If you’ve been captivated by the sculpted look of your favorite celebrities and wondered about their secret, look no further. It’s the subtle magic of contouring. And no tool has revolutionized this trend more than the humble, yet mighty, contour stick.
When it comes to creating chiseled cheekbones or softening facial features, contour sticks are the artist’s brush, the sculptor’s chisel, redefining the landscape of your face with gentle strokes. These compact and versatile tools offer a fuss-free, blendable, and natural-looking means to achieve that coveted depth and dimension.
The beauty of contour sticks lies in their simplicity. Whether you’re a makeup maven or a beginner, contour sticks allow for precise application that can be easily blended out to your desired effect. Their creamy texture seamlessly merges with your foundation, imparting a realistic shadow that skillfully enhances your natural features.
Yet, the world of contour sticks is as diverse as the faces they accentuate. From the intensity of pigments to the creaminess of formulations and the range of shades available, selecting the perfect fit for your makeup bag can seem daunting.
But worry not, we’re here to assist. By diligently researching and testing various products, we’ve curated a guide to the best contour sticks that stand out in the crowd. Our goal is to help you find a product that not only matches your skin tone but also harmonizes with your makeup goals and expertise level.
This stick has everything you need to create a subtle or dramatic look: UOMA’s Double Take Contour Stick that contains both a contour and highlighter. The formula is infused with lychee extract, which is known for its antioxidant properties and hydrating properties.
The best part about this product is that it’s so easy to blend! The creamy texture melts on contact with your skin so that there’s no harsh line between either of the two. The end result is undetectable coverage that creates a subtle glow.
You can go natural or bold depending on the look you want—this stick can be adjusted for either finish. Plus, this long-wear formula lasts all day without drying out the skin or looking cakey.
Milk Makeup’s Sculpt Stick adds instant depth and dimension to your face. It mimics the look of natural shadows by applying along the contours of your face: under cheekbones, sides and tip of nose, hairline, and jawline.
If you have dry or mature skin, this product will be perfect for you! The matte finish adds just enough hydration to keep your skin soft without being too greasy or oily. It’s also known for its hydrating properties—thanks to a thyme extract blend that helps nourish your skin.
This is one of our favorite contour sticks because it’s easy to use and blendable.
According to reviews, “Blends right in with no need for foundation. If you hate a heavy makeup feel but want to contour and warm up your face, this is the product for you!”
Fenty Beauty created a contour stick that comes in a range of shades for all skin tones.
It’s a cream-to-powder formula that can be applied with a brush or your fingertips, and it provides the perfect amount of coverage for targeted application. The stick format makes it easy to apply, and the formula is weightless and long-wear.
Great for layering, you can build up the color intensity as needed by using more product, which allows you to customize your look from natural to dramatic!
“Goes on so smooth. Love the magnetic container it comes it. Fits right to the contour brush,” stated one tester.
If you’re looking for a contour stick that won’t break the bank, NYX’s got you covered.
This blendable and creamy formula is easy to use and offers an even application—even if you’re new to contouring. The portable design means you can take it with you on-the-go for touch-ups or leave it at home for regular use.
It has a precise applicator so you can get the right amount of product where you need it without wasting any or making a mess. And it comes in eight coordinating color combinations, so there’s something for everyone!
Makeup by Mario’s SoftSculpt Shaping Stick is another great product for creating a natural, effortless look.
The dual-ended stick is buildable and swipes on seamlessly, so you can build up the intensity of your desired effect. It dries down to a natural matte finish that won’t settle into fine lines or feel heavy on your skin.
This product will complement complexions regardless of your undertone because it has been designed to be true-to-skin. The shades have been designed to create an effortless, softly sculpted look that’s easy to apply and lasts all day long.
Completing the design, it features a removable angled buffing brush, which makes it easy to apply both shades with precision and control—no matter where you’re applying them!
Tarte Cosmetics’ Contour is a quick and easy way to get defined cheekbones. It’s not necessarily a stick, but it provides the same easy application and creates instant definition.
