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In makeup, as in life, oftentimes it’s about faking it until you make it. We’ll swipe on the best lengthening mascaras to convince people we were born with spidery lashes, line our lips to create a fuller pout without going under the needle, and blend out velvety foundations to mask the look of pesky breakouts and dark spots.
When it comes to the area just below your brows, even beginners can create pro-level looks with just a quick swipe, thanks to the best eyeshadow sticks. “Unlike traditional eyeshadow, eyeshadow sticks allow for easier application,” says celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg. “Since they’re cream-based, these formulas also offer bolder, buildable color payoff depending on the look you want to achieve. You can create designs on the lids, enhance the definition of eyeliner, and brighten the appearance of your eyes depending on the color.”
These creamy formulas are designed to stay put on lids with little to no fallout, and some sticks even come with a built-in brush and sharpener to make your desired aesthetic even breezier. Not to mention, these tools are super compact, meaning they’ll occupy infinitely less room than bulky palettes in your makeup bag.
If you don’t already own one of these babies, you’ve been missing out. Scroll on to find the 15 best eyeshadow sticks to add to your makeup collection, plus pro tips for applying them, according to celebrity makeup artists and ELLE editors.
Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick
One of my first forays into the world of eyeshadow sticks was with Bobbi Brown’s version, and since then, I’ve never looked back. The waterproof formula glides on like silk sans any tugging, and melds to my lids all day through humidity, sweat, tears—you name it. I regularly use the silvery-gold Moonstone shade as a base color for day or evening looks, and I love that it has a subtle sheen to it without looking overly glittery. For a softer take on a sharp black cat eye, I’ll also use the auburn-toned Cinnamon stick to draw a wing at the corners of my eyes and lightly extend the shape to my waterline. It creates the prettiest lifted look that accentuates my hazel eyes. Since the formula is so easy to blend and buff out, I never have to worry about making any mistakes, either.
No Budge Matte Shadow Stick
Don’t be fooled by the $5 price tag—these ultra-affordable sticks from E.l.f. are a simple, reliable way to kick your looks up a notch.“They’re great for a matte finish, smooth application that doesn’t crease, and have a built-in twist up sharpener,” says Greenberg. “I like to use these for subtle eyeliner looks or even a smokey eye vibe. The formula is creamy and easy to blend for quick results,” she adds.
All of the Above Weightless Eyeshadow Stick
“It’s rare that there’s anything from Selena Gomez’s line that I don’t like (see what I did there?!), and her eyeshadow sticks are no exception,” says ELLE.com beauty director Danielle James. “My favorite shades are Growth, a luminous copper shade that I enjoy using in my inner highlight area, and Compassion, a radiant burgundy that you will see swept across my lids all holiday season. The pointed tip makes it easy to use this as a liner (hello, graphic lines!) and so easy to maneuver.”
James also calls Rihanna’s latest eyeshadow sticks one of her go-tos. Like the rest of Fenty Beauty’s makeup, this stick is available in a diverse range of shades (16 to be exact) to fit many moods, eye colors, and skin tones. “This seems like the year that Fenty Beauty wants to be in our travel bag,” James says. “After a successful launch of her Eaze Drop Blur + Smooth Tint Stick, which is great for traveling, she launched the perfect companion: Shadowstix Long Wear Eyeshadow Stix. The matte and shimmer sticks both have a high color payoff, and I enjoy using the matte black to sculpt my lower lash line for a Sophia Loren look.”
Infused with flecks of multidimensional pearls, KVD’s metallic shades are meant to give your lids the ultimate iridescent effect. “KVD’s Longwear eyeshadow sticks are super rich in color, glide and blend effortlessly, and have microfiber shimmer that adds the most beautiful dazzling finish,” shares Anthony H. Nguyen, celebrity makeup artist and Kat Von D beauty ambassador. “My personal favorite shades are Thundercloud, a hot cool silver that has a bold futuristic feel, and Heat Burst, a warm Ruby shade that truly looks smoldering on all eye colors,” he adds. “Hail Surge, a soft pearl shade, is the most flexible with any outfit and skin tone, adding that perfect champagne shimmer to the lids to bring your makeup to the next level.”
