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Lip stains just might be the most underappreciated product in the lip category. Lipstick can be intimidating to apply and high maintenance to keep looking fresh, gloss can be tacky (and end up in your hair or teeth), and balms can be blah for not delivering enough color. These are just a few of the reasons why stains are the perfect middle ground. They bring a punch in the color department, tend to outlast their lipstick peers, and can hydrate your pucker, too. No wonder they have a reputation for being effortless. That’s why lip stain sales have gone through the roof over the last couple of years. No matter if you’re looking for just a flush of color or a full on statement lip, there is a lip stain for you at every price point. These are the top lip stains out there.
Best Overall: Yves Saint Laurent Glossy Stain Lip Color
This groundbreaking formula blends the best of both worlds: It has the shine and texture of a gloss, blended with the long wear of a lip stain. That killer combo has earned it beauty rewards. It feels like a lightweight balm—it has zero stickiness, unlike many glosses, and you don’t have to worry about your hair getting stuck in it. The slanted tip and short, soft bristles of the applicator make for flawless precision every time. Plus, the impressive shade range spans everything from soft nudes to brights like fuchsia.
Best Budget: e.l.f. Essential Lip Stain
It doesn’t get much cheaper than this! But don’t let the price fool you: e.l.f.’s Essential Lip Stain lasts a long time, and it is packed with pigment. The pen-like tip makes it easy to apply the rich color sans streaks or smudges. Infused with vitamin E, it softens and hydrates lips. Our go to shade is Nude Nectar—the hue is a delightful everyday apricot.
Best Long Lasting: NYX Epic Ink Lip Dye
NYX’s Epic Ink Lip Dye simply will not budge. It delivers dramatic, high-impact color that feels lightweight and dries to a matte finish, proving it really is “Lip Dye.” Stash it in your makeup bag for when you want a dash of drama.
Best Matte: Tarte Lippie Lingerie Matte Lip Tint
If you’re searching for a lip tint with the perfect matte finish, you can stop looking: Tarte’s Lippie Lingerie Matte Lip Tint is it. It comes in six neutral nude shades that deliver that "my lips but better" look. It smooths right onto your pucker—just like a balm—for buildable, full-coverage color. The nourishing mix of mango seed, cupuacu, and murumuru butters firm, moisturize and protect lips.
Best Drugstore Option: Revlon Colorburst Balm Stain
Revlon’s Colorburst Balm Stain may look like your typical lip crayon and feel like a regular tinted lip balm, but don’t be fooled. Its long wear is impressive, and it leaves the perfect hint of whichever color you choose, making it ideal for all day wear. The gel formula is lightweight and deeply moisturizing, and it comes in six pretty shades. Plus, the chubby crayon is retractable, so you never have to worry about finding a sharpener.
Best for Dry Lips: Smith & Cult Tainted Lip Stained
Smith & Cult’s Tainted Lip Stained goes on like a mousse, dries into a stain, and feels like a balm. Richly pigmented to deliver color, it also increases moisture levels in your lips, making it a true win-win.
Best Classic: Benefit Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain
No list of lip stains would be complete without the OG of the category, Benefit’s Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain. The game changing rose-tinted stain delivers a smudge-proof, sexy flush with a glow. It also doubles as cheek color.
Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular lip stains on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 25 different lip stains overall, screened options from 23 different brands and manufacturers, read over 30 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 20 of the lip stains themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.