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9 best eyeshadow sticks for quick and effortless make-up

These eyeshadow sticks are incredibly versatile and can glam up your look day or night with minimal effort

Eleanor Magill
Thursday 25 March 2021 15:03
<p>We considered shade range, finish, staying power and how easy it was to apply</p>

We considered shade range, finish, staying power and how easy it was to apply

The best make-up products allow you to achieve maximum impact with minimum effort and no such item epitomises this beauty philosophy more than the humble eyeshadow stick.

Used by make-up experts and novices alike, the pencil-like designs allow for a forgiving application. They are the perfect “lazy girl” make-up and can be applied in a hurry before an impromptu Zoom call or (here’s hoping) in the back of a taxi on the way to a big night out.

Eyeshadow sticks are incredibly versatile; they can be used as a simple eyeliner for daytime or amped up and applied all across the lid for a glamorous night time look.

Also, the creamy consistency means that there is no powder fall-out onto your cheeks, so it involves very little clean up.

With eyeshadow sticks, we recommend using a finger to blend so as to warm up the product for an easier spread of colour. This also means one less make-up brush in your bag to have to worry about – what’s not to like?

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We tested a range of formulas, considering product design, shade range, creasing, finish and staying power, and, importantly, how easy it would be to do one-handed.

From trusty high-street favourites to luxury brands, these are the best eyeshadow sticks on offer – making it look like you started getting ready 20 minutes before you said you did.

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.

Laura Mercier caviar stick eye colour

This stick is an absolute joy to apply and so worthy of the top spot on our list. The formula is a delightfully creamy consistency; it took a couple of swipes to bolden up the colour but the pigment is really buildable so you can play around if you prefer more of a sheer or daring look. We recommended using a touch of concealer or left over foundation as a base for the eyeshadow to really make the colours pop.

The shade offering is something else; the colours range from vibrant magenta hues to subtle pearls. So much so, that you could most likely replace every colour in your existing eyeshadow collection with one of these. If that isn’t enough to convince you to invest – this eyeshadow stick proved to be great for those with hooded eyes, as it was completely crease-proof and did not transfer at all throughout the day.

By Terry ombre blackstar

Everyone loves a little bit of luxury and that is definitely what this eyeshadow stick offers, with its glamorous gold packaging and seamless twist up application. We tried the bronze moon shade – a universally flattering colour that blends out beautifully. The shimmer almost gives a “wet look” finish and is probably more suited to a night-time look, yet it doesn’t dry tacky. The shade range is fairly limited, By Terry prefers sticking to tried and tested neutral palettes, but there is a shade to suit all skin tones and eye colours. All in all, an impeccable, luxurious product, which feels so silky on the eyes and won’t crumble away to nothingness mid-night out.

Glossier sky wash

Glossier keeps up its “cool girl” reputation with this sheer lid colour. The product design is slightly different than others on this list with its doe-foot applicator (like a lip gloss) but it works great for a one-swipe wash of colour across the lid. 

The formula is very long-lasting and dries down pretty quickly to a matte semi-sheer colour, perfect for the subtle “less is more” look that Glossier is so famous for. But this does mean the formula is not one for layering, as it can go a little chalky if you try and build the colour up.

The shade range is amazing however, we personally loved the slime-green shade “lawn” and the cornflower blue “pool” – both great ways to artfully add some colour into your make-up regime without looking like a kid who has got into their mum’s eyeshadow collection.

Charlotte Tilbury colour chameleon eyeshadow stick

Charlotte Tilbury really can do no wrong. With a guide to which colours compliment and contrast, these eyeshadow sticks take the guesswork out of finding the right shade to make your eye colour pop.

The product design is a chubby eye pencil, which is slightly annoying as it is always tricky to find the right pencil sharpener, especially when you are in a rush. But the subtle and not at all overbearing, glittery and gorgeous creamy texture more than makes up for this mild inconvenience.

However, you should be wary and make sure to blend out quickly as these eyeshadow sticks have such an immense staying power that you won’t be able to get it to budge once its sat for too long.

Nars velvet shadow stick

Velvet by name and velvet by nature. These eyeshadow sticks glide across the lid so effortlessly, with a high-pigmented and rich colour pay-off. Nars has never been one to shy away from bold colours but I was in awe of the shade range. We tried out the “sukhothai” shade which was a stunning, iridescent peacock blue and blended out so well across the lid.

The product design was a simple twist up bullet stick which allowed for easy on-the-go application, with the colour shades at the bottom of the stick so you can easily see what one you are picking up from your make-up bag if you are in a rush – a nice touch.

Rimmel wonder’swipe 2-in-1 liner to shadow

Rimmel comes out with some absolute gems sometimes and this is definitely one of them – and it’s so reasonably priced to boot. The product initially looks and applies like your traditional liquid liner but, simply take your finger, blend and it changes into a gorgeous glittery shadow. We tried out the shade “instafamous” which is a pretty yellow gold shade. The colour pay-off was great, and super-fun and sparkly – ideal for festival season (fingers crossed).

The Body Shop eye colour stick

This product is a dream; it glides on and stays on all day without any sense of stickiness or heaviness. Of course – being The Body Shop – the formula is 100 per cent vegetarian and cruelty-free, both good for your conscience and your skin, thanks to its enriching formula of babassu oil and beeswax.

The applicator is a twist-up (our favourite) and is so easy to apply and blend out it is almost fool-proof. The shade range is a little limited, with only four on offer, but there are the main staple colours available. All in all, a great product and very reasonably priced.

Pixi endless shade stick

This eyeshadow stick is infused with calming and antioxidant-rich ingredients, including green tea, aloe and chamomile, so if you have sensitive eyes this is the one for you. The formula is lovely and creamy, and crease-proof all day. There are some great shades to pick from, including matte ones (yay) so if you think that glitter is a little ostentatious for the day time, there is something available for you too. We thought that the pink quartz colour was particularly pretty with an almost “wet look” finish, and combined with the twist up design, made it a must-have product.

Bobbi Brown long-wear cream shadow stick

The formula feels creamy and nourishing on the lid, without feeling too heavy. The applicator is a sleek, twist-up stick – a solid favourite product design-wise – and doesn’t tug at all when applying.

The shade range has all you could want – shimmery and mattes, brights and neutrals – something to suit every taste. The shade “taupe” is the perfect everyday shadow and has cut down our make-up time greatly in the morning – leaving more time for that all-important beauty sleep. A fabulous product and worthy of its place on the list.

The verdict: Eyeshadow sticks

Bobbi Brown’s eyeshadow sticks, in particular the matte shades, deserve an honourable mention as the perfect everyday formula to shave valuable minutes off your getting ready time. Not to be ignored, Nars also offers up some show-stopping colours with an impressive pigment pay off, and Rimmel’s wonder’swipe is a great budget option that blends beautifully.

Charlotte Tilbury’s eyeshadow stick was also incredible at making our tester’s eye colour pop and could really withstand a night of partying. But it is Laura Mercier’s caviar eyeshadow stick that snagged the top place with its dreamy, creamy formula, crease-proof staying power, and dazzling shade collection. We hope to be applying these eyeshadows with one hand and booking an Uber with the other, one day soon.

We tried Charlotte Tilbury’s new Naked Wild West eyeshadow palette – here’s how it went

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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