Whether you’re swiping over your eyelids on a bleary early morning or in a hurry on the bus before a night out, eyeshadow sticks are about the most forgiving thing you can put on your face: great colour ranges and long-lasting pigmentation, no brushes, no messy fingers, no dropping powder on to your cheeks and next to no blending required.

A child could do it – and probably quite happily would, considering their crayon-like applicators. Layer as many shades as your eyelids can handle or, if you’re short on time, a wash of a single colour will lift a quick lick of mascara to look like you actually made an effort. These are our favourites.

Nars Velvet Shadow Stick: £21, Nars

Nars’ Shadow Sticks are our absolute favourite for price, creamy, easy-glide formula, colour range and the fact that they do not budge – even when worn for a hot, steamy shower. Our favourite daytime look is layering up Hollywoodland and Siros (pictured), which are lightly shimmering golds that are closer to nude than orange, and all the more wearable for it. 

For a more dramatic look, the navy Glenan and black Flibuste are both highly pigmented and won’t melt down your face at a sweaty party.

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Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour: £23, Space NK

We love using Laura Mercier’s Plum shade along the lash line or to add depth to the socket, combined with lighter brown shades, for a warmer, more flattering twist on the usual grey and black smoky eye. Caviar Sticks are lightweight and glide on easily, but they do set fairly quickly so you need to work quickly to blend them.

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Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon: £19, Charlotte Tilbury

For a change from the common round-tipped, twist-up applications, Charlotte Tilbury’s eyeshadow sticks come in the form of giant, child-like pencils (you will require a correspondingly large sharpener). They glide on incredibly easily and have great colour while being subtle enough not to require much blending at the socket. Our colour pick is true-gold Champagne Diamonds.

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Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick: £23, Bobbi Brown

One of the creamiest, most pigmented applications with one swipe that we found. Goldstone is a cool, dirty gold that’s almost silver, making it a nice change from the usual warm bronze shades, and had the best metallic shimmer punch of any we tried.

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Burberry Eye Colour Contour: £23, Burberry

Burberry’s sticks are sheer but buildable, which means you can achieve a more subtle look than the others we tested. Midnight Brown is a beautiful gentle brown with a slight shimmer, perfect for daytime in a light wash and then used in a softer smoky eye come evening. 

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Lancome Ombre Hypnose Stylo: £21, Lancome

These are our favourite for precision work thanks to their (gentle) points: use in the crease of your socket for definition or as a relaxed, smudgy liner. On nights out, opt for Erika K for the perfect shimmery gunmetal grey. They take a little more pressure to apply than the others we tried, so contact lens wearers may find they move lenses around a little.

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Sisley Paris Phyto Eye-Twist: £32.50, Sisley Paris

OK, these are the most expensive on this round-up by quite a way, but here’s what you get for your money: beautifully pigmented, jewel-rich colours; the advantages of a pencil-style shape without the need for a sharpener, and such budge-proof efficiency that they’re my go-to for wedding make-up. Oh, and zebra print packaging. Change up your usual neutral with the very wearable Khaki shade.

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YSL Full Matte Shadow: £23, YSL Beaute

A different formula, these richly pigmented liquid-to-powder shadows are applied with a lipgloss-style applicator; use the flat to sweep over the lid or the pointed end to line the lashes. Innocent Beige is the perfect nude for everyday barely there make-up.

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Verdict: Eyeshadow sticks

You won’t regret buying any of these, but for value for money based on how often you’ll use them (ie, every day), we recommend Nars.

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.