When it comes to choosing foundation, the options can be overwhelming. It’s not just shade ranges—there are the different coverage levels, finishes, and, of course, formulations. And while liquid formulas tend to rule the market, stick foundations have a particular enduring legacy. From classic, old-school beauty behemoths to new, cutting-edge indie brands, it seems like all the greats have their own take on the foundation stick. Merit Beauty’s foundation stick even garnered a 10k person waitlist at its launch.
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The real benefit of a foundation stick, according to celebrity makeup artist Amber Amos, is the control and ability to seamlessly adjust coverage. For lighter, more natural coverage, Amos suggests using a fluffy blending brush to pick up the product from the stick and blending into the skin. For fuller coverage, she likes to apply the stick directly to the skin, blending after with a brush or sponge.
And of course, reapplication and touch-ups are a cinch; simply throw a foundation stick in your purse and you’re good to go.
The only real risk when it comes to foundation sticks is going in too heavy, which, as Amos says, can happen with almost foundations regardless of formulation. Too much product can look cake-y and create creases. To avoid this, she suggests building up coverage in layers, and the beauty of a foundation stick is that you have total control over the coverage.
What’s more, Amos says foundation sticks can work for any skin type—it’s just about finding the formula that’s best for your specific concerns. If your skin tends to get oily, avoid creamier, emollient formulas; if you’re on the drier side, stay away from more mattifying iterations.
Ready to try one yourself? Ahead, we’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite foundation sticks.
Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Foundation and Concealer Stick — $38.00
As far as foundation sticks go, this one from Merit is surprisingly lightweight and creamy. So creamy, in fact, that it’s great for people with drier skin types who might traditionally shy away from foundation sticks (Well+Good’s senior beauty editor, Zoë Weiner, swears by the stuff for her own dry complexion). It buffs into the skin for a natural finish and is perfect for on-the-go touchups. Plus, the brand recently relaunched it so that it includes even more product in the new size.
Shade options: Comes in 20 different shades.
Black Radiance Color Perfect Foundation Stick — $9.00
The biggest perk of this foundation is that it comes in amazing, often-hard-to-find shades for darker complexions. The dual-ended stick features the pigment-rich formula and a buffing brush for easy application. Best of all, it’s not just a great foundation—fans say it’s the perfect cream contour (just get a shade or two darker than your skin tone).
Shade options: 7 shades available on Amazon.
Makeup Revolution Fast Base Stick Foundation — $9.00
Makeup Revolution’s Base Stick features a full-coverage formula with a dewy finish that glides on the skin. Despite a fairly lackluster shade range, it does blend into the skin seamlessly with either a brush or damp beauty sponge and covers unseenly blemishes in a snap.
Shade options: 9 shades available at Ulta.
Thread Face It Complexion Stick — $8.00
With a soft-matte finish and full coverage payoff, this complexion stick is a favorite amongst people of color thanks to its thoughtful shade range and spot-on color matches. It melts into the skin and sets without creasing or caking; just remember to set it with a little powder for all-day wear.
Shade options: Choose from 24 shade options.
Hourglass Vanish™ Seamless Finish Foundation Stick — $48.00
Hourglass’s long-wearing Seamless Finish Foundation Stick is a classic for a reason; the waterproof, weightless foundation contains double the amount of pigment in regular foundations for a seriously full-coverage look that’s surprisingly blendable. It even adjusts to your body temperature to more easily blend into the skin.
Shade options: Comes in 32 shades, some currently out of stock.
Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick — $52.00
With a unique transparent base, this formula features a blend of emollients like olive extract and shea butter to moisturize wherever the skin is dry. The buildable coverage applies smoothly and stays that way all day long—no creasing or separating mid-day.
Shade options: Available in 43 shades, sorted by category to help you find the right one.
Westman Atelier Vital Skin Full Coverage Foundation and Concealer Stick — $68.00
This plant-powered formula blends best with a densely packed, kabuki-like brush and offers buildable coverage with natural, skin-like finish. While more expensive than its peers, I will say this foundation is downright luxe—especially the packaging, which comes in a chic, blush pink tone and features an oddly satisfying magnetic cap.
Shade options: Comes in 21 shades.
NUDESTIX Tinted Blur Foundation Stick — $32.00
This is a true no-foundation-foundation—it has lightweight coverage that’s closer to a blur than a true foundation. It’s great for quick touch ups and blurring pores and imperfections. It features less wax than traditional foundation sticks, making it ultra-creamy but also more susceptible to heat damage and breakage from excessive pressure.
Shade options: Choose from 11 shades.
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