beautiful girl with black hair and red lips posing in the blue room
Image: Shutterstock/sergey causelove

Lipstick, Lip Gloss Or Lip Stain: What Lip Product To Use When

When it comes to lip color, most of us probably just reach for our trusted brand and color of lipstick, swearing that if they ever discontinue it we’ll turn our back on society and live in the mountains where no one can see us. I know I do.

But there is a wider world out there, one where it’s ok to try different types of lip colors, if you don’t already. Between lipstick, lip gloss and lip stain, there are certainly options, each of which work in certain situations. Below is a guide on what lip product to use when.


This is the most popular option for lip color, of course. You can get any shade under the sun, and lipsticks even come with a wide variety of finishes, like matte or satin. Lipstick is what you reach for when you truly want to customize your look and/or you want bold color at that party.

However, if you want a longer-lasting color, lipstick isn’t your way to go. You can certainly make it last longer with a coat of translucent powder over it and multiple coats, but the bear with lipstick is that it will always fade with each napkin swipe and drink you take. No matter what the cosmetic commercials say.

Lip Stain

Lip stain is the answer to the constant lipstick fade. It’s made for all-day color with no reapplication. If you haven’t used it, lip stain comes in a liquid form and is literally painted onto the lips. Once the liquid dries, the stain can stick for 8-12 hours. You’ll even need a makeup remover to get it all off. It’s perfect for long, hectic days and endless, wild nights.

The drawback to lip stain is that it’s drying. If you’re prone to dry lips, you’ll need to regularly apply a good balm. Lip stain is also not a good option if you just want a bold, bright color for an outing, as you’ll then be stuck with that color. Stains also tend to be on the more subtle side in terms of color. You may need a few applications to get something even close to the thick, vivacious color of a heavy lipstick.

Lip Gloss

Lip gloss may evoke memories of the flavored lip glosses middle school classmates were so addicted to. The good thing about lip gloss, though, is it’s one of the most versatile makeup products on the market. You can find one for just about any need and shade. There’s SPF protection, regular colors, natural looks and the ones with glitter. Lip gloss is a great option if you’re prone to dry lips, since it’s made to be moisturizing and give a plump, moist look to lips.

However, avoid it if you want color that will last and last. It will come off faster than lipstick. Lip gloss also doesn’t dry, so if you don’t like the feeling of constantly moist lips, it’s not for you.

To summarize what lip product to use when, lipstick for striking colors and specific finishes in shorter bursts, lip stain for all-day wear and lip gloss for dry lips.