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The Best Contouring Palettes

Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock.com
🕚 Updated February 2022

Contouring is the art of adding highlights and shadows to the face to add dimension, and a contouring palette makes the process seamless. If you want to upgrade your makeup, try one of these contouring palettes to illuminate your favorite features.

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  Best Cream Choice Best Powder Choice For Light Complexions For Dark Complexions Best Cruelty-Free
 
  Aesthetica
Cream Contour and Highlighting Makeup Kit
Aesthetica
Contour and Highlighting Powder Contouring Makeup Kit
NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP
Conceal Correct Contour Palette
Black Radiance
True Complexion Creme Contour Palette
Elizabeth Mott
Cruelty-Free and Paraben-Free Contour Kit
 
Our SummaryThis hypoallerginic contour palette has a lush, cream formula that seamlessly blends into the skin.This all-inclusive palette is beginner-friendly and has a powder formula for a matte finish.This color-correcting palette seamlessly conceals blemishes while neutralizing hyperpigmentation and discoloration.This affordable contour palette provides beautiful illumination and sculpting and is ideal for deep complexions.This beginner-friendly and skin-conscious contouring palette comes with six shades that are easy to blend.
ProsFull coverage, matte finish, suitable for many skin tones, six cream shades, step-by-step manual, for most ages, no gluten, talc, or parabens.Full coverage, matte finish, ideal for light to medium complexions, six pressed powders, talc-free, cruelty-free and vegan, for young and mature skin.Affordable, ideal for fair skin tones, conceals general blemishes, eliminates dark shadows, neutralizes redness, brightens skin, corrects yellow tones, buildable and easy to blend.Affordable, three colors for contouring, sculpting, and illuminating, for medium to dark complexions, easy to blend, oil-free and creamy ingredients, designed for deep complexions.Suitable for many skin tones, comes with a contouring map, six shades, cruelty- and paraben-free, soft powder formula, easy to apply, matte finish.
ConsNot ideal for those with cool or neutral undertones.Not suitable for those with deep skin tones.Not for medium, tan, or deep skin tones.Glittery illuminating shade.Not ideal for deeper skin tones.
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The Best Contouring Palettes

A contouring makeup palette, brushes, and sponges on a colored background.
Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock.com

Contouring your cheeks and forehead can add the illusion of higher cheekbones and a smaller forehead while highlighting the under-eyes, bridge of the nose, and chin brings those areas forward by brightening them. Contouring palettes make it easier than ever to minimize and conceal areas that you’re insecure about and illuminate the areas that you want to accentuate. Looking for a contouring palette to add to your makeup kit? Check out our top picks.

Buying Guide for Contouring Palettes

a young woman applies darker contouring makeup to her temple, cheekbone, chin, and side of nose and highlight to her forehead, under-eyes, and jaw.
puhhha/Shutterstock.com

Why buy a contouring palette?

Contouring palettes are a must-have for makeup enthusiasts. A great contouring palette will help you present your face in the most flattering way since you can play with shadows and lighting to show off your best features. Contouring palettes are great for everyday use and are a staple for makeup lovers, professional makeup artists, or cosplayers. A great contouring brush or blending sponge along with your contouring palette will make for an ideal makeup application.

What should you look for in a contouring palette?

  • Shade Match: It’s important to choose a palette that has highlight and contouring shades that work with your complexion. A great contouring shade should be two to three shades darker than your skin color, and your highlight shade should be two to three shades lighter than your skin tone. Remember that the key to contouring is blending, so if you’re feeling a bit silly when you first apply the makeup, don’t worry; it’ll blend and look seamless by the end!
  • Coverage: You can go for full coverage makeup that completely conceals blemishes to medium and sheer coverages that have more natural finishes. Determining how much coverage you prefer is important before you begin. Many people want full coverage particularly for special events, but medium and sheer coverages are often more popular for everyday use.
  • Price Point: The perfect contouring palette doesn’t have to break the bank; you can find a contouring palette that will add seamless dimension to your face for around $30, sometimes less. These all-in-one contour kits often feature three to six shades designed to highlight and contour the face, so you get plenty of bang for your buck. If you want premium products for professional use and have the budget for it, some will cost closer to $70.

Which finish or type of formula is right for your skin type?

Contouring palettes often have different finishes depending on the formula of the product. There are matte finishes that give the skin a pore-less appearance. They’re often powders and ideal for those with oily skin because they help neutralize the skin’s natural oils. Cream finishes are great for dry skin since they don’t dry out the skin the way powders can. Dewy finishes make the skin appear glowy and hydrated and are good for dry and combination skin but aren’t the best for very oily skin.

