Nothing says effortless and sexy quite like a lip stain. It's the perfect way to go sheer on your lips while imparting a sexy flush. Once you’ve mastered how to use these game-changers, you’ll find there’s just about no look they don’t work for. But they do come with their own set of rules.


Because most lips stains are, by definition, drier than your lipsticks, they can (and will) emphasize any flaws — think flakes, small lines and general dehydration. Plus, they’re usually thinner in texture than creamier products, which means they just aren’t very forgiving. So don’t even think about reaching for one until you’ve prepped lips properly. Trust us — the extra minute it takes to do this will be more than worth it to make the long-wearing color look perfect all day long. Here’s how to get started.


Stained Look

The biggest amateur mistake you can make before reaching for your new fave lip stain isn’t the lip stain you choose, but skimping on lip balm. That little layer of moisture keeps flaky dryness at bay and gives you an overall smoother, softer surface with which to work. Throw a tube in your bag to keep lips looking fresh and juicy throughout the day. We like the Maybelline New York Baby Lips Dr. Rescue Medicated Lip Balm.


Lock It In With Lip Liner

Yes, lip stain is designed to stick around, but it’s not going to apply as precisely as a good old-fashioned lipstick with a point and the creaminess to trace a line. Reach for a lip liner in a matching color (or clear, if you’re going for a more natural look). The goal here is use a soft stroke, just to have a guideline. Pro tip: Blend the lip liner so there’s no obvious outline.


Choosing The Right Color

Once upon a time, lip stains were all about berries — looking like you munched on them and left behind a pretty purplish stain. But all that has changed with glossy stains, matte stains, thick stains, thin stains, the range of colors has exploded. Now it’s all about finding the right shade for your skin tone. Cooler tones, those that are blue-based, work better for fairer skin. Warm tones, those closer to orange or red, look gorgeous on olive complexions. Warm, peachy pinks light up olive or darker complexions, while cool ones look tres romantique on fair skin. Back to berry, the reason it’s the original lip stain? It looks gorgeous on everyone.


Ahead, we rounded up the best matte lip stains that you need to try STAT.


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