After 16 hours of research evaluating 82 products, we picked Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit as our top choice.
Why contour makeup? Well, let's be real. Most of us would love more defined cheekbones, a slimmer nose, or a more chiseled jaw; however, few people have the desire (or finances) to permanently alter their appearance.
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Contouring has come a long way in recent years. These days, the recommendation is to select a color about three shades darker than your natural complexion and focus on hollowing out cheekbones, slimming your nose, and defining your jawbone and hairline.
In terms of the order in which you want to apply your makeup, it might surprise you to hear that most beauty experts recommend to first apply a highlight over your cheekbones, blend your foundation, and then apply contour last. Of course you can always contour without the highlight, but why not emphasize those gorgeous freshly chiseled features?
What's the bottom line?
Even if you're a makeup newbie, you should really consider making contour a part of your beauty routine. Whether you're a beginner or a pro, we've included something for everyone on our list of the best contour makeup out there and highly recommend you check it out.
If you're still not quite sure about contouring, checkout our best foundation, blush, or bronzer to create that perfect everyday look. No matter what your beauty routine looks like, we promise, we've got you covered.
15 cream colours designed to conceal blemishes, correct redness, brighten sallow skin, and contour to create facial definition.
A little too oily and heavy for acne-prone skin-types, but fine for normal-to-dry skin.
The budget cream formula is a little oily and sheer, not ideal for professionals or those looking for flawless coverage. However, it’s fine for kids, teens, and anyone just wanting to experiment before investing in more expensive products.
Use your fingers or the provided brush to buff the color into the face. Or, use a palette knife to transfer the product onto a clean palette. The sheer coverage means you have to work to build the product.
Under $10 for 15 colours and a brush? Bargain.
A budget-friendly 3-pan palette with a warm bronze, deep contour, and pearly shimmer highlight.
The powders are prone to breaking so be careful when travelling.
Two matte powders and one shimmer powder, all soft and pigmented (but a little patchy).
Use a soft brush to dust the bronze shade over the face and a smaller brush to buff the contour into your natural shadows. A shimmer fan brush is ideal for dusting the highlight into the high points of the face. You may have to spend a little extra time blending to avoid patches.
At under $15 it’s reasonable.
Charlotte Tilbury does it again, folks! The Hollywood Contour Wand features a cushiony sponge applicator that makes it easy to create gorgeous, sculpted looks in minutes. The gorgeous rose gold packaging (Charlotte Tilbury’s signature) is just an added bonus.
$38 for a single color contour is pretty pricey, especially since reviewers report that it doesn’t last long with regular use.
The formula is a soft-focus, semi-matte cream that is lightweight an dries instantly upon application. The color is highly pigmented, more so than any of the compact powders or creams on our list, and it adheres with uniformity to create shadows and define features naturally.
It comes in two different shades, light and dark, and it’s also formulated without parabens or sulfates—which feels good too.
Use the sponge at the end of the wand to apply a small squeeze to cheek hollows, nose, temples, and jawline. After applying, blend it out (upwards on your cheeks and temples and downwards on your nose and jaw) with a contour brush or beauty blender. Goes on evenly thanks to the uniquely designed sponge applicator. The result?? A beautifully sculpted, natural look.
Like we said above, $38 for a single shade contour makes this one of the most expensive products on our list. Charlotte Tilbury offers a similar highlighting wand, but that’s sold separately. Additionally, if you’re spending a lot of time contouring daily, the tube will not last very long. This product is best for beginners that only plan to do a small amount of contouring on occasion.
The NYX Professional Makeup Highlight & Contour Pro Palette allows you to easily enhance features like cheekbones, nose, and hair and jawline—all at a drugstore price!
Some reviewers report QA issues with palettes arriving broken or colors not looking the same as pictured, so, if you’re unsure, maybe stop by your local drugstore and pick one up in person.
This is a powder-based formula with a palette of colors perfect for all complexions. It’s great for beginners, but, what we love most about this product is that each of the 8 removable and refillable pans pops out of the palette with ease and are perfect for building your own customized pro palette.
The shades are all highly pigmented and, while some have a bit more fallout than others, with a light tap of the brush you should end up with the right amount of product for a flawless contour.
