Lip tints and stains have always been uncharted territory for me. For someone who’s so used to matte lipsticks, I’ll have to admit that dipping my toes into the waters of something so different can at times throw me off guard. But for the sake of this (hopefully) comprehensive guide on these extremely popular lip products here in Singapore, I put away all my mattes temporarily and gave a couple of lip tints and stains a whirl. Some of them worked out beautifully, while others fell short. I’ve tried to give each product as fair a chance as possible — they were put through a six hour test, and a meal to see how long they wear, how nicely they faded, and how easy was re-application, among other test factors.
Reviews by Chelsea Tang
1. Benefit Cosmetics Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain
I’ve heard so much about this product being the Holy Grail of many a beauty junkie’s stash, so when a dizzying array of lip tints and stains landed on my desk for review, I naturally picked out the cult-favourite one first.
What it claims to do is, as its name suggests, is tint the lips a shade of rose for the effect of kissable rose-bud lips. Here’s the deal with water-based tints (not just the Benetint): you cannot go in with an expectation of the product to give you opaque pigment. What I’ve come to realise with Benetint, is that it serves to enhance your natural lip colour by bringing out the pinky undertones in them.
The flimsy brush that came with the bottle of product is something that I didn’t particularly care for. With such a watery consistency,the nail polish applicator-like brush did little to help distribute product evenly on my lips without it ending up looking streaky. That said, the Bandung-scented liquid did stain my lips quite beautifully, giving it this rose-fuchsia shade that brought out the skin’s natural radiance. The pigment, however, tended to cling on to certain parts of my lips upon application, mostly the inner parts. It did take me some time to work the product in (as a gauge, even longer than the time it takes me to perfect a matte lip).
After about six hours — I’ve had a curry puff and Aston’s for dinner — the colour faded beautifully. What I appreciated was that the colour faded from the outside of my lips, so while my natural lip colour ended up showing, without touch-ups the end result looked very much like the Korean ombre lip design, ‘cept a tad less refined.
Touching up was as painful as applying — once again certain parts of my lip did not want to hold on to the pigment so lots of work is needed to get the tint to stain. Otherwise, the product does perform well, especially on the cheeks and sans the applicator.
$54, available at Sephora, sephora.sg and Benefit Stores and counters.
2. The Body Shop Lip & Cheek Stain in Pink Hibiscus 001
After the virgin lip tint experience with Benetint, I more or less had an inkling that The Body Shop’s Lip & Cheek Stain was going to be something similar to the former. I was not wrong. Simply key in ‘Benetint dupe’ on Google and The Body Shop’s one will be the first to pop out.
Consistency-wise the product comes quite close to the Benetint, with the same watery formula. I would say that The Body Shop’s one may be a tad thicker, but still extremely liquid-y all the same. For the sake of comparison, I picked out Pink Hibiscus — and the colour, while in the same family, turned out to be a little darker that the Benetint. Application was slightly easier with the doe-foot applicator, though the same problem persisted: pigment still stayed congregated to certain areas of my lips, though this time it went on the outline of my lips and the inner areas. It took the colour some time to set on my lips, so pro tip here: after applying the colour, give it a couple of minutes for it to dry. Further messing around with it with the applicator is likely to result in a streaky lip.
The product did what it was supposed to do — it did stain my lips and there was still a faint flush of colour on it after wolfing down a whole pack of economical bee hoon for lunch. The funny thing with this stain was that the outline and inner parts of my lips remain dark, while the middle parts became an expected lighter shade. Some may find that weird, but the look actually grew on me — it reminded me somewhat of the Benefit They Real! Double The Lip lipsticks, and yes, my lips did look a little plumper with the darkened outline.
$24.90, available at all The Body Shop stores.
3. M.A.C Cosmetics Versicolour Stain in Tattoo My Heart
Swiping a quick coat on the back of my hand got me all excited to try the Versicolour Stain, because of one, how pigmented the colour is, and two, how cheery the coral colour looked. And I wasn’t at all disappointed at how the colour translated on to my lips too. The same pinky tangerine shade applied easily; it took me a finger swipe to get my lips coated, and the colour settled down into a rosier tint that made my lips look. so. juicy. I stepped out of the house with a barely-there makeup look, and that lip easily made me look put together with its healthy colour and sheen. The formula is pretty hydrating too. Essentially, I didn’t have any issues with it till I ate something during the six hour test time.
All I had was a soy bean ice cream cone, and the colour faded off so unflatteringly it was borderline awkward. There were patches of pigment, and patches of areas revealing my original lip colour. And with a formula that slippery you’d expect that the unevenness could be fixed with a simple pressing of the lips together, but no. Once the stain sets, it’s hard to get it to move. That was quite a bummer, because everything was going so well! I don’t know which to feel more disappointed by — an ice cream cone stripping pigment off my lips, or the fact that the colour didn’t fade off as I expect it to. Probably both.
Touch-ups weren’t an issue, but if you’re one to not bring along your tube of lipstick with you, don’t expect to still continue waltzing around outside expecting to look cute with the patchy faded colour on your lips.
