Splurge, Save, Steal: Lip-stain

“Splurge, Save, Steal” is a new feature from the WV Style Team. One of our writers will compare similar products at different price points and let the readers know their opinion: whether you should “splurge” on the high-end luxury, “save” with the moderate-priced brand or “steal” with the low-cost drugstore line. Let us know in the comments what types of products you would like to see reviewed.


For this inaugural edition of “Splurge, Save, Steal,” I have chosen one of my utmost obsessions: lip stain.  I am forever on the look out for that perfect stain that will wear all day, not come off when you eat and doesn’t dry your lips. Unfortunately, the perfect lip-stain probably doesn’t exist, but this was a great excuse to try a wide range of what is available on the market.

*Note: if you are going to try an experiment like this at home, be sure to check your store’s return policy. By the time I had gathered up a fair number of lip-stains I had about $100 invested in the venture. You don’t want to be stuck with $100 of products you do no’t love.

I started the hunt at Sephora and picked up two of the higher end brands they offered: Yves Saint Laurent and Stilla. I moved from there over to bareMinerals and selected one of their mid-priced offerings. From the mall I headed to the local drug store and picked up two of their most affordable but time-tested brands: CoverGirl and Revlon.

The Parameters:

  • it had to be a stain, no long-wearing lipstick or glosses. I wanted to compare apples to apples.
  • it had to be a wearable neutral pinkish-brown. I wanted all the colors to be as similar as possible and wearable by almost anyone. I didn’t want to fall in love with something based on the color instead of the quality of the product.



From Left to Right: Cover Girl, Revlon, Stilla, bareMinerals, YSL

The Contenders, from highest cost to lowest cost:

As you can see there is a huge price range here and on the Stila and the bareMinerals options I took the sales clerk’s word for it that they were stains.

The Break Down:

Yves Saint Laurent:


YLS: Vernis a levres on my lips.


Let me start by saying for $34 I expected a miracle. If I had paid say $10 for this stain, I would probably have been pretty pleased with it, but for the cost I didn’t think this was worth the splurge.

It came packaged beautifully. The container is very luxe, all black and gold with a sleek modern design. The product goes on nicely; it is thin and soaks in immediately but leaves a little bit of sticky “gloss” residue sitting on the surface of the lips. This is OK as far as texture goes but it does lead to transfer. If you drink out of a glass or kiss someone on the cheek you are going to leave a lip print smear. To me this negates the whole point of a stain. A stain should soak into the lip and leave no transfer.

Another huge problem with this one, although the color was neutral and flattering, is it didn’t even last through breakfast. That is unacceptable for a “long-wearing” stain. I didn’t eat anything particularly greasy that would break down the color. I had a cup of coffee and a banana, but when I was finished there was only the barest hint of pink left on my lips; by lunch time it was completely gone.

I will say I didn’t notice any uneven wear of color. It seemed to fade pretty uniformly across the entire lip. So c‘est la vie at least it wasn’t blotchy.

The texture is nice, the color pleasant and the smell is a neutral light floral that fades quickly. It doesn’t clump or glob, but it also doesn’t last much longer than a traditional gloss. You can save $34 and buy your favorite lip gloss for the same effect.


Copy of stilla

Belissima by Stilla on my lips.

Copy of stillaproductAs you can see from the above picture, this color is hideous. I mean it is probably the most unflattering pink I have ever put on my lips. I tried hard not to let the color influence my opinion of the product’s quality, but it was very difficult. It went on fairly neutral but totally opaque, as it dried it got brighter and brighter till I looked like I had been chugging Pepto-Bismol straight from the bottle after a nasty 24hr flu.

Trying to look past the odd stares I got everywhere I went the color, I diligently wore it as long as it lasted, which, thankfully, was not all day. It did wear longer than the YSL but not through lunch at Taco Bell. And here is a huge problem: it came off unevenly, so my lips had the appearance of cracking, peeling paint until it was completely gone.

