Kim Kardashian-West may have driven a huge surge in people looking for the best contour kit but she did not invent the makeup technique, far from it.
Drag queens for decades have been using makeup to alter their face shape, making their jaws slimmer, their cheekbones more prominent and applying highlighter to areas where the light naturally hits to create a healthy glow.
Contouring – or at least the full-face contouring made famous by KKW – has fallen out of fashion recently in favour of more natural enhancements, or a larger focus on strobing. Strobing makes more of your features using light, compared to contouring which focuses more on enhancing the darker areas of your face.
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That’s not to say that contour kits are no longer relevant – they still should be a staple of any makeup bag because they’re highly versatile providing a gentle bronzing glow to your face or helping to sharpen the edge of your eyebrows with the lighter shades. They can even double-up as a nude eyeshadow palette.
Below we’ve handpicked what we consider to be the best contour kits, sticks and powders for whichever look you’re after.
£42 | Buy now from Beauty Bay
Why we love it: There aren’t many brands that offer as many options when it comes to contouring than Anastasia Beverly Hills. Its Pro Series range offers multiple six-pan palettes of cream and powder contour, available in varying shades to complement all complexions, whether you’re fair or dark. It’s no wonder that the palettes are highly acclaimed.
Use the super creamy and pigmented shades to sculpt out your cheekbones and jawline and enhance with the highlight shades. Rest assured, this contour will last all day long.
Why we love it: Used by celebs, professionals and make-up lovers alike, the Revolution Iconic Lights is the holy grail of contour kits. Choose from eight different powders in a range of shades to blend, sculpt and highlight.
It’s popular because these powders build and are easy to blend, meaning its the best contour kit both beginners and pros. It’s also versatile enough that some shades make for the perfect transition shades on your eyes. All for £8!
£62 | Buy now from John Lewis
Why we love it: The Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate contour kit isn’t just our Luxury Buy because of its price, it’s a luxurious addition to your makeup bag because of its incredible quality. The cream products in this kit are so buttery and silky, and they blend effortlessly.
READ NEXT: Find your perfect foundation match
Use the subtle, sheer highlight shade to lift and light your face, while the darker shade adds subtle and natural-looking definition to the contours of your face. This is a perfect addition if you’re a fan of the natural makeup look
£26 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
Why we love it: Just one product, but it’s all you need.
The queen of complexion, Huda Kattan – the brains behind the now-iconic Huda Beauty brand and the recently launched Wishful skincare range – created Tantour, a cream-to-powder bronzer and contour that gives a glorious, tanned glow to the skin.
Apply directly along your cheekbones to chisel and carve your face, or start small, layer it up and blend across your cheeks and temples for an all-round bronzer.
Why we love it: Expertly curated, the three products in Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty Match Stix Trio are guaranteed to complement one another and are catered towards four complexion groups, to help match your skin tone. One of the things we love so much about the Fenty brand.
Easy to apply directly onto the skin and blendable with even your fingers, there’s no need to shell out for expensive brushes or sponges with this contour kit – which is lucky because it’s not cheap. The sticks are also magnetic, so you should lose one, and they’re small enough to fit in your handbag, meaning they’re perfect for contouring on the go.
£19 | Buy now from NYX
Why we love it: Another eight-pan palette joining this list is the NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette. It has four highlight and four contour shades to help you find your perfect combination and if you run out of one, no need to buy the whole palette again – the individual shades are available as refillable pans at a cost of £3.50 each.
£20 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
Why we love it: When it comes to this kit from Kevin Aucoin, two powders is all you need. The sheer bronzing shade slides effortlessly onto the skin, sculpting your skin and ensuring that it stays flawless all day. This is fantastic as a standalone bronzer, to give yourself that holiday glow. Combine it with the celestial powder for a subtle but gorgeous highlight that makes your complexion look flawless.
For the quality of Kevin Aucoin, a highly acclaimed brand, the price is great. It’s also only two products, so there’s no overcomplicated routine that takes up your time – simply swipe, blend and go.
Elly is a production journalist and sub-editor for a number of national newspapers and magazines including The Daily and Sunday Telegraph, and Woman and Woman’s Own magazine. A beauty-enthusiast, she loves travelling – especially to the States – reading and calligraphy