The 10 Best Contour Sticks of 2023

A chiseled jawline and sculpted cheekbones are just a few swipes away with these foolproof sticks.

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.

Best Contour Sticks of 2023

InStyle / Marcus Millan

It may seem like everyone on social media naturally has the most defined cheekbones imaginable, but I’ve uncovered their secret — contouring. For years I thought contouring was a makeup technique best left to the pros, but really all it takes is a good contour stick to achieve the sculpted cheekbones and sharp jawline of my dreams. 

Contour sticks give everyone — from makeup novices to pros — the control and ability to expertly diffuse facial shadows and create model-esque definition. Plus, they’re creamy, portable, and buildable, and require less tools than a powder. 

Since contouring has become so popular, many brands have rushed to create their own contour sticks, making the market oversaturated and leaving everyone wondering what products are actually worth the money. Luckily, we weeded out the less than stellar options by testing out top picks and asking makeup artists for their favorite options. Ultimately, 10 contour sticks stood out. Find the best contour sticks that seamlessly create natural definition, below.

Best Overall

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick



What we love: The cream-to-powder formula blends beautifully for a natural looking sculpt.

What we don’t love: The matte finish can feel drying after a long day.

Beloved by makeup professionals and consumers alike, Fenty Beauty continuously makes headlines for its innovative products — but our tried-and-true favorite has to be the Match Stix Contour Skinstick. The weightless, longwear formula creates the perfect sculpt every time, but the smart design goes beyond the easy to blend formula. New York-based makeup artist Toni Greenwood explains that 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.

According to Los Angeles-based makeup artist Rachel OCool, the rich cool-tones and matte finish of all nine shades also make these fantastic for creating the most natural shadows on your face. If you’re looking for a more dramatic sculpt, you can build up the intensity with a few more swipes, but know that building the product can sometimes result in a drying effect as the day wears on. To avoid this, stick with two to three swipes for a dramatic, comfortable contour.

Price at time of publish: $28

Formula: Cream-to-powder | Size: 0.25 oz | Shades: 9 | Finish: Matte

Best Budget

wet n wild MegaGlo Makeup Stick - Contour

wet n wild MegaGlo Makeup Stick - Contour


What we love: The affordable contour stick is very pigmented, but still easy to blend.

What we don’t love: We wish the three shades were more cool-toned. 

You don’t need to spend a ton of money to get a chiseled jawline or sculpted cheekbones — in fact, it can cost you less than $5 when you use the wet n wild MegaGlo Makeup Stick. We love how easy the chubby stick is to use: Simply swipe and blend with a beauty sponge, contour brush, or your fingers, and you’re all set. 

The initial swipe of the highly-pigmented formula can be a bit jarring, but OCool assures us that the formula blends beautifully, leaving skin bronzed and streak-free. And though you probably won’t need to touch up (the cream-to-powder contour is extremely longwearing), we appreciate that the stick is small enough to toss in your purse just in case. One thing to improve: We’d love to see the color range expanded to include some cooler-toned hues because all three of the current shades lean warm.

Price at time of publish: $5

Formula: Cream-to-powder | Size: 0.21 oz | Shades: 3 | Finish: Matte

Best Splurge

Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick

Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick


What we love: Because it comes in 20 shades, you can use it as contour, foundation, or even highlighter.

What we don’t love: The formula tends to settle into fine lines. 

“This is a beautiful, clean complexion stick that comes in 20 shades," says Greenwood of the multitasking stick that can conceal, contour, and highlight. The creamy complexion stick includes skin-loving ingredients, like hydrating glycerin and brightening sea daffodil extract, which help decrease spots and pigmentation. With a few stealthy swipes, the product leaves your skin with a healthy sheen, and when used to contour, it creates the most natural looking shadows. Be sure to properly moisturize before applying this, though, otherwise the formula can settle into fine lines.

Price at time of publish: $38

Formula: Cream  | Size: 0.23 oz | Shades: 20 | Finish: Natural

Best Drugstore

NYX Professional Makeup Wonder Stick Cream Highlight and Contour Stick

NYX Professional Makeup Wonder Stick Contour and Highlighter Stick


What we love: The slim stick design makes for easy, targeted placement (i.e. fewer mishaps!).
What we don’t love: The highlighter side isn’t very pigmented.

If you’re a complete newbie to contouring, you probably won’t want to spend a fortune on a contour stick. Luckily, the NYX Wonder Stick isn’t just affordable, it’s also a great beginner product to learn contouring basics. The dual-ended stick features a creamy contour on one end to add dimension, and a complementary shimmer highlighter on the other to add a glow to the high points of your face. 

