We Tried Makeup by Mario’s SoftSculpt Shaping Stick to Create a Snatched Look

A celeb makeup artist weighs in on whether this product lives up to the hype

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Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt

Byrdie / Kayla Bickham

We put the Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt Shaping Stick to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

It’s with no shame that I admit here today, I might have been using a bronzer to snatch my nose instead of a contour stick—that is until I discovered this product. You see, contour should be more cool toned than warm to best imitate a shadow when chiseling the hollows of your cheeks, the outline of your jawline, and either side of your nose’s bridge.

The secret to a perfectly snatched look though, is not only in the application, but the product too. What we love about the Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt Shaping Stick is its blendability, which makes soft sculpting a cinch. "The formula's consistency adds to its believability," notes celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles, who has worked with Gabrielle Union and Lily Collins. "It has a similar texture to skin so it’s not shiny,” she says. “It’s not powdery or buttery, either," she explains.

 Dedivanovic deserves my coin because beyond mastering the right shadow-like shade, it’s obvious the stick was made intentionally with its application in mind. When Dedivanovic recommends a technique, you use it. 

 Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt Shaping Stick


Shop now:  Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt Shaping Stick , $30

We love the dense brush at the opposite end of the tube. Normally I wouldn’t think twice about opting to use my own go-to brushes over any 2-in-1 product, but when Dedivanovic recommends a technique, you use it. 

For a lifted look, I always place the brush directly over the where the product is placed and blend upward and/or outward. I didn’t time it, but I swear it only took a few seconds before the streak of Medium Dark was just a shadow of my naturally genetic chiseled features. 

Skin Type and Tone

While I believe a product needs more than six shades to be recognized as inclusive, the SoftSculpt Shaping Stick was formulated with all skin types in mind. Truthfully, there was only one ingredient found to be irritating (tc12-15 alkyl benzoate)  and it’s only if it were to get too close to the eyes. I’d say that would be something to worry about if we were dealing with a concealer or foundation, but here, that’s just not the case. 

Beyond that, each ingredient is not only commonly found in our everyday makeup, but our skincare products too. This means that they are low in toxicity and most importantly, safe to use on sensitive or acne prone skin. In fact, most of the ingredients contain larger molecules that prevent them from penetrating the skin anyway so we don’t have to worry about it clogging our pores at all. The most concerning ingredient would have to be caprylic/capric triglyceride since it’s derived from coconut oil and glycerin. Luckily, even a negative reaction to this is super rare. You’d have to be severely allergic to coconut to experience any irritation. 

Besides the occasional dry patch in colder months and an oily T-zone during warmer ones, my combination skin doesn’t usually react negatively to cosmetic products. Still, I’m cautious with what I put on my face.  After testing the shade and consistency on the back of my hand, I felt comfortable applying it to my face after experiencing no immediate negative reaction. Honestly, I expected as much considering all Makeup by Mario products are both cruelty- and paraben- free. Seeing the girlies successfully use the stick on my TikTok For You Page also reassured me that it was unlikely to cause me any burning or breakouts. 

 Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt Shaping Stick

Byrdie / Kayla Bickham


Makeup by Mario Sculpting Stick

Kayla Bickham / Byrdie

There’s something about the five raised nubs in the center of the dense brush that makes the product disperse evenly no matter how it’s applied. The formula and the brush actively work together to make for an easily blendable product. 

It might feel unnatural not to reach for your own contour brush, but don’t sleep on what the one at the other end of this stick can do. There’s something about the five raised nubs in the center of the dense brush that makes the product disperse evenly no matter how it’s applied. The formula and the brush actively work together to make for an easily blendable product. 

When it comes to contouring, finding the right shade is vital; so is application. Too much product can end up looking muddy. Too little won’t give the sculpted appearance we’re after. Where it’s placed specifically on the face is how we achieve that lifted effect. Starting at the top of my ear, I traced the creamy product under my cheekbones diagonally and downward. Instead of blending back and forth over the line, I dragged the product upward in small short strokes. This way, it blends into other face makeup (blush and concealer) for a seamless finish. 

Applying the stick directly on your skin may cause too much payoff ,“so I use it with my finger,” Stiles says. “And then I'll use a dual fiber brush to buff it out on skin.”

