How to Use a Contour Stick: 5 Tips & Mistakes to Avoid

I’m a huge fan of stick makeup— and especially contour sticks. They usually offer precise yet easy application in blendable formulas that look natural on the skin.

Miranda smiling to camera holding a contour stick to her cheek | How to Use a Contour Stick: 5 Tips & Mistakes to Avoid | Slashed Beauty

With that said, I think many people find contour sticks a bit intimidating. They can look very pigmented and harsh on first application, and without a careful hand (and the right tools!) the end result could look heavy or messy.

If you want to learn how to use a contour stick, follow these simple tips and product recommendations for a seamlessly sculpted look.

Tip 1: Grab the Best Drugstore Contour Stick

wet n wild MegaGlo Makeup Contour Stick tube sitting on a marble surface | Best Drugstore Contour Stick | Slashed Beauty

The wet n wild MegaGlo Makeup Stick Contour has been a favorite of mine for years. Even though it’s under $5, it outperforms so many high end cream contours I’ve tried. It’s easy to blend for a subtle look without completely sheering away, or you can build up the pigment for strong sculpting action. It also lasts all day on me without fading or separating.

The one downside to this product is the shade selection— if you have a deeper skin tone, I suggest checking out the NYX Wonder Stick Cream Highlight & Contour Stick, which has a better shade range though I’m personally not a fan of double-ended products.

Tip 2: Apply Less than Expected

Miranda applying short strokes of the wet n wild MegaGlo Contour Stick to the cheeks, forehead and jawline | How to Use a Contour Stick: 5 Tips & Mistakes to Avoid | Slashed Beauty

When using a contour stick, work in short strokes. Remember that creamy formulas spread out as you blend, so don’t apply it to the entire area you’re expecting the contour to appear. Apply short lines in areas like your forehead/hairline, under the cheekbones, and the jaw line so you have room to buff the color out and into place.

Tip 3: Tap to Blend

Miranda using a brush to blend cream contour under the cheekbones | How to Use a Contour Stick: 5 Tips & Mistakes to Avoid | Slashed Beauty

Avoid brushing back and forth to blend your contour, which can disrupt your foundation and leave you with a muddy mixture of displaced product on your face. Instead, tap to blend. I use the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush and softly tap at the contour. This helps maintain placement, pigmentation, and won’t drag your foundation around.

For the forehead and cheeks, I’ll use a very slight upward motion while tapping so the contour blends into my hairline and onto my cheekbone. For the jawline, I’ll use a slight downward motion.

Watch the technique below:

Tap to move forward

Tip 4: Customize Your Nose Contour

Miranda applying contour stick to the bridge of the nose | How to Use a Contour Stick: 5 Tips & Mistakes to Avoid | Slashed Beauty

I constantly see people contour their nose by drawing a line all the way down on both sides, which merely outlines the shape of your nose. If you’re trying to manipulate the shape of your nose, apply the contour to where you want it to appear thinner. The widest part on my nose is right under the bridge, so that’s where I focused the product.

Tip 5: Swap Your Brush for the Nose

Miranda blending the nose contour with a small blending brush | How to Use a Contour Stick: 5 Tips & Mistakes to Avoid | Slashed Beauty

When contouring your nose, switch to an eyeshadow blending brush, which will help with precision over such a small area. Stick with the tapping motion and blend outward from the center to fade the color gradually and avoid a stark line.

Finished Results

Miranda smiling off camera with a seamlessly blended contour | How to Use a Contour Stick: 5 Tips & Mistakes to Avoid | Slashed Beauty

Your end result should be a natural shading that helps sculpt the face, while softly fading into your foundation without any harsh lines. Above I’ve topped the look with blush and highlighter for the full effect.

What is your favorite way to use a contour stick?

– Miranda

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  1. I have light extremely oily skin should I use the color Walnut for contouring? I absolutely love Wet n Wild please help!

    1. Hmm I think it would be too warm for my personal contouring preference but it could work! However as far as being oily, I would generally recommend powder contour/bronzer.

  2. I don’t know anything about using a contour stick, but I would love to learn how. Can someone send me some pointers on how to use a contour stick.

    1. Is there anything you’re still curious about after reading the tips and tutorial in this post? This has a step by step guide…

  3. I just purchased my first contour 4 quad cream by E.L.F. and I use a dual ended applicator. On one end is a wide dense short brush and on the other end is a roll out short dense brush. It has all worked beautiful!

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