Foundations that just so happen to come in stick form have a seriously bad rap: Just the image of them revives less-than-pleasant memories of backstage makeup in high school “theatre,” or watching your mom get her pan stick applied by an inexperienced sales associate under the bad lighting of a suburban department store. Been there.
So when we suggest that you give stick foundations another chance, don’t shrug it off. There are some excellent products out there that are hidden behind their stick packaging, so to speak. And believe it or not, there are even some benefits to that stick format, like the fact that they’re portable, user-friendly, and legitimately unable to leak inside your airport carryon. These 9 members of the new guard are all of those things, not to mention lightweight, light coverage, and easy to wear, which effectively makes them absolutely nothing like the spackle of years past.
The latest product from a brand that rarely (if ever) gets it wrong is a pretty remarkable innovation, as far as coverage goes. Sure, this foundation comes in a stick, but there's nothing at all dry or crease-happy about it—rather, it has the smooth, silky consistency you'd expect from a liquid formula, and an impressive ability to cover up just about anything while still looking completely natural. Plus, with 26 shades in the lineup, you really can't go wrong.
Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick, $46; at Hourglass Cosmetics
Lightweight yet much more hydrating than the satiny finish suggests, the coconut oil base of this foundation stick helps the pigment glide on smoothly and blend seamlessly. This formula is also packed with antioxidants, so you get skin care benefits while you erase imperfections.
Wander Beauty Flash Focus Hydrating Foundation Stick, $40; at Wander Beauty
Trust: This new release is going to be a sold-out slam dunk come fall. It offers easily layered coverage that can go on as sheer or as full as you like, or you can dab it on with your fingers as a concealer, and since it transforms into a totally natural-looking matte, you'll look—and feel—like you barely have anything on at all.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Foundation, $25; out in August
If the chalkiness of old-time stick foundations left you with residual trauma, this little stick will banish those fears altogether—it's so creamy, with a "second-skin" texture that blends like a dream and really lasts.
COVER FX Cover Click Total Cover Cream Foundation, $18; at COVER FX
This recently reformulated fave goes on smooth, with so much moisture you'd almost think it's too much, but it settles down to a glorious matte finish that looks natural, not dry, thanks to the super effective anti-shine core.
Maybelline Fit Me! Shine Free Foundation, $6.99; at Drugstore.com
Because sometimes you're just like, "Man, I really need to look amazing through an HD lens," this blendable full-coverage foundation exists to impart a lightweight, radiant texture that leaves skin looking absolutely perfect IRL, too. A nourishing combination of amino acids and hyaluronic spheres means dryness just isn't in the cards.
MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation, $43; at Sephora
You may not be able to access the Photoshop blur tool on a daily basis, but this color-correcting stick is the next best thing. It's less a traditional foundation and more a tinted primer that blurs away the look of enlarged pores, fine lines, dark circles, healing blemishes, and more. Throw in the SPF 30 coverage, and you've got yourself a total won't-leave-home-without-it must-have.
Physicians Formula Super CC Color-Correction + Care All-Over Blur Primer Stick SPF 30, $12.95; at Physicians Formula
This highly pigmented stick isn't messing around: If you want full coverage wear that feels comfortable on skin all day long, this foundation is where it's at. It blends out to a flawless finish that works to reduce redness and absorb shine, and better still, the color is transfer- and smudge-resistant, so there's pretty much nothing you have to worry about.
Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Longwear Foundation Stick, $42; at Lancôme
It doesn't get much more versatile than this sheer- to medium-coverage twist-up stick, which leaves skin still looking like skin, except better. The oil-free formula is moisturizing but not greasy, and the natural, matte-ish finish is perfect whether you're in the blemish-prone zone or tend to dry out by midday.
Clinique Chubby in the Nude Foundation Stick, $24; at Clinique