Our Picks for the Best Contouring Palettes

Best Cream Choice

Aesthetica Cosmetics Cream Contour Makeup Kit

This hypoallergenic contour palette has a lush, cream formula that seamlessly blends into the skin.

Pros: This all-inclusive contouring palette is full coverage with a matte, airbrushed finish. Those with light to medium to deep skin tones can use this product. It includes six shades: three for contouring and three for highlighting. It even has a step-by-step manual on how to contour for beginners and is suitable for varying ages. It has a silky cream texture that seamlessly melts into the skin and is gluten-free, cruelty-free, talc-free, and paraben-free.

Cons: The shades in this palette have warm undertones, so they aren’t ideal for those with cool or neutral undertones.

Bottom Line: This all-purpose contour palette is great for most people and is ideal for both personal and professional use. It works well with oily, dry, or combination skin, and the ingredients are high-quality, non-irritating, and sensitive skin-friendly.

 

Best Powder Choice

Aesthetica Cosmetics Contouring Makeup Kit

This all-inclusive palette is beginner-friendly and has a powder formula for a matte finish.

Pros: This powder contour kit has a full coverage matte finish and is ideal for light to medium complexions. It comes with six pressed powders: three matte foundation shades for contouring and three illuminating shades for highlighting. The ingredients are talc-free, cruelty-free, and vegan. This palette is suitable for fair, light, and medium complexions and is great for young and mature skin. It’s a great makeup kit staple.

Cons: This palette isn’t suitable for those with deep skin tones.

Bottom Line: This palette is great for light to medium skin tones and seamlessly adds dimension to the face. It can even be used as a bronzer. This palette is also travel-friendly with removable and refillable pans for convenience and versatility.

 

For Light Complexions

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Contour Palette

This color-correcting palette seamlessly conceals blemishes while neutralizing hyperpigmentation and discoloration.

Pros: This affordable, color-correcting palette comes with six concealers designed to camouflage blemishes, dark circles, and hyperpigmentation. It’s ideal for fair skin tones and optimized for color correction, so each shade has a function: the light and medium shades conceal general blemishes and other imperfections. The yellow and peach shades eliminate dark shadows, the green shade neutralizes redness, and the purple and pink tones brighten the skin and correct yellow tones. You can also wear as much or as little of the product as you like since it’s buildable and easy to blend.

Cons: This product isn’t ideal for deeper complexions.

Bottom Line: This color-correcting palette seamlessly conceals blemishes and is lightweight and buildable. It’s also waterproof for your convenience and is made of cruelty-free ingredients so that you can enjoy the products without reservations.

 

For Dark Complexions

Black Radiance True Complexion Creme Contour Palette

This affordable contour palette provides beautiful illumination and sculpting and is ideal for deep complexions.

Pros: This illuminating palette comes with three colors for contouring, sculpting, and illuminating. It’s ideal for medium to dark complexions. It’s easy to blend and is made of oil-free and creamy ingredients, so it seamlessly melts into the skin for a silky finish. The palette’s shades are rich and pigmented to beautifully highlight and contour the skin. The illuminating highlight shade gives a soft glow that catches the light well, while the sculpting and contouring shades add a natural dimension.

Cons: The illuminating shade is glittery, so it may not be ideal for those who prefer more natural highlight shades.

Bottom Line: This affordable all-in-one palette is designed with women of color in mind. It’s great for daily wear and gives a soft, natural glow that’s sure to accentuate your features. Since it’s so compact, it’s travel-friendly for quick touch-ups or makeup on the go.

 

Best Cruelty-Free

Cruelty-Free and Paraben-Free Contour Kit

This beginner-friendly and skin-conscious contouring palette comes with six shades that are easy to blend.

Pros: This beginner-friendly contouring palette is suitable for many skin tones and comes with a contouring map to provide guidance on how to contour. It features six shades in total: three for contouring and three for highlighting, and it’s cruelty- and paraben-free. It has a soft powder formula that’s easy to apply and blends like a dream. It also has a flawless matte finish, and the pigmented shades add a natural, luminous glow for a picture-perfect complexion.

Cons:  This contour palette isn’t ideal for deeper skin tones.

Bottom Line: This all-in-one contour palette seamlessly adds dimension to the face for a defined yet natural appearance. It’s long-wearing and great for everyday use. The powder is also soft and fine, so it’s easy to blend.

Final Thoughts

A contouring palette is a holy grail product for beauty enthusiasts and professional makeup artists. Get a flawless finish on your face with our top picks for contouring palettes.

Tiara Sutton Tiara Sutton
Tiara Sutton is a freelance contributor. She has experience writing about diverse topics, including politics, mental health, and spirituality. She holds a bachelor's degree in political science, and she enjoys traveling and rollerskating. Read Full Bio »
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