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Do you want higher cheekbones? A slimmer nose? A sculpted jawline? Contouring may be able to help. The makeup craze kicked off by Kim Kardashian has become ubiquitous, and there are contouring palettes out there for newbies and experts alike.
If you’re wondering why you should opt for cream-based products over their powder counterparts, it’s because they're easier to blend, which makes them look more natural, and they're also more flexible and versatile. Powders tend to stick to the skin’s texture more than creams, making fine lines, pores, and scars more visible. The only con when it comes to cream formulas is that they tend to not have as much staying power as powders, but a quality setting powder and makeup-setting spray can take care of that by extending their wear.
These are our picks for the best cream contour palettes for sculpting, highlighting and defining your features like never before. Just remember to blend, blend, blend!
Best Overall: Lorac Pro Conceal/Contour Palette
This palette covers all of your contouring needs. Lorac’s Pro Conceal/Contour Palette includes a whopping eight shades of conceal and contour shades, ranging from light to peachy to warm browns to deep tones. There are also four cream shimmer highlight shades, including a bronzer. Not only does the palette allow you to contour to your heart’s content, but it also lets you cover imperfections—you can use the peach shades as color correctors and the contouring shades as concealers. The kit includes a PRO Conceal/Contour Double-Ended Brush. If you’re a newbie, or just not quite sure how to use all 12 shades (hey, we’re not all professional makeup artists!), the palette also comes with an instruction booklet.
Best Budget: e.l.f. Cream Contour Palette
This quad is quite the bargain! It includes three bronzers for contouring and one shade for brightening and highlighting. Each shade is buildable and can be used to sculpt the jawline, nose, and cheekbones, or to brighten the eyes. Basically, it gives you endless options for a super affordable price.
Best for Oily Skin: Tarte Tarteist Pro Glow Highlight & Contour Palette
The challenge with oily skin is that creamy formulas don't always stay in place. But this highlight and contour palette includes six pigmented powder and cream shades, so you can use the powders to give your makeup staying power. Plus, mixing and matching creams and powders allows you to play with the intensity of the look—you can layer both for a more defined, glowing finish. The four highlighting powders give off a strobing effect, while the two universal matte contouring shades add dimension to the face. Each shade is infused with Amazonian clay, which is packed with nutrients and helps balance the skin and deliver long wear.
Best for Dry Skin: Sleek Makeup Cream Contour Kit
If you have parched skin, creamy formulas are your friend. This contour kit includes two highlighting and four contouring shades in creamy textures that easily glide and blend into the skin for a natural-looking finish. Have a super thirsty complexion? Here’s a hack for you: Add a couple of drops of your favorite facial oil and blend them in to make the formula creamier, and it’ll deliver hydration while doing its contouring work.
Best Highlighter: Hourglass Illume Sheer Color Trio
When you’re looking to find your light, reach for the Illume Sheer Color Trio by Hourglass. The trio includes a neutral bronzer, rose blush, and a luminous champagne highlighter that leaves skin positively glowing. The cream-to-satin formulas go on like a dream, and since they’re so blendable, the kit is practically foolproof. The color is sheer but buildable, so you can customize your look.
Best Splurge: Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate Highlighter & Shader Duet
This chic, sleek compact will add major style cred to your makeup bag. And what’s inside is just as impressive. The highlighter and bronzer duo is incredibly luxe and silky. The two shades are all you really need to sculpt, brighten, and lift your face, and they have such a creamy consistency that you can even apply them using your fingers if you’re on the go and without a makeup brush.
Best for Beginners: Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Cream Kit
This contouring palette flies off the shelves for good reason. It contains three highlighting and three contouring shades that can be blended together or used separately to give your cheekbones that perfect shape. Each shade leaves behind a natural glow, courtesy of the formula’s satin finish. Since each hue is so blendable, it makes it easy for even novice makeup artists to work contouring magic.
Best for Pros: MAC Pro Face Palette: Contour
This quad was designed with professional makeup artists in mind, so if makeup is your calling, you will be pleased. The compact features four creams that are meant to be blended to create your own custom shades. They are all super pigmented and have a natural matte finish. The universal contour kit was designed to work with all skin tones, making it a must for makeup artists.
Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular cream contour palettes on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 15 different palettes overall, screened options from 13 different brands and manufacturers, read over 30 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 3 of the palettes themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.