Not so long ago, the chiseling effect known as contouring was mastered only by the pros and their overflowing kits of powders, sponges, and makeup brushes. But thanks to an ever-evolving makeup market, contouring is now more commonplace than ever before. Enter the super-creamy and convenient contouring stick—a truly innovative invention for lazy people and beauty novices alike.
How to Apply a Contour Stick
The formulas are easier to blend, more forgiving, and seemingly impossible to mess up, and buffing them in requires just a few strokes of your fingertips. In fact, mastering the technique requires nothing but a swipe under your cheekbones, along your jawline and temples, and down the sides of your nose, before blending with your digits. Complicated makeup brushes and hard-to-clean sponges, it was nice knowing ya.
1. Westman Atelier Face Trace Contour Stick
Clean, vegan, and sensitive skin–friendly, this ultra-creamy texture (thanks to jojoba oil) glides onto the skin like butter, locking in hydration, soothing skin, and protecting against environmental stressors. But this is no one-trick pony. Aside from the good-for-you formula, this super-blendable stick comes in cool undertones that mimic the look of natural shadows so you can contour without ever looking fake or orangey.
2. Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour & Highlight Stick
Contouring requires a certain bit of restraint. Too many layers can end up looking cakey or fake. Luckily, this fan favorite boasts a highly pigmented, matte finish to deliver a natural-looking sculpt, which is a massive plus for amateurs and skilled pros alike.
3. Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand
A red carpet regular, this lightweight formula includes a soft cushion applicator that dispenses the perfect amount of product, making it easy to achieve Hollywood-approved light-and-shadow tricks. What's more, the shades come in warmer tones, delivering a subtle sun-kissed shimmer that makes you look like you just stepped off your private yacht.
A Primer Option
4. Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick
There's a reason these deeply pigmented sticks boast a cult following. The creamy formula is not only super easy to blend (with your fingers), but it also dries down to a velvety powder, making creasing a nonissue.
5. Uoma Beauty Double Take Contour Stick
Since contouring and highlighting go hand in hand, this dual-ended stick actually puts both in the palm of your hand. This multipurpose stick power couple is infused with hydrating ingredients, including lychee extract, that sink into the skin, making blending basically effortless. Post-contour, use the highlighter along the high points of the face to draw the light in.
6. BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Hydrating Foundation Stick
If you're not using foundation sticks as contouring tools, we're sorry to say you've been missing out. Foundations often have a wider range of undertones and finishes compared to standard contouring products. This clean, water-based formula is a must for dry skin, as it provides hydration without ever feeling too heavy or cakey.
7. Nars The Multiple
This iconic stick has long been a makeup-artist and fashion-girl favorite for good reason. Its sheer, juicy tint makes it completely goof-proof and buildable for a natural-looking, lit-from-within radiance that's always flattering. But the best part is it's the ultimate multitasker. Use it to add definition to the cheeks and nose or as a dewy cream eye shadow.
A Primer Option
8. Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick
Who doesn't love a creamy, hydrating product? But for us oily beauties, we immediately think excess shine. Luckily, this buttery formula is packed with light-diffusing powders that not only absorb excess oil (and stand up to water and sweat) but create the appearance of smoother skin to boot.
9. Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick
What's vegan-friendly; free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, fragrance, gluten, synthetic dyes, and GMO; and boasts 12-hour waterproof wear? This foundation stick blends like a dream, giving you a flawless-looking complexion. And we particularly love the sharp edges for chiseling our noses.
10. Makeup by Mario Soft Sculpt Shaping Stick
TBH, we don't know where the contouring category would be if it weren't for Mario Dedivanovic's viral photo of Kim Kardashian West with light and dark lines running through her face. The pioneer in the sculpting space has finally launched his own contouring product—an easy-to-use stick—that makes getting that celebrity chisel easy, even without a beauty entourage. And the shades complement complexions regardless of the undertone and are never orange or muddy. How's that for easy breezy?
11. Huda Beauty #FauxFilter Skin Finish Buildable Coverage Foundation Stick
If you're known to work a little harder at your contour, you don't want it fading away by lunch. This transfer-proof, waterproof, humidity- and sweat-resistant formula is no joke. Whether you prefer full or light coverage, a couple of sticks (one as foundation and the other for contour) will create a chiseled effect that lasts well into cocktail hour.
A Primer Option
12. Ilia Illuminator
Whether you're new to contouring or just prefer a subtler look, this stick (though technically a highlighter) gives you a wash of natural-looking, sun-kissed color. Formulated with organic, good-for-you ingredients like shea butter, avocado oil, and orange peel wax, this illuminating formula looks as good as it feels.
13. Nyx Professional Makeup Wonder Stick
If you're known to take your contour to the next level with a shine-free highlight, this dual-ended stick features a contour shade on one side and a perfectly paired highlight hue on the other. And the best part is it's a drugstore buy, so it's affordable and easy to get your hands on.
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