Caviar Stick Eye Shadow
Not into metallic and shimmery shades? Fashion and luxury commerce editor Tatjana Freund says Laura Mercier’s matte sticks are true standouts. (FYI, they come in 10 versatile hues). “Back in the day, I was enthralled by Burberry’s now-discontinued eyeshadow sticks,” she says. “My only comfort is the matte Caviar Sticks by Laura Mercier. It never ceases to cause me anguish that finding non-sparkly, long-lasting eyeshadow sticks is as difficult a task as it is. While the shimmery Caviar Sticks are lovely, the matte versions act as a great base for powder or alone for a neutral, contoured eye.”
Multiple ELLE editors and celebrity makeup artist Georgi Sandov are all fans of Victoria Beckham Beauty’s eyeshadow sticks, which Sandov calls “great blendable, long-lasting formulas with a couple surprising colors in the lineup.” He mentions his go-to hues are the pastel-pink Macaron and Sunflower yellow, but for an unexpected twist on classic black, it also comes in a dark khaki green color.
Other reasons to grab this pick? It’s formulated with skin-loving ingredients like grape extract and sunflower oil to nourish and smooth the eyelids. Additionally, the packaging is eco-friendly, made with recycled plastics and aluminum.
Ombre Blackstar Color-Fix Cream Shadow
If you’re looking to nail the viral TikTok- and Hailey Bieber-approved glossy eye trend, you’ll want this By Terry shadow stick in your arsenal. “These eyeshadow sticks all come in shimmery neutrals, so they give an almost shiny, dewy-like finish to lids,” says ELLE beauty director Kathleen Hou. “They also have a silky feel that somehow lasts for a long time, too, even on my oily eyelids. The Black Pearl or the Misty Rock shade, when blended, are like an instant, glittery smoky eye.”
Electric Slide Eyeshadow & Brush Stick
Another Greenberg staple, “Lime Crime’s Electric Slide eyeshadow stick gives the perfect smudge that doesn’t budge for long-wear,” she says. “It has an easy-to-use dual-ended brush for diffusing and comes in an array of neutral to vibrant hues in both matte and metallic finishes.” Use it to wash your lids in color, create bold graphic lines, or as a primer to make vibrant powder shadows even more intense.
Stylo Ombre Et Contour Eyeshadow - Liner - Khôl
“I like these Chanel sticks because they are very creamy, naturally matte shades,” Sandev says. “They allow for a lot of play time before they set and are great for everyday quick makeup.” Even better? Designed to offer intense color payoff, these neutral shades not only function as shadow and liners but also as bold kohl liners, too. Opt for the Rouge Noir hue to create more classic lines, or for a bright, wide-awake effect, try tracing the subtly shimmery Nude Éclat hue along your waterline.
Finding the right shade that really makes your eyes pop can be a big challenge, but thanks to Charlotte Tilbury, you can skip all the dizzying trial and error. “I feel like brown eyes are sort boring—lots of people have them (roughly 70 to 79 percent of the world), and everyone allegedly had this eye color 10,000 years ago),” says Hou. “But with this Amber Haze pencil from Charlotte Tilbury, specifically formulated for brown eyes, mine suddenly appear magnetic and I remember that I share the same eye color as Beyonce and Maggie Cheung. This pencil has a little bit of gold in it, making brown eyes sparkle. All of the shades do great things for every eye color (including blue, green, and hazel, too). The formula is easily blendable and doesn’t set too quickly either, so you can use it to create specific eye shapes.”
Color Tattoo Eye Shadow Stix
“The Maybelline eyeshadow sticks are built for your long days and late nights,” says James. “Once it’s on, it’s on and won’t leave those annoying creases. This two-in-one shadow stick has a built-in primer, saving me a step in my morning makeup routine. The pointy stick makes it perfect for lining your eyes without splurging on colored eyeliner (which will be trending all spring 2024). And even though it’s budge-proof, the creamy formula is still blendable and forgiving for makeup beginners. I wore it on camera to shoot a TV segment for Access Hollywood, and I was surprised at how well the eyeshadow photographs and looks on video! It really held its own against my more expensive products.”
