What Is Lip Stain?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Lip stain is a cosmetic product which is designed to stain the lips with long-lasting color which will resist wear. Unlike lipstick, it does not contain wax. Many cosmetics companies offer a line of lip stains with their cosmetics products, and people can also make their own.

Unlike lipstick, a lip stain doesn't contain wax.
Unlike lipstick, a lip stain doesn't contain wax.

The idea behind lip stains is to temporarily saturate the lips with color with a dye, rather than applying a colored wax to the lips to color them. A stain is usually designed to be waterproof so that the color will be long lasting, and once the stain dries, it should not smear, stain, wear unevenly, or transfer to the teeth. A stain may come in a bottle with an applicator which is used to brush the color onto the lips, and it can also come in a small jar, with users applying the stain with a finger or a cosmetic brush.

Lip stain is sometimes applied before applying lip gloss.
Lip stain is sometimes applied before applying lip gloss.

While a lip stain colors the lips, it will not necessarily provide sheen or gloss. Some products are bundled with a moisturizer which will keep the lips moist, and a stain can also be blended with a plumper for a more pouty look, or a gloss which will make the lips shiny. A stain can also be applied as an underlayer before applying lip gloss, so that lips will be moisturized, glossy, and more visible.

Lip stains come in a range of colors, from various shades of red to browns, blacks, blues, greens, and other shades. As with lipstick, it is a good idea to test a stain before applying it to make sure that it works well with the wearer's skin tone. The best way to test is to apply a small amount of a sample to the hand. Consumers can also ask for advice from the staff at a cosmetics counter. The staff may also provide hints and suggestions for applying lip stains and creating interesting looks with makeup.

It is also possible to find cheek stain, a similar product which is designed to add color to the cheeks. Some companies sell bundled lip and cheek stain, designing products which can be used on the lips or the cheeks. Lip and cheek stain can include moisturizers to condition the skin, along with inclusions such as sparkles for a more eye-catching look.

Some things to consider when buying lip stain include the reputation of the product or the company which makes it, the color, the size of the container, whether or not the product is advertised as waterproof, and how the long it should last once it is applied. Consumer review for numerous products are available in cosmetics magazines and on the Internet.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Some all natural products are more likely to moisturize than other brands. Like any lip product, it's important to make sure there are also no ingredients that you are allergic to, and to stop using anything which cause allergic reactions.


Lip stain can be a nice alternative when you want something with more shade than a gloss or a balm, but is less intense than lipstick. However, many lip stains don't offer moisturizer like balms or glosses, so you might need to use a balm and then a stain to keep your lips from drying out.

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