I know what you're thinking: Stick makeup immediately feels intimidating, right? It sometimes seems that only a makeup artist with the right brushes can build and blend a contour or bronzing stick to perfection. Well, I'm here to tell you that's not true. When you have the right stick, the world is your oyster.
Obviously, that doesn't take away from cream or powder formulas (which are equally great). But stick formulas glide on nicely and create a skin-like finish—it's any makeup minimalist's dream. Additionally, they're so versatile as many bronzer sticks can be used to contour, and contour sticks can create a matte look that still screams summer glow. Of course, I'm a makeup enthusiast and can't help but share all my picks. Keep reading for the bronzing sticks I'd recommend to friends. There's something for every budget, from drugstore heroes to higher-end favorites.
1. Nudestix Nudies Glow Bronzer & Highlighter Stick
The formula for this bronzer-and-highlighter duo creates a perfectly dewy look. It creates that gorgeous soft light effect and blends like a dream thanks to the convenient brush on the other end.
Customer Review: "I loved the color. It looks great without makeup too. It's perfect if you want to go somewhere in a rush and don't have to do makeup."
2. Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Contour Skin Stick
I mean, Fenty's Match Stix Contour Skin Sticks are truly one of a kind. I'm obsessed with the soft bronzed effect they create—it just looks so natural. The formula is also super airy and glides right onto the areas you'd like to look a little more sun-kissed.
Customer Review: "I bought this over a month ago and have been using it all the time. Stays on my skin all day, gives a great defined look, and is a great touch to any makeup look!"
3. Milk Makeup Matte Cream Bronzer Stick
"Baked" is the perfect word to describe how you'll look when you use this bronzer stick. Or "toasty" if you prefer that warm, tanned vibe. It's also super buildable and dries matte, so it's great for oilier skin types.
Customer Review: "This product is my new holy grail! The way it glides onto my skin like butter is undeniable, and then it blends into my skin so naturally and beautifully. It gives off the most beautiful skin-like finish of a bronzed look. It doesn't react to other products on the skin. I had on moisturizer, primer, dewy skin gloss, and foundation, and it perfectly laid right on top without disrupting the other products. Normally, once I powder my face (I'm someone that needs to because of how oily my T-zone gets), I lose that contour/bronzing, but I barely touched the end product with a powder bronzer. I love this product, and the [packaging] is nice and small to fit perfectly in any makeup bag. Even though this was gifted by Milk Makeup, I will definitely repurchase it.
4. Rare Beauty Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick
Rare Beauty consistently kills it with how many great products it has (special shout-out to the Soft Pinch Liquid Blush). This bronzer stick is no different, boasting a creamy, smooth, skin-like finish that looks totally organic.
Customer Review: "I used to never use cream contour, but after trying this bronzer stick, I'm absolutely in love. It's creamy and blends like a dream. I love the shade—it's just the right tone for my fair complexion. I highly recommend."
5. Wet n Wild MegaGlo Makeup Stick
Psst—this Wet n Wild MegaGlo Stick is actually my $5 secret weapon. Normally, I'm a total formula snob and don't buy too many drugstore bronzers, but this contour stick delivers an impeccably bronzed look in all the right places without looking too dark on me.
Customer Review: "I'm so glad I gave this a try! I've had it for two months now, and I use it three to four times a week, and I do not feel like I'm running low. It's very smooth, blends easily with a brush, and I really like how it integrates with my foundation. The color is just right for me, and it's easy to add layers to increase saturation. I'll definitely continue to purchase!"
6. Jouer Cosmetics Bloom, Bronze & Glow Bronzer & Highlighter Duo
This bronzer-and-highlighter duo delivers radiant summer skin on the fly. It also serves some skincare benefits as it's loaded with squalane and rosehip oil to nourish your complexion while it's glowy AF.
Customer Review: "The makeup goes on creamy. Great shades. The highlighter is gorgeous. Not too shiny yet adds a nice subtle glow. The bronzer is great too. They blend well. I will definitely purchase again."
7. Uoma Beauty Double Take Sculpt & Strobe Stick
Another double-ender for you is this offering from Uoma Beauty. I love the shade range for this one and that each end blends together seamlessly for an amped-up, illuminated look. It also contains lychee extract for an extra dose of hydration.
Customer Review: "Not all contours are made equal. In fact, you may steer clear of using them out of fear of looking overdone and ready for the stage. Enter UOMA Double Take in Fair Lady. It may appear deceptively dark if you're of a fair/medium complexion. Not to worry. I've tried several application methods and have settled on applying directly from the tube and blending with a taklon contour/angled brush. Fingers work well too. The main thing is that it just blends into the skin so smoothly without disappearing. Feels very nice on the skin. Not greasy at all, and it's effective. [It] brings out your bone structure, enhancing natural features. I look forward to using it. No fragrance either. The opposite end is a highlighter which I use as eyeshadow as the color is too gold for my skin tone."
8. Focallure Highlighter & Bronzer Pen
The shades in this highlighter-and-bronzer pen kit are so pigmented that it made me say, "Ooh." You really can't beat that $13 price tag, either.
Customer Review: "I've been looking for a stick bronzer for a while, and this one is great. The highlighter was a bonus l didn't know l wanted, but I'm so glad to have."
9. Westman Atelier Face Trace Cream Contour Stick
Westman Atelier's Face Trace Stick provides a lush, satiny finish. Pro tip: You can use it to create a bronzed effect on the cheeks and the eyes.
Customer Review: "Best contour I have ever used! Perfect shade, not too warm or ashy. Blends beautifully with [a] brush or fingers and works well layered under powder bronzer. Will be repurchasing when I run out!"
10. Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour
I've never used this one myself, but I've seen so many creators use this as a bronzer, and it looks so good (and natural!). It's also oil-free—a plus for anyone with oilier skin.
Customer Review: "I was skeptical to [try] this as I wasn't sure how this color was universal for all skin tones. But let me tell you: it blends so well! My favorite new way to contour!"
11. Nyx Professional Makeup Wonder Stick Highlight & Contour
If you like a smooth, matte look, this is the duo pen for you. The shade range isn't amazing, but it gives a buttery-bronze glow.
Customer Review: "I've had an extremely [hard] time finding a contour shade that isn't extremely orange and gives more of a shadow effect rather than a harsh contour, and this shade is perfect for my skin tone!"
12. EM Cosmetics So Soft Multi Faceplay Bronze + Sculpt
This is another lightweight option that can be used for contouring and bronzing. It's also enriched with vitamin E and squalene, which gives it a super-velvety texture and helps it melt right into the skin.
Customer Review: "So creamy and lasts all day! Perfect cool toned neutral. Color is similar to Westman Atelier [shade] Biscuit. Can't beat the quality and price! 10/10 recommend! I also have sensitive skin, and this has never been a problem!"
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.
Shawna Hudson has worked in editorial for over six years, with experience covering entertainment, fashion, culture, celebrities, and her favorite topic of all, beauty. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in journalism and has written for other publications such as Bustle, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Elite Daily, Mane Addicts, and more. She is currently an associate beauty editor at Who What Wear and hopes to continue feeding her (completely out-of-control) beauty obsession as long as she can. Stay up to date on her latest finds on Instagram @shawnasimonee.