From working as highlighters and bronzers to doing the job of blushers or eye shadows, beauty sticks are clever, compact cosmetics. They’ve become increasingly prominent on make-up counters over the past year. They’re particularly popular because they’re often much easier to use than their original versions: there’s no need to bother with brushes and they travel well, so they’re great for applying make-up on-the-go.  

Eye make-up in crayon form is especially user-friendly, allowing for a more precise application. Blusher and bronzer sticks are also much easier to tackle than their powdery cousins – just draw on, blend in with your fingertips and bask in the glow of their subtle but effective finish.

We’ve selected a variety of different beauty sticks here to suit a range of budgets. All of these are easy to apply and give results faithful to the bulkier, less travel-friendly products you’re used to. 

1. Benefit Watt’s Up: £24.50, Benefit Cosmetics

This highlighter is perfect for less experienced make-up users as it’s so easy to apply. The creamy stick glides beautifully onto cheek and brow bones, and can be easily blended in using the sponge applicator at the other end. The delicate, barely-there finish suits a variety of complexions and skin tones and the dewy look it gives is ideal to see you through the remaining winter months.   

Buy now

2. Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon Colour Morphing Eye Shadow Pencil: £19, Selfridges

We love this eye shadow pencil, which comes in a range of different shades to match and enhance your natural eye colour – whether that be brown, blue or green. It glides-on easily and is long-lasting.  

Buy now

3. Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm: £4.50, Asos

This stick is just as moisturising as a normal lip balm, has a refreshing peppermint scent and glides on as easily as a chapstick – but still delivers the deeply pigmented effects of a lipstick, resulting in a bold matte lip that doesn’t smudge easily and only needs touching up a few times during the day. It comes in 14 shades so there’s something for everyone – we especially liked Sultry, a muddy raspberry pink that subtly reinforces the natural colour of your lips.  

Buy now

4. Kiko Radiant Touch Creamy Stick Highlighter: £8.50, Kiko Cosmetics

Our tester found this product particularly useful for topping up make-up throughout the day and freshening complexion. Use the gold stick to create a dewy winter look, or the rose one to achieve the just-got-in-from-the-cold, flush-faced look (without even leaving your desk). It’s completely foolproof, too – the shape of the stick and creamy texture means you can use directly on your cheek bones. Then, simply blend in with your fingers. It feels light and comfortable on the skin. 

Buy now

5. Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour: £22, Space.NK

It’s really worth forking out that little bit extra for this luxuriously smooth and creamy eye-shadow stick. Thanks to the precise tip, it glides with ease over your eyelids. The formula is also crease-resistant so it remains evenly applied throughout the day. Use it either as an eyeliner by applying it to the lash line or as a shadow by applying it over the lid. It comes in 18 different, easily-blended shades, so there’s plenty of choice.

Buy now

6. Bourjois Paris ColorBoost Lip Crayon: £7.99, Feel Unique

Here’s another lip crayon that feels just as light and moisturising as a balm, but gives you a great depth of colour. It delivers a smooth, shiny finish, but doesn’t make your lips feel sticky like most lip-gloss. Although we found the hydration doesn't last 10 hours as advertised, this stick is really good for day-to-day wear as it’s got built-in SPF15 as well as being waterproof. The twist-up end also means there’s no messy sharpening involved. We particularly liked Plum Russian, a gorgeous berry red. 

Buy now

7. Lancôme Ombre Hypnôse Stylo: £18, Feel Unique

This precise stick was effortless to use, and can also double up as an eyeliner. We would particularly recommend the darker shades, such as Erika F and Brun Captivant, which allow you to create a smoky eye look – ideal for winter – without having to dirty your brushes. There’s a handy built-in sharpener, too.

Buy now

8. Nudestix Bronzing Pencil: £24, Space.NK  

Even if you didn’t manage to escape somewhere sunny this winter, you can still get that subtly sun-kissed complexion thanks to this bronzer. Easy to use, it creates a matte finish that isn’t oily and sits comfortably on the skin. The stick adds a delicate warmth that keeps you looking fresh-faced, so it’s great for everyday wear. 

Buy now

9. Barry M Eyeshadow Pencil: £4.59, Barry M

This stick delivers great results without a hefty price tag – ideal if you’re feeling the post-Christmas pinch. Coming in seven different shades, these shadows glide smoothly and easily onto your lids and are great for both day and night. We especially like Gold Cream for an icy winter look that’ll take you right into spring. 

Buy now

10. Smashbox L.A. Lights Blendable Lip & Cheek Color: £25, Smashbox

With names like Beverly Hills Blush and Malibu Berry, these multipurpose beauty sticks for use on lips and cheeks will instantly add a bit of Hollywood glamour to your life. There’s product on one end and a sponge on the other, so you don’t need to get your fingers dirty to blend in – great for the morning rush or if you’re applying on-the-go. There are a variety of different shades, but our favourite for this season is Hollywood & Highlight, an elegant shade that illuminates your complexion.

Buy now

Verdict

For eye shadows, we particularly love the Laura Mercier, and for lips you can’t go wrong with the Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm. We also liked the Kiko Radiant Touch Creamy Stick Highlighter and the Nudestix Bronzing Pencil for novelty.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.