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.
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 jaw line, for example) and blend with a brush or beauty blender. (Side note: if you’re looking for a budget friendly option, check out this sculpt kit by elf—which can also be found at your local drugstore!)
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.
Some reviewers even said that they traded in their Kat Von D Shade + Light Palette for this product, which comes in just under $50. For a product of similar quality that is about $30 less, we think the NYX Professional makeup Highlight & Contour Palette is worth every penny.
However, if you’re looking for something even cheaper, the elf Cream Contour Palette is another great drugstore option for under $10.
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.
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. With over 10,000 likes on Sephora, you know you can’t go wrong with this beloved contour makeup.
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!
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.