On the plus side, it had a mouthwatering cotton candy smell, a velvety-smooth texture, and it did not seem to dry out my lips. It dries completely smooth and doesn’t leave any noticeable transfer so maybe in a more flattering color, I might be willing to splurge on this one, but the jury is still out. It would really depend on if another color wore off more evenly.



bareMinerals “Pretty Amazing” on my lips.


This is not a stain. It goes on like a regular lip gloss, wipes off like a regular lip gloss and has no discernible lasting color. The sales clerk at the bareEscentuals store assure me this was their long wearing stain. I repeat: it is not a stain.

That said, I hesitated to even include it in this comparison except for one fact: long after the color was gone (and that was pretty quickly) my lips still had a noticeable gloss coat. They stayed moist and somewhat sticky for the whole day. It is the weirdest thing. I have never had a gloss out-stay the color before. So, since I bought it as part of this comparison, I decided to leave it in, based on the long wear of the gloss component.

That coupled with the fact that the color is probably the most perfect neutral ever, lovely and flattering, I will probably keep this one in my arsenal as a go-to gloss, but I won’t be turning to it when I am in need of a stain.


Copy of covergirl

CoverGirl’s Outlast Lipstain on my lips.

Copy of covergirlproduct

I admit it, I am partial to this product. I have it in several different shades, and it is my go-to lip stain. I did not have this neutral shade of “Flirty Nude.” But as far as wear-ability goes it is just as awesome as all the other shades I own.

It has a pleasant neutral smell and it goes on super thin and easily. The stain is intense and it lasts all day. It fades some as you eat and drink (if you eat something super oily it will come off like most stains), but I have repeatedly woken up of a morning to find color still on my lips.

Once it dries, there is no bleeding or transfer, so you can kiss people, drink things, sleep on a white pillowcase, whatever. It stays on your lips. However, it does have two drawbacks: if you don’t apply it carefully and, say, get outside your lip line, good luck removing it. You will need an oil based make-up remover or some Crisco.

You have to have something oily to break the bond and degrade the color to get it off. Even then, you may find a subtle stain of color where you made your mistake. The other draw back is that Outlast is drying. If your lips aren’t in good condition to begin with, you may end up with chapped lips.

I feel  at roughly $9 (cheaper some places on-line) it is worth the money. I love the fact that you can put it on in the morning and be confident that you still have lip color, without touch-ups or reapplying, well into the evening.



Revlon Just Bitten on my lips.


Revlon Just Bitten on my lips with attached balm.


 This Revlon stain with bonus, attached balm is definitely the surprise winner of the lip-stain competition. With a price point of only around $9 it applies and wears almost exactly the same as the CoverGirl stain with one added and awesome bonus. It comes with a lip balm on the opposite end of the stain that doesn’t degrade the color of the application.

This product wore all day. By itself it is a little drying, but coated in the balm it is almost perfect. The only problem being that the balm will allow for minimal transfer. You won’t leave a color lip print on anything but you will see gloss on the edge of glasses or if you kiss someone on the cheek they will feel the glossy residue.

My only complaint with this one is, like its CoverGirl equivalent, the light neutral shade is darker than what the packaging indicated.

The Verdict:

Lip-stain is definitely a makeup category in which to go for the STEAL. The drug store brands do it better, the high end offerings left this makeup junkie disappointed. Save you pennies for something you really want and get your lip-stain on the low end.

Do you have a favorite lip-stain or tricks to make your lip color last longer? Please share them in the comments below!

My name is Autumn and in my current incarnation I am a Features writer for the Charleston Gazette. I love fashion & step to the beat of my own inner design-team. My parents once told me, "You can be anything you want to be when you grow up." I misunderstood I thought they said, "You can be EVERY thing you want to be." and I've spent my life trying it all. I like to design and sew some of my own clothes and I enjoy playing with new makeup and I spend way too much time perusing fashion and DIY blogs. I also homestead so I am always reusing and repurposing things for fashion's sake.

Share This Post

Leave a reply