In recent years, beauty has taken things to a whole new level. With the popularity of beauty YouTubers, Instagram, and the chance of being photographed at any moment, women always want to look their best!

Foundation, mascara, and lipstick are the old essentials; now we’ve received the gift that is contour palettes. You can shape and transform your makeup to fit any occasion, and really bring out your natural bone structure.

But you need the best contour set to do so. Scroll down to get there!

6 Of The Best Contour Products Of 2018

Here’s a quick overview of the best contour products on the market!

Smashbox Step-by-Step Contour Stick TrioSticksFeatures three differently-shaded sticks: contour, highlight, bronze, for simple to use, natural feeling of a writing utensil
NYX Highlight Contour PalettePalette8 different shades, refillable palette, great for beginners, affordable option, compact size
Aesthetica Tan to Dark PowderPaletteVegan, removable and refillable, 3 matte and 3 illuminating powders, great for darker skin, very eco-friendly
RUIMIO Contour Kit CreamPalette6 different shades, comes with various makeup brushes, great budget price, made of high-quality ingredients
Kat Von D Refillable ContourPaletteGreat for advanced users, six matte shades, high-pigment contour and highlight, in cool, warm, neutral undertones
Elizabeth Mott Contour KitPaletteParaben and cruelty-free, 6 different shades, great budget product, soft powder formula

As you can see most of the products are palettes which gives you several options to choose from, but some of the options can also be useless if the color doesn’t fit your skin. Therefor we added one stick product, so you can choose just your color. Take a look at the first product!

Smashbox Step By Step Stick Trio – Best Product for Beginners

smashbox step-by-step contour stick trio

Are you a beginner and aren’t quite ready for creams or powders? Perhaps you’re just more comfortable using a stick and find it easier to take with you on-the-go.

Whatever your reason is, we can assure you, you’re going to love the Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Stick Trio!

Sure, we could call it a “trend”, but let’s be real:

It’s definitely not going away anytime soon. If anything, we predict it’s just going to become bigger! With that, more and more contour products are going to hit the market.

Yes, more than the thousands that are already out there!

Due to the fact that there are so many, it can be really difficult finding the best contour for you and your needs. More recently, there’s been an uptick in cream contours and contour sticks.

You may be wondering, “What is a contour stick?”.

It’s pretty much exactly like it sounds; a cream contour product in stick or pencil-like form. Sometimes they’re thick and wide, and sometimes they’re more thin, like the Smashbox trio. We prefer thinner, as the thick ones can be difficult in providing precision, which is kind of the point of contours, right?

Perhaps the greatest thing about these is that you can literally just draw it on your face.

There’s no worrying if you got too much or not enough powder on your brush, or worrying if you’re going to be able to get all the right angles. Due to them being so thin, you can easily carve out around difficult spots like the bridge of the nose, add some under eye concealer, or around your lips for some extra highlighting.

The pack comes in three different shades: the Highlight, Bronze, and Contour.

The highlight features a yellowy undertone, and works great for many users. It’s great for using in areas you’d like to brighten, such as under the eyes, temples, bow of the lip, bridge of the nose, and much more.

The bronze is a kind of middle-ground between the contour and the highlight. It’s a medium, warm brown that works great as a bronzer and overall adds a bit extra depth to the face. It can also work to bridge the differences between the two other shades to eliminate any harsh lines.

The contour is also a medium brown, but the undertone is more cool than warm; unlike the bronzer. It works very well at sculpting under the jaw, along the cheekbones, and even on the forehead or nose.

smashbox contour sticks review

Let’s talk a bit more about the actual sticks, though.

They all feature a smooth, creamy matte formula. This allows for seamless blending and goes on just wonderfully. Again, just another reason why these are so great for beginners!

Despite it going on so easily, it actually holds its intended place very well, as it’s not necessarily thin. Despite the shades all being matte, they don’t look weird or flat; they mimic the look of skin quite well.

Each one of the sticks, despite being different shades, have a great color payoff, and you really just need a bit, unless you’d like to build up the intensity of your look!

