I’ve always been a loyal purchaser of stick foundations. They save me time in rushed mornings. Which are all of them. Because I wake up with just enough time to arrive only 5 minutes late. So a foundation that doesn’t require me to use an extra tool to apply (like a brush or sponge) goes at the top of the list of makeup I reach for in the 3 minutes I allocate to do my makeup.
That being said, for the comparison test of these 5 stick foundations I have I used the same method of application: directly from the tube to my face, then blend out with my fingers. For reference, my skin type is combination (very oily around my nose and forehead, very dry undereyes and lower cheek area) and non sensitive. One thing all stick foundations have in common is that they need to have a more emollient base in order not to dry out, so naturally they never really completely set on the skin. So unless you have dry skin, you’re likely going to have to set it with powder for them to last all day – I think the maximum wear time I got without powder was 4 hours before my forehead looked like it bathed in cooking oil.
For all of these, at the end of the day my forehead and nose were pretty oily, even with powder and setting spray, so that’s to be expected with this format of foundation. However, some wear better than others.
Let’s meet the warriors:
Revolution Fast Base Foundation Stick (shade F6)
This is the least expensive foundation on this list. Pigmentation wise, I would say it’s medium, probably buildable to full but the more I build up the harder it is to have a natural, streak free finish. It has kind of a thin texture – you know when paint is too diluted in water, how streak marks show up more? That’s what I felt with this. It has coverage, but on some areas of the face it seemed like the foundation was thinner and it was hard to build up to full opacity (like on the nose).
It’s a curious foundation because the finish is very skin like, but if you have dry patches the foundation will stick to them like a b*tch. It starts to settle a bit into fine lines and big pores by the 4-hour mark, but apart from getting a bit oily, it stays like that for the rest of the day without moving or fading. It’s like the foundation just needs to settle, but after that it doesn’t go anywhere. One stick contains 6 grams, from what I can see in the Ulta website.
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation Stick (shade Y315)
Make Up For Ever’s foundation stick has the highest coverage of every foundation on this list – I would say medium, buildable to full. It’s also one of the most emollient and dense – like a thick cream. I can see why dry skin types love it – it won’t stick to dry patches, nor make your skin look “crackly” – it looks and feels like you are putting an occlusive moisturiser with a lot of pigment. That being said, it’s not light weight. You can definitely feel it on the skin and sometimes it became a bit too heavy for me for the summer.
The finish is natural, leaning on glow-y. The shine disappears when I set it with powder, but throughout the day my skin makes sure the dewiness returns and but the end of a 10 hour day, my forehead and nose are pretty reflective. Nevertheless, it lasts reasonably well and only really slightly creases on my one forehead wrinkle – so even though my skin oils come through, they don’t really move the foundation. Nor does the foundation fade.
One stick has 12,5 grams of product, and I have repurchased this (and I’m at the end of the second stick).
Shiseido UV Protective Stick Foundation SPF30 (shade Fair Ochre)
I believe this foundation is being discontinued, but you might still find it in stores – I got mine in a department store during my honeymoon in Santorini, for 50% off. This is a repurchase, actually, and I’m sad it’s not easily available anymore. Coverage is light and buildable to medium, and the texture is really creamy. It blends super easily and leaves no streak marks. It looks very natural and its very transfer resistant – as it should because it’s sold as a sun protection product and it should last well on the skin. And it does.
At the end of the day it’s oily on my forehead and nose, as expected, but there’s basically no creasing on my forehead wrinkle. I just wish the coverage was higher. This foundation contains 9 grams of product and the SPF 30 makes it perfect for summer.
YSL All Hours Stick Foundation (shade BD20 Warm Ivory)
I keep seeing this foundation heavily discounted on multiple retailers, so I’m not sure if YSL is planning to discontinue it. Regardless, it’s still widely available. I find it to be very similar to the Revolution Fast Base stick, albeit a bit better. It blends better and leaves less streak marks. Coverage is a medium and I don’t feel it builds easily to full (it starts getting cakey-er and harder to blend). The finish is very natural, leaning more matte than dewy – a satin, I guess would be the best description. But it looks very skin like.
It lasts well but not more than the Make Up For Ever or Shiseido foundation. My skin is still pretty oily at the end of the day and I have a bit of foundation creased at my forehead wrinkle. This one contains 9 grams of product.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Foundation (shade Beige)
I would say this is a true medium coverage. This foundation is the driest of them all and I think it’s no longer available in a large range of shades – I think they only sell this in contouring and highlighting colours (I believe 4?). I’m not surprised, this foundation would be a nightmare for dry skin types (shows dry patches you didn’t even though existed and makes your wrinkles more obvious) and it’s not ideal for oily skin types either because no stick foundation is, they don’t control oil well. To its credit, it looked really good if my skin was very well hydrated. I need to use moisturizer and a moisturizing primer in order for this not to look dry, but it does work. It lasts reasonably well, around the same time the other foundations. This also contains 9 grams of product.
So, which foundation stick is the best? Well, if I had to choose only one, than Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation Stick. Clearly, from the ratings, it was between that and the Shiseido foundation, but I like the MUFE’s coverage better. Plus it’s still available in a wide range of shades and will work well for multiple skin types.