8 Of The Best Stick Foundations For Every Budget & Skin Type

By Ashleigh Cometti
Coupling convenience and coverage, stick format foundations make touching up base makeup on the go a breeze. Photo / Hourglass Cosmetics

Portable and chic-ly packaged, 2022’s best stick foundations push the realms of possibility by serving triple duty as a concealer, highlighter, and of course, a foundation. Which is, of course, especially handy if you’re a) on a budget, b) tight on space in your bathroom cupboard, or c) heading abroad.

Promising less mess than a liquid format but more coverage than a tinted moisturiser, BB or CC cream, stick foundations are commonly cream-based in texture, and are well-suited to skin types ranging from normal to combination/oily.

Oilier skin types may like to opt for a shine-stopping formula that contains a combination of mattifying ingredients to curb looking oily over your T-zone, while normal skin types will reap the biggest benefits from nourishing stick foundations laced with hardworking hydrators like shea butter and argan oil

Not to mention many are spiked with ingredients that last the distance, time-stamped to last up to 24 hours of continuous wear (not that we would recommend ever wearing your base makeup for 24 hours straight).

But before you go thinking stick foundations are only suited to those who prefer thick, full coverage think again. A number of brands have released stick formats promising to achieve a dewy, sheer finish, too.

Applying a stick foundation is a snap swipe it on before blending the formula with your fingers, a beauty blender or brush, and voila! They offer users greater control throughout the application process, meaning you can build coverage only where you need it like over blemishes, acne scars, or hyperpigmentation.

A word to the wise, due to their thicker consistency some stick foundations can settle into fine lines and pores, so ensure you’ve prepped your base with moisturiser and primer to give your foundation a fighting chance at gliding on smoothly.

Plus, these multi-purpose makeup must-haves are ideal for touch-ups throughout the day, thanks to their blendability.

Here, our edit of stick format foundations from luxurious beauty buys to wallet-friendly supermarket finds.

Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick, $82

If it’s full coverage you’re after, look no further than Hourglass’ innovative stick foundation, which adjusts to your body temperature and melts into skin, meaning it won’t crease, smudge or flake by the end of the day. The double-pigment, self-setting formula promises both the coverage of a concealer and the fluidity of a foundation. Oily to combination skin types will love its radiant, matte finish, while its impressive shade range encompasses 32 colours so there’s a shade for just about everyone.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick, $86

It’s been a makeup artist staple for more than 25 years, and it’s easy to see why. This moisturising stick foundation features emollient ingredients like olive extract and shea butter, which helps to hydrate skin and lock in moisture all while building your desired level of coverage. The weightless formula is water-, sweat- and humidity-resistant, making it an excellent option as we inch closer to summer. It boasts the most diverse shade range of any stick foundation on this list, with all 43 shades broken into cool, warm and neutral undertones to make colour matching a breeze.

Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick, $160

If your budget can stretch to accommodate this beauty buy, you won’t regret it. The designer base falls into the medium coverage category, but is easy to buff and build to create a full coverage look. While the shade range is somewhat limited, this versatile cream foundation moonlights as a concealer, which melts seamlessly into skin for a soft matte finish.

Revlon Colorstay Life-proof Foundation Stick, $32

If it’s a second-skin finish you’re after, consider Revlon’s SPF-loaded offering, which glides on as a lightweight cream before settling as a powder. It’s said to last for up to 24 hours of continuous, sweat-proof, transfer-proof wear (though the thought of going a full day without washing our faces makes our palms sweat). The shade range is somewhat limited, with 11 shades available and most lingering on the lighter end of the spectrum, but as the brand continues to diversify in Aotearoa, hopefully an impending shade extension is on the horizon.

Milk Makeup Flex Foundation Stick, $63

A medium coverage foundation that smooths on to cover and calm skin, while imparting a natural radiance? Check, check and check. But it isn’t called “flex” for nothing, the formula contains marshmallow root extract, an elastic ingredient that gives the sweet treat its squishy tendencies, meaning it flexes with your skin without creasing or caking. Not to mention it comes in 36 skin-flattering shades (of which Sephora ranges 31), from porcelain through to espresso.

Wet N Wild Photo Focus Stick Foundation, $14

Proof that efficacious foundations don’t have to cost the earth is this long-lasting, multi-purpose cover stick, which was consumer tested in seven different lighting conditions to prove its wearability and no-filter-needed finish. The formula heroes two nourishing oils argan and sunflower seed oil to care for skin while creating a flawless, semi-matte veil of coverage over skin.

Makeup For Ever Ultra HD Stick Foundation, $77

A fan favourite with makeup artists and drag queens alike, Make Up For Ever’s stick foundation was dreamed up with professionals in mind, with its skin-like coverage said to withstand the scrutiny of high-definition, 4K filming. It follows in the footsteps of the brand’s best-selling Ultra HD Foundation, a liquid format revered by beauty lovers for its longevity and flawless finish. Creamy and blendable, the stick version promises medium to full coverage when used as a foundation, concealer or contour, but can be sheered out or used as a spot concealer only if that’s all you require.

Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear Stick Foundation, $66

Performing the function of five products in one conceal, contour, cover, highlight and blend Lancome’s silky-textured stick offering glides smoothly over skin for a flawless second-skin finish. The high coverage foundation is twinned with a built-in kabuki foundation brush at the opposite end, making it ideal for on-the-go use. Transfer- and smudge-resistant it won’t budge for up to 24 hours, but is also gentle enough for use on even the most sensitive skin types.

STOCKISTS: Bobbi Brown from selected department stores including Farmers or online at Farmers.co.nz; Hourglass from Mecca or online at Meccabeauty.co.nz; Lancome from selected department stores and pharmacies, or online at Lancome.co.nz; Makeup For Ever from Adorebeauty.co.nz; Milk Makeup from Sephora or online at Sephora.nz; Revlon from selected department stores and pharmacies, including Life Pharmacy or online at Lifepharmacy.co.nz; Tom Ford from selected department stores including Smith & Caughey’s or online at Smithandcaugheys.co.nz; Wet N Wild from Farmers and The Warehouse, or online at Thewarehouse.co.nz.

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