What is the best contour stick?
If you’re just learning how to contour your face with makeup, contour sticks are a great way to start. These creamy sticks are easy to use and provide you with a simple way to add dimension and sculpting to your features. Plus, you don’t need extra tools like sponges or brushes to apply the makeup. The stick form makes it easy to target contour hot spots, such as your hairline, under your cheekbones and the jawline.
For a highly blendable formula, you can’t go wrong with Fenty Beauty’s Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick. It’s incredibly popular due to the high-quality formula, and it comes in seven different shades.
What to know before you buy a contour stick
While some brands only offer one shade of contour sticks, others offer a more extensive range of shades. If you have very fair skin, it can be tricky to find a contour shade that’s not too dark. Conversely, if you have dark skin, it can also be tricky to find a shade that’s deep enough for your skin tone. As a rule of thumb, choose a contour shade that’s two to three times deeper than your regular foundation.
In addition to the contour stick’s shade, consider its undertone. A contour stick with cool tones tends to mimic shadows and dimension. However, if you are going for a sun-kissed look, a slightly warm or orange undertone can help you achieve a bronzed look. Typically, your contour stick should maintain a muted tone to mimic shadow and not add color.
Most makeup artists recommend using a matte finish for your contour. This is because you want to mimic the natural shadow that falls beneath your sculpted features. Use shimmery products above your contour to mimic where light hits. You may want to apply a shimmery highlighter for those areas to give you more dimension. There are shimmery finish contour sticks available, but these usually act more as bronzers, which adds warmth to the face.
Because contour sticks are cream-based, they are ideal for dry skin. If you have extra oily skin, you may want to consider a contour powder instead. Many high-end contour sticks feature hydrating ingredients that nourish the skin and allow the contour makeup to glide on. If you have dry skin, select a contour stick with moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil, jojoba oil or shea butter. These ingredients will keep your skin looking dewy and fresh.
What to look for in a quality contour stick
Some contour sticks come with a sponge-tip applicator. These sticks, or wands, offer the same easy, direct application while adding the extra perk of a mini-sized beauty blender. This feature allows for more controlled, buildable application and better blending.
Since good contouring requires highlighting, some beauty brands offer a dual-ended contour stick with a highlighter at one end. Others offer a brush, so you can blend out the formula. Contour sticks with built-in brushes tend to be more expensive than an average contour stick.
Waterproof and long-wear
Water-resistant contour sticks are great for those who live in damper climates and may experience more moisture throughout the year. You can also look for contour sticks with long-wear formula, which will stay on throughout the day.
The clean beauty movement is becoming more popular, especially as health-conscious consumers opt for products that are free from chemicals and synthetic ingredients. Though non-toxic contour sticks are pricier, they are free from harmful ingredients such as parabens, formaldehyde and phthalates.
How much you can expect to spend on a contour stick
Drugstore contour sticks start as little as $4 and cost up to $12 for a dual-ended contour and highlighter. Midrange contour sticks start at $25, and high-end formulas can cost up to $50.
Contour stick FAQ
Can I use a foundation stick as a contour stick?
A. You absolutely can. Just pick a color that’s two shades darker than your regular foundation stick. But depending on the foundation you use and your skin color, you may or may not be able to find the right shade.
Where on my face should I apply a contour stick?
A. It depends on your face shape, but the most popular areas are your temples, at the hairline of your forehead, on either side of your nose and along your jawline. Make sure to blend the color, so your contour doesn’t have any harsh edges.
What’s the best contour stick to buy?
Top contour stick
What you need to know: This easy-to-apply matte contour stick comes in seven shades to accommodate plenty of skin tones.
What you’ll love: With seven sticks to choose from, the shade range includes deep contour shades for dark and brown skin tones. The Mocha and Amber shades offer cool undertones for a realistic look. The creamy formula glides on smoothly and is highly blendable.
What you should consider: For some wearers, the cooler shades were still too warm and looked unnatural on their skin.
Top contour stick for the money
What you need to know: If you want a highly affordable, cruelty-free and super blendable chubby contour stick, this is your best bet.
What you’ll love: This $5 contour stick features long-wear formula and offers a radiant finish that lasts all day. A little goes a long way, and the product is very easy to blend. The compact stick is perfect for on-the-go application.
What you should consider: The finish is more like that of a bronzer, and it may be too warm or dewy for some skin types.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This mid-range creamy contour stick has a hypoallergenic formula for sensitive skin types.
What you’ll love: The moisturizing formula features walnut oil, and it glides on smoothly. The matte finish blends well and doesn’t leave skin looking orange. The darker Chocolate shade works well on pale skin.
What you should consider: This contour stick only comes in two shades.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Ana Sanchez writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.