19 best contour makeup products for soft sculpting | plmubl.com

19 best contour makeup products for soft sculpting

Kim K may have helped to put contour on the map, but makeup artists have sworn by the technique for decades. Just like lipstick defines lips and mascara defines eyes, contouring helps to emphasise our bone structure, bringing out cheekbones and jaw.

While we’ve seen recent makeup trends head in a more minimal direction, sculpting remains as popular as ever (even if it’s a little more subtle). Top makeup artists like Mary Phillips have helped to put “soft sculpting” on the map and her underpainting technique (which sees contour applied beneath foundation) has picked up millions of views on TikTok.


Best contour makeup at a glance – our top picks:

  1. Best Contour Wand: Charlotte Tilbury Contour Wand, £29, Sephora
  2. Best Matte Contour Stick: MAKEUP BY MARIO Soft Sculpt Shaping Stick, £32, Sephora
  3. Best Cream Contour Stick: Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick, £25, Harvey Nichols
  4. Best Contour Palette: Patrick Ta Major Sculpt Creme Contour Powder Bronzer Duo, £37, Cult Beauty

Charlotte Tilbury Contour Wand

£30 AT SEPHORA

MAKEUP BY MARIO Soft Sculpt™ Shaping Stick

£32 AT SEPHORA

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick

£25 AT HARVEY NICHOLS

Patrick Ta Major Sculpt Creme Contour Powder Bronzer Duo

£37 AT CULT BEAUTY

How we tested the best contours products:

Our beauty editors are always testing the new contour launches that land on their desks, aiming to us them for at least a week before featuring them. It’s important to us that new contour products come in a good variety of colours that suit all skin tones – and that they’re cruelty-free. Bonus points if they come in recyclable packaging.

We’ve scored the products themselves based on value for money, packaging, innovation, whether they actually give you a soft sculpted complexion – and whether that sculpt lasts.


Why contour?

If you’re wondering whether contouring is strictly necessary, it’s not – but it can help add definition to your face and makeup. “Contouring helps define the natural bone structure, sculpt the face, and create the illusion of shadows and highlights for a more polished and balanced look in photoshoots, events, or special occasions,” explains global celebrity makeup artist Harold James, whose clients include Laura HarrierRosie Huntington Whiteley and Whitney Peak. “It can be especially effective for creating a more chiselled jawline and nose, and higher cheekbones. I actually use it quite often in a softer way,” he adds.

“I always contour my clients. I think it’s really important to add a subtle sculpt to the skin for dimension,” top celebrity makeup artist, Diane Buzetta told GLAMOUR. Meanwhile pro celebrity makeup artist, Shelby Smith agrees. “I contour my clients to bring dimension to their face by building and enhancing their bone structure,” she says.


What’s the best way to contour?

Contour is different to blusher and bronzer. Essentially, it creates a shadow. It should be precisely placed in areas where you would naturally see shadows created on your face – so think the hollows of cheeks, jawline, edges of your forehead and sides of your nose.

WATCHNicola Coughlan & Lydia West play GLAMOUR’s Bestie Test

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“The best way to contour is to choose a contour product that is a few shades darker than your natural skin tone and has a matte finish to mimic shadows,” advises Harold. “Start by applying the contour product along the hollows of the cheeks, temples, jawline, and sides of the nose using a contour brush or makeup sponge. Blend the contour product well using circular motions or tapping motions to avoid harsh lines and ensure a seamless transition between the contour and the rest of the makeup,” he adds.

As for when to apply it, that depends on what finish you would like. Traditionally, it was mainly scribbled on top of foundation, but it’s increasingly popular to apply it under foundation or blended into bare skin. “I learned from Mary Phillips so I’m an under-painter always and forever,” says Shelby. “I like to contour first and then buff the foundation over it. This process looks the most natural because it gets rid of any harsh lines,” she says. “I like to underpaint light layers of contour under the foundation and set with powder,” agrees Diane.

For liquid and creamy formulas, we recommend reaching for a makeup sponge or dabbing it in with your fingers, whereas powdered compacts and palettes work best with makeup brushes.

Scroll for the best contour makeup products to add to your beauty wishlist…


1. Best contour wand

Charlotte Tilbury Contour Wand

£30 AT SEPHORA

Why we love it: Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Contour Wand is one of the best around, and it’s really easy to see why. It’s perfectly lightweight, blendable and has a buildable formula that will help you contour and sculpt your cheekbones with ease. It also features a cushion applicator that dispenses the product as evenly as possible. Not to mention that among contour products, it’s one best sellers that’s often out of stock. So if you’re eyeing it, we’d suggest grabbing one now, before it’s sold out.

