade range, the formula is pretty neat too: It’s matte, but super-comfortable to wear thanks to botanical oils such as cottonseed and camellia.
Best Hydrating: I’m Meme Mystery Satin Tint
Lip tints and stains can often be drying, but this one breaks the mold. The water-to-satin formula is chock full of botanical oils to prevent dryness or chapped lips. In addition to its moisturizing properties, users like the natural look it imparts as well as how long it lasts.
Runner-Up, Best Hydrating: The Saem Love Me Coating Tint The Saem Love Me Coating Tint
White birch sap, rosa centifolia flower, and calendula extract work together to deliver a dose of hydration along with sheer, buildable color. And the cute heart bottle will add a touch of fun to your daily routine.
Best Long-Lasting: BBIA Last Velvet Lip Tint
Korean lip tints are known for being long-lasting in general, but this one does an especially good job of really, truly, staying put for hours. The velvet texture glides on smoothly for a blurred, matte effect. Color pigments stick to lips and don’t budge, so you don’t have to touch up during the day.
Best for Lip and Cheek: Passioncat Twist Velvet Tint
Add color to your lips and cheeks with this multitasking Korean lip tint. It has a lightweight feel and velvety matte finish that’ll look amazing all over your face. Available in 13 shades, there’s something for everyone. Plus, the cushion applicator makes it easy to control.
Korean lip tints provide excellent, long-lasting color, are very easy to use, and typically come with a low price tag. Our favorite, which is also beloved by makeup artists, is Peripera Ink Airy Velvet Lip Tint because of its lightweight yet long-wearing formula. Whether you prefer a shiny or matte finish, you can find whatever you’re looking for from top K-beauty brands. Holika Holika Heart Crush Glow Tint Air is an awesome shiny option, while Sooniski Hush Velvet Lip Tint is a matte dream. And for a breadth of color selection to suit every skin tone, you can’t go wrong with Innisfree Vivid Cotton Ink.
How to Use a Korean Lip Tint
While a Korean lip tint is one of the easiest and most convenient lip products on the market, it’s a good idea to do some prep work before applying. “Exfoliation is the most important step above anything else,” says Chung. “The more dead skin cells there are, the harder it will be for the pigmentation to stain underneath your skin, and it can make your lips look dry and cracked.”
Chung suggests prepping the night before. Apply a generous amount of moisturizing lip balm before you go to bed, and then again in the morning after washing your face, gently exfoliate your lips with your fingers.
Once you’re ready to use your lip tint, “start by applying a small amount on the inside of your lips and press your lips together a few times to diffuse the color,” advises Chung. “You can also apply it to your entire lips for full-on coverage.” You may also want to consider applying a clear lip gloss afterward to lock in moisture, she adds.
Want to create a bold lip? “Use the precision applicator to shape, line, and fill your lips,” says Kim. To do a gradient lip, “I recommend you start at the center of your lip and gently blend out the colors. For longer-lasting wear, finish off by using a cotton swab or lip brush to gently tap and blend,” says Kim.