Single contour sticks may appeal to novices and minimalists; but once you know how to finesse them a little bit, contour kits are equally approachable — and much more versatile. The best contour kits come in either cream or powder forms, and they’re equipped with at least three shades for both contouring and highlighting (and, in some cases, color-correcting) to add dimension to your face.
Your skin tone should be the first factor you consider when choosing a contour kit, of course. Ideally, your contour shade should be about two shades darker than your natural complexion; but a benefit of contour kits is that you can mix a few shades together to create your own, perfectly bespoke shade. Also consider whether you prefer a matte or shimmery finish, especially in your highlighter, as contour shades tend to be matte. And finally, think about how many shades you’re realistically going to use — but remember that these multitaskers can double as eyeshadows, bronzers, or brow fillers, as well.
Ahead, you’ll find eight of the best contour kits you can get right now, no matter your budget, skin tone, skill level, or preferred texture and finish.
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1. Best For Medium To Deep Skin
The rich, creamy shades in this Black Radiance palette are designed to contour, sculpt, and highlight darker skin tones, without imparting a ruddy tint. This happens to be a great pick for beginners, since it comes with an approachable three shades — two matte for chiseling, one shimmery for illuminating — plus a diagram that shows you exactly where to place each one.
- Available shades: Light to Medium, Medium to Dark
2. Best For Fair To Medium Skin
This Anastasia contour kit features six powder shades (three for contouring, three for highlighting) that add dimension to lighter skin tones — here again, without a hint of ruddiness or a gray cast. At $40, this luxury palette is certainly a splurge. But with its filter-worthy satin finish and bigger (i.e., more versatile) shade selection, you're getting your money's worth out of it.
3. Best Drugstore Contour Kit
Moving on up in the shade selection department, this Covergirl palette features eight of them — a generous selection for a drugstore brand, which also makes this suitable for a wide range of skin tones. Since the pigments are so creamy and blendable, these could easily double as concealers. The pinkish color-correcting shade could work beautifully as a cream blush or eyeshadow, too.
4. Best All-in-One Kit
The be-all, end-all of all-in-one kits, SHANY's Contour & Highlight 4-Layer Kit includes four palettes to serve all your base makeup needs. There's one cream foundation/contour palette; one powder contour and highlight palette; one powder blush palette; and one with 15 cream concealer and color-correcting shades. (Got all those numbers straight?) Novices, you’re basically set for life; pros, you can use that giant shade selection on virtually all your clients. Pretty wild that this only costs $30.
5. Best Shimmer Palette
Shimmer lovers, this Danessa Myricks palette is for you. All six powder shades are embedded with finely milled, light-refracting pearls, so they're excellent for achieving an iridescent effect. These glide and blend really smoothly, can be used with a wet or dry brush, and they’re also buildable, so you can go as (relatively) subtle or dramatic as you want. These would work wonderfully as eyeshadows, too.
6. Best Contour Kit With A Brush
This palette from LORAC is another great option for people just building up their makeup collection, since it comes with a great-quality contour brush. Thoughtful! Shade-wise, it includes three highlighters — matte beige, matte yellow, and a pale shimmer — and a light, medium, and deep contour shade. It’s definitely a splurge, but a little bit of these creamy, highly pigmented powders goes a long way, so this palette will last you the foreseeable future.
7. Best Contour Kit For Color Correction
As the name says, this NYX palette promises to color-correct conceal, and contour all at once. Opt for the Deep, Medium, or Light versions if you’re aiming mostly to conceal and contour, or the Color Correcting version if you’re hoping mainly to temper redness, dullness, or unwanted dark circles. Amazon reviewers rave about the super-smooth consistency and longevity of this palette — in fact, all together, the four versions have amassed over 5,000 five-star ratings and reviews.
- Available shades: Color Correcting, Light, Medium, Deep
8. Honorable Mention
One more fan-favorite palette for your consideration: This e.l.f. Cream Contour Palette. Although this only includes four shades, Amazon reviewers write that it looks gorgeous on tons of complexions (though they are warm-toned). The ultra-creamy consistency works especially well on dry skin, since these pigments blend seamlessly, and have a buttery, moisturizing feel. Since this is a compact quad, it's an especially nice choice to keep in your bag for touchups throughout the day.