$43, available at all M.A.C Cosmetics stores and counters.
4. Revlon Balm Stain in Loveable Adorable
I was immediately drawn to the peachy-coral shade of the five Revlon Balm Stains that I was given. But before going on the the actual review of the product, I’d just like to say that the plastic wrapper that sealed the tube was a nightmare to remove. I spent a good 15 minutes just trying to claw open the wrapper and broke two thumbnails.
But looking past the pesky wrapper, the balm itself is actually pretty darn impressive. The texture of the product is a waxy, balmy one that when complemented with the crayon-like tip, glides on the lips incredibly smoothly. It dries down slightly tacky, with a sheen, but all that disappears throughout the day, leaving you with a soft tint of colour on your lips. These product does go on very sheer, so if you’re the kind who prefers the one-swipe-full-coverage kinds, this might not be for you. I have to say though, I am a fan of the formula. It goes on my lips a true peach colour for a very natural MLBB hue, and does not cling onto dry patches. The minty scent is also refreshing on the olfactory senses.
What I am most awed by, is how beautifully the colour faded. Lunch was the usual mixed vegetable rice and a Magnum ice cream stick. I was half expecting the colour to be gone entirely (from the previous experience with M.A.C), or have the usual ring of faded colour along the inner areas of my lip, but no — some sort of peachy stain still remained on my entire lip and I could honestly go along with the rest of my day without even touching up. (But I’m someone with OCD, so I did anyway.)
(though Revlon, do something about that plastic wrapper please!)
$20.90, available at Watsons and Guardian stores.
5. IT Cosmetics Vitality Lip Flush in Je Ne Sais Quoi
IT Cosmetics has always been known for their crazy full-coverage face products — such as the Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer and the Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream — both I personally adore. Their lip products, on the other hand, wasn’t part of the chatter much, so I was pretty pumped when this Vitality Lip Flush 4-in-1 Reviver Lipstick Stain (what a mouthful… ha ha) was handed to me to try out.
Now, the moment I opened the cap and realised that the product was actually a white balm, I kinda died a little inside, because that most likely meant that it belonged to the ‘colour-changing-lipstick-according-to-your-pH’ group, which I am not a big fan of. I put the balm on; it glided on easy, and tinted my lips a pale pink that was perhaps just half a shade lighter than my actual lip colour. At this point in time, I wasn’t impressed. I have pale lips and I appreciate lip products that add actual colour, and this one was just not working out for me.
Then I realised that the lipstick has a shade name! It read Je Ne Sais Quoi, and a quick search on itcosmetics.com showed that this particular hue was the lightest one the six colours available. (The picture on the screen does not match the actual product, just saying.) So that cleared up the air; the product has a fixed colour. That unfortunately is not anything that I will reach for again.
All that said, IT Cosmetics wasn’t lying about the formula — it was very hydrating, and my lips didn’t feel the least bit dry, even after the six hour test time. I do want to say that it has left a stain on my lips after a meal, but it was honestly so hard to tell. The colour Je Ne Sais Quoi could very well act just like any ol’ lip balm, but what’s the point in spending that pretty penny then?
— for this particular colour.
$40, available at Sephora and on sephora.sg
6. Etude House Lip Rich Vivid Tint in OR202
We’re now treading into the waters of where lip tints originated… Korea. Etude House shouldn’t be a brand that’s unfamiliar, and I held high expectations for their lip tints. Especially when the actual name of the product comes with the word ‘vivid’, I was already anticipating a rich, opaque payoff that provided more coverage than just a flush of colour.
The colour that I picked, OR202, was supposed to be a sweet tangerine shade with a dash of pink in it, according to official reference images online. It applied a tad more orange than I’d like, but that wasn’t much of an issue. The colour was indeed vivid, and the formula was much thicker than the previous few that I’ve tried. But the great thing about it was that it felt so lightweight on the lips I could totally forget that I had anything on. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the glossy finish, and a quick blot of my lips on tissue toned the look down. Best part? Colour stayed on beautifully.
During the time of wear I was just going about my day at home, had lunch and even took an afternoon nap (I know…) and woke up to a pleasant surprise of the colour still being on my lips! Granted that it has faded a little, but nothing too severe or outrageous that a quick touch-up couldn’t fix. Definitely impressed.
$20.90, available at all Etude House stores.
7. Etude House Dear Darling Tint in RD304
After a good run with the Lip Rich Vivid Tint by the same brand I was excited to put to the test this other lip tint from Etude House. Right off the bat I picked out the colour that looked most intriguing; this one looks like magenta art glitter in a bottle, and after all that usual pinky tone shades I was more than prepared to have shimmer smeared over my lips.
Sorely disappointed. The glitter flecks were so incredibly subtle that they make for the perfect blink-and-you’ll-miss-it party trick. I had to bring up a magnifying mirror and and closely examine the lip product to actually see the glitter sparkle in action. And without the glitter, the colour was really just an ordinary berry-fuchsia that honestly wasn’t all that exciting (sorry guys!), given how beautiful it looked in the tube. The formula was more of a gel; I’d say on par with the M.A.C Versicolour Stain. It applied slightly streaky, and once again you’ll have to give the pigment time to set before the colour darkens.
