If powder contour palettes aren't your thing and you want a sculpting tool that you can take out and about, consider a contour stick! Once you get the hang of using these cream contours, you'll be able to add perfect shadows to your face in minutes. That's why we researched the best contour stick out there and made a list of our 10 favorites.
Take a look at the top pick on our list, Bobbi Brown's Skin Foundation Stick. It's water-resistant, made with good ingredients, easy to apply, and comes in many inclusive shades. For more options, check out other suggested products on our top 10 list! Don't forget to read through our buying guide where we've provided you all of the things you need to know to get the best contour stick that matches all your needs.
Natalya is a professional makeup artist based in Los Angeles and has been trying new products to find what is best for each individual's skin tone and type. She is self-taught but wanted to further her education, and she went to a makeup school in Los Angeles to learn the ins and outs of makeup. She has tried many makeup brands and products and can proudly say she has found some of the best and longest-wearing products. As a freelance makeup artist, she wants her clients not to worry about their makeup not lasting as long as they need it to.
mybest US' editing team consists of experienced members who have backgrounds in writing, editing, translation, and more. We are dedicated to researching what makes a product or service the best to users in the US in order to create top-quality articles. From skincare, to kitchen appliances, and to DIY supplies, our mission is to find the best ones for you.
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Choosing the right contour color is important, but you should also make sure that it's easy to use! Keep these points in mind to help you find the best one.
Choosing the right shade for your skin tone is the most important thing when it comes to contouring. If you have fair or light skin, consider light or neutral taupe shades described as grayish-brown. Be sure to avoid orange and dark shades because since they can look unnatural.
Although there are plenty of shade options for medium skin, it's a good idea to stick with a darker shade of taupe for a natural look.
To choose the perfect shade for dark skin, select shades between cool and warm tones. These colors are often described as "neutral." You'll want to ensure that the shade you choose is visible and doesn't wash out your complexion. So, dark brown is a great shade for dark skin tones.
If you're new to contouring, start with one shade darker than your skin tone and see how it works. A lighter shade is easier to blend seamlessly into your skin and helps you create a soft, natural-looking shadow effect.
However, if you find the shade is too light or invisible on your skin, you may want to work with two shades darker than your skin tone. A darker shade can add more depth and dimension to your face; however, it requires more practice to get a smooth and consistent finish.
For sculpting, consider three shades darker than your skin tone. Sculpting is a shaping technique that helps you change your face shape and features. If you do it right, it'll make the angles of your face pop and look flawless.
Keep in mind that contour products should be matte! The goal of contouring is to make your face looks more defined, so you'll need a matte product to create a natural-looking shadow effect.
Shimmery products emphasize areas of your face instead of concealing them, so they shouldn't be used for contouring. Also, avoid using bronzer as a contour! Bronzers make skin look tan or sun-kissed, so they usually come in warm shades with orange or red undertones. If you use it as a contour, you may end up looking orange or dirty.
When it comes to contouring, try to stick with cool-toned shades. Gray-tone shades are ideal since gray works great with most skin tones.
However, this doesn't mean you have to choose a gray color for contouring! Instead, it means choosing the right shade for your skin tone mixed with some gray. Although gray may look flat on the stick, it adds dimension to your face in a natural way.
Cream products range from light to dark. Shade can be visualized by the use of the gray scale. "0" equals white and "10" equals black on the gray scale. The shade of everyone's face can be found on the gray scale.
When a base is too light or too dark on the skin, you add either a lighter color or a darker color to the mix to find the perfect shade for you. A shade is gray in color, but gray represents lightness to darkness.
To avoid looking too dark or too light (or even too red/orange), adding a cool tone gray contour can help mix the two tones so that you have the right amount of gray and amount of warmth to add dimension.
The product portion of a contour stick is called the "lead." A thin lead is ideal for small areas like the sides of your nose and the area over your lip. However, it can break easier than a thick lead, especially if you twist it up too much.
