I kind of go back and forth on lip stains. Some I love, some I REALLY don't like at all. (And I really hate the word "stain" because I'm always spilling things and it just reminds me of how many times I've had to scrub my carpet or couch when I've accidentally knocked over my soda or had some runaway spaghetti sauce leap out of the bowl). But two new recent additions to my lip wardrobe have gotten me back on the love train. Maybelline's Color Sensational Lipstains are a great drugstore choice. They just came out, so you might have to track them down a little (I had to go to four different stores before I stumbled upon a display) but the trek will totally be worth it. They're the traditional sort of lip stain, with a magic marker-like tip that you use almost like a crayon to draw on the color. I bought Wink of Pink and was pleasantly surprised by the shade - it's darker than it looked on the handle, almost more of a berry shade, but it's a really pretty color that I could see wearing both to work and out at night. As far as the formula, it dries quickly and is fairly easy to apply. I find that with lip stains, they're always a little tricky because if you're not careful, you end up with a crazy clown mouth, but this was one of the easier ones to put on for me. Once on, it lasted for a good 5 1/2 hours on me before it started to fade away, so I consider that a success. (It also has a pleasant fruity smell, which is great because a lot of lip stains reek of the harsh scent of alcohol - yuck!) And as far as price, you can't go wrong. I bought mine for $7.49 at CVS, but since drugstores always have sales, with a little googling, I'm sure you can find them even cheaper. One thing to be aware of - like a lot of lip stains, they're not very moisturizing and can dry your lips out, so you'll definitely want to carry a balm around with you when you wear these. I know this annoys some people, but for me, I kind of figure it comes with the territory when you're wearing a lip stain and since I always have about a dozen balms with me at any given moment, it doesn't really bother me.
The second product I tried is a little more high end - Tarte's Lipsurgence Natural Lip Stain. They're pricier at $24 each, but I found a lot to like about these colorful sticks as well. First of all, they smell like peppermint, which is my kryptonite in any lip product. Mint=good. And like the Maybelline stains, their colors are also bright without being in your face or overwhelming. I tested out both Lust (red) and Amused (bright pink) and fell for them both. Application is a cinch - since the product has such a great texture, it goes on almost like a cream eyeshadow stick on your eyes. There's way less chance to mess up because of the rounded tip and if you do, you can quickly wipe it away. The formula on these is different than a lot of lip stains - it's much more moisturizing, almost like a lipstick instead of a stain. (I daresay you wouldn't need to wear balm on top of these - at least, I haven't been and my lips haven't dried out at all). According to Tarte's website, the Lipsurgence technology is such that it absorbs quickly into your lips, moisturizing them on a cellular level, which naturally increases your skin's water content and gives it a "plumped up" appearance. This is where they lose me a tiny bit because I didn't notice my lips being plumped up at all. (But that being said, they did feel very smooth and healthy when I had it on, so that's a plus). These lasted about 4 to 4 1/2 hours or so on my lips before starting to fade (but if you want to get rid of the color, these are definitely easier to get off than the Maybelline stains).
Overall, you really can't go wrong with either of these products. I've been carrying around Tarte's Amused in my purse since I bought it because it's a perfect summer pink and I have a feeling I'll be buying a few more of Maybelline's Lipstains as well. (I really want to try Cranberry Crush and In The Buff). Bring on the stains!