It's no secret that shimmery eyeshadow or a perfectly executed smoky eye can take your run-of-the-mill going-out makeup to new, head-turning heights. (If you need some inspiration, may we suggest these five looks?) But sometimes, we just aren't feeling up to the extra time and effort it takes to get out our eyeshadow brushes, devise the perfect shadow combo, and apply. That's when we turn to our trusty eyeshadow sticks. "Shadow sticks are easy to use and great for both makeup novices and experts alike," says New York City and Connecticut-based makeup artist Lindsey Trop. "They’re incredibly versatile in that they can be used for eyeliner, eyeshadow, or a combination of the two, and can be blended with just the stroke of a finger (though you have to work quickly with some as long-wear formulas set rapidly!)."
"Cream shadows in a container give you as much precision as your finger can get but a stick gives you a finer more controlled application," notes makeup artist Juliette Pereaux. Much like our favorite beauty hacks, shadow sticks simplify our beauty routines while delivering flawless results. In fact, after experiencing the time-saving bliss of these easy-to-use sticks, you may never go back to traditional powder again. Don't believe us?
Here are some of the best eyeshadow sticks to amp up your beauty game.
Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick
Bobbi Brown's suggestion to "just swipe and go" with this cream shadow stick is music to our ears. The stick's budge-proof formula will stay put for up to eight hours of wear without creasing or fading. Swipe it all over the lid, blend with your finger, and you're good to go.
NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil
The silky application of this eye pencil is extra impressive considering its price point. It comes in 12 complementary shades that work for both day and night and don't get dry or cakey in the process. "Very creamy and pigmented. Stays all day," one Ulta buyer shares. One advantage of a shadow stick instead of a cream in a pot, according to Perreaux, is that sticks tend to be on the drier side, making them longer-lasting. "Make sure to properly put the cap back on to ensure your product doesn’t prematurely dry out," she adds.
Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon Eye Shadow Pencil
This formula is Trop's favorite. "The shades are so flattering for any eye color and I love that they've got a subtle shimmer to really make the eyes sparkle." Each one of the eight shades is customized to complement different eye colors. Once applied, the shadow is completely waterproof and proven to last up to 10 hours. It has such staying power that the brand recommends blending it quickly once you apply. Otherwise, you won't be able to get it to budge.
Sephora Collection Colorful Shadow & Liner
This shadow-liner hybrid from Sephora Collection caught our eye thanks to its shade range of 30 different matte, glitter, and shimmer shadows. The highly pigmented formula is designed to resist heat, water, and humidity so that it lasts for 12 hours. It's also ultra-creamy to allow for easy blending with your fingers.
Chanel Stylo Ombré Et Contour
Perreaux calls these sticks "a perfect hybrid between eyeliner and cream shadow." They come in four shades, which are a step beyond your typical black or brown while remaining neutral. "Try #12 Contour Clair for a sexy mauve-y brown look," says Perreaux. In general, "don't be afraid to mix powder shadows with [cream]" as long as you lay the cream down first. "Cream shadow can be a great base to build off of for your eye look."
Shiseido Kajal Ink Artist Shadow Liner
A four-in-one liner, kajal, eyeshadow, and brow color, this product from Shiseido is ready to meet your every need. It glides on easily for weightless coverage that is smudge-proof, crease-proof, and waterproof. Use the sponge blender for an extra-smoky effect.
Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tint
Available in 10 different shades, this lightweight shadow provides buildable, creamy coverage. Simply dab it on your lids and then blend it upward and outward with your fingertips, and build until you reach your desired effect. One Nordstrom buyer raves, "Creamy, even coverage. Color is subtle and can build for intensity. Portable and so convenient for on-the-go touch-ups." We're sold.
Julep Eyeshadow 101 Creme-to-Powder Eyeshadow Stick
A unique crème-to-powder formula sets this shadow from Julep apart. After you apply and blend, it will set and dry into a powder that's waterproof and long-lasting. Plus, it's infused with vitamin E to soothe your delicate lids.
Pixi Beauty Endless Shade Stick
"These come in a beautiful range of colors," says Perreaux. "My favorite is Copper Glaze as someone always drawn to warm, rosy hues. The formula is made with Green Tea and Aloe vera to nourish and Chamomille to soothe. This ensures the product will glide onto the sensitive eye area rather than tug and irritate."
Nudestix Magnetic Eye Color
Nudestix, a line of products built off of the ease of having one handy tool that need only be blended with your fingers, is pretty much expected to make incredible eyeshadow sticks—and that it has. The brand's eyeshadows are easy to blend, a cinch to sharpen (like butter), and don't crease in the slightest.
e.l.f. Cosmetics No Budge Eyeshadow Stick
The metallic shade offerings of this eyeshadow stick are mesmerizing. Each stick includes a built-in sharpener so you can ensure that you achieve your desired level of precision. Pro tip: In addition to using it on your eyelids, try using the rose-gold shade as a creamy highlighter.