Of course, you will first want to apply foundation and bronzer, if desired, but then start with the deeper contouring shades to the areas you would like a bit of definition (brow bones, sides of the nose, hair, and jawline, for example) and blend with a brush or beauty blender.
Finally, apply one of the lighter shades over any areas you would like to emphasize with highlight.
Since this is our best drugstore pick there’s no surprise it’s also one of the best values on our list. At just under $20 this isn’t incredibly cheap, but, given that it is a highlight and contour in one and will last for an extended period of time, it is still a great value for what you get.
The Hoola Quickie Contour Stick brought to you by Benefit is a soft bronze cream-to-powder stick that allows you to easily define, sculpt, and shape with clarity and confidence.
Make sure you store this in a cool, dry place, also be careful when you first open the product, because some reviewers indicate that the entire stick of product fell out of the tube.
This is a soft bronze cream-to-powder contour stick with a dome shape tip that ensures smooth, targeted application every time. The matte formula allows you to easily define cheekbones and nose, while providing all over sculpting with just a few swipes.
Hoola Quickie Contour Stick is buildable and blendable for a totally natural look that, with the long wear formula, will last from morning tonight without needed to be touched up or reapplied.
For defined cheekbones, apply several swipes under your cheekbones and blend up towards your ears with a blending brush or sponge. For a chiseled nose, apply a swipe or two along each side and blend outward towards your cheeks. And if you’re going for an allover sculpted took, try applying a few swipes below your hairline, blending upward, and a few more along your jawline, blending downward.
Available on Amazon Prime with free shipping for $38, or buy it from Sephora, Ulta, or Nordstrom for about $10 (but remember to factor in shipping). Regardless, this contour stick is not the cheapest on our list, but reviewers advise that it will last you a LONG time.
An 8-pan palette with cream colors for concealing, correcting, and contouring for a flawless face.
Only one colour option may be too dark for pale skin.
Solid creams designed for buildability and smooth blending over bare skin or cream products.
Use your finger or a brush to dip into the pan and buff onto the skin. The lighter shade can be used to add light to the high points, while the orange tone cancels out blue circles. Use the cooler, darker shades to contour the face. Works well over cream foundation and under setting powder.
8 shades for under $15? Not bad.
A 10-pan palette with creamy concealer and contour shades for full-face sculpting and perfecting. Excellent for makeup beginners, teens, and those practicing makeup artistry skills.
The coverage is quite light but excellent for teenagers and “no-makeup makeup”.
The cream formula is lighter in coverage compared to other similar products, ideal for young, clear skin. Emollient and easy to blend into the skin (a synthetic buffing brush would work well).
Combine different shades to find the perfect concealer shade to match your skin tone, and use the deeper shades to “carve-out” your features. The oily formula is better for normal-dry skin types and may need to be set with powder for staying power.
At under $15 for 10 shades, the value is impressive.
A compact pen with a cream highlight and contour in light, medium, and dark shade options.
Formula could be smoother, but for the price, it can’t be beat.
A creamy formula that glides onto the skin. However, you may have trouble blending the creams with your other base products. It will take a little experimentation to get the formula to blend evenly.
The pointed tip allows you to draw the product directly onto the face, even smaller areas such as the side of the nose and crease of the eye.
At under $7 for a contour and highlight, it’s a steal.
A creamy, full-coverage foundation stick with a natural matte finish. Use as a foundation or concealer, or pick a cooler, darker shade for contouring.
Potentially too thick for oily skin, but can be blended out with a damp sponge.
A thick, creamy stick formula with a matte finish (but not flat!). Medium-to-buildable coverage can conceal redness, even out dark circles, and sculpt the face.
Swipe directly onto the face before buffing and blending with fingers, brushes, or a sponge. The domed tip fits perfectly into the hollows of the face, along the jaw, and sides of the nose.
A mid-range buy.
A luxury highlight and contour palette for sculpting the face and adding gentle light. Four blendable shades in one luxe palette.
Only one shade range, but works for most skin tones (aside from very pale and very deep)
The powders are blendable so you can opt for a subtle contour or a high-glam editorial look.
