As a beauty journalist who is inherently lazy when it comes to my makeup routine (I'm all about easy-to-use cream products), I must admit that I have never been particularly sold on the whole contour trend. For those who aren’t au fait with the concept of contouring, the premise is actually quite simple. It involves applying cool-toned, dark shades to the hollows of your face and lighter, glow-boosting “highlighting” products to the high points, creating the illusion of a chiselled bone structure.
But when it first blew up on social media years ago (thanks to Kim Kardashian West’s super-sculpted makeup routine), I ruled it out as unachievable straight away. Not only did the whole process seem to involve an abundance of costly products and countless time-consuming steps, but it also only seemed to cater to those who like a full-coverage, über-glam look. And that is just not me.
However, over the years, I have watched virtually every contouring video and tutorial around, and I have learned that the premise can be easily adapted to fit in with my low-maintenance makeup routine. It turns out following the contouring rule of “3” is quick and easy and can be executed with just one or two products.
To nail your contour every time, just create a 3 shape on both sides of your face with your dark contour product—starting from the centre of the forehead, running along and down the hairline, following under the cheekbone and drawing back out and under the jawline. Then simply swipe the highlighting shade over the top of the cheekbone, and you’ve got a low-key contoured base. Yes, it is that easy.
And the best bit is I have found a whole bunch of products that make things even easier. I’m talking contour kits that are essentially foolproof. Keep scrolling to discover the best contour kits for those who want in on super-sculpted cheekbones.
This is without a doubt one of the best and easiest-to-use contour duos around. The powders are buttery soft and super easy to blend. Plus, the shimmer in the highlight doesn’t contain big chunks of glitter, making it perfect for a daytime glow.
Yes, this contour kit is on the pricier end of the spectrum, but it is Tom Ford. And the formula is every bit as luxe as the packaging. Housing two cream products (one for contour and one for highlight) that are almost impossibly blendable and beautiful, it’s the perfect compact to throw in your handbag for midday touch-ups.
3. MAC Studio Fix Sculpt and Shape Contour Palette
One for makeup connoisseurs, this contour kit is available in different depths for different skin tones and contains six multi-use powders. Sure, the dark shades make for great contouring powders, but they also look beautiful swiped over lids, and the lighter shades can be used as setting and correcting powders, too.
These face sticks from Westman Atelier are amongst my favourite makeup products ever, and this set gives you three minis (that will last a deceiving long time) that have all your contouring and base needs covered. The darker shade can be swiped into the hollows of the face, the pink can be dotted into the apples of the cheeks for a glowy blush, and the lightest shade delivers an iridescent radiance that is beautifully subtle.
Celebrity makeup artist Patrick Ta is renowned for his expertly chiselled complexions (think Gigi Hadid and Adriana Lima), and this compact from his namesake brand makes such a look achievable at home. Use the cream contour shade to sculpt, and add some bronze to your cheeks with the powder.
When it comes to quick and easy face products, Fenty Beauty’s Match Stix are considered the gold standard. This trio delivers some serious value for money with a base stick perfect for concealing, a contour stick for sculpting and an illuminating highlight stick. Between these three, you’ll have an entire face of makeup in less than a minute.
Another multi-pan kit, this palette contains three highlight shades and three contour shades with slightly different finishes. The shimmer in the highlight is soft but punchy, and you can pick and choose between the matte contours depending on how intense you want your sculpting to be.
This palette is particularly good for those who like to switch up their go-to makeup look regularly. The highlight shades range from bright and illuminating to bronzed and beachy, while the contours cover a range of needs and preferences, too. Plus, they can be mixed together and layered for a custom finish.
Benefit’s cult Hoola bronzer is available in four different shades, and this palette brings all of them together in one handy kit. Whatever your skin tone, there’s a range of contour and bronzing shades in here for you.
11. Kevyn Aucoin The Art of Sculpting and Defining Volume III
Amongst makeup buffs, Kevyn Aucoin’s Sculpting Powders are considered the crème de la crème of contouring products. This kit doesn’t just contain all three shades but also two different shades of highlight and an exquisite ombré highlight, blush and bronzer shade.
12. Nyx Professional Makeup Highlight & Contour Pro Palette
Taking contouring to whole new levels, this palette contains eight powders that can be mixed or used individually to define, brighten and illuminate. If you like being a little more creative with your makeup, this one’s for you.