I Tried 7 Popular Lip Stains And Tints & The Cheapest Won

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“We are living in a lip product economy,” a beauty writer friend recently told me — and she’s not wrong. These days, you simply can’t open TikTok without accidentally swiping on some kind of lip product that has gone viral that week. There’s the Summer Fridays Butter Balm and the often sold-out Rhode Peptide Lip Tint, not to mention various lip color combinations, all of which are bidding for your attention. Even within such a crowded space, it’s obvious that two types of products remain a strong hold on the imaginations of makeup enthusiasts and novices alike: lip stains and lip tints.

The lure of high-impact pigment and staying power (with very low effort and skill required) is arguably why lip stains and tints are so popular right now. Old-school classics like Benetint are cycling back into popularity, while brands like Milk Makeup and Tatcha have unveiled their own unique takes.

To sort the winners from the wastes of time, I road-tested seven popular lip stains and lip tints. Since a long-lasting formula tends to be the main selling point of this lip category, I’ve included photos of how the lip colors had fared by the end of the day, after some considerable eating and drinking. Spoiler alert: The most affordable option took home the crown.


Milk Makeup Cooling Water Jelly Tint in Coral, $24

If you have spent any amount of time on the makeup side of TikTok lately, you might’ve seen people doing crazy things with these jelly tints, namely biting into them for views. (FYI: even though it looks like candy, the brand says it’s strictly not edible.)

I got my hands on this often sold-out product, and let’s just say that the hype is real. It’s like rubber stamping for adults: I only had to press the tip gently onto my lips for the most vibrant coral ink to transfer. The color does dry really quickly, so make sure to blend out with your fingers immediately. The stain remains visible through the rest of the day, even without any top ups. My favorite feature was that it feels so cooling; the minty sensation has been a godsend as I travelled through a few hot and humid places recently.

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Benefit Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain, $24

If you came of age during the ’00s, Benetint probably rings a bell: this lip and cheek stain has recently enjoyed a resurgence thanks to TikTok, and is still very much a makeup staple, IMO. Out of all the products I’ve tried, this has the most weightless formula and subtle look (don’t be fooled by the deep red color you see in the bottle). Wearing two coats made me look like I had just bitten my lips and pinched my cheeks — and that flush photographs rather nicely.

You can build up the pigment by adding as many coats as you want, but patience is definitely the key: Because of how diluted the tint is, you have to let one layer dry completely before topping up. It’s like painting your lips and cheeks with watercolor. I have heard people rave about how well this stain stays on without transferring, and while it doesn’t smudge easily, the color faded quickly for me, and I needed quite a few reapplications in between meals. I think I prefer using this as a liquid blush for a natural, rosy glow on my cheeks.

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Tatcha The Kissu Lip Tint SPF 25 in Carmellia, $34

This lip tint is Tatcha’s latest product, and as someone who loves all of Tatcha’s skincare, I was really excited to give this a try. The main selling point of the product is that it’s an ultra-hydrating lip tint that offers SPF 25 protection. It definitely delivers on its promise by filling in any dry cracks on my lips and blurring them out. Ingredients like botanical lanolin and silk protein form a protective coat of moisture on the lips.

However, I’m not quite sure why this is marketed as a lip tint: This product feels like your standard satin finish lipstick, and the lack of staying power reminds me of one, too. It’s quite pricey, though the packaging feels very premium. I do love how the color Carmellia looked on me, but just a warning: The packaging and description are quite far off the actual color. This shade turned out to be more of a soft brown-mauve on my lips, while the packaging indicated brick red.

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e.l.f. Cosmetics Glossy Lip Stain in Fiery Red, $6

This is virtually the “Bold Glamour” TikTok filter for my lips. I have been battling a cold for the last couple weeks and as a result, my lips are a lot more dehydrated than usual. Just one swipe of this product has concealed all the dry skin patches I had been feeling self conscious about, and gave my lips a delicious and healthy-looking glaze.

The formula sits somewhere between a lipstick and lip balm, and has a buttery, souffle-like texture to it. I’m utterly obsessed with how it sparkles in the light; It made my lips look so juicy. Just a little bit goes a long way and I only needed one top up after wearing the color for a full day. At just $6, this is a no-brainer winner in my book. I just wish it came in a bigger size, as the itty bitty tube makes applying the color harder than it needs to be.

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Huda Beauty Lip Blush Creamy Lip & Cheek Stain in Apricot Kiss, $25

I’ve heard great things about this Huda Beauty lip and cheek tint — but sadly, it was not the one for me. Despite carrying hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid powder and coconut extract, this was by far the most drying product I tried. The formula felt light and non-sticky when I applied it, but it made my lips more and more parched as time went on, and formed a line around the inner corners of my mouth. My bottom lip felt tight and flaky by the end of the day, and the stain made the creases on my lips look even more prominent.

On the plus side, I did like the subtle yet noticeable color I achieved with just one coat, and the matte finish lent a blurred lipstick effect without me actually having to do the blotting myself. It did a good job staying put with minimal transfer after eating. But unless I happen to wake up with a perfectly moisturized and smooth pout that day, I’ll think twice before reaching for it.

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Fenty Beauty Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain in Zesty Bestie, $28

This lip stain is a long-time bestseller in Rihanna’s makeup collection and the name pretty much says it all: Your lips will resemble a juicy, melting popsicle, thanks to moisturising squalane. If you have tried a lip oil before, this has a pretty similar viscosity. I was very satisfied with how pigmented it was and it still remained very hydrating hours later.

Despite the product claiming that it’s bleed- and transfer-proof, I did find it to be the opposite case. Due to how watery the lip stain is, it’s easy to accidentally overline your lips, and I find that it seeps into the corners of my mouth and my teeth quite easily. However, the ultra-vibrant colors do have more than decent staying power, so it still gets pretty high marks from me.

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Wonderskin Wonder Blading Lip Stain in Romance, $22

This is one of those Amazon beauty hidden gems I kept seeing all over TikTok back in 2021, and I’ve long been intrigued by the premise. It casts a funky metallic blue color when you first apply it on your lips. You’re meant to buff away the blue layer of peel with a wet cloth after it dries, et voila — your tinted lips will reveal themselves. According to our previous Wonderskin review, the longer you leave the blue layer on for, the stronger the color will be.

The brand strongly recommends exfoliating your lips before using this lip stain, and I can see why: The color will come out unevenly if you have any sort of wrinkle or blemish on your lips. Unfortunately for me, since I was dealing with some pretty bad skin peeling on my lips, I didn’t have the best-looking results.

My lips were stained a lovely shade of petal pink, but the blotchy areas were dyed bright red. I wish it’s less demanding of the condition of my lips, since the stain itself has a top-tier grip and stays on through the day. Everything comes right off if you use an oil-based makeup remover, but cleansing wipes will require more effort. I’m going to have to give it another try when my lips are in better shape, since I was really impressed with the longevity.

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