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Makeup artists and editors can’t get enough of these lip stains that stay bright from day to night

Pucker up! Long-lasting lip color is just a few swipes away.
Courtesy Amanda Fama

Everyone wants a lip product that provides long-lasting color with a rich payoff. If you prefer something lighter than a typical lipstick but heavier than a tinted balm and that isn't sticky or messy like a lip gloss, a lip stain is what you're looking for.

Makeup artist Brenna D tells Shop TODAY that it's not uncommon for people to use lip glosses and lipsticks together to create their desired look. You can also layer lip stains with other products like balms or glosses (which can be either clear or tinted depending on if you want to create a new shade). Before layering anything on top of lip stains, she recommends making sure the stain is dried on the lips first, because layering a product while the stain is still wet can cause some of its color to come off.

We asked Brenna and makeup artist Tobi Henney about the benefits of using a lip stain and to pass along any application tips for the best results. Plus, shop picks that have their seal of approval, along with a few shoppers (and Shop TODAY editors!) can't seem to get enough of.

What is a lip stain? | How to choose a lip stain | Makeup artist picks | Top-rated editor favorites | FAQs | How we chose | Meet our experts

Shop TODAY Snapshot

Best lip stains

What is a lip stain?

Lip stains vs. lip sticks

Very simply, Brenna described lip stains as “products that are absorbed into the skin instead of sitting on top so they penetrate.”

She compared a lip stain to a stain on a shirt, offering the example of spilled wine, which soaks in immediately, or baby food (or something that has a similar texture to it); she explained that, when you wipe them away, a stain is left behind.

“There’s lip stains that immediately go right into the lips and there’s ones that they wear off or, if you were to wipe off the top layer, you’re left with a stain,” she elaborated.

Furthermore, makeup artist Tobi Henney tells us in an email that lip stains give a more natural-looking appearance, while lipsticks offer more pigment and coverage.

How to choose a lip stain

While shopping, Brenna recommends opting for a lip stain with hydrating ingredients like almond or coconut oil to help the product penetrate and provide all-day wear.

Henney looks for natural finishes and packaging that is easy to use.

Best lip stains, according to makeup artists

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick

Available shades: 30 | Use on: Lips

Brenna called this liquid lipstick “one of her favorite products” and said it stays on for a long time.

“If you want just the stained look, you can apply the product, let it dry down and take a paper towel to dab off some of the product and it’ll look like more of the stain. Or you can use the finger application or the brush application for less of a color payoff,” she said.

Benefit Cosmetics Benetint Cheek and Lip Stain

Available shades: 6 | Use on: Lips and cheeks

Brenna says this tint is very thin in texture, which reminds her of a wine glass stain. “It goes on feeling more on the liquid-y side, and it penetrates and dries into the lip rather quickly,” she noted.

Nars Cosmetics Powermatte Lip Pigment

Available shades: 10 | Use on: Lips

Brenna also likes this lip pigment from Nars and said it's an option to consider if you want something a bit more luxe. With over a dozen different colors offered, there's something for every season and every occasion.

Wonderskin Wonder Blading Peel and Reveal Lip Stain

Available shades: 13 | Use on: Lips

Brenna loves this lip treatment because, even though it's a two-step process, it "leaves that stain without texture," she said. Shop TODAY editorial assistant Dani Musacchio said she liked how the color held up throughout the day. "To my surprise, the stain survived a days’ worth of coffee-drinking, meals and daily wear. So, if you’re looking for all-day color without having to reapply your lip product, I’d say this is one TikTok find that’s worth giving a try."

Victoria Beckham Beauty Bitten Lip Tint

Available shades: 5 | Use on: Lips

Another pick from Henney, this lip tint from Victoria Beckham Beauty will “give your pout a natural flush of color,” according to the brand. Its formula is infused with hyaluronic acid and squalane for hydration and mustard sprout extract for a plumping effect. Henney likes it not only for its chic packaging, but also because the Cherie shade is “perfect for all skin tones,” she said.

Best lip stains, according to editors

E.l.f. Cosmetics Glossy Lip Stain

Available shades: 8 | Use on: Lips

A budget-friendly pick, this lip stain goes on glossy for immediate shine and dries on as a long-lasting stain. It comes in up to eight shades with a range that includes bold reds and neutral browns. Commerce editor and producer Julie Ricevuto can also attest to how comfortable it feels on the lips.

Sushy Glow “Ripped Guts” Bloody Tint

Available shades: 1 | Use on: Lips and cheeks

Danielle Murphy, a commerce writer at Shop TODAY, recommends this lip stain. She says, "Don’t be turned off by the gruesome name — I came across this via TikTok and immediately ordered it." Murphy says it's "lightweight" and "has really great staying power." She continues, "This shade is a really nice blue/red that’s buildable, depending on how deep you want your pigment. It won’t transfer once it’s on. The brand says you can even apply it to your cheeks, but I haven’t tried that yet."

Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Tinted Lip Oil

Available shades: 8 | Use on: Lips

One of Rare Beauty's more recent launches, the Soft Pinch Tinted Lip Oil — caused quite a stir amongst fans and beauty gurus online. Its innovative formula and intense pigment also caught the attention of one of our own. "I own it in the shade serenity. Super comfortable, has a slight glossy finish, and leaves a really natural stain on the lips," says editorial assistant Madison San Miguel.

Milk Makeup Cooling Water Jelly Tint

Available shades: 4 | Use on: Lips and cheeks

Amanda Fama, an editor at Shop TODAY, has a new favorite lip tint. This jelly tint by Milk Makeup "stains almost instantly" and "lasts all day," according to Fama. She says, "This lip tint truly feels cooling as you apply it, and although it dries quickly, it's simple to blend upon application whether you're using it on your lips or cheeks (or both)!"

Stila Calligraphy Lip Stain

Available shades: 16 | Use on: Lips

"This Stila lip stain has made its way into my everyday routine," says SEO intern Domonique Tolliver. "It’s my natural lip color but better. I never have to reapply, and it pairs well with any lip gloss!" she says about the product, specifically in the rose brown shade Hedy.

How we chose

Along with expert picks from makeup artists, we chose the best lip stains (and tints) that editors have used and currently recommend. The stains offer long-lasting results because of their ability to absorb into the skin.

Meet our experts

  • Brenna D is a New York-based makeup artist who has 11 years of experience in the field.
  • Tobi Henney is a bicoastal makeup artist originally from Sydney, Australia, where she served as the L'Oréal Paris Makeup Director for the region.