If there’s one thing I can’t get enough of, it’s beauty products that promise to make my life easier. I’m a textbook early adopter; I will believe all of your hype until I’ve tried it for myself and (reluctantly) disproved it. Because like alien-crazed TV detectives from the early '90s, I want to believe. I’m basically a walking target consumer (or walking Target consumer?).
Quick, what’s the easiest kind of makeup to use? C’mon, you know this one. Stick, right? Uber-portable, unspillable, and no brushes required; just apply to face and blend with fingers! When I heard about contour sticks, my why-didn’t-I-think-of-that lightbulb went off. Naturally, I needed to get my hot little hands on a few and test-drive them. For science.
Sonia Kashuk Chic Defining Contour Stick
This chubby little guy is a steal at $10.99. It’s the shortest and thickest of the three contour sticks, with a round, dome-shaped surface in a highly pigmented, neutral medium-brown shade that works for a variety of skin tones. The formula also contains African walnut seed oil and pistachio butter, which explains how it blends so beautifully. The wide, flattish surface gives a more subtle, natural effect (this is not your Bowie-cheekbone product). The size could prove a bit unwieldy for shading directly on the nose, but applying with your fingers or a flat, wide eye shadow brush would work.
Tarte The Sculptor Contouring Face Slenderizer
I love the precision of this crayon-shaped stick--it’s great for getting a sharp line exactly where you want it, which can be a difficulty with any contour formula. A well-demarcated (but still blended!) line makes your contour really pop; bones look sharper and more delicate. And I like that it contains Tarte’s signature Amazonian clay for longer-lasting color. However, I found it far too warm for my skin tone. I can use it as a bronzer, but it doesn’t look anything like shadow under my cheekbones. For those of you with warm, light-to-medium skin tones, it’s a go.
em Cosmetics Chiaroscuro Contour and Highlighting Stick
From vlogger (and beauty empire creator) Michelle Phan’s em Cosmetics line, this stick comes in four colors (whew, finally some choices!). Each stick has lipstick-shaped bullets on either end to house a shimmery highlighter and a matte contour shade. I probably should be wearing the Fair shade instead of Light, but it’s still a very pretty look, if not particularly dramatic. I expected to dislike the highlighter end, since I rarely put anything shimmery on my face (chalk it up to early 2000s roll-on glitter flashbacks), but I was pleasantly surprised. The shimmer is understated and flattering--no disco-ball effect here.
Bonus Round: CoverGirl TruBlend Fixstick
As I was gathering these products for review, I started to get worried about the lack of shade diversity. I doubt the above shades would even show up on anyone darker than “kinda tan.” As an alternative, there are a far wider range of concealer shades available, so pick one with a similar undertone that’s a few shades deeper than your natural skin tone. Any stick/pencil-shaped concealer will do, but I really like these CoverGirl Fixsticks because they’re highly pigmented, blendable, and long-lasting. Plus, they have that crayon-tip for precise contouring. (Of course, since I like them so much I now need one in my actual shade, damn it…)
One more quick tip: I actually found myself reaching for these sticks a few times when my lipstick felt too bright or too pink--they’re the perfect not-too-dark browns to tone down loud colors, and the crayon-like shapes are great for precise application. I actually used to carry a matte medium-brown lipstick everywhere with me for just this purpose, but it’s not the most common shade these days (post-'90s). The effect is crazy-flattering, I promise.
So what beauty innovations are you impatiently awaiting? I’m still holding my breath for that Jane Jetson Morning Mask (seriously, what’s the holdup with this, anyway?).