7 best stick foundations
Flawless, long lasting coverage without the faff of a liquid foundation
In today's fast paced world, applying your makeup on the go is the new normal.
In the days of liquid foundation, this was a messy and awkward endeavour for obvious reasons, but since stick foundations have become more popular and brands are creating amazing formulas in the most convenient of packaging, doing your base on a moving vehicle is a doddle.
Stick foundations are also a dream for travelling (no glass bottles which are likely to explode beige liquid all over your suitcase), touch-ups and those days when you just want something you can blend out with your fingers and not have to worry about.
Sticks don’t have the best reputation after the early-Noughties incarnations which were stiff and drying and at the same time managed to slide around your face the minute you got even slightly warm.
But more and more brands are releasing stick foundations which are long lasting, natural looking and easy to apply.
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation: £30, Escentual
This may be the perfect stick foundation. It's creamy, smooth and with just a few strokes you can cover the whole face.
It blends so quickly and seamlessly whether you use your fingers, a brush or a sponge, and it gives a beautifully natural, slightly dewy finish which gets better throughout the day as your natural oils come through, without ever looking greasy.
The stick gives a nice medium coverage and is incredibly buildable if you want to go for the full glam, flawless look. We’ve yet to find a cream or powder product that doesn’t blend beautifully on top of it and for a cream product it really does seem to last a good eight hours even without setting it. Plus it comes in 40 different shades.
Nars Velvet Matte Foundation Skin: £30, Asos
This product feels creamy but does have a tendency to go a bit patchy in dry areas and slide off a little if you get greasy. However, if you have normal skin, it’s an absolutely beautiful product.
It feels like butter when it goes on and blends out in seconds, leaving a skin-like finish that’s soft matte. You would probably need to powder it as it’s not the longest lasting, but the stick comes with a sponge on one end, so if you need to touch up during the day it’s not too much of a hassle, and it builds well, even over powder.
Revlon PhotoReady Insta-Fix: £9.99, Boots
This is probably the most full-coverage of the stick foundations we tried. It’s a slightly stiffer formula and blends best with a damp sponge, although you need to move fast as it sets quickly and you risk ending up with an uneven application.
That said, when it is on, it has a delightful blurring, airbrushed effect. It builds beautifully and as it sets so quickly you can do a couple of layers within minutes.
It has a matte finish so you can forgo powder and it’ll last on the skin all day without breaking up or going patchy. It’s not the most luminous of foundations, but if you want that matte, flawless look, it’s the one for you.
Hourglass Vanish Seamless Foundation Stick: £42, Cult Beauty
This was one of the first stick foundations to kick off the trend and get everyone talking – and it is a stunning product.
Let’s get its biggest flaws out of the way though: Firstly, the packaging is a nightmare. The triangular applicator seems like a good idea in principle but doesn’t really do much in practice except make it impossible to get the lid back on so you end up stabbing the product itself which is messy and frustrating for such an expensive foundation. It also isn’t the most long-lasting.
However, if you want your face to look stunning for four to five hours, you can’t go wrong with this guy. It’s incredibly creamy and sets down to a stunning medium coverage with a luminous lit-from-within sort of finish. It blends beautifully and is undetectable on the skin, even when you build up layers for extra coverage. Although it doesn’t last all day, it does fade nicely, without looking too patchy or oily.
Clinique Chubby in the Nude Foundation Stick: £25, Boots
This crayon-like foundation has a thick, waxy texture when you apply it, and when it’s blended out it has a good amount of coverage which gives the skin a nice sheen. In practice, this looks a lot more flattering than it sounds, as it covers imperfections without leaving the skin looking flat and matte. I found it doesn’t cling to dry patches and keeps oils at bay well.
Probably not one for those looking for a sheer no-makeup makeup kind of look, but a great option if you want fuller coverage with a dewy finish.
NYX Mineral Stick Foundation: £11.50, FeelUnique
This formula is pretty comparable to the Hourglass foundation – it’s incredibly creamy and easy to blend but it is probably the sheerest of the bunch.
It builds nicely but even with a couple of layers you’re not going to get much more than medium coverage. It gives a lovely dewy finish but you will need to powder it down as it has a tendency to transfer and slip around a bit otherwise.
It’s definitely not the most long lasting but if you use a setting spray you can get a nice six hours of wear out of it.
Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick: £31, John Lewis
This is a beautiful product if you want a medium coverage skin-like finish. It blends out best with a brush and it doesn’t set completely matte so you have a fair bit of play time to really buff it in.
It builds well if you need a bit of extra coverage in certain areas and has that velvety finish which works well with oilier skin but doesn’t cling to dry patches.
For such a creamy formula it is pretty long lasting. Even without powdering it stays in place for a good six hours, although you will get some shine if you tend to be a bit oily. For dry skin though it works beautifully on its own and retains a nice dewiness.
The Verdict: Stick foundations
If you’re looking to splurge on a luxury product, the Hourglass Vanish Stick will look stunning on most skin types, but if you’re lucky enough only to need a sheer coverage, NYX has a great, affordable alternative. If you have oily skin the Nars stick will work wonders, while for a more dewy finish with a good coverage the Clinique option will look lovely on dryer skin types.
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