Both formulas are extremely creamy, and blend with just a few taps. Plus, the slim stick makes swiping and placing product an easy task, so you’re less likely to experience any mishaps — an added bonus for contouring beginners. While many contour sticks are better blended with a tool, we recommend using your fingers (especially when blending the highlighter side since it isn’t very pigmented) for a more refined finish. 

Price at time of publish: $14

Formula: Cream | Size: 0.28 oz | Shades: 8 | Finish: Satin

Best For Dark Skin Tones

BLK/OPL Skin Perfecting Stick Foundation



What we love: The shade range is catered to those with darker skin tones.
What we don’t love: It doesn’t have much staying power unless set with a powder.

Similar to the MERIT stick, BLK/OPL True Color Skin Perfecting Stick Foundation comes in 23 shades, but the spectrum runs much deeper because it specifically caters to darker skin tones. Functioning as a contour and foundation stick, the full coverage formula easily masks uneven skin and acne scars — but Greenwood urges that a little goes a long way (you really only need a quick swipe to get the ideal coverage and color payoff). As an added bonus, the formula includes SPF 15 sun protection. 

Compared to other contour sticks on our list, this one has a velvety finish (making it look a bit-more skin like). While we love the overall softer finish, it also lessens the staying power of the product, so be sure to top it off with some setting powder to ensure your contour lasts all day. 

Price at time of publish: $15

Formula: Cream | Size: 0.5 oz | Shades: 23 | Finish: Velvet

Best For Light Skin Tones

Rare Beauty Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick

Rare Beauty Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick


What we love: The unique formula glides onto skin like a cream and blends as seamlessly as a liquid.

What we don’t love: The shade range is very limited.

Though the Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush gets a ton of recognition for its highly-pigmented blendable formula, the brand’s Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick is quite similar yet flies relatively under the radar. OCool says that the stick deserves just as much (if not more) attention for how the unique cream formula melts into the complexion, blends like a dream, and sculpts features in the most natural way possible.

Part of the reason why this stick makes contour look so natural is its satin finish, which gives skin a filtered effect. We do wish the shade range was more expansive so more people could experience the stick for themselves, but we’re hopeful that Rare Beauty will add more soon. 

Price at time of publish: $26

Formula: Cream  | Size: 0.25 oz | Shades: 5 | Finish: Satin

Best For Dry Skin

Em Cosmetics So Soft Multi Faceplay Bronze + Sculpt

 Em Cosmetics So Soft Multi Faceplay Bronze + Sculpt

 Em Cosmetics

What we love: Infused with squalane and vitamin E, this contour keeps skin moisturized throughout the day

What we don’t love: It’s only available on the official brand site.

Michelle Phan, one of the original YouTube beauty vloggers, started Em Cosmetics in 2015 to create quality makeup for beauty novices and professionals alike. Though the line features over a dozen products, the So Soft Multi Faceplay Sticks are a serious standout. 

“This contour stick is super creamy and universal,” OCool says. The airy and whipped formula comes in four hues and is enhanced with emollients like squalene and vitamin E to strengthen and hydrate the skin. These hydrating ingredients don’t just make skin feel great, they also prevent the contour from becoming patchy throughout the day. Honestly, it was difficult to find a downside for this product because it performs beautifully, but we do wish it was more widely available — it’s currently only sold on the brand’s website.

Price at time of publish: $30

Formula: Cream | Size: 0.28 oz | Shades: 4 | Finish: Satin

Best For All Skin Types

Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer

Milk Makeup Matte Cream Bronzer Stick


What we love: This chubby stick will last you a long time — up to 1000 swipes.
What we don’t love: It has a strong coconut scent. 

If you’re yearning for a sun-kissed, chiseled complexion, simply swipe the Milk Makeup Matte Cream Bronzer Stick along the contours of your face. Don’t be fooled by the bronzer name — the product contours and sculpts even though its undertones lean warm. Made with mango butter and apricot oil, the creamy matte stick glides onto skin and actually hydrates with wear. Plus, it provides natural definition wherever you swipe it. 

Don’t be detered by the mini si — this stick can be used up to 1000 times, so it will last a very long time. If you aren’t a fan of tropical scents you may want to skip this, though, because it does have a strong coconut scent.

Price at time of publish: $24

Formula: Cream  | Size: 0.19 oz | Shades: 2 | Finish: Matte

Best Dual-Ended

Makeup by Mario Softsculpt Shaping Stick



What we love: You get a two-in-one purchase: There’s creamy formula on one end and a removable buffer brush on the other.
What we don’t love: Though it blends like a dream when using a brush, it doesn’t blend as seamlessly when using your fingers

Although celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic obviously didn’t invent contouring, he’s been dubbed the ‘contour king.’ (He’s the mastermind behind Kim Kardashian’s signature sculpted look.) So it came as no surprise that when he launched his eponymous makeup line a contour stick was included — and frankly, it's incredible.

