Makeup » How to Use Lip Stains & Lip Tints

How to Use Lip Stains & Lip Tints

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If you’re curious about trying out lip stains or tints, reading this article is a must. I’ll explain exactly what lip stains and lip tints are, and how they differ from lipsticks. I’ll give you a run down on all the different kinds of lip tints, and tell you all of the best methods for applying them.

In this article:

What Is a Lip Stain and How Is It Different from Lipstick?

One could arguably call lip stains and lip tints a type of lipstick, but these are the general differences. Lip tints and lip stains are lightly tinted, kind of sheer lip makeup products that give a little bit of color that lasts.

Lipsticks are usually made with a wax and oil base, which means they are pigmented and have a thick, creamy texture. Lipsticks also often contain emollient ingredients that allow them to moisturize the lips.

Lip stains usually come in a liquid or gel formula, although occasionally you’ll also see oil-based lip stains or creamier lipsticks with a balm-like formula. Whereas lipsticks tend to give opaque, velvety finish to the lips and tend to stay on the lips for up to 6 hours at most, lip stains will have either a very natural finish or a matte finish and will stay on the lips for much longer – up to 12 hours.

You’ll see the words lip stain and lip tint used interchangeably, although often products called lip tints are actually more like tinted lip balms, while some lip stains behave more like liquid lipsticks, with opaque coverage and a matte finish.

Lip stains literally stain the lips with color, staying put for the entire day, especially ones marketed as “lip tattoos.” They don’t smudge, are much more pigmented and brighter than lip tints, and come off with difficulty. On the other hand, lip tints are more natural, sheerer lip products that are easier to smudge or take off.

Lip tints and lip stains usually come with fewer color options, and they tend to be on the more natural side of things, although some exceptions to this rule do exist.

What Are the Different Types of Lip Tints?

Depending on the pigment intensity and texture, lip stains and lip tints can come in four different forms, which are:

High Pigment Lip Stains

These lip stains usually come in a tube, looking a little bit like lip glosses. However, beyond the initial look these kinds of lip stains are nothing like lip glosses.

They go on the skin like a liquid, but then they dry down very quickly to a matte finish. They are usually very pigmented, so you might also see them referred to as “liquid lipsticks”.

Once they have dried, they are usually very hard to remove, making them a fabulous choice for anyone who needs a very long-lasting lip product. They can also be quite drying on the lips, so it’s important to keep the lips exfoliated and to apply lip balm before using them.

What Is a Lip Stain and How Is It Different from Lipstick?

Liquid Lip Tints

These natural lip tints take the form of an alcohol-based liquid formula in a bottle with a brush or applicator, like Benetint, or they might come in the form of a cushion or a “marker”. They usually have very light coverage, and instead of covering the lips with color they actually sink in and give a natural tint.

The key with these kinds of lip tints is to use a very small quantity of makeup, as too much product will simply not sink in and make for a total mess. These lip tints also work beautifully as a blush when applied gently to the apples of the cheeks.

These formulas can sometimes be a little drying so it is very important to keep the lips well moisturized before applying. Like the high pigment lip stains, they also tend to stay on the lips for a very long time and not require reapplications.

Tinted Lip Balms

These lip tints or lip stains come in a creamy formula, and they can look like traditional lipsticks, like crayons, or like lip balms. They are the most moisturizing take on lip tints, so they don’t require as much preparation.

They give the lips a light wash of color that is extremely natural looking, so they’re a great choice for anyone who likes a no-makeup makeup look. Since they are so creamy, they tend to wear away faster than other lip tints or stains, so they might require re-application throughout the day.

Peel-Off Lip Tints

This is the most innovative form of lip tints and it differs from all the others in its application. You just swipe a thick layer of this lip stain on your lips, wait for some ten minutes and once the tint has dried, you peel off the film that has been formed on your lips. Your lips absorb the color pigments of the product, and the final outcome is a rich color that lasts up to 12 hours without any touch-ups.

How to Apply Lip Stain or Tint

Different lip tints require different application methods, but definitely play around and use my guidelines to find the technique that works best for you! The beautiful thing about lip tints is that they’re great for makeup minimalists – there is no need for lip primer or lip liner, and you can apply it straight from the applicator without a brush!

  • Lip stains and lip tints (especially the more pigmented ones) are unforgiving when it comes to dry skin on the lips – they seem to highlight dryness and flaws! Because of that your first step should be to exfoliate your lips. You can use a DIY sugar and oil scrub or a store-bought product. Scrub your lips with it to remove flakey skin.
  • Next apply a touch of a nourishing lip balm and allow it a few minutes to really sink into your lips. It’ll keep your lips protected from the potential drying effects of a high-pigment lip stain. If you’re using a more moisturizing lip tint, you can skip this step, and it will likely do the job on its own.
  • You’re now ready to apply the lip tint or stain! If your product comes in a tube with a doe-foot applicator or a brush, begin by wiping off the excess either on the rim of the tube or on a tissue – you want the thinnest wash of color possible, so you want to ensure there isn’t too much product on the applicator.
  • If you’re using a liquid lip tint, simply dot it on your bottom lip, and spread it around gently with your finger or a lip brush. Press whatever is left on your finger or brush to your top lip, for the softest wash of color imaginable. That’s all it takes, and your lips will be good to go!
  • If you’re using a moisturizing lip tint with very little pigment, you can just run it along the center of the bottom and top lips. Afterwards go over the lip line a little more carefully.
  • For a diffused lip tint look that is super popular with K-beauty enthusiasts, only apply the lip tint to the center of your lips, and blend it gently outwards with your finger. This will create a diffused look without a harsh lip edge.
  • Pigmented lip stains and lip tints are the hardest to apply, because they dry quickly. Begin by using the doe-foot applicator to sketch out your lip line – I like to start at the outer corner of the lips, and work my way inside in soft strokes. I mark the cupid’s bow with a little X, and connect it to the rest of the lip line. After that filling in the inside of the lips becomes a no-brainer. The key is to make sure there is absolutely no excess product on the applicator.
  • Once you’re done, you can clean up the edges of your lip line with the help of a concealer pencil, or a little bit of concealer on a thin brush.
  • If you’re feeling like your lips are looking a little bit too matte, layer a thin layer of lip gloss on top!

How to Remove Lip Stain

With the exception of balmy lip tints, most lip stains and lip tints are harder to remove than your average lipstick. This is part of their charm, as they’re meant to save on re-applications and last all day.

However, at the end of the night removing them can be quite a struggle. Some people end up trying to aggressively remove the lip stain with a cleanser, which can dry out and damage the lips. Instead, follow this method to remove your lip stain gently.

How to Remove Lip Stain
  • The secret to removing lip stains easily is to use a very gentle yet powerful makeup remover, or even just your favorite oil – this will have the added benefit of moisturizing your lips.
  • Saturate a cotton pad or cleansing wipe with your makeup remover of choice.
  • Press the saturated cotton pad against your lips, and hold it there for a few seconds. This will allow the oils to break down the lip stain.
  • Gently wipe away the lip stain or lip tint, but be very careful not to rub – you don’t want to irritate your lips!
  • If some lip stain remains, repeat the process.
  • Finish off with a healthy layer of lip balm to moisturize the lips.

Photos via @greta_ag, Instagram