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Lip Color: Gloss, Stain, Lipstick, Balm, and More

Lip Balm

Lip balms have moved beyond the basic and into the cosmetics industry. Tinted balms offer a hint of color with sheer to medium coverage and a satin finish, plus moisture.

"They often have SPF, which is great, plus vitamin E and shea butter, which soften the lips," Luna says. "It's a see-through color, not a full-color commitment, so you don't have to worry about looking in the mirror and making it perfect."

  • Good for... people whose lips are dry or tend to chap.
  • Avoid if... you seek bold, deep, dark coverage.

Lip Stains

If you want all-day color with no upkeep, consider lip stains. These liquid-based products are painted onto the lips. Once they dry, they last 8 to 12 hours. The matte stain is so enduring, in fact, you'll need to remove it with makeup remover at the end of your day.

"You have to be careful and get a perfect application," says David Maderich, a New York-based celebrity makeup artist. "Once it's dried, it's not coming off."

Lip stains can be very drying, so it's best to apply a moisturizing balm first. Stains can also draw attention to chapped lips or wrinkles around the mouth.

  • Good for... people who want all-day color and those who don't like the feel of lipstick.
  • Avoid if... your lips are dry or tend to chap.


Historically, lipstick was very matte with full color. (Picture Marilyn Monroe's signature red lips.) There are many more options now.

"Today, there's gloss, glaze, luster and satin finish, as well as matte, and any cosmetics line would carry 30 to 40 colors in all finishes," Luna says.

Remember to reapply lipstick frequently, because it wears off after you eat or drink.

  • Good for... adding full color to the lips in a variety of colors and finishes.
  • Avoid if... you want long-lasting color.

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