Save when you shop for the best contour makeup using these Sephora discount codes.

2. Best contour stick

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick

£25 AT HARVEY NICHOLS

Why we love it: Available in 22 different shades, this long-lasting concealer and contour stick from Fenty Beauty has a lightweight formula, with a shade to suit all skin tones. Designed to be layered, this cream-to-powder formula is easy to blend and doesn’t crease or appear cakey. Each contour stick is also magnetic, so you can click them together to mix-and-match – perfect for a sleek makeup look.

3. Best matte contour stick

MAKEUP BY MARIO Soft Sculpt™ Shaping Stick

£32 AT SEPHORA

Why we love it: If there’s a contour makeup product that needs to be on everyone’s wishlist, it’s this one. A matte contour stick that has a creamy formula and a provides soft natural-looking definition? Sign us up. It dries down to a natural matte finish, making it the perfect go-to contour makeup for everyday use. It applies very evenly and has a cruelty-free formula. What’s not to love?

Save when you shop for the best contour makeup using these Sephora discount codes.

4. Best contour for precision

Victoria Beckham Beauty Contour Stylus

£35 AT SELFRIDGES

Why we love it: Victoria Beckham’s Contour Stylus has a small crayon nib so is perfect for providing precision, especially for smaller areas (like either side of the nose). It comes in four shades to cover a range of skin tones, and its slender shape allows for super snatched sculpting of a very natural finish.

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5. Best contouring and highlighting combo

Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow

£49 AT CHARLOTTE TILBURY

Why we love it: One of Charlotte Tilbury’s signature products, this fine powder contour-bronzer sculpts skin beautifully, while the light-reflecting highlighter can be used to add a gleam to your cheekbones, cupid’s bow and inner corners of your eyes. The smooth formula also works really well as eyeshadow. Plus, the packaging is stunning and handy, thanks to a built-in mirror that allows you to use it comfortable on-the-go.

6. Best cream and powder contour

Patrick Ta Major Sculpt Creme Contour Powder Bronzer Duo

£37 AT CULT BEAUTY

Why we love it: Celebrity makeup artist Patrick Ta knows his way around a jaw-dropping contour, so we expected big things from his Major Sculpt Creme Contour Powder Bronzer duo – and he delivered. The dewy cream glides along the hollows of cheeks, the sides of the nose and the jaw effortlessly for a super natural (but buildable) sculpted finish, while the powder sweeps over the top, adds extra depth and sets everything in place. A very beautiful pairing.

7. Best powder contour

Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder

£36 AT SPACEK NK

Why we love it: Kevyn Aucoin has gone down as one of the makeup greats. His signature aesthetic blended old-school Hollywood techniques with a more modern and soft glam. He was one of the first to let us behind the curtain, bringing pro techniques to non-MUAs, and contouring was one of the skills he’s known for – hence his sculpting powder is beautiful. If you like a soft, natural finish with a cool undertone, this powder does the job.

8. Best contour for on-the-go

Westman Atelier Petite Face Trace Contour Stick

£23 AT CULT BEAUTY

Why we love it: A makeup artist herself, Gucci Westman’s luxe products are a favourite amongst other MUAs. Both Shelby Smith and Diane Buzzetta recommended this travel-friendly stick. Supercharged with jojoba oil, this glides over and melts into skin. China clay absorbs excess oil and raspberry-derived berryflux vita gives moisture.

9. Best TikTok favourite contour

Why we love it: For some gentle underpainting, Milk Makeup has become a “clean girl” favourite. The creamy, matte cool-toned stick comes in four colours and disappears into skin to create a beautifully realistic contour. Read our full Milk Makeup Sculpt Stick review.

10. Best contour for pros

RCMA The VK 18 Part Palette

£54.90 AT BEAUTY BAY

Why we love it: If you’re a makeup artist, a future makeup artist or just big on options, the RCMA palette comes highly recommended by celebrity MUA Diane Buzzetta, who’s created looks for Hailey Bieber, Camila Morrone, Kendall Jenner and Sofia Richie. “I love the RCMA contour palettes for different shades to mix,” she told GLAMOUR.

11. Best cream contour product

Huda Beauty Tantour

£31 AT CULT BEAUTY

Why we love it: Falling somewhere in between a contour and a bronzer, this product is great if you’re looking for a product that combines the best of both worlds. It features a long-lasting formula that’s resistant to both sweat and water, and it’s suitable for all skin types (including dry skin too), making it perfect for everyday wear. And, it looks great as a brown eyeliner too.

Save big when you shop with these Cult Beauty discount codes.

