9 best contouring products
Chisel those cheekbones with the right creamy contour stick or powder palette
Now, hear us out. We’re as sceptical as the rest of you, being fairly fond of our natural contours. But there are products out there that bring subtle depth and shape to the face, enhancing what you’ve got in the way good makeup should. If you want to give it a go, here’s where we suggest you start.
Always apply contour in natural light, avoid any shade that makes your skin look dirty, and start with a light touch. Work a dark colour into the hollows of your cheeks, temples and down the sides of your nose, then top the high points with a highlighter and blend as if your life depends on it.
Some suggest using contouring products on the jaw but we suggest you go easy, as the jawline is less forgiving and can give a foundation line-like result.
For powders, we recommend using Charlotte Tilbury’s soft, sweepy, tapered Powder & Sculpt Brush, which is just the right size for precise-but-not-tedious application. For creams and sticks, your fingers are the best tools we can recommend – and free!
Go easy, have a play around and remember – it’s about making the most of what you’ve got.
Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow: £49, John Lewis
Yet again Charlotte Tilbury has produced a product that goes straight into our makeup bags.
It’s – rare for contouring products – subtle, with enough bronze and highlight to give a natural day-to-day effect, zero spangles or dirty-looking cheeks.
Perfect for the contouring-shy. Available in light-medium and medium-dark.
Clinique Chubby Stick sculpting contour and sculpting highlight: £20 Each, Look Fantastic
This is contouring for dummies: creamy sticks that you draw on and blend with your fingers for quick and easy shading.
If you can only buy one, opt for the (better) contour stick rather than the highlight and finish with your usual highlighter.
Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Stick Trio: £29.50, Debenhams
Smashbox’s chunky pencils are brilliant for precise work around the nose and eye sockets.
The trio includes three creamy shades that glide on with zero pull: highlight (which is a pure light colour, no shimmer), neutral contour and a warmer bronze that pulls the two together.
Mac Studio Fix Sculpt and shape contour palette: £35, Look Fantastic
This new palette from Mac contains six powder shades, three matte dark contouring page and three subtly shimmering highlighting shades.
The range gives great versatility: go more striking or more subtle depending on occasion, play around with what suits your skin-tone at different times of year, or use on friends. Available in light-medium and medium-dark.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Powder contour kit: £42, Feel Unique
After its famous brow products, Anastasia’s contour kit is our brand-favourite and a bestseller. The powders are well pigmented, have a satin, easily blendable finish and stay put better than anything else we tried.
Of the three highlight shades, two are matte and one has shimmer. It’s refillable, so it’s not a waste if you go heavier on some shades than others.
Fenty Beauty Match Stix: £21 each (£46 for three), Holly Nichols
It might be the foundation range from Rihanna’s beauty line that everyone’s talking about, but we love its Match Stix almost as much.
They have a similarly strong shade offering – 20 colours, from dark contour to luminous highlight to natural conceal, in matte and shimmer – and a creamy, easy-blend finish.
We recommend you choose your shades in store for a customised collection, but they’re also available in pre-matched trios. The “millennial pink” hexagonal packaging is magnetic so your Stix will stick together.
Viseart highlight and contour palette: £69, Cult Beauty
There’s nothing quite like the pro-make-up-artist-loved brand Viseart for jewel-shade palettes of dreams (check out the sunset-coloured blush selection).
These are highly pigmented powders, so the contour kit requires a light touch, but with a bit of practice you’ll be rewarded with a long-lasting finish with real depth and complexity.
Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder: £36, spacenk.com
Compared to the range of palettes and creative formulas listed here, pro artist Kevyn Aucoin’s Sculpting Powder might seem rather vanilla, but its simple brilliance is not to be underestimated.
It’s subtle, just the right shade, water and crease proof and shimmer-free for natural-looking skin.
Benefit Ace That Face! Palette: £23, John Lewis
This is a clever product for bringing together some of the brand’s existing bestsellers into one palette.
You get two shades of Bo-ing Industrial Strength Concealer (cream), plus Watt’s Up highlighter and the iconic Hoola Bronzing Powder (both powders). A brilliant value collection.
Charlotte Tilbury takes the crown for its so-easy-and-subtle-you-can’t-get-it-wrong finish, while Benefit offers the best value for money. Consider yourself a bit of a pro? Step it up with Mac or Anastasia’s range of shades.
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