Contouring has been around for so long already that it’s no longer a trend but rather an imprescriptible makeup step. So, if you are looking for the best products to update your makeup game, we are here to help. Below, we give you a nice and long list of the best contour palettes and kits out on the market, including cream, powder, and stick formulas. We’ll also cover tips on how to choose the right contour shades and formula for you to make the selection process easier.
In this article:
- Our Picks of the Best Contour Kits
- Powder Contour vs. Cream Contour
- How to Choose the Right Contouring Kit for You?
Our Picks of the Best Contour Kits
From powder to cream, here you have 11 best contouring kits and makeup products to practice and make perfect!
1. Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit
Beginners and pros alike will find that they cannot go wrong with this refillable powder contour kit. With one version for lighter skin and another for darker skin, and with 6 different shades in each palette… it covers all the bases. Each palette contains three contour shades and three highlighter shades so you can really get creative. You can pick it up from Sephora.
2. Kat Von D Shade + Light Face Contour Refillable Palette
This is another great option for powder contouring and highlighting for those who like variety. This kit contains three shades of matte contour and three luminous shades for highlighting. Each pan is refillable for when you run out of that one shade you just can’t get enough of. It is up for sale at Sephora.
3. Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Kit
With two shades for contour and one for highlighting, in buttery powder texture, it’s hard to go wrong with this simple contour kit. There are options for both light and dark skin tones, and even a mini size of the lighter option! Pick it up from Sephora.
4. Too Faced Cocoa Contour Chiseled to Perfection
A contour kit with all the perfect shades that also smells like delicious chocolate? Fill me up. This pressed powder set contains two contour shades and two highlight shades, and it even comes with a brush. Reviewers love how blendable they are, so if you’re into a subtle contour, look no further. If you’d like to buy this set, you can find it at Sephora.
5. Lorac Pro Contour Palette with Contour Brush
You can really tell that this powder contour and highlight palette was created by professionals and for professionals. The three contour shades are perfectly neutral, with an option for every skin tone, while the two matte highlights can immediately be transformed with the help of the third shimmer shade. This contouring kit also comes with a brush, which is a big bonus. It is available for sale at Ulta.
6. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Match Stix Matte Skinstick
I could rave forever about Rihanna’s new line, and I think the Matchstix really exemplifies what’s so great about it. Here we have matte cream sticks, and it’s up to the user to use them however they see fit. There are shades for contouring, concealing, and even highlighting, with Amber, Mocha, Latte, and Truffle standing out as great choices for contour shades.
Since they come in stick form, they are super easy to apply perfectly for that chiseled look. There are 20 Match Stix shades available at Sephora.
7. Urban Decay Naked Skin Shapeshifter
This contouring palette features five cream pans and four powder pans for a very complete highlight and contour look. It’s a great choice for people who really love building and layering their makeup for a high definition effect, with creamy shades that can also work for concealing or blush. You can pick up this palette at Sephora.
8. NYX Professional Makeup Highlight & Contour Pro Palette
This powder highlight and contour palette contains different shades, so you can really play around and go wild! This palette has blendable contour and highlight shades that work on all skin tones, and its price will not break the bank. You can find it at Ulta.
9. Smashbox Cali Contour Palette
This contour makeup set is fun and wild, with a cheery peach blush complementing the warm toned highlights and bronzers. There is a cool contour shade in the mix, so it’s a great choice for anyone with medium skin tones with just about any undertone. You can purchase this palette at Sephora.
10. NARS NARSissist Cheek Studio Palette
This contouring palette gives you everything you need for beautiful and sculpted cheeks, as it contains two contour shades, two highlighters, and three blushes, in a powdery formula and a mixture of mattes and shimmers. It’s a buildable formula that’s great for beginners, as it covers all the bases but doesn’t deposit too much color on in first swipe. If it sounds right for you, then grab it at Ulta.
