Our makeup bags are quite literally filled with sticks, and sticks only. Cream bronzers, blush, highlighters, and of course: eyeshadow sticks. Eyeshadow sticks are multipurpose, fun to collect, and always easy to use (yup, even when you’re going for a black eyeshadow look).
When asked why they’re a must-have in every makeup bag, celebrity makeup artist Mary Irwin answered, “Besides the fact that there are a zillion colors to choose from, there are amazing water-resistant formulas, and you can carry one with you to go from day to night in two seconds flat? They’re so easy to use. Super easy. Cheat-on-the-test easy.”
Bottom line: Eyeshadow sticks are a versatile makeup staple and should be in everyone’s routine. You can avoid tugging on your eyelids as the creamy stick formulas glide on, sparing you from the fallout that usually occurs when using powder eyeshadows.
Read on for our top tips for using these genius makeup must-haves and our roundup of the best eyeshadow sticks to try for yourself.
About the Experts:
“Smudge it on there!” says Irwin. “Literally, just swipe it on your lids and then blend with a brush or your fingers. It’s not meant to be complicated.” Irwin also loves the ease of a cream eyeshadow stick for a quick-and-easy daytime look. “I love a cream shadow for everyday life—I’m not going to do my whole face to run errands, but I’m definitely going to put some cream shadow, concealer, and mascara on,” she explains.
If you’re not ready to give up on your powder eyeshadows just yet but still want to try eyeshadow sticks, blend a skinny eyeshadow stick into the lash line instead of eyeliner, or use one in place of eyeshadow primer to prevent creasing.
Eyeshadows sticks are different than powder eyeshadows when it comes to texture, pigment, application, and wear. “The biggest difference between powder eyeshadows and eyeshadow sticks is obviously consistency,” says New York–based makeup artist and beauty marketing consultant Alex Levy. He goes on to note sticks are creamy or waxy formulas that allow you to manipulate and layer the product a bit more for your desired effect.
Eyeshadow sticks are also more versatile than your typical powder eyeshadow. Depending on the color, you could use it as a highlighter for your brow bones, cheeks, or the cupid's bow above your lip. The possibilities are truly endless, especially when you bring graphic liner looks into the mix. They’re longwear due to those waxy formulas too. “They [eyeshadow sticks] typically have good longevity, so they’re perfect for a night out or when you’re not able to touch up any smudging,” says Levy.
With 42 (!) equally gorg, transfer-resistant shades to choose from, it’s no wonder why this particular shadow stick has reached cult-favorite status. The formula delivers up to 12 hours of wear in a variety of creamy shimmer and matte shades that can be smudged, blended, or precisely applied to perfection. Feeling artsy? Go ahead and layer up the colors to create your own custom pigment.
These blendable pencils—in rose gold, copper, and other pretty metallic shades—have just enough sparkle to make an impact. They’re stunning however you choose to apply them, whether you use them as eyeshadows, eyelid primers, eyeliner pencils, or cream highlighters. Plus, each tin comes with a travel makeup mirror, and you’ll find a convenient built-in sharpener in the cap of every pencil. We really couldn’t ask for more.
“I’m all about a waterproof or smudge-proof stick,” says Irwin, who’s a fan of this twist-up product with serious staying power. This creamy, blendable shadow glides onto your skin without skipping or tugging—and even though it blends easily, the pigment sets quickly (it can last up to eight hours without budging) and is water resistant so you get minimal smudging.
Think of this product as a concealer's best friend: Find the shade for your skin tone, apply to the inner corners of your eyes, and fake a good night’s sleep when you’ve had anything but. The slight shimmer strategically reflects light, while moisturizers like jojoba oil and macadamia seed oil also help smooth fine lines and hydrate your skin.
This creamy shadow stick is incredibly precise. It’s the perfect multitasker thanks to the smudge tip located within the applicator, and it’s ideal for creating bold graphic liner looks and diffused eye looks. Bonus: You can even use this stick to define your brows in a creative way. “These have such playful colors that can be worn like a liner or shadow stick, at full intensity or sheered out for a more subtle wash of color,” says Levy.
These highly pigmented pencils cost less than *checks notes* an oat-milk matcha, but they glide onto the lid, waterline, and everywhere else just as well as the pricier options on this list. And with so many fun colors to choose from, what’s to stop you from getting them all?
With more surface area than the typical pencil, these buildable crayons are great for quickie makeup applications. In a pinch, their size makes them solid dupes for face highlighters and contour sticks, too. Pack this one in your purse or travel bag to have multiple makeup needs covered at once. (P.S. This formula is also safe for contact-lens wearers and those with sensitive eyes!)
Big night? Use one of these crease-proof glitter pencils to draw on a bit of dramatic smudged eyeliner, a cat-eye, or a one-step smoky eye. With a range of sparkly shades to choose from, you can create entire looks using just these pencils, or simply use them to add a pop of color and dimension to your matte eye looks.
Leave it to Halsey—creator of this fab makeup line—to come up with a color range complete with some of the most fun-to-wear hues we’ve come across. Your skin is your canvas, and you have permission to get as creative as you want. Let the avant-garde eye makeup looks commence!
To all of you who have multiple shades of taupe eyeshadow: You know who you are, and we’re here for you. So is BOBBI BROWN—and they have seven shimmer and seven matte neutrals that you’ll want to scoop up immediately. These creamy shadows don’t tug, budge, or crease for up to eight hours, so you can count on these babies to last with minimal touch-ups.
Who doesn’t love a good makeup-skincare hybrid? Boosts of vitamin C and E, as well as “serum technology,” make this option a level up from your average liner. Apply one swipe for a sheer wash of color, or build it up to go bold with pigment.
These cream-to-powder shadows come with an attached blending brush, making them perfect for on-the-go touch-ups. Plus, the 24-shade range is one of the prettiest we’ve seen—and makes it so easy to find a shade to match your mood.
You can create a full face look with these multitasking sticks. Not only do they create the perfect wash of color on your eyelids, but they look amazing on cheeks and lips too—and they’re super hydrating with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and squalane. We dare you to do your whole makeup routine with three of these sticks (yup, it can be that easy).
This cream stick from ALLEYOOP is made with jojoba oil to keep lids hydrated (perfect for winter!) while still keeping the product in place. Since this stick also has a built-in sharpener, you don’t have to invest in other tools to totally nail this swipe-on-and-blend look at a moment’s notice. Keep a few in your bag to transition your look from day to night.
Having a white eyeshadow stick is essential. You can use a white eyeshadow stick to make your eyes pop and appear brighter in color. This choice from ELF COSMETICS is not only affordable but also has a skinny tip for precise application. We suggest using it like an eyeliner, on the inner corners of your eyes, or drawing tiny white wings.
Eyeshadow sticks are typically longwear due to their creamy textures and waxy grip, which means you never run into the issue of fallout like you might with powder eyeshadows. However, if you want a little bit more insurance for a special event or an extra-hot day, this eyeshadow stick from THRIVE CAUSEMETICS has a waterproof formula you can count on. Plus, it includes a dual tip with a smudger.
Live out your Y2K dreams with the COLOURPOP Colour Stix. Our favorite shade is Bussin, a lime green metallic pencil, but the collection includes 21 shades ranging from neon to metallic to neutral.
These eyeshadow sticks are long-wearing, crease-free, and refillable. The formula is creamy and super pigmented, and each stick even comes with a built-in shadow blending brush that makes it perfect for on-the-go touch-ups. Our favorite one in the collection is Morimoto Shimmer, a champagne-pink pearl shimmer that complements all eye colors.
Want to try new products that fit perfectly into your routine like eyeshadow sticks? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.
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