For the uninitiated, contouring is a makeup sculpting technique that aims to create slimming ‘shadows’ on the face. This is followed by highlighting that ‘pulls’ your natural features forward, making them more prominent. The result? A well chiseled and defined face.

But this is by no means a new phenomenon; contouring has been practised since the 16th century with stage actors. Beauty buffs will also remember the 90s for being particularly contour-heavy, with legendary makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin being responsible for the chiseled look of Cindy Crawford and Janet Jackson.

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Fast-forward to the present and the contouring game is stronger than ever, with lots of ‘one-stop shop’ palettes for convenient contouring on the go.

So, want in on the game? Here are some tips on how to contour correctly, plus a list of the best contour palettes for you to try out. #HappyShopping!


Shade + Light Contour Palette

Take artistry shading into your own hands with Kat Von D’s Shade + Light Contour palette. Featuring a set of three contouring and three highlighting shades for you to sculpt, chisel and shape your face, we love its versatility: You can custom blend these matte shades accordingly to suit your specific skin tone.

Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette, $73 from Sephora


Borg De Plage Palette

The newest addition to Nars, this Borg De Plage Palette contains four opalescent tones that work effortlessly with your skin to create a universal glow.

The other two tones are light-diffusing bronzers with a matte finish, both of which will add a natural-looking warmth. Blended together, the subtle ‘second-skin’ lustre will amplify your features without any severe lines. Plus, we love just how silky the powders are.

Nars Borg De Plage Palette, $90

PRO Glow Highlight & Contour Palette

Want to glow like a pro? Then try Tarte’s PRO Glow Highlight & Contour palette that is formulated with nutrient-rich Amazonian clay and other ‘healthy’ ingredients. This palette contains more highlighting shades that contouring ones, so if you’re more of a highlighting person, this is the palette for you.

The former consists of four bright and buildable highlighting powders that will allow you to create a subtle shimmer and strobing effect. Meanwhile, the two contour shades come in two finishes; one powder and the other in cream. We love the colour payoff of this palette; a little goes a long way and the shades are ultra blendable and easy to use for the novice.

Tarte Tarteist PRO Glow Highlight & Contour Palette, $80 from Sephora


Urban Decay Shapeshifter

Looking for a palette that works hard for you? Consider Urban Decay’s Shapeshifter. It is a three-in-one complexion palette that not only allows you to contour and highlight, but colour-correct as well. The palette is divvied up by finish: The first side contains three contouring and one pearlescent highlighting shade in powder form; the other cream side houses two contour, two colour-correcting and one last pearlescent shade for highlighting.

The palette comes in Light and Medium, so you’re definitely be able to blend stuff together to create custom tones for your complexion. What we really like about the Shapeshifter palette is that you can layer both powder and cream formulas for a more intense effect. Bonus points for the nifty travel-ready packaging, which comes with a double-sided mirror – a travel must-have for beauty buffs.

Urban Decay Shapeshifter, $75


Cream Contour Spectrum

The lightweight Zoeva Cream Contour Spectrum contains powders that glides onto your face like a dream, allowing you to sculpt your natural features without too much fuss.

This palette contains six different shades spanning the spectrum from light to dark, which gives you lots of versatility when it comes to custom blending. With a formula that’s enriched with skin-softening vitamin E, you can choose from a matte or pearl finish, depending on your mood and outfit.

Zoeva Cream Contour Spectrum, $40 from Sephora


My Sculpted Face

This palette from It Cosmetics comes with an easy-to-follow manual on how to contour and highlight. Bonus: This was developed in collaboration with leading plastic surgeons and formulated with anti-ageing ingredients, so that means you can look great in a matter of minutes and nourish your skin in the long run, too.

Like the Zoeva palette, this comes in two finishes; matte and pearl. It’s portable, too, with a ‘regular’ mirror and a magnified one to really zero in on the details.

It Cosmetics My Sculpted Face, $58 from Sephora