The 14 Best Stick Foundations of 2023

With picks from Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford, and Make Up For Ever

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Stick Foundations

Byrdie / Kevin Liang

Foundation sticks are the unsung heroes of the multi-tasking makeup world. Not only do they function as an overall base product, but they can do double duty as a concealer or a contouring stick, all in a super compact size that doesn’t take up much room in your makeup bag. It also doesn't hurt that they've come a long way in recent years. Rather than just glue stick-like, drying formulas, there are now tons of options on the market that vary in terms of texture, coverage, and finish.

So if you want an easy, mess-free, do-it-all coverage product, look no further than our exhaustive edit below. We've spent hours researching the best options on the market and taking our editor's experiences into consideration to bring to you the very best foundation sticks, evaluating them on coverage, shade range, and finish. After considering dozens of formulas, we landed on the following best in show.

Best Overall

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation

4.8
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation

Amazon

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Long-wearing

  • Doesn't look cakey

  • Buildable

What We Don't Like
  • May not be ideal for oily skin

A creamy formula that glides on like a second skin and imparts a gorgeous natural finish? Check and check. This Make Up For Ever product is all your foundation dreams realized. Designed for all skin types, the full-coverage formula helps conceal everything from redness and blemishes to scarring and dark circles. But the best part is that although it does some heavy-duty masking, the finish doesn’t look cakey. Plus, you can apply just a stroke or two for a more natural-looking, medium coverage. While it features a natural finish, beware that it does get a bit dewier as you wear it, so we recommend that those with oily skin apply just a lightweight moisturizer before application.

Price at time of publish: $43

Coverage: Medium to full | Shade Range: 18 | Finish: Natural satin | Size: 0.44 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Budget

Wet n Wild PhotoFocus Stick Foundation

Wet n Wild Photo Focus Matte Foundation Stick Makeup, Shell Bisque | Vegan & Cruelty-Free

Amazon

What We Like
  • Buildable coverage

  • Lightweight

  • Hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • Not the most long-wearing

We love an affordable makeup gem, and this budget buy from Wet n Wild is one of the best. It offers full coverage that's really buildable but in a way that’s not too thick or mask-like. Infused with argan and sunflower seed oils, the product feels hydrating on the skin but still dries down to a soft, matte finish. It's easy to blend out with a brush or makeup sponge, and once applied, it gives the complexion an even, blurred effect. While it's not the most long-wearing pick on this list, it looks beautiful for around six hours before signs of fading start to appear.

Price at time of publish: $6

Coverage: Medium to full | Shade Range: 21 | Finish: Semi-matte | Size: 0.42 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Splurge

Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick

4.3
Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick

Sephora

What We Like
  • Buildable

  • Long-wearing

  • Skin-like finish

What We Don't Like
  • Formula could be a bit rich for oily skin

Creamy and malleable, this formula is easy to tailor to your desired coverage but building it up. Spot-apply it and blend with a damp sponge for a sheer look, or swipe and buff in for a full face. It's very quick and easy to blend across the face, and once applied, it creates the most stunning, skin-like finish. Though it feels really comfortable as you wear it, it does have a rich texture, so it does get more luminous throughout the day—keep this in mind if you have oily skin. It's a great pick for mature skin. While there's no denying how pricey it is, the luxurious finish and the amount of product in the stick make it a fair value.

Price at time of publish: $89

Coverage: Medium to full | Shade Range: 37 | Finish: Natural| Size: 0.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No

What Our Testers Say

The Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick will give you smooth, natural-looking skin in a matter of minutes. Its easy-to-blend formula and weightless feel creates the appearance of healthy skin while lasting for hours without any caking or fading.” —Khera Alexander, Product Tester

Best Medium-Coverage

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

4.2
Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

Sephora

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Buildable

  • Hydrating

  • Skin-like finish

What We Don't Like
  • Can cling to texture

If you're looking for a foundation stick that will give you significant coverage but still let your complexion show through just a bit, this is the one for you. It’s not thick like other stick formulations—instead, it glides on easily and almost melts, resulting in a complexion that looks even and satin-like. It's a great option for people with oily skin, but it's also really nice if you have dry skin and don't want something too glowy—just know that it can emphasize dry texture, so be sure to exfoliate and moisturize first.

