How to Pick Your Perfect Contour Shade

This will be my first of a several-part series to really break down and simplify contouring for those who might be a little intimidated or if you just want to learn a little more! Don’t be shy if you feel like it might be too complicated for you! With a little know-how and some patience, contouring can be for everyone!

Contouring can seem really intimidating to a lot of people. So let’s start from the very, very beginning. Before you can learn to perfect a contour you need to start with the right contouring shade. Not all bronzers double as a contour. But as contouring becomes more and more popular, great contouring products become more and more readily available. Here are a couple basic, SIMPLE rules to help you select your perfect contour shade.

Avoid a warm (golden/orange) toned product 

The idea of contouring is that you are trying to create the illusion of shadows on your face to define and lift. Shadows are not orange. Instead, you will want to look for cool ashy toned products.

How to Pick Your Perfect Contour Color

Avoid Shimmer

Another thing a natural shadow on your face is not, shimmery. Bronze up your face and add warmth to your face all you want with a beautiful shimmery product! But DON’T try to carve out and contour your face with something shimmery.  It will end up looking muddy and unnatural. Look for a great matte product!

Here are a few examples, both drugstore and high-end of great products to contour your face with.


Hoola by Benefit, you can get this at Sephora or Ulta for $28. Bonus, I actually really love this little brush it comes with for contouring and use it often!


Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer, you can find this in 3 shades for lighter to darker skin tones. $30 at Ulta or Sephora.

Aren’t feeling those high price tags? I don’t blame you.


NYX Matte Bronzers also come in several shades and cost about  $5-9 (depending if you can find them on sale or buy with a coupon)

Another great option (especially if you want a more subtle, natural contour) is to try a powder just a few shades darker than your skin color. Just make sure you are picking cool, ashy shade, nothing too warm!


L’Oreal True Match is a great, inexpensive option. This will cost between $6-$12 (depending on sales)

The same rules all apply if you are looking for a cream contour as opposed to a powder (we will talk all about cream contouring in another post soon!).  If you are feeling spendy, check out these Smashbox Contour sticks from Sephora for $45, which also includes your  contour, bronze and highlight.


Or if you are looking for a drugstore cream contour you can try NYX Wonder Stick for between $6-12


Or, my preference, a cream stick foundation in a few shades darker than your actual skin tone. But remember, keep it cool and ashy, not warm!

There is also a WHOLE WIDE WORLD of contouring/highlighting palettes, but that is a different topic for a different day.

I love to hear from you!

Are you ready to dive into the world of contouring? What are your favorite contouring products? What questions do you have about contouring that I can answer in future posts?

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