My trick for contouring my nose is to create one endless line starting midway down my bridge and upward into my eye socket. First I drag the product downward to the tip of my nose, then outward towards my nostrils and cheeks, and finally upward on top of my eyelid. This is where I feel like a smaller and more precise brush might work a bit better. To snatch my nose contour even more, I use translucent powder to set my under-eye concealer and the sides of my nose. A triangular powder puff fits in that space just right. 

The final step pf my technique is to apply product to my forehead. I use my cheekbone contour to draw short lines on my temple and above the arch of my brow in the same direction. Once blended, all three areas work together to lift the face upward and back. 

We tried Makeup By Mario's SoftSculpt Shaping Stick

Byrdie / Kayla Bickham

After applying Makeup By Mario's SoftSculpt Shaping Stick



I mentioned it before, and I’ll say it again. The cool undertones in this shade range imitate a shadow just right making it better than any bronzer I’ve attempted to create the same effect with. My go to has been the Rare Beauty Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick because it adds so much color to the face. As a contour though, specifically on my nose or under my jawline, it looks a bit out of place compared to this stick by Makeup by Mario. Nonetheless, both are nearly identical in consistency. Formula wise, the same can be said for Fenty’s Match Stix Contour Skinsitck

A $30 price tag feels justified. The SoftSculpt Shaping Stick excels by its mastery of the cool undertone, the way it melts into a full face of makeup, and the excellent brush at the opposite end. On the other hand, its shade range is less extensive than a few of its competitors. Although I found my shade just fine, I wouldn’t recommend the Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt to my best friend a few shades darker than me. The deepest shade is nearly identical to her foundation color, so this wouldn’t be successful in creating a shadow on her face. 

 Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt Shaping Stick

Byrdie / Kayla Bickham

What You Can Expect to Pay

After testing the best contour sticks of this year, we named the SoftSculpt Shaping Stick the Best Overall. Most contouring sticks fall in the $20 to $60 range. At $30, the Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt Shaping Stick is on the lower end of the spectrum. For a 2-in-1 product that multitasks as creamy contour and removable brush, I’d say that’s a pretty good price.

Meet the Expert

 Fiona Stiles is a celebrity makeup artist whose work has been featured on the covers of Vogue, Harper's Bazzar, and Ebony. She's worked on campaigns and for Gucci and Lancome, and regularly styles celebrities for the red carpet.

Final Verdict

Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt Shaping Stick was made with intention from its creamy formula to angled buffing brush. Because both work together to blend out so effortlessly, it makes for a makeup beginner friendly product despite how intimidating the art of contouring may be. Mistakes can be blurred away and more can be built upon without looking harsh or caked on. 

Yet, the shade range doesn’t allow me to say it’s a product that anyone can use. With only six shades to choose from, a lot of consumers are left out. While its ingredient list works well on any skin type, I wish the same could be said about skin tone. I could see myself buying the stick again and again, but it’s not a product I can recommend to everyone.

  • Who is the owner of Makeup by Mario?

    Mario Dedivanovic owns Makeup by Mario. In addition to his celebrity line up of makeup clientele, Mario Dedivanovic's career also includes magazine shoots and red carpet looks. Twenty years in the making starting from his early days at Sephora, he founded Makeup by Mario in 2020. Now in his roles as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Creative Officer, he uses his experience to create easy-to-use products that give professional looking results.

  • What's the difference between a contour stick and soft sculpt stick?

    The SoftSculpt line includes everyday essentials meant to create soft and natural-looking definition. While contour can create harsh lines on the face, this line of products are made creamy so that they’re both easily blendable and buildable. The SoftSculpt Shaping Stick specifically has an applicator to contour with precision. Unlike other contour sticks, the finish is just as subtle as it is matte.

  • How do I find my perfect shade of the Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt Shaping Stick?

    “If you want to use it as a bronzer, just go one shade lighter and if you want to use it more as a contour, go one to two shades darker,” explains Stiles.

    If it's too light, and it won't define, contour or make a real difference in the overall look. For the best results, there’s a virtual try-on service on the Makeup by Mario website that uses a selfie to determine which Surrealskin Foundation is a true match. From there, you can choose the Softsculpt Shaping Stick shade one to two times deeper.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor, Kayla Bickham tests vital makeup products, reviews new launches and recommends the best picks for readers’ skincare and makeup routines. Her work can be found in Business Insider and POPSUGAR.

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