You’d have to be living under a continent-sized rock to have missed that Korean beauty products are having a moment. Between BBs, CCs, konjac sponges, Hannibal Lecter-esque sheet masks for ailments ranging from “fatigue” to “hangover,” and essences worth prolonging your skin-care regimen by three extra minutes, American products must be feeling a tad left out. The next area of excellence? Instain-in-the-membrane lip tints.
Unlike our aggressively mediocre versions here in the land of the free and home of the brave, South Korea and other Asian countries are manufacturing sultry, powerfully pigmented stains in a range of finishes. The kicker? You put it on circa 7 p.m., and you WAKE UP WITH IT ON the next morning. “I’m starting to believe your lips are just naturally that punchy, orange red,” my travel companion said as I unnecessarily applied my stain for the second time in 24 hours (mostly out of habit — I think of it as a way to comfort others, similar to the way the Cullens ate regular food in the Twilight canon) on our recent sojourn to Asia.
As I’ve previously written, I’m a fan of semi-permanent beauty. I’d be a fan of permanent beauty if that were humanly possible at this juncture (here’s hoping we’re not far off). Once I get used to how I look a certain way, I don’t like being reminded that it’s artifice: I abhor obvious roots, and I can’t get started with hair extensions because I fear slipping into Sylvia Plath levels of depression when they inevitably have to be removed.
So, it goes without saying that I like my lip colors to stay on for a pretty long time. Here, the three Seoul stains to know now.
1 of 4
With its boudoir-inspired packaging, delightful shade range, and wallet-friendly price points, Etude House boasts questionable copywriting, but world-class quality. I purchased three different types of lip stains from the store, and I'm having buyer’s regret, Cher Horowitz-style, that I didn’t load up on more. Rosy Tint lasts the longest, courtesy of its Sharpie-esque, opaque formulation, and glides on easily, even sans mirror, thanks to its sponge-tip applicator. Tragically, I only own one (they were out all over the Seoul airport), but I’ve ordered several more on Amazon.
2 of 4
Thai-based Karmart offers the South Korean-inspired range Cathy Doll. The cosmetic line's Floral Lip Pigment maintains its punch all day and comes in saturated hues, yielding a cartoon-colored pout — a great pick if on-trend, Crayola 8-pack purple is your thing. (Camellia Kiss is the perfect medium pink.) Sadly, I couldn't find these available stateside (yet!), but feel free to leave a link in the comments if you have any intel.
3 of 4
TonyMoly — another cheekily packaged Korean brand — is unique in offering sheer products that are just as good on cheeks as they are on lips. Typically, the sheerer a stain, the less long-wearing it is, but that's not the case here. Not for the faint of heart, the blood-red payoff is deep, and it wears off evenly and very slowly. Best of all, the tiny vial will probably last you a lifetime. It comes in a light pink, but I stand by "my favorite flavour, cherry red," in the words of perhaps the most famous lip owner, Mick Jagger.
4 of 4
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!