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Lip stain and lipstick both add color to the lips, but they do so in different ways. A lip stain will actually temporarily stain the lips, as the name implies; the color can sometimes last all day, since it has actually dyed the skin. Lipstick sits on top of the lips and may wear off throughout the day and require reapplication. Typically, lipstick is manufactured in a solid form, whereas lip stain is more of a gloss or gel. Some people prefer one over the other, because there are some important differences between lip stain and lipstick.
The first difference between lip stain and lipstick is the way they are made. Lipstick is often made with a base of wax, color, and an emollient that can help to moisturize the lips and prevent them from drying out. Lip stain, on the other hand, is made with gel and typically includes a bit of alcohol, which can be quite drying to the lips. As a result, many people need to apply a moisturizing balm on top of their lip stain throughout the day to prevent the lips from cracking and peeling.
Another difference between lip stain and lipstick is color availability. As a general rule, lipstick is available in a wider variety of shades and colors, while lip stain is more limited, since it is much more difficult to actually stain the lips a different color. Lipstick may also have a shiny finish, but lip stain will have a natural matte finish, as the lips naturally do when cosmetics are not applied. In most cases, lip stain is applied with a wand, and requires careful application to ensure that it does not accidentally stain the skin around the lips; if so, it will be necessary to use makeup remover to get it off.
There are some other pros and cons to lip stain and lipstick. First, lip stain lasts much longer, sometimes with just one application all day, whereas lipstick will need to be reapplied. In addition, lip stain will not bleed or feather into the skin around the mouth the way lipstick can. On the other hand, since it is so drying, some people find they need to reapply balm all day anyway. Many people have a collection that contains a variety of different types of lip stain and lipstick to be worn for different occasions, especially if they find it to be too drying to wear lip stain every day.