You have your dress, you have your hair, and now it’s time to consider your wedding makeup. Whether you always rock a full glam or usually go more natural, makeup can really transform your look—especially in wedding photos and videos. Contour is one of those tools that can prevent you looking washed out in photos and naturally accentuates your features.
“The beauty of a contour stick is that it’s mess-free and you can apply directly from the stick,” says bridal makeup artist Mansi Somani. This means that it’s easy to take on the go in your clutch for touch ups and post-wedding festivities. Makeup artist Tobi Henney adds that contouring can “create beautiful dimension and enhance your face shape.”
Since contouring can be tricky and potentially have muddy results, we asked the experts for their advice on how to pick and use contour sticks. With their input, we found products in a wide range of shades and long lasting, buildable formulas.
Read on for the best contouring sticks.
Both Somani and Henney love this contour stick for its shade range and how quickly the product goes on with just one swipe. Available in light to deep hues, the spectrum is wide enough to suit brides of all skin tones. “I like how the dual-ended shaping stick has a removable brush that allows for easy blending as you’re working through the face,” says Henney.
Price at the time of publish: $28+
Shades: 6 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.37 oz
Good makeup products don’t have to be pricey, and this wallet-friendly contour stick is case in point. Coming in at under $15, this product works wonders, just like its name suggests. It comes with both a contour and highlight function to structure the face and give a sun-kissed glow. To use, swipe the deeper shade along the face’s natural contours like your cheekbones and jawlines, and then apply the lighter shade to highlight areas like under the eyes, forehead and chin. Don’t forget to blend well and top off with a bronzer.
Price at the time of publish: $14
Shades: 8 | Finish: Matte/Radiant | Size: 0.28 oz
Yes, you can find your wedding day contour at the drugstore. Another budget find is this recommendation by Somani which will create an illusion of structure and lift or a “V-Shape” look. The 2-in-1 duo stick is quick and easy to use and contours and highlights simultaneously. Somani personally loves the Toast and Dark Cocoa shades because it blend well on people of all complexions and creates contoured cheekbones with a simple glide.
Price at the time of publish: $8
Shades: Light, Medium, Deep | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 oz
This Fenty contour stick comes in a wide shade range (from soft amber to espresso) and is made of a cream formula that blends really well. All you have to do is swipe the stick on your face and gently blend with your fingers or a contour brush. For an even smoother application, use your fingers to warm the product on the back of the hand before tapping onto skin. For darker brown skin, Somani loves the Truffle, Mocha, and Amber shades.
Price at the time of publish: $32
Shades: 9 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.25 oz
For brides looking for a less dramatic contour look, this stick is a great option. This creamy product creates a subtle, natural-looking shadow effect which adds depth and dimension to the face without looking too drastic. Henney notes how contour sticks that are cooler-toned like this one help emulate the natural shadows in your cheekbones and give more definition to the face. If you want an even less defined result, apply the product onto a brush first and softly dab the skin. The drier formula is also a good choice for oily complexions.
Price at the time of publish: $24
Shades: 4 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.19 oz
If you want to change up your look from ceremony to the evening reception, this contour will help give you a dramatic transformation. With its built-in cushion applicator, it can help create a chiseled jawline, slimmer nose, and accentuated cheekbones. For those who have dry skin, this contour wand gives a very dewy look that’s in line with the “no makeup” makeup look adored by many. While it is a bit pricey, a little goes a long way and one wand lasts for quite a while.
Price at the time of publish: $42
Shades: Fair/Medium, Medium/Dark | Finish: Semi-Matte | Size: 0.40 oz
This Anastasia contour stick is a makeup artist favorite—it allows for buildable coverage and the highlight stack leaves a matte finish that feels natural. If you’re a bride who is doing your own makeup, find your shade by swatching on the inside of your wrist and choose one that complements your undertone.
Price at the time of publish: $25
Shades: 4 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.32 oz
If you’re going for a dramatic look for your reception or for your bridal photoshoot, pick up this highly pigmented stick that leaves zero grease on the skin (making it another great choice for oily complexions). You’ll have a slightly satin finish sans the excess oiliness. Henney notes that she uses this to paint on contour lines with precise application when she’s working on an editorial shoot. If you don’t want to use your fingers, a sponge can also help blend any excess contour material.
Price at the time of publish: $23
Shades: Deep Brown | Finish: Satin | Size: 0.28 oz
Available in three shades, this lightweight, cream-to-powder sculpting stick is excellent for those with dry skin —it creates a natural-looking contour that also helps skin look moisturized and hydrated. It also packs in vitamin E and green tea extract, ingredients that are said to have added hydration and brightening properties.
Price at the time of publish: $32
Shades: Light, Medium, Deep | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.2 oz
For brides with lighter skin, this foundation stick, that can double up as a contour stick, works wonders. The formula is calibrated to your undertone and to even out and pigmentation. Plus, there are at least 18 shades to pick from that all create a natural-looking finish.
Price at the time of publish: $52
Shades: 18 | Finish: Natural | Size: 0.31 oz
What to Look for in a Contour Stick
“Easy blending is one of the key factors in picking a contour stick,” says Somani. “If the formula dries quickly, it’s going to be harder to get a natural finish, will take longer to blend properly, and will leave visible harsh lines.” Look for creamy formulas that are easy to work with and come with a blending brush, like Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand.
According to Somani, contours should resemble or mimic the natural shadows or contours of your face. In order to determine what shade that may be, she looks at the edges and curves of her client’s face without any foundation and then opts for a shade that is two or three shades darker, depending on how dramatic the look is. We like how Savage x Fenty Contour Stick comes in nine different shades, so you can find the one that’s best for you.
Consider Skin Type
Your skin type will influence the type of contour you select. If you have oily skin, you’ll want to stick to formulas with mattifying ingredients and a matte finish, like Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour & Highlight Stick. Those with dry skin will appreciate hydrating ingredients and some radiance like NUDESTIX Tinted Blur Contour Sculpting Stick.
Where you apply contour depends on the look you are trying to achieve. For instance, applying product under the cheekbones will have them pop, or you can apply it under the jawline and blend down to provide more definition. Some people even like to contour their nose, by applying product to both sides of the bridge for a snatched look. “I love to place the product closest to the outer part of the face and blend under the cheek bone,” says Henney.
You can also apply contour to other parts of your body, like your neck and collarbone. “You may be familiar with the J Lo ‘lightbulb’ contour technique,” says Somani. “That’s basically when you apply contour under the chin up to the top of the neck for a more chiseled jawline.”
Contour sticks can be applied directly with the stick, and then blended with either your fingers or a brush. Blending the product out with a brush can create a more seamless look, and many sticks have brushes included like Makeup By Mario Contour Stick.
As with any of your other makeup, apply a setting spray or setting powder to hold the contour. Contour sticks are also highly portable, so it’s easy to touch up throughout the day and evening.
Meet the Expert
- Tobi Henney is a New York-based celebrity makeup artist that started her career in Sydney, Australia before traveling the world to do makeup for international fashion weeks in New York, Milan and Paris. Since then, her clientele includes many celebrities including Megan Fox, Barbara Palvin, and Poppy Delevingne.
- Mansi Somani is a Philadelphia-based makeup and hair artist that specializes in bridal and wedding looks. She has a decade worth of experience and has worked on a range of brides, including multiple South Asian with different skin tones.
Why Trust Brides
Pooja Shah is a Beauty and Fashion Writer for Brides. She has more than four years of journalism experience writing about beauty, fashion, wellness, and weddings.