Though the formula blends like a dream, we especially love that the product is essentially a two in one: You’ll find a gorgeous matte cream on one end, and a built-in buffer brush on the other. When used together, the contour and brush beautifully sculpt your features. If you’re one of those people who likes to bypass makeup tools to use your hands, you may want to skip this product — surprisingly, the formula doesn’t melt into skin as nicely when using your fingers.

Price at time of publish: $30

Formula: Vegan, Cream | Size: 0.37 oz | Shades: 6 | Finish: Matte

Best Liquid

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand


What we love: The color is buildable, so you can create both subtle and dramatic sculpts depending on the occasion.
What we don’t love: The sponge tip applicator isn’t removable and can get pretty grimey. 

Although not technically a stick, the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand comes with an easy-to-use cushion applicator that pinpoints application areas (like a stick) for a seamless sculpt with every use. Crafted with treated pigments, the liquid formula reflects light and also creates realistic shadows depending on the placement. 

If you’ve been deciding between a contour or a bronzer, OCool explains that this gives you the best of both worlds. “It’s kind of a two in one because the formula is a liquid, the shades are pretty universal, and it creates a more natural effect,” she says. She suggests applying it on your cheekbones, jawline, forehead, and down the nose to simultaneously warm up your complexion and simulate shadows.

Price at time of publish: $42

Formula: Liquid | Size: 0.40 oz | Shades: 2 | Finish: Semi-Matte

What to Keep in Mind


When it comes to selecting a contour stick, a good rule of thumb is to choose a color that is two to three shades darker than your skin tone. Most brands have an average of three to five hues for contour sticks, but MERIT The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick goes above and beyond with 20 shades, keeping inclusivity top of mind. 

Traditional contouring shades are more cool-toned to create shadows, however if you naturally have warmer undertones, selecting a stick with similar tones (like wet n wild MegaGlo Makeup Stick - Contour) can define your face in a more natural way. Whether you opt for a warm-toned or cool-toned stick, it ultimately comes down to your personal preference. 


Most contour sticks either come in a satin or matte finish, and both can completely transform your end look. If you’re after an understated day-to-day contour look, opt for a stick with a velvet or satin finish (like BLK/OPL TRUE COLOR Skin Perfecting Stick Foundation SPF 15 or Rare Beauty Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick) because these look the most natural and create a skin-like effect. On the other hand, when you’re going for a full-glam, sculpted end look, matte finish contour sticks (like our best overall pick Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick) will give you the long-lasting chiseled results you're after. 

Your Questions, Answered

How do you use a contour stick?

There are two main ways you can use a contour stick. First, “you can draw [directly] onto your face and blend it out with a sponge or brush,” OCool explains. On the flip side, you can paint the contour onto a sponge or brush before applying it to your face for more control. 

How do you blend a contour stick?

You can blend out contour in a variety of ways, but you will get a different result depending on the tool you use. When you want a more subtle contour, Greenwood suggests starting with your hands. “Using your fingers to blend melts the product better, whether you have mature, textured, or youthful skin,” she says. 

For more dramatic sculpts, Greenwood and OCool both recommend using a dense brush (like the Morphe M6 Pro Flat Dense Buffer Brush or the Sigma Beauty F80 Flat Kabuki Brush) to buff the contour into the skin in upward strokes. This creates a more targeted effect and allows you to easily build up intensity.

Are contour sticks better than powder?

OCool and Greenwood both agree that contour sticks are easier to use than powder contour products and create a more natural result. “You have more control with cream products,” says Greenwood. “They're great for all skin types and melt better into the skin [than powder].” 

Powder contours can emphasize imperfections and texture without skillful application. Plus, stick formulas are usually creamy, which allow them to melt into the skin rather than sitting on top like powders do. If you’re a beginner, we recommend learning to contour with a stick because their design allows for targeted application; plus, the creamy formulas are easy to blend and ideal for all skin types.

Why Shop With Us

Cam Zhang is a freelance lifestyle and beauty writer. She’s been in the media and publication industry for over five years, helping to find and create content on the leading beauty products. For this story, she tried out contour sticks and interviewed New York-based makeup artist Toni Greenwood and Los Angeles-based makeup artist Rachel OCool, who gave recommendations for the best contour sticks for every skin type and tone.

Related Articles