So, how long does the application last?

We experienced them lasting all day long. Well, to be a bit more precise, probably around 8-9 hours with a powder to set them. However, we’ve heard feedback from other consumers that even without powder, it still lasts just as long.

So, are there any downsides?

The only one we could really think of was the fact that you do have to obviously sharpen them. However, they do come with a sharpener included, and it works really well to make sure it doesn’t break off or anything like that.

What We Liked

  • Comes with three different colors perfect for contouring
  • Easy to travel with and comes with own sharpener
  • Great product for beginners and goes on smooth and easy
  • Lasts for quite a while, with or without setting powder

What We Didn’t Like

  • Requires sharpening

NYX Contour Highlight Palette – Longest Lasting Product

nyx highlight & contour pro palette

If you’re looking for the best drugstore contour kit, we’re going to go out on a limb and say that the NYX Highlight and Contour Pro Palette is the best one.

You may be wondering why this one didn’t make our best budget product category, as NYX is a cosmetics company known for creating possibly the least expensive makeup products at a certain level of quality. While it’s still definitely in the “affordable” category, it’s going to cost you more than their typical products would.

Right away, you’ll notice the packaging is a kind of cardboard box with in-depth instructions listed in case you had any questions. When you open it up, you’ll see a whopping 8 different pans, each holding a different shade of powder.

The packaging is a bit bulkier than some of the other palettes on here, so it may not be ideal for travel. Another thing we would’ve liked to see added on, is the names of each shade, for refilling purposes.

Which shades are included?

We have: Ice Queen, Soft Light, Cream, Nectar, Tan, Toffee, Sculpt, and Hollow.

Ice Queen is a very light, pearly-white powder that has a shimmery finish. The Soft Light is just a few shades down from the previous and is a very light, peachy-nude shade with a matte finish.

Cream is a beautiful banana shade with hints of bronze and features a matte finish. The Nectar is a peachy-toned powder with a shimmer. Tan pretty much says it all with the name, and is a medium-brown shade with red undertones, and has a satin finish.

Toffee is a warm brown powder with a satin finish, as well. Sculpt is a kind of lighter taupe great for eliminating harsh transitions, and perhaps the crowd favorite. Finally, the Hollow is a deep matte brown, and is wonderful for ladies with darker skin tones!

best drugstore contour stick 2018

While that’s great and all, if the colors don’t have a lot of pigmentation, they’re not going to do much good.

Thank goodness these have some of the richest pigmentations of any contour we’ve seen! This means that you need to pay close attention to how much product you have on your brush, but it also means that you just need a tiny bit to pick up just the right amount. With that being said, be especially careful with darker contours, because even the lightest of the shades have an excellent color payoff.

As we mentioned briefly previously, the shades have some variation in finishes. Most are matte, however, there are two highlighters, and the second contour shade does have a hint of sheen, but most of that doesn’t transfer over to the skin. However, with each of the hues, they’re all very fine, soft, and smooth.

Due to the fact that it is so soft, you may be wondering just how long they’ll last during the day.

We were pleasantly surprised at how long they each lasted, which on average held on for about 8 hours or so, so you can wear one application for your day at work, or going out without having to reapply.

What We Liked

  • Very high-quality, soft, finely milled powders
  • Long-lasting in terms of application and overall durability
  • Each shade can be refilled
  • Includes 8 beautiful shades that will suit most skin colors/undertones

What We Didn’t Like

  • Must be careful to not over-apply
  • Fallout is easier due to the powder being so fine

Aesthetica Contour Series – Best Product for Darker Skin Tones

how to contour and highlight for beginners

Are you wondering how to contour and highlight dark skin with your average kit? Sure, some are great, but the truth is, they don’t have as many palettes out there for darker skin as they should.

However, you aren’t going to need to look for another after trying the Aesthetica Tan to Dark Contour Kit!

Made to enhance your natural beauty, you’ll notice right away that this contour palette is something different – in the best ways.