11. Tarte Hamptons Weekender Contour Palette
This fun and simple contouring set has a peachy blush, golden highlighter, and a medium matte contour shade. It’s a great choice for those with fair and medium skin who don’t need a ton of shades – just the basics for a complete look. The small size of this palette makes it optimal for contouring on the go. It is available for sale at Sephora.
Powder Contour vs. Cream Contour
When it comes to contour makeup products, there are two main types. The easier and therefore more popular choice is a powder contour.
Contour powders usually come pressed either in a palette or as a single, and they are applied to the skin on top of foundation and powder. Applying and blending them is a quick process, and they usually give a diffused contoured look.
The cream contouring technique was first developed by drag queens and SPFX makeup artists, but it was popularized by the likes of Kim Kardashian. Cream contouring is a little bit more difficult to do, since it requires working with a more finicky product and blending very carefully.
Cream contour makeup products give a more cut and defined contour, although that doesn’t mean that it’s a heavier contour – quite the opposite, it tends to look a little lighter. For a very sculpted makeup look, people will first contour with a cream product, and then layer powder contour on top.
How to Choose the Right Contouring Kit for You?
You should be guided by both your skin tone and type when buying a contouring makeup product or kit, since you want to have a flawless look complementing your natural features.
By Skin Tone
It’s easy to look in the mirror and tell if your skin is lighter or darker. However, finding the right shade of contouring makeup for a day-to-day look relies on a little more than just the old adage, “choose a color a few shades darker than your skin tone.”
Since your contour is supposed to look like a shadow, the contour colour you choose has to appear neutral on your skin, the way a shadow would be. This is why bronzers don’t usually work well for contouring – they lean towards too orange to actually look like shadows on most people’s skin, which doesn’t work for anyone.
That’s why, before you choose a contour color, it’s important you figure out what your skin’s undertones are, and chose a contour shade with similar undertones. Our skin’s undertones will normally be categorized as warm, cool, or neutral.
Try to think of your skin’s undertones as a mixture of the three primary colors. Looking at your veins and seeing if they lean towards green (warm or olive undertones), blue (neutral undertones), or purple (cool undertones) will also help you know what your undertones are.
- A perfect balance of warm tones like yellow, and cool tones like blue and red would make your skin neutral. Those with neutral undertones to their skin should stick to a contour shade that is as neutral as possible, with perhaps just a hint of grey.
- Those with warm undertones usually have extra yellow in their skin, while a mixture of yellow and blue is an olive skin tone, which is more common in those with medium skin. A neutral contour product will also work well in this case if you’re only going for a soft contour. For a heavier contour, it’s better to go with a contour shade that also has a hint more yellow in it.
- Pinkish undertones due to just red or red and blue are a sure sign of cool skin. A cool-toned contour shade for you should not have a lot of pink or red in it – instead it’ll seem like a slightly blue taupe shade.
By Skin Type
- Normal Skin: If you have normal skin, with medium sized pores and just a bit of oil production throughout the day, you can opt for both cream contour or powder contour. You can choose which contouring makeup products are right for you based on which technique you find is easier for you to work with, or whether you like more natural or heavier makeup look.
- Dry Skin: If you have drier skin with smaller pores and little to no oil production, it’s possible you’ll prefer an overall dewier look to your skin, to avoid looking dry and flakey. This has less to do with your contour and more to do with your foundation, as you might want to avoid setting your foundation with powder, which tends to take luminosity away from the skin. It’s much harder to blend powder contour shades when they’re applied over wet foundation, so in that case, stick to cream contour makeup. If you do set your foundation with powder despite having dry skin, a powder contour will work just fine with your skin as long as it has a buttery texture and not a chalky one.
- Oily Skin: If you have larger pores and your skin produces a lot of oil throughout the day, you might want to avoid layering cream products on your oily skin, as they can contribute to you looking shiny throughout the day. If you truly prefer the look of a cream contour, make sure to use thinner layers. However, opting for a powder contour will certainly be easier and it’ll help keep those oils in check.
Photos via @beautybymsh, Sephora, Nordstrom