Price at time of publish: $52

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 43 | Finish: Natural | Size: 0.31 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

bobbi brown skin foundation stick

 Byrdie / Khera Alexander

What Our Testers Say

"A soft, smooth, and creamy product, this foundation stick was really easy to use and apply to my skin." —Khera Alexander, Product Tester

Best Full-Coverage

Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear 5-In-1 Foundation Stick

Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation Stick

Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Oil-free

  • Transfer-resistant

  • Contains SPF

  • Full-coverage and skin-like

What We Don't Like
  • Attached brush isn't effective and adds bulk to packaging

Want bulletproof coverage that won’t budge? Lancôme has got you covered. This handy stick ticks all the boxes: It's full-coverage, long-wearing, transfer-proof, and buildable. There’s a lightweight SPF in there too, but we suggest layering over your regular sunscreen for adequate protection (can’t have too much of a good thing). Though it provides excellent, full coverage, it manages to maintain a blurred, natural-looking finish on the skin. It's a great option for special events, but it's also totally wearable for every day.

Price at time of publish: $49

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 22 | Finish: Natural matte | Size: 0.33 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Long-Wearing

Hourglass Cosmetics Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick

4.8
Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick

Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Long-wearing

  • Easy to blend

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel heavy on the skin

Byrdie’s resident foundation expert Holly Rhue loves this Hourglass offering for a multitude of reasons. First, it’s waterproof and long-wearing, meaning it can withstand whatever your day wants to throw at you. While it’s heavy in pigment (three times the amount found in regular foundation), the warmth of your skin will ensure it blends like a dream. Expensive, yes, but it's worth it—trust.

Price at time of publish: $49

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 32 | Finish: Natural | Size: 0.25 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Shade Range

Huda Beauty #FauxFilter Skin Finish Buildable Foundation Stick

Huda Beauty Skin Finish Buildable Foundation Stick

Sephora

What We Like
  • Easy to blend

  • Fragrance-free

  • Buildable coverage

What We Don't Like
  • Can emphasize pores and texture

Want super fresh skin on the go? Makeup guru Huda Kattan’s FauxFilter stick is seriously amazing stuff. The tapered, triangular tip makes it easy to spot apply in tricky areas, while the creamy finish makes blending easy. It does give skin a filtered look, but in a natural, believable way. And if you struggle to find foundations that match your skin tone, this one is worth trying, as it has a diverse shade range that features tons of different depths and undertones. Call it magic or just really good makeup, but take our money regardless.

Price at time of publish: $39

Coverage: Medium to full | Shade Range: 39 | Finish: Natural | Size: 0.44 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Contouring

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick

fenty-beauty-match-stix-matte-contour-skinstick

Sephora

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Long-wearing

What We Don't Like
  • Can be hard to blend

If you want a foundation stick that doubles as a contour, this is a fantastic option. The texture is lightweight but super matte, so carving out facial contours is surprisingly easy—all you need is a dense face brush and a little patience. If you’re new to the game, we suggest tracing the product along the underside of your cheekbones, across the top of the forehead (almost in the hairline), and along the jaw. Blend until it’s undetectable, and marvel at your bone structure.

Price at time of publish: $28

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 8 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.25 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Fair to Medium Skin

Nudestix Nudies Tinted Blur Stick

4.6
Nudestix Nudies Tinted Blur Stick

Sephora

What We Like
  • Hydrating

  • Lightweight

  • Paraben-free

What We Don't Like
  • Some may prefer more coverage

This innovative product is like a tinted moisturizer in stick form. Unlike more pigment-heavy options, this goes on quite sheer, blurring the look of pores, blemishes, and uneven skin tone. If you’re someone who prefers CC creams and barely-there coverage, you’ll love this. The line contains a great mix of warm- and cool-toned shades for lighter skin hues, so if you struggle to find shades that are fair enough for your complexion, this is a great option.

Price at time publish: $32

Coverage: Sheer | Shade Range: 10 | Finish: Natural matte | Size: 0.22 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Dark Skin

BLK/OPL True Color Skin Perfecting Stick Foundation SPF 15

BLK/OPL True Color Skin Perfecting Tint

Ulta

What We Like
  • Contains SPF

  • Long-wearing

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

The BLK/OPL line is formulated specifically for deeper skin tones, so the shade offering here is excellent if you have deep or dark skin and struggle to find shades that match your skin's depth and undertones. The coverage is second to none, so it works well on hard-to-conceal blemishes and dark spots. It's quick and easy to blend, looks excellent on skin, and wears beautifully.

Price at time of publish: $14

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 24 | Finish: Velvet matte | Size: 0.5 ounce | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Oily Skin

Milk Makeup Flex Foundation Stick

4.9
MILK MAKEUP Flex Foundation Stick

Sephora

What We Like
  • Long-wearing

  • A little goes a long way

  • Buildable

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel heavy on the skin

Occasionally, oily skin and matte finishes don’t mix—the oil just causes the product to settle or separate. Milk Makeup offers a solution with Flex, a workable but mattifying option that won’t crack or crease when midday shine appears. The secret ingredient is marshmallow root, an extract that gives the product bounce and freedom to move with your facial contours (rather than against them).

