Lip stain, also known as lip tint, is a cosmetic product that colorates your lips with a liquid or gel formula. It stays on longer than lipstick by leaving a stain of color on the lips. It typically comes in a matte finish but some formulas have glossy options, too. A lip stain is less viscous than a typical lipstick formula and can be applied with a precision wand, a felt tip marker type of applicator or your finger for a more natural look. It can also be used as a lip liner to create a clean, defined outline around your mouth.

While lip stains offer long-wearing color, they can dry out the lips over time if left on for too long. In order to prevent this, it’s recommended to use a good lip balm before applying and throughout the day to touch up if needed. In addition to hydrating the skin, lip balm can also help smooth and even out the color of the lip stain to make sure it looks as natural as possible.

Whether you’re looking for a bright pop of color or a natural-looking lip enhancement, there’s a perfect lip stain for every look. Compared to lipstick, which can smudge, rub off and require constant reapplication, lip stain holds up better against eating and drinking and will last all day without fading or needing a touch-up.

In recent years, it seems like almost every beauty brand has jumped on the lip stain train with their own take on the trend, but there are many ways to wear it depending on your personal style. The earliest forms of lip stain were created in ancient Egypt when women used crushed beetles, henna and other toxic substances to color their lips in purple or red hues. Benefit’s Benetint Cheek and Lip stain is a modern incarnation of this trend, with its sheer, buildable and kiss-proof formula.

Lip stains can be worn on its own or as a base for other products, including matte and gloss lipsticks, creamy liquid blushes and even berry eyeshadow. It’s recommended to apply a thin layer of lip stain before blending it out with your fingers or a clean, damp brush. If your lips are chapped or cracked, exfoliate before application to ensure a flawless, long-wearing result.

A little goes a long way when it comes to lip stains, and the best ones have minimal ingredients, according to L’Oreal Associate Principal Chemist Roselin Rosario. She says that “stain formulas generally contain fewer chemicals than other lip products, which can sometimes add drying agents to prolong the wear of the pigment.”

When applying a lip stain, be sure to exfoliate first and choose the right shade for your complexion. Apply a thin layer in small taps to the center of your lips. Then, blend it out with your fingertips for a natural-looking effect or with a clean brush for more intense color. Remember to avoid over-applying because the color can transfer to other areas of your face.

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