This is the Best Lip Stain for Fall

The same thing happens at the turn of this season every single fall: my hair gets oily and my face gets dry. No matter how religiously I apply Marula Oil, no matter how much natural oil accumulates in the crevices between my nostrils and my cheeks and no matter how many times I vow to cut food that promotes the perpetuation of crappy skin, I can’t be helped. For the most part, I don’t mind it, but when my lips — typically a shade of peachy pink — suffer the side effect of my person’s foray into exotic skin manufacturing (this is a terrible snakeskin joke, in case that wasn’t clear), I want to do something about it.

Your lips are a window into your soul! They’re the vehicle that transforms thought to word, that facilitates the evolution of word to action. How powerfully can these messages be relayed, really, when they look dull as dusk on a foggy London day? How, I ask? How!

Last week, half a dozen lip pens landed on my desk. I was familiar with the brand (Ilia); they make this sheer red lip stain that’s not a lipstick, not not a lipstick, which I use when I’m pale in the face and need to come alive quickly, but these pens are different — possibly because the range of color is more diverse and nuanced, or maybe because the conditioning properties make me feel like I am treating my lips to the ~spa.~ I don’t really know, but I tested out all six and ran them up against a photo of me not wearing any lip color so you could see the difference. It is subtle to be sure, but aren’t all of life’s greatest things hidden in the can’t-pinpoint-why-this-works-but-man-it-does subtext? I think so!

And now, for a roller coaster of narcissism, starring me:

Here’s the before: a resting bitch face if I have ever seen one, primed for use as a legitimate mug shot. You know, I’ve been trying to reel in the self-deprecation as of late because it is so easy to talk shitty to myself, but as you can see, I am failing.

Color No. 1, Walk This Way

For when you’re used to a natural peachy sheen on the surface area of your lips and regret all those mornings you took advantage of waking up like that. $24, available at Space NK Apothecary

Color No. 2, Push It

For when you want to take the peachy sheen up just one single notch because the dreams that are coming out of your mouth today deserve something of a megaphone treatment. $24, available at Space NK Apothecary

Color No. 3, Dress You Up

One more from the peach family (even though it looks pink here)! I am running out of ways to describe the different uses for these stains, so un-technically speaking, I really like this one because it’s a cross between colors 1 and 2; neither quiet enough to seem like you’re wearing nothing nor loud enough to make itself heard. $24, available at Space NK Apothecary

Color No. 4, 99 Red Balloons

TGIF! For when you’re not wearing any other makeup, don’t feel like hassling with opaque lipstick, but still want to make a statement about what the magic keyhole between your lips represents. $24, available at Space NK Apothecary

Color No. 5, Tainted Love

Dustier than peach, slighter than burgundy but still powerful enough to give your lips new life: Tainted Love is a better color for those who maintain a skin tone akin to the color of my blouse. $24, available at Space NK Apothecary

Color No. 6, Transmission

Finally! Remember when brown lipstick was the thing? I have the most fond recollections of my mom’s Bobbi Brown collection, and I can distinctly recall the matte lipsticks she would apply, and then the glosses she would use over them. I could not wait to wear brown lipstick, but by the time I was of-age, light pink frosted lips were all the rage, then came the red, then I vetoed color altogether. But here we are now, and finally: a sheer and subtle version of brown to scratch nostalgia’s itch. $24, available at Space NK Apothecary

I’ll have you know, by the way, that I did not use even a single mirror to apply any of the above lipstick.

Photos by Edith Young.

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  • Kristin

    TRANSMISSION! <3 And also Walk This Way. I just read ITG's article on YSL's Tint in Oil and am also curious about that. So two new things to try. (My bank account is taking a hit being on Twitter). Sigh.

  • Merrynell

    Leandra, couldn’t tell–which of the colors are you wearing in that fishy face?

    • August West James

      Yes, I want to know, too!

    • spicyearlgrey

      my bets are on #1

      • Leandra Medine

        It’s Walk This Way!

  • Selena Delgado

    Tainted love, so good

  • Bea

    Okay but your lips have such a nice colour in the before photo??