Price at time of publish: $36

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 36 | Finish: Natural | Size: 0.35 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Dry Skin

Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick

VITAL SKIN FOUNDATION STICK

Violet Grey

What We Like
  • Hydrating

  • Easy to blend

  • Provides antioxidant protection

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel a bit greasy on the skin after a few hours

If you typically don’t like stick foundations because you don't find them to be emollient enough, this product will convert you. The texture is light and blendable, and the stick itself is full of skin-loving ingredients like vegetable-derived squalane, camellia seed oil, and coconut. It's also a great pick for sensitive skin. The texture is heavenly, and working it into the skin hardly takes any effort. Best of all, it provides lasting hydration for dry skin types.

Price at time of publish: $68

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 21 | Finish: Natural and radiant | Size: 0.31 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Body Makeup

Dermablend Quick Fix Body Foundation Stick

5
Dermablend Quick Fix Body Foundation Stick

Ulta

What We Like
  • Very long-wearing

  • Easy to blend

  • Creamy texture

What We Don't Like
  • Contains mineral oil

Stick formulas can be a great choice for covering scars, acne marks, tattoos, and other markings that are notoriously difficult to conceal, and this heavy-duty stick designed for the body covers them all. With a long-wearing formula, it resists transferring and smudging, yet blends in easily into skin with a creamy, emollient feel. You can also build up the coverage by tapping it layer by layer onto your skin.

Price at time of publish: $32

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 10 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Sensitive Skin

Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Foundation and Concealer Stick

Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Foundation and Concealer Stick

Sephora

What We Like
  • Doubles as concealer

  • Moisturizing formula

  • Feels lightweight on skin

What We Don't Like
  • Contains BHT

The last thing you want if you have sensitive, reactive skin is a product that feels heavy and cakey. Merit's The Minimalist Foundation and Concealer Stick feels light and looks extremely natural on the skin, providing light-to-medium coverage. With fatty acids and sea daffodil extract, it feels nourishing and smooth and helps keep skin soft as it blurs imperfections. And it's free of mineral oil and other irritants that can aggravate sensitive skin or cause breakouts.

Price at time of publish: $38

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 20 | Finish: Natural | Size: 0.2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict 

Our favorite foundation stick is the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation. It's comfortable on the skin, easy to blend, and provides full, skin-like coverage. If you prefer a more budget-friendly option, go for the Wet n Wild PhotoFocus Stick Foundation. And if you've been in search of one that has medium coverage, you'll love the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick.

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

What to Look For in a Stick Foundation

Coverage

Consider what type of coverage you're looking for before you make your selection. If you want something that will completely blur skin imperfections, go for a full coverage option, like the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation or the Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear 5-In-1 Foundation Stick. If you prefer more sheer products, the Nudestix Tinted Blur Foundation Stick is a great option for you.

Your Preferred Finish

Just like liquid or cream varieties, stick foundations offer the same versatility in terms of finish. From matte to dewy and luminous, and even a pore-blurring finish that’ll make you selfie-ready in seconds, you've got options. 

Consider Your Skin Type

As we mentioned, stick foundations vary from dewy, medium or natural coverage to matte, full-coverage. Consider your skin type to determine how the product will wear on your skin. If your skin is oily and acne-prone, for example, you might want a product designed for full coverage that stays matte all day. Conversely, if your skin is dry, look for more luminous formulas to impart a glow.

FAQ
  • Which foundation stick is best?

    The easy answer is the one that works best for you. Be sure to take the coverage and finish into consideration when selecting the one that suits you best. If you have oily skin, going for an option that leans matte will likely suit you best. On the contrary, if you have dry skin, an emollient option, like the Westman Atelier Vital Skin Full Coverage Foundation and Concealer Stick, will suit your skin type beautifully.

  • How do you apply a foundation stick?

    The way you apply a foundation stick is totally up to you, but swiping it onto your skin directly from the stick and then blending it out with a damp makeup sponge or brush is a fast and easy method of application.

  • Are foundation sticks good for dry skin?

    They can be, if you pick the right formula. Though stick formulas get a reputation for being on the dry side, many are formulated with rich, hydrating ingredients to apply smoothly and blend easily. Look for moisture-rich oils in the ingredients list to ensure the stick foundation will be a good pick for skin that's on the dry side.

Updated by Alyssa Kaplan

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