Contouring may seem like a tricky or tedious task, but with the best contour sticks in your makeup arsenal, achieving that sculpted look has never been easier. These handy sticks are easy to use and make applying contour quick and effortless. And best of all, they can be paired with a number of other cosmetic products such as foundation, highlighter, and blush to give you a flawless makeup look.
But which contour sticks work for a wide range of skin tones? And which ones will best mimic the appearance of sculpted cheekbones? With the large number of makeup brands, finding the right contour stick for you is not the easiest task. So we’ve done the research to help you find the best contour stick for your face. Read on to see our top picks, plus our handy buying guide to help you make an informed decision.
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Best contour sticks: at a glance
How to choose the best contour stick for you
What is contouring used for?
Contouring can be thought of as a way to sculpt the face by using lighter and darker shades to contrast with each other, adding depth and dimension.
Ideally, you should be looking for stick contour shades that are two or three shades darker than your natural skin tone or foundation. This way, there will be enough contrast between the stick and your skin tone, without looking artificial.
Depending on the effect you want to achieve with a contour stick, whether it’s a bronzed effect or defining certain points on your face, you have several options.
What are the different types of contour sticks?
When we think of contour sticks, a thick stick or pencil is what usually comes to mind. Some may be tapered or thinner in diameter, but most adhere to this stick-like design. These sticks will almost always be retractable, allowing you to easily twist the stick when you’re using it, then twist it back when you’re done.
There are also contour wands, like the Charlotte Tilbury Contour Wand. These dispense a liquid formula onto a sponge or built-in applicator pad, easily allowing a creamy, weightless consistency to be applied to the skin. However, these are not always as pigmented as traditional contour sticks.
How much should I spend?
As you’ll see from our list below, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get great results. Contour sticks usually start at £10, with one of our top picks even being offered for just £5. Mid-range contour sticks, which we were also very impressed with, can range from around £20-£30.
We don’t think you need to spend more than that to get impressive results. For those looking to apply their contour quickly and easily, a contour stick is definitely a worthwhile investment. And because you only need a small amount to have a big impact, a contour stick should last you much longer than other makeup products like foundation or mascara.
How to apply a contour stick?
Using the contour stick, apply or draw directly on the areas you want to define. These can be the cheekbones, along the jawline, near the hairline or temples, and along the sides of your nose.
As a general rule when contouring, especially if you’re looking for a softer or more natural finish, think about where the sun would naturally hit your face and use that as a guide for where to apply it to warm up your complexion. .
You can also use a contour stick to define your collarbones, which can be especially handy during the warmer months or on vacation. And the great thing about contour sticks is that they can easily slip into a makeup bag or travel bag for easy application on the go.
How do I blend my outline?
Once you have applied the contour shade to the desired areas, you can either blend your contour using your fingers or use a fluffy makeup brush to blend the product into the skin. You can even use a beauty blending sponge to diffuse the contour line you just applied.
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The best contour stick to buy
1. Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick: Best Full Contour Stick
Price: £21 | Shop now at Boots
Fenty Beauty is known for its diverse shade range, taking you from the lightest skin tones to the darkest shades. This makes it our go-to option because there truly is a shade for every skin tone.
This incredibly blendable stick was designed with layering in mind, meaning you can build up the intensity with every swipe. Despite that, it still stays light and doesn’t end up looking cakey. With a cream-to-powder formulation, this ensures that the finish looks natural with no creases on or around certain areas of the face.
Shop now at Boots
2. KIKO Sculpting Touch Creamy Stick Contour: best for dry skin
Price: £10.99 | Shop now at KIKO
For those who often struggle with dry or dehydrated skin, this contour stick from KIKO is a great choice. Its formula contains African walnut oil and pistachio extract, which prevents it from clinging to dry areas of the skin or accentuating blemishes.
And if you’re looking for a cool-toned shade rather than one that adds too much warmth, this is one of the best currently available on the market: it’s especially great for mimicking the look of sculpted cheekbones.
Shop now at KIKO
3. NYX Professional Makeup Wonder Stick: The best two-in-one contour stick
Price: £11 | Shop now at Feelunique
Available in light, medium and dark shades, each Wonder Stick comes with the same universal highlight color, allowing you to contour on one side and highlight on the other. This two-in-one product has an almost lipstick-sized stick, which means you can get much more precise than with some of the other bulkier options. The precise tip makes contouring along and around the nose especially easy, and the creamy formulation makes blending easy. This particular stick is also vegan.
Shop now at Feelunique
4. Gorgeous Glow Stick in Contour Collection: The contour stick at the best value for money
Price: £4.99 | Shop now at Boots
As far as best value goes, Collection’s Gorgeous Glow Contour Stick costs just £5 and is widely available from many retailers such as Superdrug, Boots, Asda and Wilko.
The pocket stick features a creamy formulation that blends well and allows you to create the amount of pigmentation you need. It may only come in one shade, but it will work universally on most skin tones to give you that glowing contour effect. You’ll also find highlight and blush sticks, also for as little as £5.
Shop now at Boots
5. NUDESTIX Nudies Tinted Blur: Best multi-use contour stick
Price: £28 | Buy now at Beauty Bay
If you’re looking for a contour stick that also has other uses, depending on the shade chosen, look no further than the Tinted Blur from NudestixNudies. With medium coverage and a semi-matte finish, this gives a natural finish to the skin and is also blendable easily.
This stick can be used for other complexion needs, such as color correction, concealing, and even on the lids as an eye shadow. According to Nudestix, it’s also vegan, cruelty-free, oil-free, and paraben-free. The product comes in its own matte black metal box, which houses a mirror, making it perfect for applying makeup on the go or taking it with you on your travels.
Buy now at Beauty Bay