If you’re into a sculpted complexion — keep reading because the below is for you. Here we’re talking about contour palettes, which are the ultimate contour tool for any makeup bag or vanity. New York City-based makeup artist Benjamin Puckey previously told Allure that if you have the right contouring products, you can instantly help your face appear to be more three-dimensional. So why palettes? The good thing about a contouring palette is that many of them come with brightening shades or different textures, so with these, you’re really getting the most for your buck.
For a little help picking your perfect shade in the palette, Los Angeles-based makeup artist Robin Black says that you’ll want a color that works with your natural undertone and is at least three shades deeper than your natural complexion. “You can go darker based on how dramatic you want the final effect to be,” she adds.
Now it’s time to pick your perfect contouring palette. We spoke to some of our favorite makeup artists to help us break down the 11 best contouring palettes so you can live your best-chiseled life.
The KVD Beauty Shade + Light Refillable Face Contour Palette comes with six matte shades—three for highlighting and three for contouring. New York City-based makeup artist Krystal Vigo loves this pick because you can pop out the empty pans once emptied and replenish them (for $16 a pop), in lieu of replacing the entire palette.
New York City-based makeup artist Julianna Grogan says that her favorite contouring palette is Kevyn Aucoin’s The Contour Book. “It’s cool-toned, which is perfect for creating a shadow effect, rather than a bronzer which is warm-toned and won’t look as subtle,” she says.
Another favorite for Grogan is Tom Ford’s Shade & Illuminate Cream Contour Duo. “I love this one because it comes in four shades, so there’s more than just one option,” she says. Not to mention, this cream blends out seamlessly for a natural-looking sculpt.
New York City and Los Angeles-based makeup artist Billie Gene is a fan of Charlotte Tilbury’s Filmstar Bronze & Glow Contour Duo because its pigmented formula brings both light and depth to the face. However, Gene (and us Allure editors) do wish it came in more than two shades. Charlotte, can you hear us?
Senior commerce writer Angela Trakoshis is a major fan of the 2021 Best of Beauty-winning Patrick Ta Beauty Major Sculpt Crème Contour & Powder Bronzer Duo. “I love both cream and powder formulas when I contour so this one just calls my name,” she says. Trakoshis applies the cream product first and sets it with the powder, ensuring she looks sculpted all day long.