Saturday, August 8, 2020
Style and Beauty

The Magic of Stick Makeup

By Catherine Tse, 25 Jul, 2016
  • The Magic of Stick Makeup

Applying makeup with your fingers is entirely underrated. It’s utter joy – drawing on your face with satisfyingly chubby, bold strokes, then blending out with the synergy of skin against skin. Add to this: formulas for stick makeup have never been more sophisticated. Eye shadows that are lightweight yet waterproof. Foundations that are realistic and buildable. Cheek colours that are foolproof and glowy.

A cinch to pack (and TSA-friendly), they’re a traveller’s dream. Never worry about finding spilled, melted or shattered surprises at the bottom of your bag. Their portability also means that quick touch-ups are a breeze. Just dab on a bit more colour, pat with clean fingers and you’re good to go.

For hot summer months, the ease of application couldn’t be more appealing. No fussing with brushes (and subsequent washings) and once you’ve got the hang of it, you can be done with your face in less than 10 minutes. 


There are a few tricks to make this kind of makeup work its best:

1  Prime your face with moisturiser (or primer), but don’t powder. Think, “like for like,” so use all your creams, lotions, gels and liquids together so they’ll blend seamlessly. It’s like priming your walls for the right kind of paint; oil-based paints don’t sit well on top of latex paint and vice versa. The right kind of primer is crucial.

2  Work in thin layers and build up slowly. It might be tempting to be heavy-handed with the products, as if you’re colouring, but resist. Start with one or two strokes, pat on, then add more as needed. It’s far easier to add colour than to remove it, and thin layers make blending more manageable.

3  Blend well. And by blend, I mean pat, not rub. Rubbing will only end up smearing the makeup around. Instead, use your fingers to tap and bounce off your skin, working the makeup into your face until it looks seamless. There should be no discernible edges.

4  Stop blending. Once you’re done, leave it and move on to something else for a minute. This kind of makeup will set, so give it a bit of time to settle in. Take a final look and if you need to add a little more, do it then.

5  Powder, as necessary. As your final step, this is when you can apply your powder products. If you tend to be oily, powder around your nose and forehead. But keep it strategic: leave your high points alone (cheekbones, bridge of nose, Cupid’s bow, arches, etc.) or you’ll smother the glowy nature of this kind of makeup.



For face, the just-launched Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick ($56, Sephora) by Hourglass provides a silky and impressively pigmented product. Use this foundation stick sparingly to even out your skintone and then tap on a little more as a concealer just on areas that need it. And kudos to Hourglass for providing a new base that comes in 26 shades to give almost everyone a fighting chance of finding a good match. If your skin is in good condition, Clinique’s Chubby in the Nude Foundation Stick ($29, Clinique counters) offers light to medium coverage with a beautiful, second-skin finish. This lightweight formula is nearly foolproof and probably best for those with combination to oily skins. Available in 10 shades.

When applying cheek colour, start with a small area to give yourself space to blend out. Place the stick flush under your cheekbone in the space between the outer corner of your eye and your ear, drag it lightly about 2 cm and then start tapping and blending. Tap up and out to blend into the hairline and make sure you don’t bring it in past the centre of your pupils. Estée Lauder’s Pure Color Lip and Cheek Summer Glow ($38, Estée Lauder counters) is a dual-ended, 2-in-1 product that might be all you need for a casual weekend away. The cheek colour delivers a sheer glow, which can also be used on lips for a subtle wash of colour. For more punch, the other end provides a matching, pigmented lip gloss. Available in two shades. If you absolutely cannot live without a brush, Pur Minerals’ Chateau Cheek Stain ($27, Shoppers Drug Mart) is another dual-ended product. At one end is an antioxidant-packed gel stain, at the other is a brush. I still encourage you to use fingers for blending, but the brush can be helpful for buffing around the edges. Available in three juicy shades.

Summer eyes demand smudgeproof, waterproof and sweatproof formulas, which is exactly what Make Up For Ever’s Aqua XL Eye Pencil Waterproof Eyeliners ($25, Sephora) deliver. This product will set, so if you want to do any smudging do it right after applying (i.e. do one eye at a time). Available in 20 rainbow bright shades with finishes including matte, satin, diamond (shimmer) and iridescent. Another budge-proof eye product is Estée Edit’s The Edgiest Kohl Shadowstick ($26, Sephora). Use this as an eyeliner or scribble onto lids and blend outwards to create a smoky look. They layer beautifully, so just a couple from the 10 colour options can be combined to create a multitude of looks. 

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