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The Best Contouring Palettes

🕚 Updated March 2023

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 Best Powder For Light Complexions For Dark Complexions For Medium Complexions
Cream Contour and Highlighting Makeup Kit
Highlight & Contour Pro Palette
Conceal Correct Contour Palette
Black Radiance
True Complexion Creme Contour Palette
Black Radiance
True Complexion Creme Contour Palette
Our SummaryThis hypoallerginic contour palette has a lush, cream formula that seamlessly blends into the skin.Sculpt and highlight like a pro with this powder-based highlight and contour palette.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.Enhance your natural beauty with this medium-hued contouring palette.
Pros✓ Full coverage
✓ Suitable for many skin tones
✓ Step-by-step manual
✓ Suitable for most ages
✓ No gluten, talc, or parabens
✓ Eight different shades
✓ Versatile
✓ Professional-looking
✓ Great for oily skin
✓ Cruelty-free
✓ Affordable
✓ Ideal for fair skin tones
✓ Conceals general blemishes
✓ Neutralizes redness,
and brightens skin
✓ Corrects yellow tones
✓ Buildable and easy to blend
✓ Affordable
✓ Three colors for contouring, sculpting, and illuminating
✓ Made for medium to dark complexions
✓ Easy to blend
✓ Oil-free and creamy ingredients
✓ Beginner-friendly
✓ High value for price
✓ Perfect for medium to dark skin tones
✓ Medium-light version available too
Cons✗ Not ideal for cool or neutral undertones✗ Potential difficulty with blending
✗ May cause an allergic reaction
✗ Not for darker skin tones✗ Too dark for lighter skin✗ Not ideal for lighter skin tones
✗ Potential blending difficulty
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The Best Contouring Palettes

A contouring makeup palette, brushes, and sponges on a colored background.

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, bringing those areas forward. Contouring palettes make it easier than ever to minimize and conceal areas you’re insecure about and illuminate the areas 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.

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 and your contouring palette will make for an ideal makeup application.

What should you look for in a contouring palette?

  • Shade Match: Choosing a palette with highlight and contouring shades that work with your complexion is important. 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 silly when applying 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 with 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, giving you plenty of bang for your buck. If you want premium products for professional use and have the budget for them, 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 poreless 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

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 contouring 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. Additionally, several mentioned that the shades were not as described.

Bottom Line: This all-purpose contour palette is great for most people and ideal for 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

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Highlight & Contour Pro Palette

Sculpt and highlight like a pro with this powder-based highlight and contour palette.

Pros: Upgrade your makeup game and create a professional look with the NYX Highlight and Contour Pro Palette. This versatile palette includes eight different powder-based shades that can be customized to create the perfect contour and highlight for your skin tone. Whether you want to define your cheekbones, slim your nose, or add radiance to your complexion, this palette has everything you need to achieve a flawless look. Plus, NYX is a cruelty-free brand, so that you can feel good about your purchase.

Cons: Some faced minor quality issues with this palette, namely low pigment quality and difficulty blending. Others had allergic reactions to the product, so you will want to avoid this set if you have sensitive, easily irritated skin or had an allergic reaction to makeup.

Bottom Line: Applying makeup to oily skin can be extremely frustrating, given its propensity to slide off slowly throughout the day. That’s where a powdery contour palette like this one comes in. Achieve a flawless, sculpted look with the versatile shades of the NYX Highlight and Contour Pro Palette, and elevate your makeup game to a professional level.


For Light Complexions


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

Pros: This affordable, color-correcting palette has 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 palette isn’t ideal for anyone with a deeper and/or darker complexion. Even the darkest shade available as part of this palette will be too light to pair with darker skin, so you’ll opt for a set designed to match deeper skin tones.

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 to 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 has 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. This product may be too flashy to wear in a professional setting. In addition, this may require a more experienced hand to apply.

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 will accentuate your features. Since it’s so compact, it’s nice and travel-friendly for quick touch-ups or makeup.


Best for Medium Complexions

Black Radiance True Complexion Creme Contour Palette

Enhance your natural beauty with this medium-hued contouring palette.

Pros: One of the main advantages of this particular contouring palette is how beginner-friendly it is. It features great tips on face sculpting inside the palette, making it a great option for those just learning how to contour. This palette is also high value for its price, and the colors are perfect for highlighting and contouring. The other defining feature of this palette is that it’s perfect for medium to dark skin tones, not just to better blend in with deep hues but to better bring out the cheekbones of darker-skinned users. A medium-light version is also available if that combination better matches your complexion.

Cons: This contour palette isn’t ideal for lighter skin tones. It was made specifically to suit medium to dark skin, so it won’t blend seamlessly with fairer skin, even if you opt for the medium-light version. Some buyers also reported difficulty blending the product on the face, despite it being beginner-friendly otherwise.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a budget-friendly contour palette that works well with a range of skin tones, then the Black Radiance True Complexion Contour Palette is a great option. It’s highly pigmented and perfect for highlighting and sculpting your features. Plus, it comes with helpful tips on how to use the shades for the best results.

Final Thoughts

A contouring palette is a holy grail product for beauty enthusiasts and professional makeup artists. No matter your experience level when applying makeup, get a flawless finish on your face with our top picks for contouring palettes.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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