lip makeup What's the Difference Between a Lip Stain, Lip Gloss, and Lipstick?

By
  • Témi Adebowale

Here’s what you need to know about what makes these three lip products so different.

December 30, 2022
Difference Between Lip Stain Lip Gloss Lipstick

 

One of the best things about creating your makeup routine is the variety of products out there — from mascara to concealer, there are a number of finishes and categories to choose from, each one offering a different benefit that’ll suit your preference. 


Lip products are no different, and lip glosses, lip stains, and lipsticks are three of the most popular out there. However, you may be wondering what the difference is between the three, or if it even matters which one you pick. Here, what you need to know about what makes a lip stain, lip gloss, and lipstick different from one another, so you can pick the right one for your makeup look.

What Does a Lip Stain Do?

While a lip stain might look similar to a gloss or lipstick, the difference lies in the way that lip stains work. They’re formulated so that the color is absorbed by your lips (instead of just sitting on top of them) so that the color lasts longer and needs less touching up.


Lip stains generally come in the form of liquids or gels, and they’re generally matte, although some varieties are also glossy. The L’Oréal Paris Rouge Signature Matte Lip Stain comes in more than 30 shades and is designed with a precision wand for a perfect application. 


 Lip stains offer the most color payoff since the formula “stains” your lips and is absorbed by the skin, while the color you get from lipstick and lip gloss forms a layer that sits on top of your lips.


What is the Purpose of Lip Gloss?

A lip gloss is a liquid product that is used to moisturize the lips and make them shiny. With lip glosses, the defining feature here is the wet texture and high shine, and it can come in both clear and colored varieties.


For more of a traditional gloss, try the L’Oréal Paris Glow Paradise Lip Balm-in-Gloss Pomegranate Extract, which combines the comfort and hydration of a lip balm and the shininess of a gloss thanks to pomegranate extract and hyaluronic acid.


The comfort and shine of a lip gloss is its main benefit over lipstick or a lip stain.


What is Lipstick Used For?

Lipstick is used to apply color and texture to the lips, and it’s often made of a combination of wax and oil for both staying power and comfort. Lipsticks are incredibly versatile, and there’s a formula and finish for every taste: matte, shiny, shimmery, frosted, metallic — you name it. 


Liquid lipsticks are a happy medium between lip gloss and lipstick because they offer the color of a lipstick with the comfort of a gloss. Keep in mind, though, that they’re not as long-lasting as a traditional lipstick. 


Reach for the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Intense Volume Matte Lipstick for a weightless lipstick that won’t bleed or feather. The lipstick has a long-wearing powdery finish but the hyaluronic acid in the formula prevents it from drying out your lips.


The versatility and different finishes of lipsticks set it apart from other lip products.


Lip Stain vs. Lip Gloss vs. Lipstick: Which is Better?

The main difference between lip stains, lip glosses, and lipsticks are going to be the formula, color payoff, and longevity. Lip stains last the longest — about eight to 12 hours — followed by lipstick, then lip gloss. Generally, lip glosses will offer the least longevity since the wet texture is more for shine than staying power, so it's the most prone to fading (especially when you factor in activities like eating and drinking). 


The removal method of each product is also going to differ, as a lip gloss can easily be removed with a napkin or washcloth. Lipstick can be removed with your favorite makeup remover or face wash (just remember to keep your lips closed), while removing a lip stain will take a micellar water like the L’Oréal Micellar Cleansing Water Waterproof, for All Skin Types, or an oil-based remover. Olive oil can also work in a pinch.


Ultimately, personal preference will determine which pick is best for you, as well as formula. If you’re going to an event where you would rather not have to reapply your lip product, go for a lip stain. If you want color on your lips but don’t want a long removal process at the end of the night, a lipstick is your best bet. For color with the most shine, try a lip gloss if you’re not bothered by re-application. 


Next: How to Get Gorgeous Glass Lips in 4 Easy Steps


Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Associate Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Digital Tech: Katy Andrascik, Photo Assistant: Sam Kang, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Wardrobe Stylist: Melina Kemph, Wardrobe Assistant: Kayla Martinez, Model: Juli Deng