Magnetic Matte Eye Color
When investing in your first eyeshadow stick or two, you’ll likely want to go for colors you can use every day. Sandev recommends Nudestix’s versions for their “amazing range of natural, earthy tones that are perfect for any occasion.” Offered in a multitude of browns to a slate gray, sea blue, and rich aubergine, each long-wearing formula is “easily blendable, and some versions even offer added sheen for a touch of glam, too,” he notes.
Voyeur Eyeshadow Stick
For a sparkly wash of color to swipe across your lids, Hourglass’ stick is Sandev’s top pick. “These wearable, natural shades offer a lasting, shimmery finish for a quick, foolproof makeup look,” he says. According to shoppers, the formula applies beautifully without creasing, is highly pigmented, and should offer up to at least eight hours of budge-proof wear. Grab them in seven shades, from rose gold and bronze to metallic plum.
Phyto-Eye Twist Eyeshadow, Pencil & Eyeliner
For a quick, no-fail swipe across the lids or a fuller eyeliner look, Sisley Paris’ beginner-friendly stick has you covered. “This eyeshadow pencil looks like a chubby crayon for a toddler and works just as easily,” confirms Hou. “I’ve used this both as an eyeliner and as a thick eyeliner for the lash line. The buttery texture means that it blends with just a little bit of elbow grease, and I love that it comes in a lot of flattering and surprising colors, ranging from sable brown to inky black to a shocking turquoise. Also, there’s no need to sharpen—it easily twists up.”
What to look for in the best eyeshadow sticks
“Look for eyeshadow sticks that are ultra-creamy so the application is easily blendable and buildable,” says Greenberg. “Some have built-in brushes to make this process easier. However, you can always use your finger if not.”
Additionally, all of our experts mention looking for long-lasting formulas that will help you build a variety of looks. “Darker budge-proof formulas can be used as liner or shadow, and flesh-colored ones make for an excellent base for building on top,” says Sandev. “They are perfect for a soft eyeliner or quick smokey eye.”
How to find the right shade for you
“Choosing the right shade often depends on the look you’re going for,” says Greenberg. “If you want a natural shimmery eye, look for golds, rose shades, or light browns for a natural ‘no makeup’ look. To dramatize your look, play around with rainbow hues or add other unexpected colors to the mix, like purples and blues.”
For a night out or a special event, Sandev also likes to play with iridescent tones, high-impact glittery shades, and “dark nuances and blacks,” he says.
What's the best way to apply an eyeshadow stick?
“I like to use an eyeshadow stick directly on the eyelid and either blend it out with an eyeshadow brush or use the tips of your fingers to dot and blend,” says Greenberg. “This helps the eyeshadow formula warm up and blend more naturally onto the lids.” Once you blend, you can use a Q-tip to create a clean edge, says Sandev.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to use an eyeshadow stick as an accent color or to finesse a sharp eyeliner look, Sandev suggests using a brush to apply the product from the tube instead. “This method allows for more precision when needed,” he says.
Meet the Experts
Georgi Sandev is a celebrity makeup artist whose clientele has included Irina Shayk, Pamela Anderson, Candice Swanepoel, and more.
Anthony H. Nguyen is a celebrity makeup artist and KVD Beauty Global Veritas Artistry Ambassador.
Jamie Greenberg is a celebrity makeup artist and founder of Jamie Makeup.
Why Trust ELLE Beauty
Sam Peters is a seasoned commerce writer and editor with over five years of experience covering fashion, beauty, and lifestyle topics. For this story, she tested various eyeshadow sticks, interviewed three celebrity makeup artists, and tapped ELLE editors to learn about the best eyeshadow sticks on the market and how to apply them.
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