You will need a reasonably stiff buffing brush to apply the contour shades, and a fluffier brush to buff the highlight into the skin. The streak-free, patch-free formula allows for seamless blending and buildable intensity. You can also use the shades to contour and define the eyes for a full-face monochrome look.
It’s Dior, after all (in other words? Not cheap).
A travel-friendly cream contour stick with a soft matte finish and buildable colour. 7 cool-toned shades available, for very pale to very deep skin.
Reasonably expensive for just one shade, but worth it if it’s your go-to definer.
The cream-to-powder formula feels weightless on the skin and dries down to a natural matte finish. Layers well with liquid foundations and under powders.
Simply swipe the stick onto the forehead, hollows of the cheeks, down the sides of the nose, and along the jawline. Use a buffing brush to blend out. Add more for more intensity. Easy for newbies and pros alike.
It’s expensive for one product, but the luxe packaging and high-tech formula is worth the investment.
The Shade + Light Contour Palette by Kat Von D has gotten quite a bit of attention, but were currently crushing on the Kitten Mini Shade + Light Contour Duo. Inspired by the Shade + Light Contour Palette, these mini duos allow you to take your favorite highlight and contour shades on the go.
Many reviewers state that the Deep shade is not great for really dark skin tones, so keep that in mind if you’re darker complected.
Kat Von D really knows her stuff when it comes to contouring, so why go mini, you may ask? Well, first of all, with these duos you are getting everything you need to create the perfect contour, at a size and price anyone can get onboard with. Additionally, you can mix and match your favorite shades from the 6-pan Shade + Light Contour Palette so that you’re never wasting product (and in turn wasting money).
This product is also vegan and cruelty-free, which is even better.
Use the contour shades to recede facial features and add depth to your face, while imparting a soft luminosity for amplified dimension of your best angles.
At $23, this is one of the cheapest contour products on our list.
For half the price of the Shade + Light Contour Palette you are getting everything you need to create dimension and accentuate features without any of the waste that may come with the larger palette. If you’re a contouring pro and need a wide range of shades, maybe look elsewhere. But if you’re on the market for a go to highlight and contour for every day, these duos will be your new best friend.
New to contour? Well Smashbox designed a starter palette equipped with all the essentials, including a tutorial that walks you through a step-by-step of how to contour cheek bones, nose, and jaw line.
Some reviewers indicate the colors were not as pigmented or blendable as advertised.
The kit features one contour, one bronzer, and one highlighter that make the perfect contour achievable for all skill levels. The colors are highly pigmented, blendable, and buildable, and the palette is available in two shades—Light/Medium and Medium/Ark. Both palettes flatter a range of skins tones and complexions.
The product itself is formulated without parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, phthalates, and fragrance—plus, it’s cruelty free!
This user friendly palette even comes with its own contour brush, which means you will achieve a perfectly even application each and every time .Additionally, while the palette itself comes with a pretty fool-proof how-to guide, below are some tips to give you an idea of just how easy it really is.
For the nose, use the contour shade to apply a stroke down each side of your nose and blend for a slimming effect, as a finishing touch use the highlighting shade to accentuate by applying a thin line from the top of your nose and blend.
For the cheeks, suck in your cheeks to help you determine exactly where shadow, and then using the contour shade apply along this line—blend upward to create the illusion of lifted, sculpted cheeks. Add a stroke of blush right above the contour line to create a naturally flushed look.
And, for the jaw line, apply contour underneath your law line to square off your chin, for an instantly sculpted look.
Find this contour kit on Amazon for right around $30, including Prime shipping! A pretty good value for a contour, bronzer, highlight, and contour brush all in one!
A 6-pan palette with three super-pigmented powder contour shades and three highlighting shades.
Only two shade ranges, but with 6 shades, there’s likely something for you.
The powder formula is creamy and pigmented, blending easily into the skin without being streaky or clinging to dry patches.
You will need a brush to apply these shades (any tapered medium brush will do the trick!). These powders are easy to buff into the hollows of the cheeks and dust onto the high points.
For the amount of product you get, under $25 is a bargain.
A 6-pan palette with creamy concealers and contour shades to colour-correct and add dimension.
