What To Know About The Food Coloring Lip Stain Hack Circulating On Social Media

Yes, your favorite blush can double as a color corrector and hydrocolloid bandaids help with stubborn acne — at best, social media beauty hacks save time and money. However, sometimes these viral tips prove to me more dangerous than helpful. The pandemic saw the rise of trends like sunscreen contour, the practice of using SPF to map out highlights while letting other parts of the face burn, per HudaBeauty. Others used raw potato to treat their pimples, something Dr. Melanie D. Palm called "silly and ineffective." Though the internet has made skincare and makeup advise more accessible, it's also allowed for the spread of misinformation. Many of those who attempted to DIY faux freckles in 2021 were left with infections, and let's not get started on at-home teeth filing (via Nylon).

Recently, TikTok creators have recommended using supermarket food coloring as lip stain. Lip-stains use skin-safe oils and dyes to temporarily deepen natural colors, per Chicago Tribune. As compared to lipstick or gloss, these tints last much longer and won't rub off on a water glass or smear during your lunch break. Sure, a food coloring dupe is less expensive than a Sephora lip stain, but is it safe to use? And does it actually work?

Food coloring may cause skin irritation

According to Refinery29, the food coloring lip stain trend first went viral after @sarah_wolak posted a TikTok how-to. In a summer 2022 video, the creator mixed a single drop of red, pink, and yellow dyes, applying the concoction with a cotton swap before applying. Just like a store-bought stain, @sarah_wolak's at-home mixture had "no transfer," leaving a dark maroon color on her lips. But the question remains, can you actually use food coloring as a lip stain or is it just social media magic?

Refinery29 tested the trend and found that, yes, food dye can work as lip stain, though the practice isn't necessarily recommended by dermatologists. Dr. Salomé Metreveli of Sky Clinic explains the risks of using untested products like food coloring on skin, noting that pigment can cling to the lips — particularly to drier areas — for up to a day and a half. As clarified by PopSugar, food dyes haven't been tested topically and therefore can't be used with 100% certainly. Especially if you're prone to breakouts or have underlying conditions, it may be best to steer clear of this hack altogether.

Ultimately though, the TikTok beauty tip may achieve a bright berry stain on lighter skin tones — as advertised by @sarah_wolak — and PopSugar notes that the effect will appear more subtle on darker skin, leaving a natural finish.

When in doubt, eat a berry

Rather than opting for grocery store food dyes, other creators have chosen to use something even more simple: food itself. Stylecraze recommends mixing pigmented berries (blackberries, for instance) and applying their juice to your lips for an all-natural look. To achieve a darker shade, mix in an additional ingredient like espresso powder — provided it's not late at night, of course — you may never fall asleep. Extra moisture can be added with a hint of olive oil as well, per Stylecraze.

Alternatively, when stirred in with melted coconut oil and shea butter, beet root powder can also work as a lip stain (via Botaneri). Turmeric and cocoa powder further pigment the concoction, taking it to the next level of color (and flavor). The best part? It's all ingestible. So, if you get hungry throughout the day, look no further than what's already on your mouth.

If you're really in a bind, Refinery29 suggest mixing a Crystal Light packet with vaseline or lip balm from the bottom of your purse, yum. Really, there's no shortage of things you can substitute for lip stain, just be wary of your skin's sensitivities and any food allergies.