Upon receiving your product, you’ll notice the user-friendly, step-by-step instruction guide they’ve thoughtfully included. It includes the easiest instructions, complete with face shape diagrams so you’ll always have a reference point available to you. If you’re craving some more, simply scan the QR code on the sheet, and it’ll provide you with a bunch of helpful tutorials, too!

The set itself includes six removable, refillable shades: three matte foundation powders for sculpting tan to deep skin tones, as well as three illuminating powders to highlight and illuminate that gorgeous bone structure of yours!

Much like the last contour palette, we would’ve really appreciated the names of each shade listed under each pan, but it is shown on the back of the package sleeve, so it’s not too bad. The shades are as follows: Fashionista, Honey Bunny, Bronzed, Bittersweet, Soulful, and Sienna.

contour and highlight round face

Fashionista is going to be the lightest of all the shades. It’s perfect for the brightest or most dramatic of contours. Next up, we have Sienna, which can also be used perfectly as a color corrector.

Bronzed pretty much lives up to its name, and is great for adding just a hint of shadow on the forehead or around the cheekbones. Bittersweet is the darkest of them all and is best for really carving and sculpting.

So, how intense are the colors?

To be honest, the color payoff was very impressive. From the lightest to the darkest, they all had a rich color intensity and lasted us for around 8 hours. Even if you have oily or combination skin, you can rest assured that these will stay in place.

If that wasn’t enough, we also feel compelled to mention that Aesthetica makes sure that all of their products are completely cruelty-free and vegan, which we absolutely love! This also opens this product up to those who place value on vegan, eco-friendly products!

Make sure you use moisturizer, foundation, or a concealer before using your kit. If you want that ultra-smooth, airbrushed look, we recommend blending the powder with a large, fluffy foundation brush, or a Beauty Blender also works well.

Overall, if you want to soften, define, narrow, or create fuller lips, you can do it all with the Aesthetica Tan to Dark Contour Palette!

What We Liked

  • Vegan, cruelty-free
  • Features 6 shades that are so different, and perfect for tan to dark skin tones
  • Great for all skin types and ages
  • Travel-friendly case

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not ideal for lighter skin tones

RUIMIO Contour Kit – Best Budget Product

drugstore cream contour kit

So, you’re ready to try this whole contour thing out, but most of them are more than you’re willing to spend. On top of that, you have to get brushes specifically-made for contouring! That’s, even more, you have to put out.

Well, forget all of that, and get on board with the RUIMIO Contour Palette with Makeup Brush Set. We’re willing to bet you won’t find a deal as good as this!

As the name suggests, the package comes with a 6-color palette, complete with a supply of 11 different brushes made with natural bamboo handles and the softest fibers! The makeup brushes range from thin, angled brushes, to kibukis! However, if you don’t need brushes, the kit drops to just half the price, which is incredible.

The contour cream palette doesn’t list the names of the shades, which is a bit of a setback for some, but at such a low price, it’s pretty understandable. However, the colors go from an almost-white to a yellowy bronze, to reddish brown, to a deep mahogany brown for contouring.

cheap contouring makeup kit

The cream selection is made from good-quality ingredients, however, we will say that the color payoff or intensity of the hues wasn’t on the level of any of the other products on our list. That means that you’re probably going to have to reapply or apply a bit more than you would with the others. We would also love to see a bit of an improvement in the finish of the cream.

Do you have sensitive skin?

Then the RUIMIO is a great option for you. Since it’s paraben-free, cruelty-free, and vegan it’s perfect for those prone to allergies, breakouts, or those who just value ethical companies!

Overall, if you need an inexpensive, safe product that’s perfect for beginners, make sure you give this one a go!

What We Liked

  • Extremely low price, complete with 11-brush set
  • Great for beginners
  • Perfect for those with sensitive skin
  • Vegan, paraben-free, and cruelty-free

What We Didn’t Like

  • Doesn’t last as long as others
  • The finish of the cream takes longer to blend

Kat Von D Refillable Contour – Editor’s Favorite

how to use mac all the right angles contour palette

So, you’ve already gone through your beginner phase and are now ready for the big leagues. Where to begin? The Kat Von D Refillable Contour Palette is a great place to start.

