The 10 Best Foundation Sticks Provide Easy and Impressive Coverage

There's a reason makeup artists always have one on hand.

Merit and Tom Ford foundation sticks
(Image credit: Future)

While there are many factors to consider when choosing a foundation (think creams, powders, and tinted moisturizers), the best stick foundations sometimes come out on top thanks to their ease of use and transportability. With the fear of spilling your precious pigments taken out of the equation, it's easy to pop your foundation into a bag and grab it whenever the need presents itself.

"Stick foundations are generally selected for convenience," confirms celebrity makeup artist Kasey Spickard. This type of packaging makes the product compact and easy to travel with and apply. Unlike liquid formulas, you can apply the stick formula directly to the face, which can be a bit messier." Also, stick foundations are versatile and, due to their format, can be used as concealers for convenient touchups.

They come in many different formulas and a variety of price points, but the common thread is pretty great coverage, making them ideal for people with acne, notes celebrity makeup artist Tobi Henney. "The creamy consistency makes breakouts easy to cover," she shares.

Ahead, these brilliant artists (and more!) will tell us about the best foundation sticks on the market.

The Best Stick Foundations

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What Finish Does a Foundation Stick Offer?

"Stick foundations provide a satin-matte finish, making them suitable for oilier or acne-prone skin," shares Loiz. You can also find foundation sticks that dry down as a powder for a matte finish.

What Coverage Will I Get From a Foundation Stick?

Another stick foundation highlight? Their coverage. Loiz calls them a "great choice for those seeking a heavier coverage option," while Spickard notes that most supply medium-to-full coverage.

What Foundation Stick Should I Use for My Skin Type?

While plenty of people with sensitive skin love a stick foundation for its coverage, celebrity esthetician, Erica Marie Gatt suggests being very particular when making your product choice. "You should consider your skin's specific needs and select products that provide coverage while being gentle on sensitive skin," she shares. Also: always, always patch test.

How to Use Stick Foundation

Using a stick foundation is pretty straightforward. Spickard also recommends prepping your product by warming the foundation on the back of your hand before applying it to the face. "However, you can feel free to apply directly to the face," he adds. "I recommend starting at the center of the face and working outward. Buff it in with a damp beauty sponge or dense foundation brush."

For heavier coverage or to conceal blemishes and discoloration, Loiz recommends applying the stick directly to the face, then blending by tapping with a brush in a stippling motion.

Meet the Experts

Renee Loiz Headshot
Renée Loiz

Renée Loiz is a Los Angeles-based makeup artist and groomer. Her industry expertise and artistry are regularly tapped by publications such as InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Essence, L’Officiel, Who What Wear, Vanity Fair, and Allure. Loiz’s celebrity clientele includes Quinta Brunson, Cynthia Erivo, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Sherry Cola, Adele, Chelsea Peretti, Uzo Aduba, Danai Gurira, Thuso Mbedu, and Jaylon Barron. Loiz has collaborated with global brands such as NARS, Beauty Blender, Charlotte Tilbury, Chanel, Sephora, J.Crew, Disney, Target, and Adidas. She is the founder of Color May Vary - the ultimate guide to the best black-owned brands for beauty enthusiasts. Color May Vary is recognized by Ulta Beauty in an initiative to celebrate inspirational Black voices and is a recipient of the Refinery29 Beauty Innovator Award.

Tobi Henney Headshot
Tobi Henney

Tobi Henney is a bicoastal makeup artist who originally hails from Sydney, where she was previously the L'Oréal Paris Makeup Director for Australia. She is known for flawless, glowing skin and signature red carpet looks created for clients such as Megan Fox, Ashley Graham, Charlotte Lawrence, Poppy Delevingne, Ellie Golding, Sara Bareilles, Bambi Northwood-Blyth, Barbara Palvin, Georgia Fowler, and Shanina Shaik. Henney’s worked with major brands including Diane Von Furstenberg, Victoria's Secret, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, L'Oréal Paris, Clinique, Maybelline, Nike, Anthropology, and Coach, and her editorial talents can be seen in Vogue, L’Officiel, RUSSH, Elle, Grazia, Harper’s Bazaar, Schön! and more. Henney is a natural on camera, sharing tutorials and how-to videos frequently with outlets such as Byrdie Beauty and Who What Wear.

kasey spickard headshot
Kasey Spickard

Kasey Spickard is a New York based makeup artist. Kasey has a decade-long history in the beauty industry working with global beauty powerhouses L'Oreal, Shiseido, Estee Lauder, and COTY. His clients include comedian Heather McMahan, MTV’s Kamie Crawford and Ciara Miller from Bravo’s Summer House to name a few. You can see his work across your TV screens on Bravo, NBC's The Today Show, Good Morning America, and Watch What Happens Live. You can also see some of his campaign work for brands like Laneige, Maybelline, Milani, and Lelet NY!

Kasey also sits on the Reddit Beauty Council, and works with brands on product development, brand positioning, and strategy.

Erica Marie Gatt Headshot
Erica Marie Gatt

Skin health guru Erica Marie Gatt's decades worth of experience working as an aesthetician and makeup artist has shaped her foolproof, fuss-free beauty philosophy. She believes that curating thoughtful, streamlined skincare regimens for her clients is key to achieving effortless natural beauty and an overarching sense of empowerment, confidence and well-being. As someone who loves the outdoors and being active, Erica recognizes the link between health, wellness and beauty and embraces a holistic approach that puts equal emphasis on both an inner and outer glow.

Erica honed her talent and channeled her passion under the tutelage of celebrated Los Angeles esthetician Gina Mari after having spent years as a makeup artist.

In 2019, Erica launched her business EM SKIN, bringing a Beverly Hills medical spa sensibility to the South Bay.

Sophia Vilensky
Freelance Writer

Sophia Vilensky is a Freelance Beauty Writer at Marie Claire with a beauty, wellness, and entertainment journalism portfolio that includes contributions to Byrdie, Bravo, Teen Vogue, and Us Weekly. Growing up in a family of beauticians—and through her own personal studies—she developed an in-depth understanding of aesthetics, cosmetic product formulation, and beauty treatment development and has also held roles as a senior copywriter, content strategist, and proofreader for top beauty and wellness brands. Even so, you'd be hard pressed to find her with her hair and makeup actually done. Sophia is based in Minneapolis and is a 2019 graduate of the University of Minnesota, where she majored in English and minored in cinema studies. During her time at the university, she was the Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Minnesota Daily, earning the 2019 Editor of the Year award for her work. She connected deeply with the Twin Cities arts scene, collaborating with leading beauty professionals, designers, and artists. Graduating Summa Cum Laude, her thesis—a close-reading of Vanderpump Rules—was featured on NPR. When not immersed in writing or testing new products, Sophia enjoys watching reality TV, reading, and exploring the newest woo-woo wellness trends. Keep up with her on Instagram @sophiavilensky.