On the long list of South Korea’s many fine exports — including, but not limited to, sheet masks, pimple patches, and K-pop — are lip tints. These days, some of the best lip stains for no-fuss, long-lasting color are coming straight from Seoul, thanks to Tonymoly, Innisfree, Etude House, and more. Luckily, you don’t need a plane ticket to shop for them, and one is just $7. Several Western beauty brands have also mastered the K-beauty staple in their own ways. For example, L’Oréal Paris makes an editor-adored stain; Buxom has a lip-plumping variety; and Armani mastered a gloss that wears down to a wash of color.
“Unlike lipsticks that add a layer on top of the lips, stains are absorbed into the outer layers of the skin for a sheer pop of low-maintenance color,” explains makeup artist and Guide Beauty founder Terri Bryant. Remember, they’re called lip stains for a reason: As such, these products are especially ideal for mask-wearing.
When you’re ready to apply the stain, makeup artist Andrea Claire recommends drawing a “V” at the bow and outer corners of your lips and a “U” towards the bottom of your lips. Then, connect the dots, fill in the lips, and voíla. For a natural-looking finish, makeup artist Geneivive Garner advises tapping the product directly onto your lips using your fingers. Claire recommends applying the stain straight from the tube for a more saturated look.
“To ensure the longest wear, make sure you apply your stain on clean, dry lips,” Garner tells Allure. What’s more, according to Claire: “A lip mask or a light clear balm will help even out the lips hydration levels, prepping them for a more even application.” Claire also recommends using a lip liner as a base, which helps extend the stain’s wear time. To seal the deal, both Claire and Garner suggest laying a one-ply tissue over your lips before dabbing a small amount of translucent powder on top.
No matter which lip-stain iteration you’re into, these products are sticking with you for the long haul. Expect not a single drop of color to travel to your teeth, and post-meal reapplication won’t be a concern. You’ll be committed to the hue for hours.
Intrigued? Read on for the complete list of our favorite lightweight, low-maintenance lip stains.