It’s more defined than your average contour product, and works best on fair to dark skin tones. Dot and blend along the areas you want to contour (we recommend cheekbones and sides of nose), or use it as an eyeshadow base!
It’s also great for novices because it’s so easy to use—you don’t need a lot of skill or experience with makeup application in order for this product to work for you.
As one reviewer raved, “Absolutely love this! Super easy to use. I have fair skin, so I went with the lightest shade, and it’s perfect”
EM Cosmetics’ So Soft Multi Faceplay Bronze + Sculpt is a lightweight formula that can be used for bronzing or contouring. It’s enriched with squalane and vitamin E, so it moisturizes the skin while you’re working on your perfect look.
The creamy and soft texture means you can blend this contour stick with ease, and it leaves behind a skin-like finish. It’s formulated with a satin cloud complex to help condition your skin while providing antioxidant defense.
One of the several things to love about this product also contains skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid and shea butter to keep your face feeling oh-so-soft. The stick is available in four shades: Summer, Terra, Nomadic, and Pangea.
If you’re in the market for a contour stick that won’t break the bank, Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Contour & Highlight Stick is a great option. Like several others on this list, it gives you buildable coverage and a natural-looking matte finish.
This multitasking complexion perfector serves as an easy-to-apply formula that’s highly pigmented so you can get the job done fast. It’s also ideal for oily and combination skin types—no matter what your skin type, this product will give you the look of beautiful, natural definition with just a few strokes.
We love this product because it’s easy to use on its own or as a foundation primer. However, it comes in a limited shade room that only works for fair to medium complexions.
Clinique’s Chubby Contour Stick is the perfect tool for making areas of your face appear to recede. The long-wearing oil-free formula provides a buildable, matte finish that won’t budge after you apply it and will last all day.
The stick has a creamy texture that is easy to blend into the skin and won’t tug or pull when applied. The color payoff is also impressive—you get just enough pigment to create a subtle shadow without overdoing it and ending up with an unflattering line on your face.
“Love the texture of this product. It blends super nice and is very creamy. It’s a great product for people with neutral to warm-tone skin and gives a very natural-looking glow,” wrote one buyer.
When you’re looking to create a natural-looking, subtle contour, it’s hard to go wrong with NUDESTIX’s Tinted Blur Contour Sculpting Stick. This lightweight cream-to-powder formula is ultra-soft matte and creates the look of naturally-defined cheekbones without the hassle.
The key ingredient in this contour stick is vitamin E, which acts as a natural antioxidant that nourishes and hydrates your skin. It also improves the look of the overall tone and texture of your face.
Elsehwere, the stick contains green tea extract, so you’re getting an extra dose of antioxidants as well!
What to Look for in Contour Sticks
Pigmentation and Blendability
A good contour stick should be highly pigmented to create depth and shadow on the skin, but it should also be easily blendable. It shouldn’t leave harsh lines or appear muddy on the skin but rather blend smoothly for a natural, defined look.
Suitable Shade Range
Contouring is all about creating shadows that mimic your natural facial structure, so it’s crucial to choose a contour stick shade that’s right for your skin tone. A general rule is to choose a contour shade that’s one or two shades darker than your foundation. Brands that offer a wide shade range cater to a variety of skin tones, ensuring that everyone can find a suitable match.
Creamy, Buildable Formula
The formula of your contour stick plays a big role in its performance. You want a product that has a creamy, glide-on formula for an easy application. It should also be buildable, allowing you to create both subtle and dramatic looks depending on the occasion.
A long-wearing contour stick is a must, especially for long days or special events. You don’t want your carefully sculpted look to fade halfway through the day. Look for contour sticks with claims of long-wear or check product reviews for insights into how well the contour wears throughout the day.
Dual-Ended or Multi-Use Features
Contour sticks that come with a highlighter on the other end or those that can be used for multiple purposes like contouring, bronzing, and concealing offer more bang for your buck and are great for saving space in your makeup bag. They are also ideal for travel or on-the-go touch-ups.