Small pan sizes, but a little goes a long way!
A cream, slightly tacky formula that blends easily into the skin (somewhat depending on your skin type). The coverage is buildable so you can achieve a flawless, even complexion.
Use your fingers or a small concealer or domed brush to buff the creams onto scars, pimples, and dark circles. Solid cream makes for spill-free, travel-friendly usage. Blends easily over other cream products and can be set with powder.
At under $10 for 6 pans, we’re calling “bargain”.
A creamy matte contour stick that swipes easily onto the hollows and perimeter of the face to create dimension and structure
Only comes in 2 shades (but they’re versatile for most skin tones)
A creamy formula that dries down to a matte finish. The formula feels comfortable on the skin and looks realistic in texture. You can easily layer it over other cream products and set with powders.
The stick component means you can swipe it directly onto the skin then buff out with a sponge or brush. Or, you can scrape product off with a palette knife and transfer to a palette when using on clients.
For one solo product, the price is fair but not the cheapest on the market.
A 6-pan palette with five matte shades and one shimmer highlight. Bronze, contour, set, brighten, and define the face.
Only one shade range, so may not be ideal for very dark and very pale skin.
Soft, creamy powders that blend effortlessly and can be built to achieve more intense colour.
Use a fluffy brush to set the face with the matte highlight shades, and bronze with the warm-toned deeper shades. Use a smaller brush to contour with the cooler shade and dust the shimmer pan onto the high points. You can also use a fluffy eyeshadow brush to contour and define the eye.
A little pricey, but reasonable quantity in return.
A compact palette perfect for traveling or makeup purists. 6 shades to conceal redness, correct darkness, add light to high points and contour the face.
Could be a little too thick for directly under the eyes but perfect for blemishes and contouring.
Like most MAC products, the formula is high-tech, blendable, highly pigmented, and blends seamlessly into the skin. The creams are quite thick (but not heavy) and provide great coverage.
Combine shades to skin-match and conceal blemishes and dark circles. Use the deeper shades to contour under the cheeks, down the nose, around the forehead, and under the jawline. Use your finger to conceal and a small synthetic buffing brush to contour.
A high-end price not for the budget-conscious. However, the quality and versatility mean great cost-per-use.
An affordable palette with a flattering blush, contour, and highlight shade for full-face dimension in one sleek compact.
Contour shade could be too warm for cooler skin tones but could be used as a bronzer.
Soft powders can be built in intensity to achieve a subtle dimension or more high-glam impact. The contour shade is matte while the blush and highlighter provide more shimmer and light-catching sheen.
Forget the little brush it comes with and use a tapered brush to buff the contour into the hollows of the face. Use the same brush to dust blush over the apples of the cheeks, then tap the highlight onto the high points of the face.
For three pans and whole-face definition, this is extremely cheap.
A creamy powder with cocoa butter for easy blending. Warm enough to bronze the face but with enough coolness to contour and sculpt.
Only three colour options (but cover most skin tones).
The soft, creamy powder contains no shimmer or glitter. This means it is ideal for naturally warming and sculpting the face, even for day time and on more mature skin.
Use a fluffy brush to dust all over the face for a summery glow, or use a small domed brush for contour placement. Buffs beautifully over cream products.
A low-budget option for discerning contour fanatics.
A 3-pan compact for defining the facial structure, popping the cheeks, and highlighting the high points of the face. Beautiful shades designed for women of color.
The packaging quality is a little low, but for such a budget price, who’s complaining?
The contour and sculpt shades are matte and very pigmented (yet buildable for customizable intensity). The highlight is a blinding shimmer for creamy radiance. The powders are soft and creamy, so go in with a light hand to avoid kick-up.
Carve out the facial structure with the deeper shade, pop the center points with the brighter shade, and add glimmering light with the shimmer highlight. All you need is a small-medium soft brush with a tapered tip. Simple, foolproof blendability.
One of the cheapest contour palettes on the market.
A 4-pan powder palette with two highlight shades and two contour shades for customizable sculpting and defining.
Possibly too deep for extremely fair skin, but could be multi-tasked as soft-glam eyeshadow.