On the other hand, a thick lead allows you to apply the product quickly in larger areas like your cheekbones, forehead, and jawline. Plus, it tends to be more durable!
For a natural-looking effect, get a contour stick that's soft, smooth, and pigmented. Take a look at the product reviews to see if people like the consistency. If you're looking for a convenient on-the-go option, consider a two-in-one design that includes contouring and highlighter or ones that come with a brush.
Having a contour palette is like having an eyeshadow palette - they both have many options of shades to use on different days to create different looks. A contour palette can look intimidating, but a good palette will have many shades and many different purposes.
They should be easy to use because it has concealer options, correcting options, bronzing options, contouring options, and sometimes even blush options. Common shades in a palette are yellow, white, nude, pink, and skin tones from light to dark. Makeup shouldn't be stressful! It's there to help build our confidence when we need it and give us that snatched glowy bronzed look."
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Skin Foundation Stick
Water-Resistant Foundation Stick Suits All Skin Tones
Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick
A Buildable Contour Cream That Lasts All Day
NYX Professional Makeup
2-in-1 Contour and Highlight Stick
Complexion Rescue Hydrating Foundation Stick
SPF 25 Contouring Stick for Dry Skin
Anastasia Beverly Hills
Contour & Highlight Stick
Highly-Pigmented Contouring Stick With Cool Undertones
Teint Idole Ultra Wear 5-In-1 Foundation Stick
Multitasking Stick With a Built-In Kabuki Brush
Wet n Wild
MegaGlo Makeup Stick Conceal and Contour
Cruelty-Free and Blendable Contour Stick
Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour
Oil-Free Formula With a Natural Finish
Make Up For Ever
Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation
Buildable Coverage for Dry or Normal Skin
Maybelline New York
Fit Me Foundation Stick
Fragrance-Free Contour Stick That Controls Shine
This water-resistant foundation stick offers medium-to-full coverage and is available in a wide variety of shades. It features a blend of shea butter, olive oil extract, beeswax, and candelilla to add moisture to your skin. Additionally, it's made without parabens, sulfates, and mineral oil!
A few reviewers said this product feels a little heavy on their skin. However, many reviewers liked its smooth texture, saying it's easy to apply and blends well. They also said it covers blemishes and redness well. Overall, reviewers appreciated its natural-looking finish.
This contour stick has a cream formula that dries to a powder matte finish. It's formulated without parabens, phthalates, and animal products. Plus, it comes in a range of shades, making it suitable for all skin tones.
A few reviewers found this contour stick difficult to blend. But, many reviewers said it's lightweight, very pigmented, easy to use, and buildable. They said it gives a natural finish and lasts all day, too!
Looking for a portable contour stick? This product includes a contouring cream and highlighter, and it comes in six shades. It's a great option for throwing in your purse or suitcase. It's cruelty-free and made without animal-derived ingredients, too!
Some reviewers complained that it's oily. But overall, many said it's long-lasting and provides a very natural look. They also liked that it blends well and is easy to use. Plus, they appreciated the range of shades available.
This water-based foundation stick offers medium coverage and provides a mineral-based SPF of 25 to protect your skin. Additionally, it's formulated with red algae and volcanic seawater to hydrate your skin. It also is made with a high amount of mineral water for added moisture.
Since this is a hydrating product, reviewers note that it isn't good for oily skin. However, many reviewers liked the creamy consistency, saying it glides smoothly and feels comfortable on their skin. Plus, they said it makes their skin look dewy, noting that it's ideal for dry skin. They also said it's blendable and stays all day.
This cream contour stick offers a matte finish and comes in three color options suitable for light to medium skin tones. It has a highly-pigmented formula, which allows you to build up to your preferred level of intensity. Additionally, it's cruelty-free and is formulated without parabens and fragrance.
Some reviewers found that the formula is too dry, making it difficult to blend. However, others said that the cool-toned shades don't look orange on their skin, making it perfect for contouring. They also noted that a little bit of product goes a long way.
