4 Top-Rated Foundation Sticks For Every Skin Type

Foundation sticks are best-loved for their portability. But that doesn’t mean you should only keep them for travel. Many base sticks deserve a spot in your everyday routine because their formulas are incredible. So, if you want flawless-looking skin in a flash (who doesn’t), foundation sticks are the way to go; their compact, sturdy packaging is just the icing on the cake. With that in mind, I’ve rounded up some of the best you can buy on Escentual right now and I’ve answered common FAQs to get you one step closer to finding your ideal match.


#1 The Barely There Stick

Before and after image of Benefit Hello Happy Airstick SPF20 in Neutral 03

Best For: Combination skin
Finish: Natural matte
Coverage: Medium
Longevity: 8 hours
SPF: 20

If a no-makeup makeup look is your go-to, or you don’t like to feel as if you’re wearing makeup, the Hello Happy Airstick is for you. Made to feel weightless and let your skin breathe, the medium-coverage base feels undetectable – you’ll forget you’re wearing it, I did! Natural is the perfect word to describe the finish the foundation gives, it’s buildable enough to cover imperfections, but it allows your skin to show through. I use a small amount all over and then layer over areas I need extra coverage .i.e over redness or any pesky spots. Similarly to other stick foundations, the texture of the Air Stick glides on quite quickly, and that’s down to the addition of shea butter in the formula, which also gives it a very nourishing feel. The piece de resistances for me, however are the fact it’s waterproof, and that it has a lavender-like aroma – it’s a great pick-me-up in the morning.

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#2 The Water-Based Stick

Before and after image of bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Hydrating Foundation Stick SP25 in Buttercream

Best For: Dry skin
Finish: Radiant
Coverage: Light to medium
Longevity: 6 hours
SPF: 25

Dry skin and stick foundation don’t usually go hand-in-hand. But that all changes with the Complexion Rescue Hydrating Foundation Stick. You can put your fears of a flaky and patchy base to one side because the formula contains 30% enhanced mineral water to keep your skin so moisturised it won’t eat your makeup. The first clean, water-based liquid foundation in a stick; it gives a lightweight, non-cakey finish that feels like a tinted moisturiser on the skin – fresh and comfortable! In terms of coverage, it’s light to medium and buildable. The result is a complexion that looks healthy and dewy, never shiny.

Tip: If your skin is very dry apply a thick layer of moisturiser before application. Embryolisse Lait-Creme is a great all-rounder option that’ll give your complexion an extra layer of hydration.

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#3 The Stay All-Day Stick

Before and after image of Yves Saint Laurent All Hours Foundation Stick BD20 - Warm Ivory

Best for: Oily skin
Finish: Velvet matte
Coverage: Medium to full
Longevity: 12 hours
SPF: None

Coverage and longevity are the YSL All Hours Foundation Sticks strong points. The first stick foundation from YSL, they’ve knocked it out of the park. And despite a full coverage and a matte finish, the formula isn’t at all cakey and feels as smooth and comfortable on the skin as the others in this edit. The only difference I will note, however, is that you can feel this one, but I’d expect that when there’s extra coverage provided on unwanted blemishes and imperfections. Those will oily skin will rejoice at its shine-control and dermatologist-tested formula, which won’t clog pores. And to top it off it’s waterproof. If you’re on the lookout for a foundation that stays flawless come rain or shine, you’ve found it.

Tip: The full-coverage and matte formula of this foundation stick makes it great for targeted touch-ups on blemishes, and as a matte finisher to tackle unwanted shine.

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#4 The Get-Up-And-Glow Stick

Before and after image of Guerlain Terracotta Skin Stick Foundation - 03 Natural

Best For: Normal skin
Finish: Glow
Coverage: Medium
Longevity: 6 hours
SPF: None

My final recommendation is for all you sun chasers out there, those of you looking to keep your glow all-year-round. And, it’ll come as no surprise to many that this stick foundation belongs to Guerlain Terracotta – the best-selling French makeup collection range that screams summer. All about luminosity, the Terracotta Skin Stick Foundation has a bare skin feel and leaves a sun-kissed effect thanks to a combination of coated pigments and waxes. The formula melts into the skin so effortlessly (I highly recommend blending this one in with fingers), and is an absolute pleasure to wear. Both because of the healthy sheen it gives your complexion, and the exotic smell that it leaves behind – it’ll trick you into thinking you’re sipping cocktails on the beach somewhere.

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Foundation Sticks – FAQ

How do I apply a stick foundation?
Apply directly to the skin, and either blend in with your fingers, a sponge, or a brush.

Are stick foundations better than liquid?
There’s no easy answer here. Liquid foundations are typically more hygienic as they’re not applied directly to the skin (tips on cleaning your stick below); however, stick foundations can often provide more coverage (given the right formula) because of this. There’s also the matter of ease of use, and travel; stick foundations are foolproof – just swipe and go, plus they take up much less space, and won’t break like glass bottles. Which one’s best will depend entirely on what’s important to you (coverage, finish), and how you intend to use your foundation (travel, at-home).

Can I use a foundation stick as a concealer/to contour?
Definitely! One of the wonderful things about stick foundations is their versatility. The one I’d recommend if you’re looking for the most multi-purpose is YSL All Hours. Because it’s quite full coverage, it acts as a great concealer and contour stick.

How do I clean a stick foundation?
As I mentioned above, one of the downsides of a stick foundation is that they can harbour bacteria. But, if you regularly clean yours that shouldn’t be an issue – you can do this with a few quick spritzes of rubbing alcohol on the exposed area and a wipe, then it’s as good as new!

Discover More:

7 Makeup Sticks You’ll Wish You Discovered Sooner
4 Essential Makeup Brushes For Flawless Application

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