After a chicken rice lunch the colour faded, very slightly, which was great — but the product started bunching up and clinging on to the inner areas of my lip. A quick reapplication did help alleviate and ‘soften’ the dry areas, but that caused an uneven layer of product on the lip, and the same issue happened after a couple of hours. Not flattering.
One thing that I did enjoy was the scent of the product; it smelt very much like a grape-flavoured jelly, which is always a crowd-pleaser. But other than that, I don’t think I’ll be picking this one up again anytime soon.
$8.90, available at Etude House stores.
8. Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain in Burnt Sienna
I’ll admit I did find it weird when I found this product thrown in with the mix, because from the many YouTube videos I’ve watched the lip ‘stain’ is actually very much like your usual matte lipstick. I’ve never actually used any of Sephora’s own products due to a silly bias that they aren’t going to perform as well as the other stellar brands there, but spoiler alert here: I love this cream lip stain to bits.
It was time for a break from all the vibrant pinks and oranges, so I went ahead with one of their best-selling colour, Burnt Sienna. It is a pretty unique shade; with a maroon base and hints of purple in it, going along the lines of a aubergine-burgundy colour. The colour glided on smoothly, without any streakiness at all, and dried down almost instantly to a lightweight matte finish that was transfer-proof. For someone who wears matte lipsticks daily, I pride myself on knowing a good matte from a bad one — and this Sephora one earned my nod of approval. It didn’t settle into the fine lines of my lips, and was not drying at all.
The inner parts of the lip did fade after a meal of chicken rice, but that was expected for majority of lipsticks anyway. Touching up was fuss-free too — the formula blends into the previous layer and doesn’t cling onto dry patches, or form a chunky, gloopy mess. I’m still wondering how did the name come about because the colour doesn’t exactly sheer out to a stain. It works just like any other matte lipstick. And if it’s any takeaway that you’ll get from this review, is that do not underestimate the in-house Sephora products. I’m gonna snag myself a couple more colours in the (very) near future.
$24, available at Sephora and on sephora.sg
9. Sephora Collection Rouge Infusion Lip Stain in Cherry Nectar
Cherry Nectar is a gorgeous blend of magenta and dark cherry red, which formed a luscious in-between berry-red shade. The Rouge Infusion Lip Stain is not something that I’d normally pick up to even test swatch on my hand at Sephora, so it came as a pleasant surprise that the formula fared pretty well in terms of the glide, pigment, and level of moisture. The product was quite viscous, but it applied easily on my lips. I was also impressed that for such a vampy colour there were actually no signs of patchiness and/or streakiness. The stain dried down to a satin-gloss finish with a slight sheen.
The pigment did get stripped off quite a bit after lunch. Granted that since I had a relatively oiler dish of braised pork, I’d say the colour managed to hold up quite well, especially on the outer areas of my lip. I reckon that if you were to have something lighter — such as pastry and drinks — the colour will probably fade off to a magenta pink, since I tried removing it with a makeup wipe and that tint of pigment stayed. A makeup remover oil was instead required to totally remove all traces of colour.
Re-application was fuss-free, I had my pout fixed in less than a minute and it looked good as new. A word of caution when it comes to the scent of the stain: this product smells so much like baby wipes (yes, not kidding), but that disappears once the pigment sets.
$13, available at Sephora and on sephora.sg
10. Yves Saint Laurent Beaute Vernis À Lèvres Vinyl Cream in 401 Rouge Vinyl
So… not going to hold back on the praise here — this lip stain from YSL could possibly be the very product that rivals my favourite matte lipsticks. It is by no means matte at all, but rather, the exact opposite — high-shine, high-drama, high-pigment formula that made my lips look so plump and full. Most lip tints applied streaky, and I was expecting the same for this one, but nope. The curved applicator covered my lips quick, leaving no visible streaks, and the product set almost immediately. What I did enjoy was the subtle cherry scent that came with the cream stain, and the shine that it left on my lips. The. Shine.
I had a fairly light dinner of salad with Japanese dressing, and was pleased to find that out that colour, while transferable, was not being stripped off my lips. The glossy part of the product was gone, just like most stains, but the colour did stay stained on my lips a muted red. And an even stain too — unlike the previous one from M.A.C that I tried. You could do away with touching up, but I kinda got drunk on that whole lacquered lip thing that I went back and coated my pout again. I do feel bad for betraying my entire arsenal of mattes, but… the hype is real, guys. A good glossy pigment can turn any hardcore matte lover into a convert.
What I will say though, is that the formula isn’t a lightweight one. That means you’ll be conscious that there’s a layer of gloss on your lips, but it’s nothing too overbearing.
The colour 401 Rouge Vinyl is a muted cherry red, so that might have toned down the spotlight a little. YSL does have brighter shades of red and orange; do I particularly need these? No, but do I want them all? Hell yes.
$51, available at Yves Saint Laurent Beaute stores and counters.