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Lip Tint vs Lip Stain

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First things first… the term “lip tint” is often used to describe lip stain, so ‘lip tint’ and ‘lip stain’ are often used interchangeably. Technically, a stain is a tint, but for the sake of this article, we are going to be looking at tinted lip balms vs. lip stains.

Keep reading to get the lowdown on lip tint vs lip stains, or rather tinted lip balms vs. lip stains – how they are different and how they compare to each other, plus our top picks of for each.


Tinted Lip Balm

Tinted Lip Balm

A lip tint is basically a lip balm with sheer color added to it. A tinted lip balm is a perfect way to add a subtle flush of color while hydrating and moisturizing your lips.

Whereas tinted balms of the past felt more like a ChapStick with a hint of color, today’s tinted lip balms are more similar to sheer lipsticks. Not as opaque and the color is a little dialed down, which makes them wearable anytime.


Lip Stain

Lip Stain

A lip stain typically has a liquid or gel base which contains pigments that cling to, or essentially stain the lips.

The lip stain formula is long-wearing It will stay on for hours, through meals, drinks, and any other ‘lip-related activities’. No need for touch-ups and no dreaded lipstick marks on your coffee cup or wine glass (or someone’s cheek!).

Depending on the shade, lip stains can impart a more natural look or even a more dramatic impression than lipstick, while still giving lips long-lasting, stay-put color.

Lip stains in the past used to be very drying. But most lip stain products today add moisturizing ingredients to keep lips more moisturized.


How Do I Make My Lip Stain Look Good?

If you’re not a fan of the matte finish that you get with a lip stain once the base evaporates or wears off, there are a few things you can do to liven up the color:

  • Use a lip balm under your stain before you apply
  • Add a clear gloss on top
  • Layer lipstick or gloss, the same colour as your stain in a slightly lighter shade, to the middle of your upper and lower lip to reflect light and create depth

Lip Tint vs Lip Stain

Dior Lip Tint

Tinted lip balms are super versatile.

For a sheer wash of color, it can be used just on its own. Wear it as a moisturizing base for your lip gloss, or layer under a matte lipstick or lip stain to keep them looking fresh all day and ward off feathering, flaking and fading.

There’s a tinted balm out there for every occasion, which means you can never have too many.

If you’re looking for a subtle wash of moisturizing color so you look like you were born with naturally luscious lips, tinted lip balm’s got you covered.

Want a subtle lip glow with shimmer? There’s a balm for that, too. Need to transform your dry, cracked lips into a soft, succulent, rosy pout? Sorted.

A lip stain’s main benefit is its long-wearing formula that stays on no matter what. You won’t have to worry about smearing, or a sticky residue on your lips or left behind on any surface your lips touch.

Lips stains are light-weight and come in a wide variety of colors to suit everyone’s skin tone.

And because lip stains are highly pigmented and have such long wear, a little goes a long way. So your lip stain should last you at least several months (though like lip balms, they will eventually expire).

A tinted lip balm won’t give you the super-concentrated color that you get with a lip stain, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you are going for a more subtle look.

Although tinted lip balms are great for moisturizing and conditioning, the colour won’t last as long as a lip stain.

If your lips are really dry and chapped, a lip stain can make them look worse. Lip stains can leave your lips looking dry and unfinished.

Depending on the product and the condition of your lips, you may find yourself having to apply lip balm throughout the day to keep your lips moisturized. And because it’s a stain, it’s harder to remove.


Our top picks for tinted lips balms and lip stains:

Our tinted lip Balm picks:

KOSAS Kosasport LipFuel Hyaluronic Lip Balm

The weightless, incredibly hydrating gel-like formula is spiked with hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and konjac root, which form a protective barrier around the lips to help seal in moisture for long-lasting wear and comfort.


Clinique’s Moisture Surge Pop Triple Lip Balm

This ultra-moisturizing formula is packed with creamy shea butter, vitamin E and humectants that are perfect to hydrate dry lips for up to 72 hours. It provides a sheer tint and a hint of shine. It also reduces the appearance of lip lines for a more youthful appearance.

Moisture Surge Pop triple lip balm hydrate + tint + shine - 03 Acai .13oz
  • A lip-loving multitasker that hydrates,...
  • This multi-tasking balm deeply hydrates...
  • It helps instantly reduce the appearance...

Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Balm

With 14 shades in both satin and shimmer finishes, Fresh Sugar tinted lip balm locks in natural moisture and has the added bonus of built-in SPF 15.


Lancôme Juicy Shaker Lip Oil

It’s not a lip balm or a stain, but we’ve added it to our picks in this category as the pigmented oil that tints the lips with a natural wash of color is super moisturizing, but you will have to reapply throughout the day. You won’t mind though, because the unique sponge tip makes it feel luxurious.

Lancaster Juicy Shaker No. 313 Boom-Meringue Lip Oil for Women, 0.22 Ounce
  • Helps repair, protect and soothe...
  • Helps to improve lip moisturization
  • Long lasting color formulas

Our Lip Stain Picks:

Dior Addict Lip Tattoo

As you may have gathered by the name, you can count on this weightless stain to remain intact and transfer-proof for 10 hours. Dior Addict Lip Tattoo provides long-lasting colour that feels like you’re wearing nothing at all.


Elf Cosmetics Radiant Gel lip stain

This semi-matte lip stain is 99% natural and enriched with soothing botanicals. Your lips will thank you.

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Elf Cosmetics 57041 Aqua Beauty Radiant Gel Lip Tint, Dewy Berry, 0.6 Ounce
  • Refreshing weightless gel tint that...
  • Enriched with Purified Water that...
  • Long-wear lip color stains the lips for...

NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment

The NARS silky and non-drying, matte formula makes for a high-impact matte lip stain. Its lightweight texture is completely smudge-resistant. You will never run out of colour options as it comes in a wide range of shades.

Nars 0.18Oz Get Up Stand Up Powermatte Lip Pigment
  • FULL COVERAGE PIGMENT WITH ONE SWIPE...
  • Long-lasting formula provides lasting,...
  • Fluid Pigment Complex provides...
  • Ultra-pigmented color has true matte...
  • Smooth liquid texture glides on with...

SuperStay Matte Ink City Edition Liquid Lipstick

This is actually a liquid lipstick, but we’ve added it to our picks of lip stains because of its shockingly long wear. This matte formula comes in 45 different shades so there’s no way you can’t find your perfect colour(s)!

Maybelline New York SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick, City Edition, Self-Starter, 0.17 Ounce
  • Liquid Matte Lipstick: This highly...
  • Easy Application: This lipstick features...
  • Let Your Lips Do the Talking: Find the...
  • Create Any Look: Our foundations, bb...
  • Maybelline is the world’s number 1...

Take Away

When it comes to lip tint vs. lip stain, they are both great to have for different reasons. Lip stains are the go-to for long-lasting wear, and tinted lip balms are perfect for a flush of sheer color or shimmer, while providing your lips with extra hydration.

You really can’t go wrong with either.

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