The kit comes with refillable versions of the 6 shades, which are all matte finishes: three highlights and three contour shades.

Right away you’ll probably notice the gorgeous packaging, just like everything else Kat Von D puts out on the market. It’s in a hard plastic case, that you can tell is just high-quality and durable. It has a mirror on the inside, for your convenience of not having to carry one with you.

The shades of the palette include: Lucid, Lyric, Levitation, Sombre, Shadowplay, and Subconscious. Lucid is a kind of light, pinkish nude, which is the lightest of all the shades. Lyric is a more yellowy-beige, and also works great as a color corrector.

Levitation is a light, peachy-pink, that works great for bridging any harsh transitions or enhancing the apples of the cheeks. Sombre is a medium-taupe, Shadowplay is a soft, almost golden brown with slight yellow undertones, and Subconscious is the darkest of them all – excellent for sculpting and shaping.

So, what are the powders actually like?

They’re all very finely-milled, which makes them all soft and smooth. They go on very easily, albeit a bit too easily, so be careful with how much you have on your brush. The pigmentation is quite rich, and the color payoff is good, but not too heavy.

The highlight shades aren’t as pigmented as some others on our list, but they definitely have just the right amount you’ll need. However, each shade blends in perfectly with others, and quite effortlessly! Keep in mind that because they’re so soft and fine, the risk of fallout is increased, so make sure you take proper precautions!

best contour kit for beginners

As the shades are so varied, some may not be able to use the lightest shades, while others may not be able to use the darkest ones. However, don’t fret! There is definitely more than one use for each. In fact, we tried using the Lucid to enhance the bow of the lip, and kind of boost the volume up a bit.

With Subconscious, it was a bit too dark for some of us, but slap it on some eyelids and you’ve got a gorgeous eyeshadow on your hands! The highlighter shades can all realistically be used to set concealer, too; especially under the eyes!

Perhaps you’re vegan or just support vegan-friendly products.

You’re in luck! Keeping consistent with the rest of her makeup line, Kat Von D’s Refillable Contour Palette is 100% cruelty-free! Aside from that, this fact makes it a great option for those with sensitive skin!

So, was there anything we didn’t like?

Aside from the potential fallout, there wasn’t much, other than the fact that the shades are kind of extreme from the brightest bright to the darkest dark.

Overall, if you’re a professional makeup artist or just have a high level of experience making yourself up, then this is one of the absolute best contours the market has to offer.

What We Liked

  • Cruelty-free, vegan-friendly, and great for sensitive skin
  • Finely-milled, super-soft powders that blend seamlessly
  • Refillable shades that each last a long period of time
  • Perfect for a professional makeup artist or an advanced user

What We Didn’t Like

  • Risk of fallout is pretty high

Elizabeth Mott Contour Kit – Best Eco Friendly Product

best drugstore contour kit

If you’re vegan or just worried about the Earth’s health and your own, then you probably know it’s not the easiest feat in the world to find one of the best contours that are also eco-friendly. It’s even more difficult to find all of those features in a product that is low-priced!

Well, we’ve come to say we’ve found all of that packaged in the Elizabeth Mott Highlighting Contour Kit!

The soft powder formulas are easy to blend, and really don’t take much effort at all to give you a natural, yet defined look. The palette features 6 shades: three highlighter shades, and three contour shades. Unfortunately, they don’t really have unique names; think “Highlight One” and “Contour Five”. I guess it’s better than nothing.

The shades don’t quite vary as much as most of the others on our list. The highlighter shades all have a pinky hue and are very light. The contouring shades are all pretty close to a medium – sienna brown and do the job well for a good amount of consumers. We did see that it was probably better-suited for lighter-skinned users, however, so some of us didn’t see as dramatic of results.

