Swiping on eye shadow is one of the easiest ways to look put-together, and when you think about it, eye shadow is one of the most versatile items in your makeup bag. Ranging from a simple neutral to help you nab that no-makeup makeup look to bright pops of color and all the way up to the darkest black for a standout smokey eye, the options run the gamut.

However, we don’t always have the time to get out our favorite eye shadow palettes and our go-to makeup brushes. That’s where eye shadow sticks come in. “They’re swipe-and-go color that glides on easily and stays all day for instant, effortless eyes,” explains Sara Nicole Smith, National Makeup Artist for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. “They are highly pigmented, buildable shadows that double as eye shadow primers, too, providing a look that lasts.”

The best part about eye shadow sticks? You can use them alone or layer together with no brush necessary, says Smith. With shades ranging from subtle and sheer to super-saturated, eye shadow doesn’t get any easier than when it’s in stick form. Need some help with the application process? Before we get into to some of the best eye shadow sticks available, Smith breaks down how to apply them with minimal effort.

How to Apply Eye Shadow Sticks

Of course, you can simply swipe one on and go, but if you are looking for more of an eye shadow look, follow Smith’s step-by-step guide below.

Step 1: Prime

Start with a matte shade similar to your natural skin tone. “Swipe that across the whole lid and blend with your fingertips to lighten any darkness on the lid, as well as cover any veins or discoloration,” Smith says. “This provides the perfect canvas for any eye shadow look and can even be worn alone for a fresh, bright-eyed finish.” 

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Step 2: Define

Medium shades are perfect for creating depth and definition within the eye. Starting by the lower lash line, blend the color up and through the crease. “Blend the shade with your eye open by placing your fingertip in your eye socket,” Smith says. “This will ensure perfect shadow placement for your bone structure and eye shape — an especially great tip for more of a hooded eye or someone who wants to lift and open their eyes.” 

Step 3: Line

Darker shades are ideal for creating a smudge smokey look in a swipe. Apply a thick line to the lower lashes and smudge with the fingertip from the inner corner to the outer corner, adding a soft smokiness to the lower lid.

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Step 4: Shine

“Shimmer shades are the perfect tone to finish off any eye look by highlighting and illuminating the eyes,” Smith says. “My favorite place to apply these is the center of the lid as well as the inner corner of the eye to brighten and open up the eyes — the easiest way to instantly glam up any eye look!”

The Best Eye Shadow Sticks

Now that you’ve learned how to ace the application, these are the best eye shadow sticks to shop:

eye shadow sticks bobbi brown

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Sticks ($30;

“The ease and versatility of the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Sticks makes them the perfect multitasking product,” Smith says. “You can use them to prime, line, define, add shine, or create a smokey eye in just a few swipes. They blend seamlessly while staying put and color-true all day. I’ve fallen even more in love with the updated formula and shade extensions. They are the ultimate do it all stick and work smarter not harder. Minimal effort, maximum payoff. They are one of our most loved products for a reason.” 

thrive eye shadow sticks

Thrive Causemetics Infinity Waterproof Eyeshadow Stick ($26;

When you need an eye shadow stick that will last alllll day (we’re talking 12 hours), this newbie from Thrive Causemetics is the answer. It’s practically everything-proof: fool-proof, waterproof, crease-proof and smudge-proof. Each of the four shades is spiked with spherical powders to put fine lines and wrinkles in soft-focus, plus there’s skin-loving ingredients like sodium hyaluronate, ceramide NP, aloe leaf extract and vitamin B5.

pixi eye shadow sticks

Pixi Endless Shade Stick ($14;

The ultimate twofer, this liner and shadow in one is twice as fun. Easy peasy to apply, it’s made for marathon wear. Nourishing ingredients like green tea, aloe and chamomile ensure it does good while looking good.

about face eye shadow sticks

About Face Shadowstick ($21;

Leave it to Halsey to offer the best eye shadow sticks in practically every color imaginable, from lime green to teal to saffron. Whether you opt for a pearly or matte finish, it only takes a single stroke to deliver high impact color that lasts for at least 10 hours. There’s also a built-in sharpener.

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e.l.f eye shadow sticks

e.l.f. Cosmetics No Budge Shadow Stick ($5;

Worthy of its name, this deliciously creamy eyeshadow stick really won’t budge or smudge. Packed with pigment, a metallic finish gives it the perfect final touch. The twist-up design and included sharpener make it as convenient as can be.

laura mercier eye shadow sticks

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour Eye Shadow Stick ($29;

Name your favorite finish and chances are Laura Mercier makes it. This stick comes in matte, shimmer, chrome, intense and a slew of limited-edition shades. It glides onto lids and stays there for up to 12 hours sans creasing or transferring. All about high impact color, there’s a shade and finish for every look.

julep eye shadow sticks

Julep Eyeshadow 101 Crème-to-Powder Eyeshadow Stick ($15;

Between the smooth stick and built-in smudger, everything you need for the perfect eyeshadow look is right there. All of the 30-plus shades—in matte, shimmer or metallic finishes—are waterproof with a crème-to-powder, crease-proof finish. Infused with vitamins C and E as well as candelilla wax, they nourish the delicate eyelid skin.

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charlotte tilbury eye shadow sticks

Charlotte Tilbury Color Chameleon Eye Shadow Pencil ($29;

Take the guesswork out of finding the right shade that flatters you by shopping Charlotte Tilbury’s sticks that are each designated for different eye colors. For example, Amethyst Aphrodisiac, a sparkly purple, is meant for green eyes. But you don’t have to follow these rules—wear whatever shade tickles your fancy.

nyx eye shadow sticks

NYX Professional Makeup Jumbo Eye Pencil ($6;

Essentially a giant eye shadow crayon, it’s a true triple threat that can be used as a shadow, eyeliner and highlighter. Available in a rainbow of hues and matte and metallic finishes, it glides across lids for creamy color, and you can collect them all without breaking the bank.

nudestix eye shadow sticks

Nudestix Magnetic Eye Color ($26;

Nudestix has cornered the market when it comes to stick makeup, so it’s no surprise they make one of the best eye shadow sticks. The stay all day formula comes in matte and satin finishes, so the versatile liner can be used to create everything from a casual cool look to full out glam.

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