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

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.


Long-wear Lipstick

A newer type of lipstick is thick, opaque, long-lasting lipstick for women who want to apply color in the morning and have it last all day.

Like long-lasting lip stains, long-wear lipsticks are sold in liquid form. You paint them onto your lips, where they stay in place for 8 to 12 hours after drying. You take them off with makeup remover. But that's where the similarities end.

"A tint or a stain is more like a sheer color and doesn't have any coverage," Maderich says. "Super-wear lipstick has a lot of coverage."

Long-wear lipsticks can feel dry, so they're usually sold with a moisturizing clear lip gloss, to be worn as a top coat.

"It feels better and gives lips a little shine," Maderich says.

  • Good for... people who want all-day color.
  • Avoid if... your lips are dry or tend to chap.


Lip Liner

Many people who wear lip liner apply pencil to the outline of their lips to help their lipstick stay in place. The matte liner acts as a barrier, preventing creamier lipstick from migrating onto the skin surrounding the mouth.

Some people color in their lips entirely with liner before applying lipstick, because lipstick comes off after eating and drinking but lip liner doesn't – they don't want to be seen with bare lips surrounded by bold lip liner.

"Coloring in the lips gives you a longer-lasting look," San Diego says. "Top it with a little clear lip gloss to give it a long-lasting lipstick look, because it tends to be on the drier side."

For a seamless look, match your lip liner color to your lipstick.

  • Good for... outlining the lips before applying lipstick to define the lips and create a barrier to contain lipstick.
  • Avoid if... you aren't planning to wear a significant amount of lip color, such as sheer lip balm.
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