The Beginner's Contour Kit

It seems like everyone and their mother is raving about the wondrous effects of contouring. Though it's not magic, when applied correctly, the shadows and highlights created by contouring can slim your face and enhance your features. I've been contouring (the non Kim K way) since college using the good ol' 3-shape technique with a bit of Nars Laguna, and have since graduated to a cooler-toned taupe contouring powder (Nyx Powder Blush in Taupe) and a touch of whichever bronzer I'm loving at the moment. There's currently an abundance of contouring kits on the market in powder, cream and liquid formulas so I did a bit of research, sifted through the offerings, and I think I've found the perfect contour palette.

Although there are several palette out there from Anastasia, Kat Von D and even Nyx that have 6+ shades to define the features of multiple skin-tones, I'm not a makeup artist and I don't really need all those extra colors that I'll never get any use out of. Believe me, I considered them. The Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette is a beaut with some amazing shades and there's just so much hype surrounding the Anastasia Contour Kit. But these palettes are just so big and bulky and seem like a waste of product and storage space. I wanted something simple, pigmented, high-quality and travel-friendly. At first I was really leaning towards the drool-worthy Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow but I just couldn't countenance spending $68 on a contour kit. 

In the end, I settled on the Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Kit. It has a sleek, slim case that makes it easy to tote around in your travel makeup bag. It includes a cool-toned contour color, a warmer bronzer and a cream highlight powder. All the shades are matte so the colors won't accentuate your pores or problem areas in the wrong way. The powders are smooth, highly pigmented and extremely blendable. There's a decent-sized mirror in the compact and even a detailed contouring diagram so you can look at your face while following along with the instructions. The kit also comes with a detailed pamphlet with diagrams, tips and tricks on contouring individual face shapes. It even comes with an adorable little brush. The bristles aren't very densely packed and the brush is on the small side, but it's great for highlighting the tops of your cheekbones and blending and softening your contour. For $45 the quality and value is pretty great!

I like to use the cooler color to contour, with a touch of the bronzing color to add some warmth to my skin. I usually prefer to use a luminous highlighter for the tops of my cheekbones but the matte highlight in this kit is great for under the brow bone or on the inner corners of the eye. Unfortunately the kit currently only comes in this shade range which is really best for light/medium skin-tones, so that's a mark against it.

But if you're a beginner in the world of contouring I think this is the perfect palette to start off with. You don't have to fumble around with a ton of colors trying to figure out which shades are right for you like with the bigger palettes. The step-by-step instructions and pictures are a bit like having a makeup artist holding your hand through the whole process. The quality of the powders and the packaging are wonderful and it's much more portable than a lot of the other sets out there. The brush included with the kit probably isn't something I would actually use to contour but I like to think of it as a bonus freebie that's nice for travel. If you're looking for a simple, straight-forward contour kit that gives you the colors you need and shows you how to use them properly, this is the one for you. 

What products do you like to use to contour? Is there another kit I should check out? Let me know.

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