A makeup artist using a contour stick

A makeup artist using a contour stick (Photo by Impact Photography on Shutterstock)

Gone are the days when you woke up in the morning, slapped some foundation on your face, added a little coverup and blush, and went about your day. Now, we are highlighting, contouring, and everything in between. Think your nose is too wide? Or your jaw is not chiseled enough? No worries! There are thousands and thousands of videos on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok showing you how to use a contour stick to enhance or minimize certain features. The same holds if you want more defined cheekbones, a bigger forehead, or wider eyes. The best contour sticks bronze and define your facial features to elevate and sculpt your natural beauty into the perfect glam!

While contouring may seem like the latest craze to take social media by storm, it dates back to the 1500s. In Elizabethan theater, they used toxic lead-containing materials to exaggerate facial features. Of course, using lead in any makeup today is a big no-no. The seemingly endless stream of how-to videos may have something to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. A study conducted at the height of the pandemic found that 51 percent of American women surveyed wore makeup and changed their looks to stay positive and confident. A whopping 63 percent of millennial women used this coping mechanism, which may help explain all the makeup tutorial videos out there these days.

But what exactly is a contouring stick? It’s a cosmetic product used to define, enhance, and sculpt the structure of the face. It typically is a cream in a stick form, similar to lipstick. The contouring sticks come in many shades to perfectly compliment any skin tone. They are a must-have in today’s makeup trends.

If you’ve ever tried to buy a contour stick, the array of choices is dizzying, which is why we have done the work for you. StudyFinds scoured the internet to find the best overall contour sticks. We visited 10 leading beauty expert websites to see which products are rated the best. Our list highlights the most recommended contour stick products across these sites. Have a favorite that didn’t make the list? Comment below and tell us why you love it so much!

Female hands holding makeup bag with cosmetic beauty products
Makeup bag (© photoguns – stock.adobe.com)

The List: Best Contour Sticks, According to Experts


1. MAKEUP BY MARIO SoftSculpt Shaping Stick

Dubbed “magic in a stick” by Harper’s Bazaar, this shaping stick created by celebrity make-up artist Mario Devivanoic is a best-seller that is hard to keep in stock! “Mario essentially put the makeup look on the map (via the Kardashians’ faces); therefore, it’s no surprise that his namesake contour stick is an actual magic wand.”

MAKEUP BY MARIO Softsculpt Shaping Stick in Medium Dark
MAKEUP BY MARIO SoftSculpt Shaping Stick in Medium Dark

Byrdie is impressed with the shaping sticks “creamy, buildable” nature and loves that is comes in six different shades. “I find contour sticks for pale faces skew very warm and overly bronzed, which creates an unpleasant contour shade,” says Shannon Bauer, Senior Commerce Editor. “This one has great cool brown undertones that look like realistic shadows. I use shade Light (and I am PaleAF), but it also is a nice range of six shades. The cream blends easily and sets to a natural matte finish, plus the brush on the end makes it a one-stop shop.”

Looking for a contour stick that incudes a brush? Good Housekeeping says this one fits the bill. “The Makeup by Mario contour stick is the all-in-one, foolproof way of applying contour,” says deputy editor Jessica Teich. “It’s highly pigmented with a stunning matte finish, plus the longwear formula truly lasts all day.”

2. Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick

This highly recommended contour stick by pop superstar Rihanna is an Allure editor-favorite. Make-up artist Alexa Persico is impressed with the product’s “long-lasting color payoff.” She told the magazine the cream-to-powder formula “blends like a dream without caking or patchiness, which is a game-changer and stays in place, even if you have naturally oily skin. Plus, with ten contour shade options, it’s easy to find the perfect hue for your skin.”

According to Oprah Daily, “Whether you have pale skin or dark skin, you really can’t go wrong with the contour stick in Rihanna’s makeup line.” NYC professional makeup artist Arzesha Ramcharan says, “There really is a contour shade for everyone in this collection and the undertones are spot-on.”

If you’re buying a contour stick for the first time, New York-based makeup artist Toni Greenwood told InStyle, “The geometric packaging makes the stick easier to grip and allows anyone to seamlessly glide the product across the hollows of their cheekbones, along the jawline, and down the sides of the nose without issues.”

3. Milk Makeup Sculpt Contour Stick

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, consider the Milk Makeup Sculpt Contour Stick. The New York Post believes “the value you’ll be receiving is pretty great, especially for this hydrating formula.” In addition to getting a fabulous bang for your buck, the paper says the product is “buildable to the max”.

Milk Makeup Sculpt Contour Stick
Milk Makeup Sculpt Contour Stick swatches

Allure loves the bronzers from Milk’s Makeup, so it’s no surprise it also loved the contour sticks. The magazine says, “These matte, cool-toned hues are some of the best cream formulas we’ve ever tried and give us a seamlessly sculpted look — in part thanks to nourishing thyme extract and sunflower seed oil — without any silly cakiness, muddiness, or streaking that we’ve sometimes come to expect.”

Harper’s Bazaar probably has the best ringing endorsement for this contour stick encouraging you to “Use this bronzer stick literally everywhere: cheeks, eyes, lips, collarbones, arms, legs … you get the point. It’s crazy easy to blend for a contoured look or all-over bronze.”

4. NYX Professional Makeup Wonder Stick Cream Highlight & Contour Stick

With over 16,000 five-star Amazon reviews, Oprah Daily says this drug store find is a “dual highlighter and contour stick” that’s not only user friendly, but also “goes on smooth and blends like a dream.”

NYX Professional Makeup Wonder Stick Cream Highlight & Contour Stick in Shade 08 Deep Rich
NYX Professional Makeup Wonder Stick Cream Highlight & Contour Stick in Shade 08 Deep Rich

InStyle believes the “slim stick design makes for easy, targeted placement (i.e. fewer mishaps!).”

Beauty and Health Reviews Analyst Chiara Butler insists “this is the best contour stick for fair skin, and its impressive eight shade range is a rarity in drugstore brands. ” She told Good Housekeeping, “the creamy formula and rounded tip mean it glides on and blends with ease.”

5. Westman Atelier Face Trace Contour Stick

This face stick is much more expensive than the others. Oprah Daily describes it as the best option for those with “mature skin” noting “it’s important to choose creamy products, since more matte finishes can settle into fine lines and wrinkles. This super creamy and blendable formula fits the bill.”

If you like to apply products with your fingers this is the contour stick is for you. “Whether you apply with fingers or a brush, blending this product out is a snap (read: you will not end up with zebra stripes, no matter your skill level),”  New York City-based makeup artist Suzy Gerstein tells Allure magazine.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Amy Chodroff

Amy Chodroff is a recovering Morning Radio Show Host and award-winning broadcaster who recently retired from DFW’s Morning News on KLIF in Dallas. Fondly known as the “Chief Googler” by her friends, it was a seamless transition for StudyFinds to enlist her expertise for their “Best of the Best” franchise. Amy has an innate curiosity and a penchant for thorough research before any purchase and she’s constantly on the hunt for top-notch products. Outside of her digital explorations, Amy loves to explore the world with her husband and is the proud mother of two adult daughters. You can also find Amy on the pickleball court, perfecting her dink and drop shots.

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