8 best stick foundations for sheer, medium and full coverage


While watching make-up tutorials on Instagram, Youtube and Tik Tok is an addictive way to spend your lunchtimes (as welll as picking up a few skills and product recommendations on the way) when it comes to our own routines, efficiency is key.

Realistically, nobody has hours to spend doing their make-up, no matter how much you might want to. So products that streamline your cosmetics arsenal into versatile, blendable, easy to apply and look good in, are a godsend.

Foundation is the main base product of any make-up look as it evens out the skin, creates a matte, dewy, full coverage or sheer base from which to work from and blurs imperfections.

In stick form, it transforms into an instantly portable product, typically in a twist-up bullet that can be painted directly onto the skin or applied onto a brush first.

One thing to note, however, stick foundations tend to be waxier in texture to keep them from melting in their packaging, which often means they require a denser buffing brush to ensure they’re seamlessly blended, with no streaks or patchiness left in their wake.

We’ve handpicked the below from budget to high-end offerings across sheer, matte, dewy and full-coverage finishes, rating their blend-ability, staying power and shade range, so you can find a new skin stick that suits your needs.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Bobbi Brown skin foundation stick, 9g As the OG of stick foundations, having exploded onto the market in 1992, this particular product was an innovation to the make-up sphere and it’s not hard to see why. The texture is creamy and lightweight, and when applied directly in three stripes onto our reviewer’s cheeks, looks deceivingly sheer. However once blended in, it leaves a luminous, medium-coverage glow. We loved how easy it was to build upon, as our tester added extra product to cover up a flare-up of hormonal acne, and it wasn’t cakey nor disrupted the first layer of foundation. It held up impressively well too under a face covering while being easy to touch up areas prone to redness such as our nose and cheeks. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} bareMinerals complexion rescue hydrating foundation stick, 10g Since its launch in 1995, bareMinerals has always used minerals in its products, meaning they’re naturally derived and free from parabens, binders and fillers. This stick product works particularly well at covering redness without feeling chalky or heavy and the silky texture feels like a second skin, only more glowy. If you lean towards a drier skin type, this is an easy way to add radiance. If you prefer a fuller coverage, simply add more, though to avoid any streaks we’d recommend dotting this onto skin and gently buffing in with a brush. There are 20 shades to pick from, covering cool, neutral and warm undertones. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Milk Makeup flex foundation stick, 10g The most impressive part of this formula is it’s staying power. It didn’t budge, cake, gather round the nose or go patchy on our reviewer’s combination skin. While it provides medium coverage, it feels weightless on the skin and we have to admit, the all white stick is super chic. It’s vegan too, formulated with blue lotus, chamomile and marshmallow root extract with a demi-matte finish that conceals redness well, but isn’t so thick it’s difficult to blend. Our favourite way to apply is with a stippling brush, quickly swept over the skin and takes seconds to blend in. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Hourglass vanish seamless foundation stick, 7.2g We loved how slim this triangular stick was, which allows for precise application, especially in areas such as the nose or under the eye. The texture is lightweight but evens out skin tone and conceals spots and redness well, so even on days where you feel like wearing a little less, dabbing a dot of product under your eyes makes you look instantly more awake. It’s very full-coverage, so a little goes a long way, but be careful not to overapply, three short stripes on the cheeks is enough to ensure you never look cakey. If you tend to get a 3pm shine on your T-zone, set it with powder once applied to keep it in place. It’s available in 32 shades. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Huda Beauty #FauxFilter skin finish buildable coverage foundation stick, 12.5g The stout, square shape of this is a little deceiving, it actually has the most product of all the foundations we tried. Huda Beauty is well known and loved for its original #FauxFilter liquid foundation that’s the most full coverage you’ll find on the market. This one, available in 39 shade, offers more flexibility, giving a sheer tint when using your fingers to blend, medium coverage that’s easily buildable or a high-impact flawless finish when buffed in with a brush. It’s speedy to blend with both a sponge and a brush and the translucent ombre effect on the packaging means you can see exactly how much you have left. If you love a perfectly smooth, blemish base but don’t want to look cakey or weighed down with product, this is the foundation for you. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} benefit hello happy air stick foundation, 8.5g Dewy, easy to blend and buildable in coverage, there is lots to love about this foundation. Even on oily skin, it didn’t add shine, instead created a subtle, but not overwhelming radiant base. It complemented other cream products our reviewer used in the rest of her make-up including a cream contour and liquid highlighter. It’s let down by a disappointing shade range that can’t compete with most make-up brands on the market and in this list, and in 2020, should offer more than just 12 colours. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Westman Atelier vital skin foundation stick, 9g Make-up artist Gucci Westman created her range of cream-based products that are predominantly in stick form, with blushers, bronzers and highlighters in similar packaging, a weighty tube with a gold rim, magnetic lid and embossed lettering down the side. On first impressions, it’s instantly more luxurious than any other we tried, and although the packaging seems to overwhelm the amount of product, it contains the same amount as most of the others. It’s a sheer texture that you can layer easily, but we kept it simple which created a beautiful, radiant veil that enhanced skin, rather than covered it up. It is eye-wateringly expensive, but if you have the budget, it’s well worth indulging in. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Revolution fast base foundation stick Incredibly full coverage and creamy in texture, it’s easy to see why this budget-friendly stick is popular among Instagram beauty influencers. While it blended seamlessly onto dry skin and stayed put, we’d recommend steering clear if you have an oilier complexion as it quite quickly led to a shiny T-zone that needed multiple touch-ups. As a result, it doesn’t hold up too well if worn without setting powder, especially under a face covering where the friction on your face can rub it off easily. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}}

The verdict: Stick foundations Bobbi Brown continues to reign supreme, and despite being first launched 28 years ago, continues to beat off all other competition. It successfully provides a range of coverage, can be easily blended with fingers or a brush and be touched up without leaving streaks behind. New kid on the block from Huda Beauty is worth celebrating too however, offering an easy to blend formula that will complement all skin types and deliver a healthy glow that lasts.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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