While contouring your face can seem intimidating, the right products can make a world of difference. Enter contour sticks, which, according to New York City-based makeup artist Suzy Gerstein, offer “a quick and effective way to really enhance the facial features.” Contour sticks are relatively easy to work with since their creamy formulas are easy to blend out, which is key to achieving a natural finish. Per Gerstein, “anything too densely pigmented or dry on texture will require more effort and precision.”
We interrupt this intro to bring you a quick Contouring 101 lesson. Whereas bronzers tend to be warmer-toned and often add a touch of shimmer to the skin on the highest points of the face, contour products lean more matte and cool-toned, and ideally one shade deeper than your bronzer in order to mimic natural shadows along your face shape.
Now, back to the good stuff, a.k.a contour sticks. In terms of application, you have two options. For some subtle sculpting, consider warming the product up on the back of your hand before going in with a makeup brush or beauty sponge. Alternatively, Los Angeles-based makeup artist Shadi Malek recommends applying the product “directly where you want it to be the most concentrated and blend outwards.” Regardless of how you choose to apply your contour, remember that less is always more.” For me, contouring is about subtly defining your natural features,” says Persico. “When you contour, it should be barely noticeable.”
Additionally, when it comes to choosing the best contour sticks, makeup artist Alexa Persico recommends picking ones that offer cooler-toned shades, which “tend to look the most natural on all skin types.” Persico also advises using a color that’s two shades darker than your normal skin tone to create a subtle shadow effect.
Now that you’ve got the lowdown on all things contouring, read on for the best contour sticks to add to your makeup routine, including beloved Best of Beauty Award-winning staples, underrated drugstore finds, and makeup artist-approved picks.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Milk Makeup Sculpt Stick, $24
- Makeup Artist Fave: Makeup by Mario Soft Sculpt Shaping Stick, $30
- Best Shade Range: Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick, $32
- Allure Award Winner: Em Cosmetics So Soft Multi Faceplay, $30
- Beginner-Friendly: Westman Atelier Face Trace Cream Contour Stick, $75
- Best 2-in-1 Formula: Uoma Beauty Double Take Contour Stick, $40
- The Steal: Wet N Wild MegaGlo Makeup Stick Conceal and Contour, $4
All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.