To Stain or not to Stain, that is the question...
Well, professionals in the biz have long been buzzing about the versatility of stains... so, I decided to do some personal research. When and why should we wear a stain? How do we properly apply it? And, of course, the million dollar question, do stains actually last all day long as promised???
Here's what I've learned:
- Stains are great when you want a hint of color, you don't want to constantly reapply, or it's hot and muggy outside and you're worried that you're make-up will sweat off.
- Stains are easy and convenient as one stain can be used on lips, cheeks AND eyes.
- Stains can be applied in various ways but most common (and quick) is with your clean fingertips.
- You control the color spectrum with stains. Thus, if you want more color, you can layer it on a bit heavier. Less, you just add a pinch.
- Stains are very au natural - the no-make-up, make-up look. They're liquid and/ or cream so they don't cake!
- Tarte's Makeup Artist, Jasen Kaplan, gives these instructions on how to apply their infamous Tarte stains: "It's so simple to use Tarte's cheek stains—just smile, so you can see the apples of your cheeks. Then using your fingers, a sponge or directly from the bottle blend cheek stain in an upward and circular motion. The formula is buildable, so you can create a soft look or layer more for a dramatic look. It's totally up to you as to how you apply our cheek stain. There are many ways to wear it—you can wear it alone, over or under foundation, with or without powder blush. It creates a glow from within, unlike a powder blush that sits on the surface and looks like make-up."
- Lancôme's National Makeup Artist Robert Cook says, “Cream blush tends to have a richer texture and more pigment. The rich pigment glides on easily and looks fresh and modern while staying true to color on natural skin. Lancôme’s Color Design Cream Blush can also be applied to the lips because it’s a high pigment formula. For best results, use a foundation brush when applying this formula to the lips.”
- Laura Mercier's Global Makeup Artist Barbie Laurino says that "lip stains are a great product to get that ' just-kissed' look. Apply it with a finger by pressing the stain onto the lips. This technique creates a less defined look than the typical lipstick and lipliner. Laura Mercier's Lip Stain gives a polished but effortless look with colour that lasts hours longer without drying out those lips!"
- Petra Strand, the Founder/Creative Director of Pixi Beauty says that "Stains are an amazing way to achieve a long lasting, sheer colour... Apply with a nylon brush and "paint" on to the area you are using, the best places to wear them are: the apples of the cheeks and the lips. and then rub gently with the finger tips to get a smooth, even application of colour. Use on top of moisturizer or your "base" and under powder for the most professional "look." If you want to re-apply during the course of the day but you have applied powder earlier- just buff the powder down slightly and then re apply the powder sheerly over the top. For someone that wants literally the sheerest application of colour, you can put the colour onto the fingertips 1st and then blend into the skin & lips, this gives the most exquisite soft, transparent effect. For lips, the stain will give you hours of longlasting "just bitten colour" but it looks fabulous when you add a slick of gloss or balm, just for that sexy sheen."
- Celebrity Makeup Artist Sole Alberti gives us her professional tips and favorite stains too: "For the past 10 years, I have tried every stain out there. My all time favorite is "Pinch Your Cheeks" in raspberry by Origins. They make two other colors, but this color I found works on everybody and stays on the longest. I have used this liquid gel on my cheeks and lips every day for the past 10 years. I apply it with my pointer finger and work it into my skin/lips in a circular motion as fast as possible so that it does not appear blotchy. The color really sinks into the skin/lips which is why it has great staying power. Another one that comes close is "Benetint" by Benefit in liquid form. The packaging on this is great because it looks like a nail polish and comes with a brush for an easy application. Tarte also makes "Flush" which works great if you need a quick little glow. However, I find that gels don't have as much staying power as liquids. If you really want a deep stain, I found a stain at Image Exclusives in Los Angeles ( a specialty store for makeup artists and hairdressers) by BioTouch in Red that really does the trick. It will stay on all day, through the night and even the next morning. In actuality, it is used to create a blood effect for vampires in films. Use a very small amount on a Q-TIP to apply it so that your fingers are not permanently stained for days. For everyday use, Origins definitely takes the cake for stains."
- Smashbox's (of O-Glow fame) Makeup Genius, Lori Taylor says that "Lip stains are great for women that don't want to re-apply lip color. It's perfect for brides for long wearing kissable proof lips. Stains are also perfect for ladies that want just a very non-makeup or natural look that is very fresh. Most stains a best applied with fingers a they tend to dry down quicker so finger application gives more control. PRO TIP: to create your own lip stain you can apply blush or eye shadow to the lip with finger tips and follow with clear gloss."
- Sarah Wolfe, co-key make-up artist on ABC Family's hit show, Greek, explains that stains are great for red carpet and special events. "I love using Benetint or Revlon roll on lip stain to give the lips a rosy/ red natural look and then I apply a sheer gloss over the lips to give them shine. Even if the gloss starts to disappear you will still have a really pretty natural looking stained lip that tends to stay on longer. To apply to the lip I start by dabbing on the center of the bottom lip and then blot lips together, adding a little more to rosebuds of lips with finger. When using a cheek stain I use all the shades from Tarte. The shade "flush" is my favorite giving you a look like you just got done working out and have that heathly rosy glow. You can apply directly to the cheek, a dab to the apples of the cheeks and then blend upwards with "clean fingertips" or a foundation brush."
- MAC's Senior Makeup Artist Keri Blair explains that "A stain can be a great way to add depth of color to your lips without the commitment or maintenance of lipstick. Usually a stain gives the appearance of a just bitten lip; perhaps you’ve been making out with your other half. Or like a berry stain as if you have been drinking red wine or eating a grape Popsicle. There are two ways to achieve this, in September MAC will be offering See Thru Lip Colour called Not So Shy. Just start your application in the center of your lips and press your lips together. The product is formulated to create the perfect sheer yet intense wash of color for your kisser. Or you can create your own stain by applying a deep matte or creamy lipstick to your lips (try MAC Lipstick in Media or Dark Side) and blotting off the excess or you can use your finger to press a sheer amount of the color onto your lips. It’s best not to obsess about a perfect edge. The theme of stain is just that – concentrated in the center pout of the lips with the edges tapered out. Pair this with minimal makeup on the rest of the face."
Here are a few of our favorite stains: