You might not know it if you took a peek inside my bathroom (it’d make the perfect pilot episode of Hoarders: Beauty Edition), but there’s little I love more than a product that can streamline my beauty routine and let me sleep in for an extra ten minutes. It’s the reason I’ve bought so many three-in-one products over the years, hoping to consolidate my eye, lip, and cheek color needs into one nifty package. It’s also the reason so many of them have disappointed me.
Sure, lots of them looked good swiped along my cheekbones and dabbed on my lips. Quite a few have managed to highlight my eyes and contour my cheeks. But nary a one has managed the eye-lip-cheek hat trick they claim. With more and more brands including a three-in-one on their roster, I thought surely someone must have cracked the code! And what kind of beauty editor would I be if I didn’t put them to the test?
For fairness sake, I decided to stick with sticks (oh, the puns I have made while testing these) in the same color family, and only ones that specifically mention use for eyes, lips, and face. Oh, and to get the full effect, I also decided that I needed to test each product on the eyes, lips, and face simultaneously, since part of the appeal of these sticks is the ability to throw one in your weekend bag with a mascara and take off for a spontaneous, Instagram-perfect road trip. (That’s what people do, right? My weekends belong to Netflix.) You can also see how fair my skin is, so if your skin tone is darker, you may have different results.
Nars The Multiple in G-Spot: My first day of wearing matchy-matchy makeup started strong—not really a surprise with this longtime editor fave. The Nars shade was easily the darkest of the colors I chose, with bronzy undertones that made it a less intimidating intro to allover-pink face products. It was also very flattering on, giving my cheeks and lips a better-than-natural flush and darkening my eyelids without making me look like I needed medical intervention. The formula was very creamy and blended in easily when applied with my fingers, but was also layerable for more color impact.
That creaminess did have a downside—while the color still looked good when I checked a mirror at midday, a close-up inspection revealed that it had settled into the creases of my eyelids. The tube was also bulky enough that carrying it around in my purse for lip touch-ups was more hassle than a regular tube of lipstick would have been. Still, I had two separate strangers compliment my makeup that day, and I really can’t argue with those results.
__W3ll People Universalist Multi-Stick in 7:__This was the most dauntingly pink of the group, but I’ve had good experiences with W3ll People’s multisticks before so I went whole hog. Whereas the first day I’d made the mistake of not applying an eye-shadow primer, this time I applied a quick swipe of Urban Decay Primer Potion in Original before tapping some of the creamy formula on my lids. And then a little more. It layers beautifully, though I may have gone just a smidge overboard. Oh well, pink is the new black. Or something.
While this three-in-one gave me a much more makeup-y look, the color actually looked good, particularly on my lips and cheeks. For the eyes, I think it would look best with a lighter touch and maybe a warm-brown shadow blended into the crease for a sunset effect. Still, it didn’t give me the red-eyed look I feared, so I’d give it half points for the eyes.
__E.L.F. All Over Color Stick in Pink Lemonade:__The minute I swiped this stick across my lips, I got “Frosty the Snowman” stuck in my head; that’s the shimmer level we’re dealing with. Yet somehow (it must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found…), when tapped on my eyelids and cheeks, that middle-school-homecoming silver glint turned into a strobified glow that I would dare describe as subtle. In fact, the flushed color was surprisingly natural on my cheeks, and while definitely pink on my eyelids, the cooler undertones kept it looking natural and not, you know, infected.
The lip look was my least favorite for this stick, which was particularly disappointing considering its balmier texture and compact tube made it feel like a lipstick I would actually wear throughout the day more than any of the other contenders.
__Mineral Fusion 3-in-1 Color Stick in Terra Cotta:__After my most recent experience with shimmer, I was a little nervous when I opened the short Mineral Fusion tube and saw tiny flecks of gold winking back at me. Still, I am nothing if not a dedicated beauty guinea pig, so on it went! Indeed, on the lips it was decidedly spangled, but not quite as in-your-face as E.L.F.’s. I’m still not sure if it was the size of the shimmer particles that gave it this effect, the gold, or the cream-to-powder formula, but this shade seemed less metallic on. Likewise, I felt the peachy color looked slightly more natural on my eyes than some of the fuchsia-toned shades I’d tested, although the difference on my cheeks was nominal.
I also liked that this version was free of pretty much everything you could find objectionable in a cosmetic, including artificial colors. Still, like the other cream-powder formulas I’d tried, I found the color didn’t last long on my lips, though the portability of the tiny tube did work in its favor.
Overall, I have to say I was pretty impressed with my three-in-one experiments—there was a lot more trial and a lot less error than I thought. So what do you do to make a three-in-one work for you if you don’t have the luxury of a bedroom trial run? Remember: Bronzes and golds are the easiest to pull off, darker is more versatile, go easy on the eyes, and always, always pack a primer.
__For more lip-and-eye product combos, watch this! __