    • August West James

      I want to know which one it is, too!

      • Leandra Medine

        That’s not a colorBUT!!! I did get eager and use a lip gloss before shooting the feature so I had to wipe it offffffff

  • Hilary

    YAYYY I love Ilia’s products, and have been scouring Instagram for good swatches of these new crayons! Thank you for reading my mind <3 Leandra, you look amazing in every color. GAH.

  • nevvvvave

    Dress You Up and Transmission :O

  • Maren Lindquist

    God I love lip stains. My first ever lip product was a Maybelline lip stain that looked more like a marker and stayed on for 2 days. Still trying to find something as long lasting. I might have to try Tainted Love

    • Bogle

      the Maybelline stain markers were incredible! When they were discontinued I was so sad. But then I found out that Revlon had their own stain marker called “Just Bitten” that was just as long lasting, and maybe even better bc there’s a colorless lip balm on the other end to moisten it up a bit. When those were discontinued I went on Amazon and bought 50 in the color called “Instinct”. Now I have enough to last me until I literally die. I can’t live without them. And I just looked – they’re still available on Ebay in limited quantities!

    • Lisa

      Do you have Kiko in your country? If you do, try this, I think it’s quite similar!

  • Isabel

    They all look superb, but do they treat dry lips or are they more colour?
    Can anyone recommend a treatment for permanently, tragically dry lips?? I have tried almost everything and would love to know if anyone has a secret potion under their sink that they would like to share.

    • Anna Behrla

      Egyptian Magic all the way!

    • Kelsey

      I have the regular Ilia lip conditioner and I think it works on regular dryness. I just bought the Bite agave lip mask though and I think it’s a big help as far as a real treatment goes!!

    • Cristina

      I sugar scrub regularly and so far, slathering my lips nightly in Shea Moisture brand lip treatment is working well. Better than any chapstick for sure. Too soon to tell if it lasts through winter and becomes my holy grail.

    • autillicautnullibi

      The Laneige Lip Sleeping Pack! It’s a nighttime treatment that feels a little fancy because it has a tiny spatula in a tiny spatula case. It’s thick and stays on all night soaking into your lips so they look nice and hydrated in the morning. As a plus, the berry flavor gives your lips a nice pink flush.

      • Selina Moses

        Yessss! This thing! I use it at night and if you’re not a lipstick lover (unlike myself) then you can use it as a lip balm all day every day. Amazing stuff

      • Isabel

        Sounds amazing

        • autillicautnullibi

          It seriously is one of my favorite parts of my before-bed routine.

    • dayman

      Honestly, Aquaphor works best for me!

  • Emily

    I love push it on you, but it looks like a pure, bright red on the website? I find buying lip colors online so scary because you can never fully predict what it’ll look like on (even after seeing it on someone else). but looking for something exactly like this so maybe i’ll try it out!

  • Julie

    Best lip gloss ever: Tom Ford

  • August West James

    Which one is the color in the CUTE pucker pic at the top?! A) I love that color and B) it’s crazy that Leandra looks so ADORABLE making the fish face!

    • Julieanne Touma

      I think its the Walk this Way one! #1. The color at the bottom of the tube looks the same.

  • mademoisielle

    Love all the lipsticks on you Leandra but what i really want to know is who makes that shirt??

    • Kristie

      yes let us know! in both cut and color that is my dream shirt!

    • pacificgypsy

      It’s Orseund Iris

      • Leandra Medine

        Thanks pacific gypsy <3

  • Daisy Tinker

    It’s literally like I think of something, and then two days later there’s an article on Man Repeller discussing the exact same thing. I genuinely have been Googling “Best lip stain” for the past few days. Shame I can’t see these on Space NK UK! 🙁

  • Ooh I’m such a sucker for lip stains. I totally want to try ALL of these, no joke.

    Diana |

  • Judith Brandwagt

    Bahaha!! ‘She just started making her own chia pudding’.. you crack me up!

  • Natalie Redman

    Love these, gorgeous!