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TikTok’s Homemade Lip Stain Is Impressive — But There’s A Catch

Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
TikTok's obsession with homemade beauty products shows no sign of abating but I can't say I'm mad about it.
It all started with the viral DIY BB cream. The process involves mixing foundation, primer, moisturiser and highlighter to create a base that's so light it looks natural but is substantial enough to tuck away blemishes. If you're a Beauty In A Tik regular, you'll know that I was impressed to say the least.
A few weeks later, skincare enthusiasts went wild for the rice water facial toner, which they claimed worked wonders on oily, acne-prone skin. And when beauty brands like YSL and Rimmel started unveiling skin tints — the perfect makeup base for a scorching summer — it wasn't long before the homemade version achieved viral status (all you need is concealer and a hydrating serum).
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This month, TikTokers are in love with lip stains. Occupying a space between a full coverage lipstick and a sheer gloss, one slick provides just enough pigment to pull a beauty look together, all without looking too 'done'. Berry tones are the most popular thanks to their just-bitten effect, providing a subtle tint that lasts, and brands like Fenty Beauty, e.l.f. and Clarins are all riding the lip stain train. But if TikTok is anything to go by, you can make your own at home — using food colouring, no less.
TikToker @sarah_wolak recently went viral for mixing pink, red and yellow food colouring to create a beautiful, bold, berry shade. In the video, which has amassed 6.7 million views and counting, Sarah applies the concoction with a cotton bud and the effect isn't too dissimilar to a high-end lip stain — it's rich and it sticks around. It looked so good that Sarah has experimented with various different colour combinations since, most of which have been suggested by impressed followers (and have racked up many more millions of views in the process).
@sarah_wolak Replying to @haileymichelemerk its not 🍑 at all but im not mad!! #foodcoloringlipstain ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey
It wasn't long before other TikTokers decided to give the trend a try. Take @mangomoniica, for example, who whipped up a dusty rose shade using red and blue food colouring, or @beautymavenraven, who was so inspired by the pretty berry shade she achieved that she considered snapping up food colouring in lots more colours.
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Having recently tried (and loved) the Tropic lip stain, I couldn't resist giving this a go. I love vampy shades so I made like Sarah and mixed red, pink and yellow food colouring in a little bowl. Admittedly, I was a little slapdash with the quantities. Unlike Sarah's bottle, mine didn't have a dropper lid so I decided to wing it and hope for the best.
Once I'd swirled all the colours into one (taking care not to get any on my fingers or my cream bath mat), I dipped in one of the Rawr Cosmetic Cotton Buds, £2, which are tapered and resemble the doe-foot applicator inside many lip products. My lips are very dry so I slicked on some balm, patted it in for extra moisture and prayed that my hand was steady enough to stay within my lip line.
The application was surprisingly easy and the shape of the cotton bud made lining my lips quite simple. I was worried that the intense food colouring would start to bleed outside my lip line and make it look like I'd devoured several ice lollies but exactly like some of the designer lip stains I've tried recently, it dried immediately. This isn't great news if you make a mistake, which is why I'd suggest resting your elbow on a dressing table or something similar for balance.
Since I hadn't followed Sarah's instructions to a tee, I wasn't surprised that my lip stain ended up a different colour — a pillar-box red instead of a rusty hue — but I absolutely loved it. The shade reminded me of one of my all-time favourite lipsticks: Supreme x Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick. This limited edition product flew off the shelves and Farfetch is currently charging an eye-watering £151 for some that they still have in stock. Ouch!
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The shade was incredibly vivid and not at all drying (perhaps thanks to the balm underneath) but I swiped on some gloss to enhance the look and provide extra moisture. I immediately jumped on FaceTime with my mum, who complimented my makeup and was totally shocked to discover that it was food colouring — not an expensive lipstick — that I was wearing.
@jacquelinekilikita Someone tell me why this homemade lip stain looks like a Pat McGrath product? Is it safe, though? #lipstain #homemadelipstain #diylipstain #foodcoloringlipstain ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim
I can't deny that this is a look but I had to put the hack to the skincare experts. If food colouring is made to be eaten, what about when it's sitting on the skin for a while? Unfortunately my bubble was about to burst. "Food colourings are safe to ingest but not ideal for applying to the skin," says Dr Salomé Metreveli, dermatologist and cofounder of Sky Clinic. Though food colouring isn't permanent, Dr Metreveli continued, it could last up to 36 hours on the skin and potentially leave some marks or cause uneven distribution of the pigment. If you have dry lips, you might notice that the pigment will cling to thirsty areas.
Carrie Hancox, aesthetic practitioner and skin expert at Centre for Surgery, says that food colouring could cause skin allergies and irritation, particularly if you have sensitive skin. But as it hasn't really been tested on skin, most side effects are unknown. For that reason, Carrie and Dr Metreveli suggest avoiding food colouring on skin altogether and sticking to tried-and-tested lip stain formulas.
Though I didn't experience any irritation, my DIY stain did end up going patchy throughout the day, but no more so than any actual lip stain I've tried. That said, I trust the experts when they tell me that doing this might not be the best idea for my skin — or yours. My lips are already pretty parched and the last thing I need is for them to become even more dry.
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After lunch
End of the day
If you're after an affordable lip stain which is easy to apply and sticks around, I love The Body Shop Lip & Cheek Stain, £8, available in colours like orange, berry, pink and pomegranate. Also try Revolution Baby Tint Lip & Cheek Tint, £3 (cheaper than buying three bottles of food colouring) and e.l.f. Glossy Lip Stain, £6, if you're not keen on matte lips. If you have more budget, R29 staffers rate Fenty Beauty Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain, £17, and the TikTok-viral Wonderskin Wonder Blading Peel and Reveal Lip Stain, £25.20, which swipes on blue and peels off to reveal a pretty red tint.
Would I try TikTok's homemade lip stain again? On the experts' advice, unfortunately not — especially when there is an abundance of purse-friendly options out there, which are actually formulated for your lips. It's so tempting and the results are promising but it might be best to give this one a miss.
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