My 3 favorite coral lip stains right now are the Smashbox Be Legendary Long Wear Lip Lacquer in Coral, the Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Vernis a Levres Glossy Stain in #7 Corail Aquatique, and the Bare Minerals Triple Take Color, Gloss & Stain in Coral Pink. Is there a rule that lip stains need to have ridiculously long names?
The applicators and formula of these stains really differentiate them from each other. The Bare Minerals gloss balm stain has three concentric rings of color with a flat slanted bullet. The YSL glossy stain has a signature applicator shape - the shape has a triangular tip that tips upward. I really like the applicator shape and it works well for my lips, but I could see someone with thin or small lips having a challenge with it. The Smashbox applicator is a very standard no frills doe foot wand. My Smashbox lip lacquer is a Sephora point perk sample, but the packaging mirrors the full size.
In terms of formula, the YSL glossy stain is my favorite, but all three are nice for different reasons. The Bare Minerals gloss balm stain texture is similar to a tinted lip balm - it is softer and less waxy than an eos lip balm, but has more slip than the NYX tinted lip balm. On the lips, the Bare Minerals gloss balm stain comes off moderately glossy and has sheer coverage with one pass and can be built up for more intensity. The YSL glossy stain has a lightweight gel texture that looks so beautiful and glossy on the lips and it doesn't sink into lip lines or migrate. This formula balances longevity, comfort, and pigmentation really well. The Smashbox is the most pigmented of the three by a long shot. The Smashbox formula is a little thicker than the YSL, but doesn't feel heavy. In exchange for the stellar pigmentation, the Smashbox is slightly drying after a few hours.
All three products are swatched straight from the applicator with no primer.
.... and the swatches about 10 minutes later to show the staining.
This picture shows perfectly why the YSL glossy stain is my favorite - not only is the stain the most intense of the lot, but the stain is the most even and most true to color. I chose the YSL glossy stain #7 as the lip color for my wedding day because I knew it would last well and look beautiful the whole wear time.
- I haven't seen the Bare Minerals Triple Take available for sale individually, but it is frequently included in kits. If you are interested in a Bare Minerals lip stain sold individually, I have swatches of the full line of Pop of Passion Lip Oil Balms here, and an in depth review of the shade Rose Passion here.
- The YSL has a very particular chemical fruit punch smell that is polarizing - I don't care for it, but I love the formula and color enough to make up for it.
- The Smashbox stain doesn't do that well with eating. Because it is so pigmented and full coverage, eating makes the product wear off oddly in the center of your lips, so be prepared to do touch ups.
If you like monochromatic looks, check out swatches of Milani's baked blush in Luminoso - I love pairing it with coral lips.