These powders are soft, pigmented, and super easy to blend, even beginners can’t mess it up! Could be an excellent bridal palette or go-to bronzer, contour, highlight, and eyeshadow palette.
Dust the matte highlight shade under the eyes and down the T-Zone. Blend the contour shades and buff around the perimeter of the face and down the sides of the nose. Dust the shimmer highlight over the top points of the face for a shimmery glow. For monochrome glam, use the deeper shades to contour the eye.
A little pricey in the $40-50 bracket.
A glow-giving face palette that adds color, light, and depth.
Matte-lovers may find this a little hard to get used to (but the glow will win you over).
Becca powders are creamy, soft, pigmented, and blendable. They offer the choice of sheer and subtle (ideal for day wear) or intense and high-glam (for evening). They can be slightly dusty so you may need to blow away the excess kick-up.
These powders glide on easily and never leave streaks or patches. Can be buffed out for a diffused, sheer look, or layered for intense color. Beginner-friendly.
In the $40 wheelhouse. Reasonable considering the quality and luxe appeal.
Professional-grade powder highlight and contour shades blend seamlessly into the skin with an included brush.
Only one shade range available, but it works for most skin tones.
The five matte shades are creamy, blendable, and buff into the skin without streaks or patches. The shimmer highlight is flattering, without chunks or gaudy glitter. Finely-milled and highly-pigmented, you can achieve pro-level glam.
Mix the light, medium, and dark contour shades to customize the right depth for your skin. Use the shimmer highlight shade to pop the cheekbones, and use the yellow matte highlight to neutralize blue undereye tones. The stubby brush makes contouring simple.
Considering you get a pro-level brush and 6 pans, the higher price is 100% worth it.
The perfect face palette for beginners and low budgets, with four powder shades to sculpt the face.
Only two shade ranges.
Cruelty-free, vegan, and made without nasty parabens and phthalates. The palest shade offers a little shimmer to use as a highlight. The other three shades are matte (on the satiny side of matte, however). The powders are soft and blendable.
Use a soft brush to buff the warm tone where the sun naturally hits, then place the cooler tone where shadows naturally form. Use a small brush to tap the yellow tone under the eyes to neutralize blue tones, then dust the pale shimmer shade onto the cheekbones. Easy to blend and build for beginner-proof sculpting.
One of the cheapest on the market.
There’s a reason this product is consistently rated the best of the best by beauty authorities like Refinery 29 and Best Products. The Contour Kit by Anastasia Beverly Hills is versatile and perfect for beginners and pros alike.
Reviewers report that the colors are a bit too warm for contouring on certain complexions, but do keep in mind there are three shade ranges to choose from. So make sure to find the correct range for your complexion.
With the Contour Kit, Anastasia Beverly Hills brings you a best-selling set of three powder highlights and three powder contours that come in removable and refillable pans, ranging from light to deep. Essentially, this kit includes everything you need for the perfect contour in one product.
The formula is blendable and also comes in a variety of shade ranges from Light/Medium to Medium/Tan to Deep, which ensures you will achieve the best match for your complexion regardless of your skin tone.
The staying power, however, is really where this product shines. Reviewers report this contour makeup will last you morning to night, even through rain, sweat, and tears. Use this kit to create a natural daytime look or a dramatic sculpt that is sure to turn heads without worrying that you will need to retouch throughout the day/night. The possibilities really are endless!
Like we mentioned previously, the kit includes three contour shades and three highlights for sculpting and emphasizing cheekbones, nose, and jawline.
To begin, select a contour shade for the cheekbones, nose, and jawline. Suck in cheeks to find your natural cheekbones, apply a swipe of contour, and blend upwards with a contour brush or beauty blender. Next, apply contour to the sides of nose and blend outward for a sliming effect. Also apply contour below the jawline for a more sculpted appearance.
Finally, select a shade of highlight to apply over cheekbones, nose, and jawline for emphasis.
$40 is pretty steep for one contour palette, but it includes both highlights and contours, requires little to no retouch on a daily basis, and a little goes a long way—even if you use this product daily (and we promise, you will) you can expect this palette to last you 3-4 months.