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Ask The Makeup Diva
Welcome to Ask The Makeup Diva™! Our resident expert, The Makeup Diva, answers makeup and skin care questions sent in by readers just like you.

Q: I've never tried lip and cheek stains but would like to do so. Do they last long? Are they hard to use?

A: Stains are great for a natural, fresh-faced look while lasting through eating and drinking, and long days at work. These sheer colors are especially good for oily and combination skins, as they don't contribute to breakouts. Moreover, lip tints won't travel to your teeth, as traditional lipsticks often do.

The benefits are definitely worth the risks, but exercise caution here: Some of these products can be drying, as they may contain ingredients (such as intense dyes and alcohol) to cause your mouth to feel parched and its tissue to shrivel. Moreover, since some stains "set" quickly (accounting for the durability of color), follow the tips below to prevent a "clownlike" appearance. Accidental spills on clothing or carpeting can be difficult or impossible to remove.

Before applying a stain to your mouth, prep the area to slough off dead skin cells-especially if they've been neglected. Try Alchemy's Lip Treatment Scrub ($15.00) to eliminate flakes and hydrate. English Ideas' Lip Refine ($32.00) is a patented, comforting creme used at night to nourish and exfoliate (find both at Sephora.com). Another option is to gently massage your mouth with a soft-bristled toothbrush meant for infants or for a tasty, homemade treatment, a paste of brown sugar and water.

For best results with cheek tints, use an exfoliant on your face as well. After cleansing, follow with an excellent scrub. The four-ounce tub of Joey New York's Pure Pores Crushed Almond and Honey Scrub is well worth its $28.00 price (online at Beauty.com or Sephora.com). Its gentle texture will reveal a clearer, more refined, softer complexion. A less expensive, effective, and delightfully-scented alternative is pH Beauty Lab's Totally Juicy Apricot Pore Scrub (about $5.00 at most discount/drugstores). ("Quick fix" beauty tip: While using exfoliants on your face, work into dry hands, over arms, elbows, and shoulders to silken there as well.) Among its other benefits, moisturizer enables a cheek tint to slip on more easily, so make this your next step (then again, you're already in the habit of using moisturizer regularly, right?). For a truly natural look, use stains before foundation, as a matte base can make spreading it difficult.

Now you're ready! Application of stains with a lipbrush or sponge works more effectively than fingertips when possible, allowing for even coverage while preventing the product from remaining on your fingers. On cheeks, dab small amounts on the apples, moving upward and outward gently and swiftly. For greater color intensity, layer and repeat.

Enhance the benefits of a lip stain by beginning with a great, non-drying liner. CCB-Paris has a nearly goof-proof version, Expert Liquid Lip Lipliner (under $8.00 online at ccb-paris.com). This unique, no-drip, felt-tip pen allows precise application of long-lasting shades, while its water base helps keep your mouth moist. Benefit's Lip and Cheek Tint is a dual-purpose favorite of many women, sold in one ruby shade to complement all skin tones; ingredients include real rose petals and glycerin to soothe ($26.00 at Sephora.com). Lorac's Lip and Cheek Tint is another good choice; select from four flattering shades, packaged in a small pot ($15.00 at Beauty.com). For about $10 at department stores or online at Gloss.com, you can purchase Origins' Pinch Your Cheeks. This patented tint is tiny, easily tucked into even the smallest handbags. Tarte's Cheek Stain comes in an exceptional, water-based gel push-up stick ($26.00). It glides on with a minimum of effort. Tarte also offers 24/7 Lip Sheer for those who want a most subtle wash of long-lasting color. Select from seven hues for a sheer, all-day flush. To combat any dryness, follow any stain with a powerful balm to protect and add sheen and reapply as needed. Two time-proven favorites: Kiehl's Lip Balm in a tube ($5.50 at Kiehls.com) or Smith's Rosebud Salve ($5.00 for regular or strawberry) at Beautyhabit.


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