Monday, August 15, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains

I’m packing to leave town for nearly six weeks, and I am feeling the stress of whittling down my makeup and skin care to a manageable, portable level. I tried to write a post about it, but it was incredibly boring and harshing my mellow.

So, let’s talk about lip stains instead! These marker-type lip products are everywhere lately, and they can be great for a lot of reasons. If you’re not into reapplying lipstick (or not a big fan of lipstick in general), stains can give you a nice boost of colour without feeling like you’re wearing anything. And they last quite a while too, so they’re great for an afternoon or evening when you don’t feel like checking to see how your lippie’s holding up. My absolute fave use is to apply one as a base colour—whatever lipstick/liner/gloss you put over top will have that much more intensity and staying power.

I’ve tried lots of lip stains over the past few months, many of them from the drugstore brands. I’ve tried a few higher-end ones in the past, and was unimpressed to the point that I stopped wasting my money. At least if I’m going to be disappointed, I want to be disappointed to the tune of six to ten bucks, not eighteen to thirty, y’know?

A word of warning about lip stains: putting these on cracked, dry, and flaking lips is like trying to repaint a wall that’s peeling. You need to start with a relatively smooth surface, or risk looking like a dehydrated street urchin. Exfoliate your lips with a product for that purpose, or just use a washcloth or old soft toothbrush, then apply a non-greasy lip balm and let it sink in for a few minutes.

The original (and tastiest!) lipstain...

Cover Girl Outlast Lipstain
Colours purchased: Everbloom Kiss and Wildberry Wink

I think these were the first drugstore lipstains I purchased in my frenzy, and they’re…okay. I don’t find the wear-time on these to be that great, but in their favour, they haven’t dried out, they apply relatively smoothly, and the colour selection is nice. I’m placing these in the middle of the pack (which is where I place most Cover Girl products … except for those new NatureLuxe gloss balms—those things are awesome.)

Revlon Just Bitten Lipstain + Balm
Colour purchased: Passion

This seemed like a good idea: lipstains can be on the dry side, so why not include a nice balm to apply over top? So we’ve got the stain-pen-thing on one end and the balm on the other. Some reviewers complained that the balm doesn’t twist up—it’s fully exposed under its plastic cap and can break off easily. At the time, I thought, god, learn how to operate a lip balm, why dontcha? And then mine broke off, and I wasn’t so smug anymore. Seriously, this is a great idea rendered COMPLETELY USELESS by what comedian Ben Elton called “The Ministry of Crap Design.” I can’t even remember what the stain was like. I think it was a little pale and dry for my liking, but I can’t confirm, since I chucked it away in anger.

Maybelline Colorsensational Lipstain
Colour purchased: In The Buff

This lipstain has the lowest colour payoff of all the ones I own, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I did buy the lightest shade on offer, since I was looking for a nice base for nude lip looks. I use it pretty often, but it’s definitely dried out after a couple of months. These products aren’t like lipsticks in the sense that you can observe how much of the product remains. They just run out of juice, like an actual marker. (Another reason not to spend too much—you’re getting nowhere near the amount of product that you would with a traditional lipstick or gloss.)
On a fun note, this lip marker smells kinda like fruit punch. On a less-fun note, it has a tendency to shed some fibres from the marker tip when applying. I’d chalk it up to getting old (the marker, not me), but I remember it doing this even when it was new.

Lise Watier Hydra Shine Lip Stain
Colour purchased: Cerise

Hydra Shines go for about 20 bucks each, making them the highest-priced of my current lip-marker arsenal. I’m seldom disappointed with Lise Watier products—I think it’s one of the most overlooked and underrated brands out there. But I understand why—they kind of disappear at the drugstore, lost between the really high-end stuff and the cheap and cheerful. Anyway, when I saw Cerise, I had to have it—it was one of the brightest lipstains I’d seen.
Overall, I like it a lot. The colour is bold and applies evenly. It feels quite wet going on, but it doesn’t migrate much into any fines lines around my lips—and given the brightness of the shade, that’s impressive. The wear time is good. There’s no sign of it drying out so far, and it feels almost nice enough to wear alone. (The name “Hydra Shine” is a bit misleading, since it imparts neither hydration nor shine, but it is probably the least drying of all of them). If you’re looking for a solid buy at this price point, Lise is your gal.

NYC NewYorkColor Smooch Proof 16HR Lip Stain
Colour Purchased: Rock On Ruby

You know I always save my favourite for last, don’t you? I’d read some favourable reviews of these stains, and when I found them (they’re available at some London Drugs stores, Zellers, and Rexall), I grabbed one. I think I spent just over five dollars, making NYC the cheapest of the bunch. But you wouldn’t know that to use it. This is a bright and delectable “summer red” with good staying power and smooth application. The best part for me though is how evenly the product wears off. I don’t get anywhere near the 16-hour mark with this, but after several hours, I simply end up with a lighter version of what I originally applied. No patchiness, no “ring around the lips.” I will most definitely be picking up another one of these, and reviewing more products from this line in the weeks ahead. (Spoiler alert—I’ll be sharing some AMAZING blushes and eyeshadows from this line that cost less than a decent cappuccino.)

If there’s a great (or terrible!) lip stain out there that I’ve missed, tell me about it! Happy smooching…


  1. This would be a good for a character -- to be in conflict over what stain to use, or whether to stain or not. I wonder if there are any felt pens that are good for this as an uber cheap last resort? That would be punk. [nods to self]

  2. Ha--a felt pen! I remember painting my nails with Liquid Paper, and doodling on my jeans and shoes, but never using a marker on my face. I can make a strong case, however, for the awesomeness of the reddish-brown Smarties as a lip stain.

  3. I agree with the Smarties! That was first choice and the chocolate was bonus.