12. Best contour to scribble on

Nudestix Tinted Blur Sculpting Stick

£28 AT CULT BEAUTY

Why we love it: Nudestix are known for their phenomenal makeup solutions for lazy girls. All of their products are made with ease and speed in mind, with makeup sticks that can be sketched and scribbled over skin, then blended with a finger in less than 20 seconds. The tinted blur sculpting sticks come in three shades flexible shades.

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13. Best affordable contour makeup

e.l.f. Cosmetics Contour Palette

£9 AT E.L.F. COSMETICS

Why we love it: A portable and affordable quad, this palette from e.l.f. Cosmetics is enriched with vitamin E to nourish your skin and help it retain moisture while providing a subtle, satin finish. Exactly what you need if you’re looking to sculpt, shade and define on a budget.

14. Best contour face palette

MAC Studio Fix Sculpt and Shape Contour Palette

£40 AT LOOKFANTASTIC

Why we love it: This expertly curated palette combines three matte contouring powders and three shimmery highlighting powders to sculpt and brighten up your complexion. Each contour shade provides sheer, weightless coverage to create a natural look for maximum impact. One of the best contour palettes for oily skin.

Save big when you shop with these LookFantastic discount codes.

15. Best highlight & contour palette

KVD Beauty Shade + Light Face Contour Palette

£43 AT BOOTS

Why we love it: Both vegan and a favourite among makeup artists? Yes please. This matte face contour palette features three shades for contouring and three shades for highlighting, all packed conveniently in a refillable hard-shell case. Each shade is highly pigmented and blendable, and designed specifically to flatter all skin tones. Simply grab your trusty contour brush, get blending and you’re all sorted.

Enjoy bigger savings when you shop for the best contour makeup with these Boots discount codes.

16. Best contour makeup for beginners

Anastasia Beverly Hills Pro Series Contour Kit

£42 AT BEAUTY BAY

Why we love it: The contour palette of all contour palettes. This product is a cult classic and has been highly acclaimed by professional makeup artists for years. The Pro Series Contour Kit features six powder formulas to contour, sculpt and highlight your complexion with ease, making it perfect for beginners. Don’t believe us? Well, there are literally hundreds of YouTube contour tutorials – all involving this particular palette.

17. Best contour stick for a natural look

Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour

£25 AT BEAUTY BAY

Why we love it: This unique cream contour stick features an oil-free and fragrance-free formula that’s built to accentuate your cheekbones and facial features for a more sculpted appearance. It’s incredibly convenient to use too, since it has a twist-up design that works just like a lipstick and eliminates the need for any sharpening.

18. Best contour stick for dark skin tones

Illamasqua Gel Sculpt

£25 AT LOOK FANTASTIC

Why we love it: The perfect contouring gel for creating an instantly chiselled complexion. It features a water-based formula that can be blended out with ease to achieve a natural-looking contour without running the risk of any harsh lines. With this product, a little goes a long way too, so chances are that it’ll last you a good while. So if you’re after a snatched and sleek makeup look, this product is definitely worth considering.

19. Best shimmer & matte contour kit

Iconic London Precision Duo Contour Pots

£25 AT ICONIC LONDON

Why we love it: If you’re after a contouring makeup product that combines both creamy and powdery textures – no need to look any further, because the Iconic London Duo Contour Pot delivers exactly that. This product features a cream base and a setting powder that will not only ensure a smooth and even application but will also result in long lasting results. Simply layer the two and you’re all set.

READ MORE

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BY DENISE PRIMBET

Can you use bronzer to contour?

Although bronzers do add dimension and colour to your face, they’re also not to be confused with contour products. Priscilla Ono, global makeup artist at Fenty Beauty, shared that: “the biggest difference is that bronzing products typically have a warmer undertone, while contouring products have a cooler undertone.” This is because bronzer creates the look of a golden tan, while contour creates the look of shadows.

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And while contour is applied to where shadows would naturally fall (hollows of cheeks, jawline, edges of your forehead and sides of your nose), bronzers are applied where the sun would naturally hit your face and leave that bronzy glow. “This includes the high points of the cheeks, temples, and bridge of the nose,” Priscilla said.


Feeling inspired to upgrade your makeup routine? Check out our guides on the best bronzers, best concealers, best lightweight foundationsbest cream blushes and best liquid blushes. We can also help you pick the best lipstick, best highlighter, best eyebrow product, best setting spray and more.

For more shoppable beauty content from GLAMOUR’s Senior Beauty Editor, Elle Turner, follow her on Instagram @elleturneruk. For more from GLAMOUR’s Commerce Writer Denise Primbet, follow her on Twitter @deniseprimbet and Instagram @deniseprimbet.

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