This multitasking stick comes with a built-in kabuki brush, making it convenient to use and easy to travel with. It has a cream-to-powder formula and offers full coverage with a matte finish. Plus, it's transfer-resistant and comes in a wide range of shades!
A few reviewers said it looked a little cakey on their skin. However, many reviewers said it's buildable and applies smoothly without creasing. They appreciated its portable packaging, saying it's easy to carry in their makeup bag. Some reviewers also said it doesn't clog pores and helps control shine.
This cream-to-powder contour stick is cruelty-free. It's mainly used as a concealer, but it's also available in three brown shades that you could use for contouring. Plus, it comes in lightweight and portable packaging, making it easy to carry around. Its lead is quite thick, making it ideal for contouring large areas.
A few reviewers noted that the shades have a warm undertone that might not suit all skin tones. Some also felt that it's a little thick. But, many others liked that it's creamy and blends quickly. They also appreciated that it's easy to build up or sheer out.
This cream contour stick comes in one shade that's suitable for people with light to medium skin tones. It can be applied directly on your skin or over foundation. It's also formulated without oils.
Some reviewers found it too warm, saying it looked orange on their skin. But, overall, many reviewers said that it's easy to use, blends well, and stays put all day. They also note that a little goes a long way.
This foundation stick offers medium-to-full coverage with a satin finish, making it ideal for people with normal or dry skin. It has a creamy, long-wearing formula and comes in many shades.
Some reviewers found that this stick makes their skin look cakey and don't recommend it for oily skin. However, many said it blends well, hides pores, and covers redness. Reviewers with dry skin especially loved its creamy texture.
This gel foundation stick offers medium coverage with a natural matte finish. It has a non-comedogenic formula and an anti-shine core inside to absorb excess oil. It's also fragrance-free.
Some reviewers noted that it has an odd smell and doesn't stay put all day. But overall, many said it's lightweight, goes on smoothly, and blendable. They also appreciated its compact packaging, saying it's easy to travel with.
In addition to reviewing and commenting on our buying guide, Natalya also took the time to answer some commonly-asked questions about contour sticks.
Natalya explains, "Draw a light line where you want the contour and sculpt the face, then blend with your fingers (which adds warmth to easily blend), a wet damp beauty blender, or a dense contouring brush to blend upwards in circular motions. The areas you want to focus on with a contour stick are the cheekbones, jawline, and forehead. You can contour the nose if needed as well.
It's easier to use a thicker contour stick to draw on bigger areas of the face like the jawline, forehead, and cheekbones. For smaller areas, you want to use a smaller contour stick. You want to apply the cream contour stick over your cream or liquid foundation to get the best blended application.
To keep your face from looking muddy, make sure you find the best color for you and blend it to a natural finish. Take your time with cream contour sticks to keep it from looking messy. The lighter the touch, the better the blend."
"If you don't have a contour product, using a darker shade of cream or liquid foundation can do the job," Natalya says. "Using a stippling brush to apply a darker shade than your foundation can give you that contoured look.
If you don't have any cream products to contour with, you can go in with a powder product to achieve the same look. You should set your foundation first with a powder to create a beautiful blend with your bronzing shade.
Packing the product on with an angled dense brush will deepen the look and give you a more sculpted face. If you don't have any powder contouring shades, though, you can even use eyeshadow palettes and a brush to apply in areas you want to be sculpted."
Looking for more portable makeup items? Check out some of our favorite products that are easy to carry around and make touch-ups a breeze.
No. 1: Bobbi Brown｜Skin Foundation Stick
No. 2: Fenty Beauty ｜Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick
No. 3: NYX Professional Makeup｜Wonder Stick
No. 4: bareMinerals｜Complexion Rescue Hydrating Foundation Stick
No. 5: Anastasia Beverly Hills｜Contour & Highlight Stick
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