When you think “cheek stain,” you probably think “Benefit Benetint.” But not all the best cheek stains share the viscous-liquid consistency that Benetint made famous. Ahead, you’ll find some tints that lean more gel, cream, balm, or even serum; but no matter their formulation, they all impart a weightless, natural flush that’ll make you look a little more rejuvenated.
Other than that Austen heroine-esque blush, stains are probably best known for their versatility: Any of these pigments work just as beautifully on your lips as they do your cheeks, and those with thicker consistencies can be used as creamy eyeshadows. What these stains are not necessarily known for, however, is their ease of use. If you’re finding the application process a little unwieldy, blend out the stain with a makeup sponge rather than your fingers. Make sure your skin is well moisturized pre-application, too, so the pigment doesn’t get streaky or resist blending.
Scroll on to shop five of the best cheek tints and stains, depending on your preferred texture and finish.
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1. Best Watery Stain
Etude House’s Dear Darling Water Tint is often cited as a worthy alternative to Benetint, but it stands on its own as one of the best multi-use tints you can get your hands on, period. The formula is water-based, so the consistency is fluid and imparts a sheer flush, though you can build it up for more intensity. It’s not the longest-lasting product you will ever put on your face, true. But what it lacks in longevity it makes up for in comfort, application (smooth), and fruity scent, courtesy of pomegranate, raspberry, and grape juice in the formula.
- Available shades: Cherry Ade, Orange Ade, Strawberry Ade
2. Best Balm Stain
Another solid offering from a Korean beauty brand, Pep! Balm has the consistency of a lightweight balm, but deposits a sheer, buildable wash of color like a tint. Because it’s thicker and creamier, it’s a little less messy to work with than most other water-based tints. It’ll feel more moisturizing, too, though it doesn’t look or feel greasy (the finish is matte, but natural). A few Amazon reviewers say this is a pretty good alternative to Glossier Cloud Paint, especially because the pigmentation is equally intense. A tiny bit goes a long way.
- Available shades: 001 Recharger, 002 OH-OH, 003 Pause, 004 Corner, 005 Brink
3. Best Creamy Stain
Speaking of Cloud Paint alternatives: Lots of Amazon reviewers and beauty YouTubers point to this Milani liquid blush as a good swap. But where Cloud Paint has a fluffy texture (cloud-like, if you will), this is runnier, while still being nice and creamy — a true cheek stain/liquid blush hybrid. This gets consistently good-to-great reviews on Amazon; reviewers love how evenly the creamy, lightweight pigment blends out — much easier to control than other tints — and its radiant, natural-looking finish.
- Available shades: Berry Smooch, Cheeky Coral, Nude Flush, Pink Flirt, Rose Romance, Wine Glow
4. Best Gel Stain
For something with a little more slip, consider Maybelline Cheek Heat, a water-based gel that distributes a subtle, even wash of color. Customers report that this lasts much longer than most other stains, even without topping it off with setting powder. One person claimed that it held on through an entire eight-hour work day, with minimal fading. There’s no discernible finish here — it really mimics a lit-from-within/post-workout flush — but it layers beautifully with highlighter, if you’d like some additional glow or dewiness. You can also mix it with a drop of moisturizer for an even more subtle effect.
- Available shades: Pink Scorch, Nude Burn, Rose Flush, Fuschia Spark, Coral Ember, Berry Flame
5. Best Serum Stain
This tint from Korean brand Peripera resembles the viscous consistency and hydrating feel of a serum, thanks to eight types of hyaluronic acid in the formula. Peripera makes a few different lip and cheek tints, including their cult-favorite Ink Airy Velvet, which has a powdery finish. But this serum version reads more traditionally stain-like, since it’s more liquidy. And who wouldn’t want more hyaluronic acid in their life?
- 01 Over Pretty, 02 Rosy Around, 03 Gossip Pink, 04 Active Orange, 05 Go Go Red
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