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Contouring may sound like a tricky or time consuming task, but with the best contour sticks in your makeup arsenal, it has never been easier to achieve that sculpted look. 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 blusher to give you that flawless makeup look.
But which contour sticks cater for a wide range of skin tones? And which ones will best mimic the look of sculpted cheekbones? With the sheer number of makeup brands out there, finding the right contour stick for you isn’t 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, as well as our handy buying guide to help you make a well-informed decision.
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Contouring can be thought of as a way to sculpt the face by using lighter and darker shades to contrast one another, adding depth and dimension.
Ideally, you should be looking at contour stick shades that are two or three shades darker than your natural complexion or foundation shade. This way, there will be enough contrast between the stick and your skin tone, without looking unnatural.
Depending on the effect that you’re hoping to achieve with a contour stick, whether this is a sunkissed look or to add more definition to certain points on your face, there are several different options available to you.
When we think of contour sticks, a thick stick or crayon is what typically 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 up when using it and then twist it back down once you have finished.
There are also contour wands, such as the Charlotte Tilbury Contour Wand. These dispense a liquid formula onto an integrated sponge or cushion applicator, easily enabling a creamy and lightweight consistency to be applied to the skin. However, these are not always as pigmented as traditional contour sticks.
As you’ll see from our list below, you don’t need to spend a fortune for great results. Contour sticks typically start at a purse-friendly £10, with one of our top picks even coming in at as little as £5. Mid-range contour sticks, which have also impressed us thoroughly, can range from around £20 to £30.
We don’t think you need to spend any more than that for impressive results. For those who are 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 make a big impact, a contour stick should last you a lot longer than other makeup products such as foundation or mascara.
Using the contour stick, directly apply or draw onto the areas that you would like to give definition to. These can be the cheekbones, along the jawline, close to your 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 in order to warm up your complexion.
You can also use a contour stick to define your collarbones, which may be particularly handy in the warmer months or when on holiday. And the great thing about contour sticks is that they can easily fit into a makeup bag or travel bag for easy application on the go.
Once you’ve applied the contour shade to your desired areas, you can either choose to blend out your contour using your fingers or you can use a fluffy makeup brush to buff the product into the skin. You can even use a beauty blending sponge to diffuse the line of contour that you have just applied
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Price: £21 | Buy now from Boots
Fenty Beauty is known for its diverse shade range, taking you from the fairest of skin tones to the darkest of hues. This makes it our favourite option, as there truly is a shade for every skin tone.
This incredibly easy-to-blend stick was designed with layering in mind, meaning you can build intensity with each swipe. Despite this, it still remains lightweight and doesn’t end up looking cakey as a result. With a cream-to-powder formulation, this ensures that the finish looks natural without creasing on or around certain areas of the face.
Price: £10.99 | Buy now from 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 clinging to drier patches of skin or emphasising any imperfections.
And if you’re looking for a cool-toned shade instead of one that adds too much warmth, this is one of the very best that is currently available on the market: it's especially great for mimicking the look of sculpted cheekbones.
Price: £11 | Buy now from Feelunique
Available in light, medium and dark shades, each Wonder Stick comes with the same universal highlight colour, allowing you to contour with one side and highlight with the other. This two-in-one product has an almost lipstick-size stick, meaning that you can be much more precise than with some of the other chunkier options. The precise tip makes contouring down the length of and around the nose especially easy, and the creamy formulation makes it simple to blend. This particular stick is also vegan friendly.
Price: £4.99 | Buy now from Boots
When it comes to the best value for money, Collection’s Gorgeous Glow contour stick comes in at just £5 and is widely available from a range of retailers such as Superdrug, Boots, Asda and Wilko.
The pocket-size stick contains a creamy formulation that blends out nicely and allows you to build the amount of pigmentation that you require. It may only be available in one shade, but it will work universally on most skin tones to give you that glowy contoured effect. You’ll also find accompanying highlight and blush sticks, also for as little as £5.
Price: £28 | Buy now from Beauty Bay
If you’re looking for a contour stick that also has other uses, depending on your chosen shade, then look no further than the NudestixNudies Tinted Blur. With medium coverage and a semi-matte finish, this gives a natural finish to the skin and can also be blended easily.
This stick can be used for other complexion needs, such as colour correcting, concealing and even on the eyelids as an eyeshadow. According to Nudestix, it's also vegan, cruelty-free, oil-free and paraben-free. The product comes in its very own matte black metal tin, which houses a mirror, making it perfect for doing makeup on the go or taking with you on your travels.
Buy now from Beauty Bay
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