Red Wine Mouth: How To Prevent, Remove And Conceal This Drinking Menace

Because there's NOTHING worse than those uneven purple-red stains on your lips.

It’s happened to all of us: you have a couple glasses of red wine, and before you know it, THERE IT IS.

You have the dreaded wine-mouth.

Is there anything less awesome than those uneven, purple-red stains on your lips? Or even ABOVE your lips, if a couple glasses has been more like a bottle? Not that that’s ever happened to me. Um.

I’m going to show you guys how to prevent, remove and (if worse comes to worst) camouflage the lip stains left behind by red wine.


If you’re really concerned about avoiding stained lips, consider the type of wine you’ll be drinking. Something like a Pinot Noir (a “lighter” red), will stain your lips far less than a Cabernet Sauvignon (a really full bodied “dark” red).

I guess you could also drink white wine, but what are we, monsters?

Make sure your lips are prepared for the night ahead. This means that they should be well-exfoliated, as dry, peely lips attract stains like crazy. I exfoliate mine every day while I’m the shower by rubbing a cotton washcloth in small circles over my lips until they tingle. If you prefer to use a fancy scrub or a spinny-brush thing, go for it--just make sure you have a smooth, well-hydrated base first.

Now that you have the basics under control, let's get down to business.

The aim of this experiment was to see which internet- or friend-suggested remedy for wine-stained lips was the most successful, and prevented/removed the most purply-red stains from lips. This method had to be easy--something I could do at home, or quickly in the bathroom at a bar--and non-embarrassing.

I tested all of these methods with the same red wine--a 2009 cube of Cab that I bought from Target in despair because I couldn’t find my corkscrew.

With absolutely nothing applied to my lips, this is what they look like after a glass of this red wine:

This serves as my control, or the “before” picture; I will compare all my results to this.

Also: I spread this test out over several days. Drink responsibly, everyone.


More than one of my friends told me that this was the only way to go for preventing wine-lips, as it creates a greasy barrier between your skin and the wine. The only problem with this is that A) I hate the smell and feel of classic ChapStick, and B) it means you’re limited to zero lip colour when you drink. I’m not sure that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

I applied plain ChapStick evenly all over my lips and drank my glass of wine. And here are the results.

You can see that the staining is still present, but mostly on the very inside of my mouth where ChapStick will not go. This didn’t look so bad when my mouth was closed, but whenever I talked…

I don’t know why this made me think of Emperor Palpatine, but it did. Scary.

Overall rating: Two and a half wine cubes. Mostly effective, but requires a lip colour sacrifice. I don't know if I'm willing to take that bullet on the regular.

PREVENTION METHOD #2: Really thick lip gloss

One of my very good friends SWEARS by this trick. “Get the stickiest, shiniest lip gloss you can find and put HEAPS of it on,” she said. “It’ll get all over your glass, but you won’t get any colour on your lips.”

I believe Sarah in all matters concerning booze, so I grabbed a thick, sparkly pink gloss and loaded up my lips with it.

After wine, my lips looked like this:

There’s virtually no staining at all, except for some faint discolouration around the middle of my lips. Judged on that alone, this technique is a win.

However, since I don’t like wearing thick or sticky lipgloss, I have to remove some points. It was also a pain in the butt getting this mess off my glass.

Overall score: Three and a half wine cubes. It does what you want it to... but if you don't love sticky glosses, it might not be for you.

PREVENTION METHOD #3: Heavy lip colour

I wondered if, since thick gloss seemed to prevent stains from forming, maybe a really hardcore budge-proof lipstick would do the same thing AND not make me hate my life.

I grabbed the most hardcore lip colour I could find: Make Up For Ever Aqua Rouge in Fuchsia. I applied it to my lips, then sealed it with the gloss on top.

After the wine, my lips looked like this:

I will be honest: I wasn’t expecting these results. The lip colour did a really good job at repelling the wine stains, except for on the very, very inside of my lips where no colour reached, and although it darkened a little (something I didn’t notice until I saw pictures), it didn’t blotch or stain. It kind of created a cool pink-red ombre, so really wine made this lipstick BETTER.

Overall score: Five cubes for you, Glen Coco! You go, Glen Coco.

PREVENTION METHOD #4: Sparkling water

A couple wine wizards of my acquaintance told me that sipping bubbly water while I was enjoying my red would stop any red colour depositing on my mouth. I love Pellegrino, so testing this was a real chore.

When I was done, my kisser looked like this:

I don’t see much difference when these results are compared to the control group, but I did feel less tipsy afterwards when writing my results. So that’s a plus, I guess.

Overall rating: One wine cube, solely for reduced drunkeness and general enjoyment of bubbles.

Since I didn’t really have any great results with an ounce of prevention, it was time to try a pound of cure. Which method successfully removed red wine stains from lips quickly, easily and non-embarrassingly? I bravely girded my loins to find out.


Apparently, rubbing a raw lemon slice on your lips takes off red wine stains. This sounds simple enough, and lemon slices are easy to get your hands on at bars, so I gamely tried it out.

Oh, but wait. Rubbing lemons on your mouth is not a cool thing to do in public. There’s no way to make it seductive, and you look like a weird idiot. And here are my results:

There was a minor reduction in staining, but I don’t think it justifies how silly you look while you’re doing it. Sure, you could excuse yourself... if you want to be the girl who took a lemon slice into the bathroom with her. That’s social suicide.

Overall score: One wine cube. It works a little, but at what cost?

REMOVAL METHOD #2: Makeup removal wipes

On the other end of the social acceptability spectrum are these dudes: slip them into your purse, run to the bathroom, wipe away all purple stains from your lips. Or that’s how it’s supposed to work, anyway.

I used Yes To Cucumbers Soothing Hypoallergenic Facial Towelettes because they’re gentle and don’t have a weird smell, which is essential when it comes to taking off stuff on your mouth.

Here are my results. Spoiler alert: I was pleased.

This worked really well. It was easy to do--I didn’t have to scrub my lips especially hard--and relatively non-embarrassing, should one have to do it in public. Makeup wipes are easy to carry with you, and if you get the right kind, they don’t smell or taste gross. Winner!

Overall score: Five wine cubes! Hooray!

After all this trial and error (and drinking), I think that my favourite way to get rid of wine mouth is simply by covering it up. NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella is a perfect deep, long-lasting red that won’t kiss off onto your glass all night, and the formula is opaque enough to hide any telltale stains.

Or, if your wine left behind a more purple stain, L’Oreal Color Riche Caresse Aqua Lacquer in Berry Persistent is a truly rich, cool berry shade that will completely conceal any evidence of the crime.

Or you could always drink rosé. It is spring, after all. Be the pink wine you want to see in the world!

How do you avoid red wine-mouth? Do you prevent, remove or camouflage?