Upon opening, you’ll also see there are handy, step-by-step instructions included in a little booklet, so you shouldn’t have too many questions after doing some light reading.

Each color seems to last a good amount of time, however, they don’t come near lasting as long as some of the others on our list, so you will need to reapply if you’re going to be out for say, 6 – 8 hours.

Perhaps the best part of this contour kit is the fact that they’re cruelty-free, and even registered in PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program!

What We Liked

  • Vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, great for those with sensitive skin
  • Great budget product
  • Soft, light powders blend easily

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not ideal for those with darker skin
  • Doesn’t last as long as some others do

Best Contour  – Buyer’s Guide

Picking the best contour isn’t always the easiest thing to do. With the market being so oversaturated with new kits seemingly every month, it can definitely be difficult to trust which is a high-quality product, and which one is right for you and your skin tone. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and created this buying guide so that by the end of it, you’ll have no doubt which one will be your new go-to!


First of all, it doesn’t matter how well-reviewed the contour is; if it doesn’t fit with your skin tone, then it’s not going to work out so well. There are some kits that feature a wide array of shades within them – from very light to very dark. With these kits, you’re probably not going to use every shade, but at least you’ll receive some that work well for you.

Other times, you’ll have a kit that’s more well-suited for darker skin, and some that are better for lighter skin. You’ll probably already have an idea if the color palette is going to be too light or dark for your skin, but if you can’t, just read our reviews or the title of the product.


Contours don’t just come in one form, as you could probably tell by the products we have in our guide. They come in sticks, creams, and powders. Which one is right for you?

Sticks are pretty easy to use, as most of us have a good amount of experience drawing or writing with some kind of pencil or pen. The sticks feel intuitive and are much easier to use due to the fact that you’re pretty much drawing on the contour. The trio we have from Smashbox is perfect for beginners, given that they’re so small and precise.

Creams usually have the best color payoff but aren’t always the ideal selection. Creams can tend to clog pores, however, it’s not a rule. On the other hand, some can also highlight pores, and oftentimes aren’t the ideal selection for those with oily or combination skin. However, you don’t have to deal with the fallout, and the generally blend quite well.

Powders are our personal favorite, just because they blend the best, in our experience. They’re lighter, look the most natural, and have the best finish. However, the color payout and intensity vary from kit-to-kit, and you also have to potentially deal with the fallout.


What will you be using your contouring for? Will you just be applying it for a quick trip to the grocery store? Perhaps you want it to last all day long at work or out in the club? If durability isn’t an issue for you, you’ll open yourself up to less-expensive options that will last around half the time (more or less around 4 hours) that the more expensive contours will.

However, if you need something that’s going to last you rain or shine, then we’d recommend something where you know you’re receiving the highest level of quality.

That’s going to last you for around 8 hours and isn’t going to come off or require you to reapply your makeup when you’re in a hurry. Creams, sticks, and powders all vary; there isn’t one that will for certain last longer than others, however, if you have more oily skin, we’d recommend a powder, generally.


Think about how much you want to spend before you start your search. You’re going to come across a lot of really amazing products, that may be outside of your budget, so make sure you don’t budge on that.

The best contours are going to vary widely in prices, however, the features will, too. Usually, the more expensive products will last you longer and will have a better color payoff, requiring just a small amount to get the job done. They will often blend better, as well, however, it’s not a rule. We have a couple budget products on our list that are very impressive!


We loved each one of the contour palettes on our list today, however, there were a couple which really made a lasting impression on us.

The first is the Kat Von D Refillable Palette. It made our Editor’s Pick because it’s at such a high level of quality; in fact, many professionals recommend it, and we can see why. The powders all blend seamlessly, and they’re super soft and smooth. The colors are rich, and you only need just a bit to create your desired look. The packaging is also very durable, and you can tell it will protect your powders well.

The second-favorite was the Smashbox Trio. It is the most user-friendly contour we found and is so simple to use. You can easily create small details and use the products with the precision that’s not commonly-found with contours.

So, which of the best contours will be going home with you?