Review of e.l.f. Essential Lip Stain in Crimson Crush

Every time I've watched New Girl or Don't Trust the B (RIP), I end up trying to figure out how to get my lips to look like Zooey Deschanel's or Krysten Ritter's. What is particularly appealing are the scenes when these women are just sort of hanging around the house casually, probably when we are supposed to assume that they are not wearing makeup (ha!) - yet they still have crimson lips. They don't really look like they have lipstick on; it's as if their lips are just naturally cherry red. Here are a couple of examples of what I mean:

These are perhaps not the best illustrations, because they look pretty lipsticky, but apparently people aren't screencapping or GIFing these ladies bumming around in their PJs.
I got it in my head that I needed a lip stain to replicate this look. I am fully aware that the product used on the actual TV shows was probably not a stain. More likely it's just blotted matte lipstick or something. If it wears off or gets messed up, they have a makeup artist standing by. Nevertheless, I wanted a stain! I am stubborn.
Weirdly enough, most stains tend to come in a lot of shades of pink and not so much else. Reds are not exactly difficult to find, but they're not nearly as common as pinks. My beloved Stainiac does not come in a red, for example. My guess is that it is because red dyes don't stain as well as dyes with some blue in them. That tends to be my experience with lipsticks as well. I have a theory that it's the blue dye in pink stains, especially those more on the magenta side, that causes them to stain your lips better. Sort of like bluish nail polishes are more likely to stain your nails. I have done no research, however. But that would explain why it's easier to find a variety of pinks than reds. e.l.f. has a couple of reds for just two bucks, however, (along with six options in the pink range). I picked up Crimson Crush a while back.
I've had mixed results with it. It's a typical felt tip lip stain pen. I've tried a few other brands, and this is basically the same thing. No scent or flavor, quick drying. I find it drying without lip balm over it, but it surprisingly it does not bleed much outside the lips. I recommend storing it lid down to keep the tip saturated. I've had mine since November 2013, and it's still going strong.
If you apply a solid layer of this stuff to your lips, you'll end up with more of a lacquer look than a stain. It looks pretty, but it wears off in a really ugly way and dries out my lips a lot. Like so:
I prefer a (weirder?) sort of method that makes the stain a little more translucent but also longer lasting. I apply an even layer and then let it dry. Then I lick my lips lightly, rub them together, and blot a few times. I let them dry again. Finally I add a layer of lip balm and rub my lips together again (making sure everything is even). This way the wear is much more even for some reason. But I've experimented, and if I just add the lip balm directly over the thicker layer of stain, it melts it off unevenly. Something about dampening it and spreading it around first works better. You could probably use water if licking the stain seems unpleasant (I figure I'm going to end up ingesting most of it eventually anyway).

It looks a bit glossy here, but that's mainly because I stuck my face in direct sunlight to get a clear photo. I just used a regular lip balm (the Nivea stuff I reviewed here). I know the difference is not particularly striking in this photo, but if you don't like the way your lip stains wear, I suggest trying out this technique. I've had luck doing this with other stains as well.
I forgot to take a photo of this after a few hours. Oops. It's not perfect. It still wears off unevenly from the inner edge, leaving a sort of ring around your lips - like many (most?) lip products do. It doesn't really stain your skin the way some stains do.
Overall, I think this e.l.f. stain is a decent product, but I'm not sure its really much different in performance from a long wearing lipstick. If you like a felt tip applicator and a liquid product that dries quickly, it's worth a shot, and it's only $2. I don't think I've successfully managed to transform myself into Krysten Ritter using this shit, however. I'm sure all it will take is the right lipstick.
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  • haku izunami

    thank you for your honest review! cant beat that price either! how long did this last on your face? did it fade too soon or is it like an all day lasting look?

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