K-Pop Makeup Artists Swear By This Hydrating $9 Lip Tint
Meet your new cult-favorite product.
Recently, while in Seoul, South Korea, I noticed a major beauty trend happening. Every makeup brand I saw at stores I stopped in seemed to have its own lip “water tint.” My suspicions were confirmed when I checked the Korean website for Olive Young, Seoul’s version of Ulta and Sephora combined. All of the top-selling lip products — and makeup, in general — are none other than water tints from K-beauty brands like Peripera, Amuse, 3CE, and Rom&nd .
Over the past couple of years, water tints have become the secret to that effortless, juicy lip tint look we’ve come to know and love on K-pop and K-drama stars. And lately, orange and brick red water tints have basically been the only makeup product I use on sweaty summer days for a quick, barely-there hint of bright color.
Just as their name suggests, water tints stand apart from other lip products on the market due to their weightless, water-like consistency, Korean makeup artist Minseok Choi tells TZR. She even jokes that nothing describes the texture of water tints better than blood. (Honestly, I’d have to agree with her on that because the color often matches.) I like to think of them as the original version of the Fenty Beauty Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain that’s been going viral on TikTok meets K-beautified Benefit Benetint.
What Is A Water Tint?
Sometimes, water tints are glassy at first but fade to a sheer stain; others instantly dry down for a natural matte finish. However, “One thing they always have in common is they blend well onto lips like ink — thin, clear, and vivid,” Choi adds.
One of the water tints that kicked off the trend in Korea back when it launched in 2019 is Amuse’s Dew Tint. Its formula is even 35% water to amplify its fresh, high-shine finish while also hydrating the lips, Kim Joosung, the brand’s new business lead, shares with TZR. That moisture part is a key element as some lip stains that have come before water tints were often drying and required a bit of balm applied first to avoid chapped lips, Kim adds.
Choi loves painting water tints onto the lips of her celebrity clients, like Bibi, Lil Cherry, and Meenoi, because the pigment basically becomes one with their lips and feels more comfortable and natural than traditional bullet lipsticks. “Our skin is like a sponge, so it's better to use water tints because they stay on the skin longer, even when you eat or swim,” she says.
Water Tint Makeup Trends
The shade selection of Korea’s water tints tends to be in the my-lips-but-better range of pinks and reds with stunning corals, raspberries, and brick reds as the standouts. However, mauve-toned nudes have unexpectedly become very popular in Korea as of late, Choi points out. She believes they’re gaining traction because they create a dreamy, watercolor look for selfies.
Amuse’s best-selling Dew Tint shade is Boksoonga aka “peach” in English, Kim says. Boksoonga has become a product staple for “peach style,” which Kim calls Korea’s hottest makeup trend. (Based on my own observations, peach truly is the go-to blush, eyeshadow, and lip shade for people in Seoul — mostly because it’s a playful-yet-neutral hue that gives complexions a fun hint of color.) Boksoonga is so beloved that Amuse recently launched a pinky-peach color inspired by it named Dew Boksoonga. That, too, has quickly become a best seller, Kim notes.
Water Tint Tricks
If you’re curious about incorporating a water tint into your daily makeup routine, Choi has some pro tips for mastering the lip formula. For extra vibrancy and opacity, she layers a matte lip formula on top of a water tint.
Alternately, people often use two or more colors at once for a gradient effect, Choi says. First, a nude-toned water tint is added all over their lips. Then, a brighter shade of pink or red is dabbed on the inner, center area for what Choi calls a “petal look.”
You can also pat away excess product from your lip with a fingertip and blend it onto your cheeks for a quick, dewy matching blush moment.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance makeup look that will transition seamlessly from summer to fall, then it might be time to add a Korean water tint into your beauty lineup.
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