Drugstore vs High-End Showdown: Glossy Stains

*Note: I received my YSL Glossy Stains as part of a partnered gift exchange; the L’Oreal stains were purchased myself. As always, the reviews are based entirely on the merits of the products themselves.

When I heard about YSL Glossy Stains, I was intrigued. There have been times that I wanted a super-shiny lip color, but I’m not a fan of products that slide all around my lips the way so many glossy lipsticks do. Lipgloss is even worse – it’s always sticky, wears off quickly and I spend half the morning picking wisps of my hair out of it. So yeah, the idea of product with the shine of a lipgloss but the texture of a stain? Sign me up!

Well, until I saw the price, anyway. Not that $34 is a completely exorbitant amount for a lip product (pretty sure that particular prize goes to Tom Ford), but for something that I’d probably only wear a few times a month, tops? Eh. So I sort of put that idea on the shelf.

And then! The internet came abuzz with whispers of a drugstore dupe. L’Oreal, the parent company for YSL Beauty, released its very own “Wet Shine Stain.” It’s priced at a much more palatable $8-10 (depending on where you buy it). But of course the big question is, how does it stack up against the YSL version? Let’s have a look.

Top: YSL Glossy Stain in 13 Rose Tempura and 11 Rouge Gouache Bottom: L'Oreal Caresse Aqua Lacquer in Rose On and On, Infinite Fuchsia, Pink Rebellion and Endless Red

Top: YSL Glossy Stain in 13 Rose Tempura and 11 Rouge Gouache
Bottom: L’Oreal Caresse Aqua Lacquer in Rose On and On, Infinite Fuchsia, Pink Rebellion and Endless Red

Naming

Both versions got a little carried away with their product names here, if you ask me. The full name of the YSL product is Rouge Pur Couture Vernis À Lèvres Glossy Stain. The L’Oreal one is even more confusing. On Ulta’s website, it’s labeled as L’Oreal Colour Riche Caresse Aqua Lacquer Lipgloss. If you pop over to the L’Oreal website, it’s listed under L’Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain. For the sake of brevity, I’m just going to refer to them as YSL Glossy Stain and L’Oreal Glossy Stain. You’re welcome.

Color

As far as color selection goes, YSL wins for sure. There are twelve color options for L’Oreal Glossy Stain, and a whopping twenty-seven for YSL Glossy Stain on Sephora’s website. That said, the L’Oreal color options have a decent range of cool-warm and light/bright/deep. Once you get it on your lips, the YSL stains are also much more true to the color in the tube. I haven’t methodically looked for exact color dupes between the brands, but YSL Rouge Gouache and L’Oreal Endless Red are fairly close.

Packaging

Here again, the packaging for YSL definitely looks and feels more luxe. The rectangular tubes definitely look much nicer all lined up, and they just look expensive. However, I’m not a huge fan of the size & shape; they’re really bulky, which is inconvenient when I’m just carrying a large wallet or small clutch. The L’Oreal tubes, on the other hand, fit nicely even in my slimmer clutches, so even if they look and feel a bit cheaper, I’m more likely to pop that in my bag when I’m going out.

Packaging: YSL (left), L'Oreal (right)

Packaging: YSL (left), L’Oreal (right)

The wand applicators are similar, with slightly different shapes; the L’Oreal wand is a bit more rounded. Both apply the product easily, and I can actually get a decently clean line without using a lip liner or a separate brush. As you can see in the photo, the L’Oreal wand does pick up some excess product, so I usually end up wiping the excess off on the neck of the tube to avoid making  a mess.

Wand applicators: L'Oreal (left), YSL (right)

Wand applicators: L’Oreal (left), YSL (right)

Formula

Both Glossy Stains are thinner than a lip gloss, but thicker than your typical lip stain. The L’Oreal one is a little thinner than YSL. I suspect that could explain why the wand picks up excess product and it shows up a little differently on the lips than in the tube, since a bit of your natural lip color can show through. Both of them give great color with one application but they can be layered for more opacity. Neither feels very sticky once it’s dry; I find that it’s the least sticky if I avoid pressing my lips until it’s completely dry. The YSL stain has a glossier shine.

Both stains also have a very strong fruity fragrance – it reminds me of daiquiris, which is never a bad thing! The L’Oreal scent has a slightly chemical undertone to it, but it wears off more quickly than the YSL scent, which sticks around for an hour or so. Your tolerance for fragrances could very well be a “make or break” point on these.

Top: YSL Glossy Stain in 13 Rose Tempura and 11 Rouge Gouache Bottom: L'Oreal Caresse Aqua Lacquer in Rose On and On, Infinite Fuchsia, Pink Rebellion and Endless Red

Top: YSL Glossy Stain in 13 Rose Tempura and 11 Rouge Gouache
Bottom: L’Oreal Caresse Aqua Lacquer in Rose On and On, Infinite Fuchsia, Pink Rebellion and Endless Red

Wear

The wear time on both of these is fantastic. I usually get a good 5-6 hours out of any of them, even when eating and drinking. I don’t find either of them to be drying. I was a little surprised to find that the L’Oreal stain actually wears off more evenly over the course of the day; the YSL ones have a tendency to look a bit patchy toward the end of the day if I don’t reapply.

Both products leave a nice stain behind. When I made the swatches above, the stains were on my arm for about 30 seconds – long enough to take a picture or two and wipe them off. As you can see, they leave a very definite color on the skin, and it stayed there for another four hours or so – I’m sure it would have lasted longer, but I went to Sephora and accidentally went over it with makeup remover. So much for scientific testing.

Stain left after the swatches sat on my skin about 30 seconds.

Stain left after the swatches sat on my skin about 30 seconds.

In Short: YSL Glossy Stain has some of the nice touches that help justify the high price. However, considering the price, how often I wear this type of lip color and the incredibly similar formulas, I have to say the L’Oreal Glossy Stains are the better buy, at least for me.

L'Oreal Glossy Stain Pink Rebellion

L’Oreal Glossy Stain Pink Rebellion

YSL Glossy Stain 13 Rose Tempura

YSL Glossy Stain 13 Rose Tempura

YSL Glossy Stains are available at nordstrom.com and sephora.com for $34. L’Oreal Glossy Stains are available at ulta.com for $9.99.

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