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There's no denying that contour products have cemented their place in our makeup bags. It's not at all surprising because when you get it right, contouring has unparalleled cheekbone-carving, jaw-defining power.
But it's not all smooth sailing. If you don't know your way around a contour kit, or you're not comfortable with a handful of makeup brushes, contouring can all too easily end in thick, harsh muddy stripes along the cheekbones. So, follow our lead if you're testing the contour waters for the first time; we'll keep you afloat.
Here are the best cream contour palettes for sculpting, highlighting and defining your best features.
Best Overall: Lorac Pro Conceal/Contour Palette and Brush
This palette covers all of your contouring needs. Lorac’s Pro Conceal/Contour Palette includes a whopping eight shades of concealing and contouring shades, ranging from light to peachy to warm browns and 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 using the included brush for best results. As a bonus, the palette also comes with an instruction booklet that contouring newbies will surely appreciate.
Best Budget: e.l.f. Cosmetics Cream Contour Palette
This palette of four creamy shades is a total steal. 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 Splurge: Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate Highlighter & Shader Duet
This chic, sleek compact will make a gorgeous addition to your makeup bag. And what’s inside is just as noteworthy. The highlighter and bronzer duo is incredibly luxe and silky. The two shades are all you 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 their contouring magic.
Best for Pros: MAC Pro Face Palette: Contour
This quad was designed with professional makeup artists in mind, so if this isn't your first contouring rodeo, 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.
Best for Dry Skin: Sleek MakeUP Cream Contour Kit
Cream contour formulas go with dry skin like peanut butter goes with jelly; it's essentially a match made in heaven. 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 dry 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 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 over top to give your makeup extra 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 to help balance oily skin and deliver long-wear benefits.
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.