Monday, July 6, 2015

Review -- Battle of the Contour Palettes (NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette, Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit, and Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour Palette)

Contouring and contour palettes have been all the rage lately.

It seems like every time I turn around, another brand is coming up with their own version.

As someone who's very pale, contouring is tricky for me -- but as someone who has no visible cheekbones to speak of, I'm still always willing to give it a try.

So over the past six months or so, I've picked up not one but three different contouring palettes. Instead of doing separate reviews of each of them, I thought it would be helpful to combine them all in one post to do a comparison of sorts.

The NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette contains eight different contouring and highlight shades. It comes in a black plastic palette with a clear lid that allows you to see the products inside. The individual pans actually pop out and NYX sells single shades, so you can refill the palette or replace shades that don't work for you with other options.

NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette 

NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette 

From l. to r.: Ice Queen, Soft Light, Cream, Nectar

From l. to. r.: Tan, Toffee, Sculpt, Hollow

There are four highlight shades: Ice Queen, a shimmery ivory; Soft Light, a matte beige; Cream, a matte yellow, and Nectar, a peach satin.

There are four contouring shades: Tan, a matte brown with slight red undertones; Toffee, matte neutral brown; Sculpt, a matte cool taupe; and Hollow, a matte deep brown.

It retails $25 anywhere you can purchase NYX products.

The Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit contains six different contouring and highlight shades. It comes in a sturdy black cardboard palette. Like the NYX palette, the individual pans pop out so you can replace and customize the shades in your kit however you like.

When I purchased the kit, there was only one available, but now there are three options for different skin tones: Light/Medium, Medium/Tan, and Tan/Deep -- the one I purchased fortunately seems to be the Light/Medium option. You can also build your own custom palette from the start.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit
Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit
From l. to r.: Vanilla, Banana, Sand

From l. to r.: Java, Fawn, Havana

There are three highlight shades: Vanilla, a matte beige; Banana, a matte yellow; and Sand, a slightly shimmery nude.

There are three contouring shades: Java, a matte neutral brown; Fawn, a matte cool brown; and Havana, a matte warm brown.

It retails for $40 and is available at Sephora, Ulta, and the Anastasia Beverly Hills website.

The Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour Palette contains six different contouring and highlight shades. It comes in a sturdy black cardboard palette with a small mirror on the inside and a card that provides contouring tips and suggestions.

Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour Palette

Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour Palette

From l. to r.: Lucid, Lyric, Levitation

From l. to r.: Sombre, Shadowplay, Subconscious

There are three highlight shades: Lucid, a matte pinkish beige; Lyric, matte yellow beige; and Levitation, a matte peachy beige.

There are three contouring shades: Sombre, a matte taupe; Shadowplay, a matte soft brown; and Subconscious, a matte dark brown.

It retails for $46 at Sephora.

(Before the review, I'd like to give the disclaimer that I don't contour everyday and because of my pale skin, I prefer an extremely subtle look. I'm not someone who can rock the fierce contour look at all.)

Right off the bat, I'll say that unless you're professional makeup artist or routinely do other people's makeup, there's really no good reason to have all three of these palettes (or more than contour palette in general).

It's really just a matter of finding the one that works best for you because they all pretty much do the same thing -- and while there might be a slight difference in quality from product to product, I really think that finding a palette that has the right shades for your skin tone is most important when you're contouring.

As someone who's extremely pale, the fact is that several of the shades in each palette really aren't usable for contouring my face -- because they're just too dark or have undertones that are just too warm.

(Though that doesn't mean they're wasting away in my makeup drawer. I love to use all the shades in these palettes as eye shadows so they're still getting some use.)

When it comes to these particular palettes, I find that each one has its pros and cons.

If you're looking for the best bang for you buck, I would definitely go with the NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette. You get the most variety of shades, though you technically get more product in the other two palettes.

The shades are somewhat powdery and kick up a lot of product when you run your brush through them, but I've found that happens with all three palettes to some degree.

I appreciate the fact that the individual pans pop out, just as with the Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit, so you can create a palette that's perfectly suited to your needs.

That's where the Anastasia Kit has it over the NYX one, though -- you can customize a palette at the Anastasia Beverly Hills website from the start, and it's the same price as a pre-made kit. That means you won't wind up paying money for shades that you'll rarely use. That's definitely a point in its favor.

In terms of the powders themselves, I find that the Anastasia Beverly Hills shades have a very smooth, thin consistency so they look really natural on the skin (provided you blend well... that's essential!)

The Kat Von D powders have a very similar consistency and look just as well on the skin. It's not refillable or customizable, though, so it's not quite as versatile as the others.

As far as the shades go, each palette has a shade that works well for contour on my fair skin -- Sculpt in the NYX, Fawn in the Anastasia, and Sombre in the Kat Von D. Sombre is probably my favorite, though. The other contour shades in each palette are too dark or warm for me to use on my face.

Each palette has at least one highlight shade that works for my skin tone too -- Ice Queen and Soft Light from the NYX, Vanilla and Sand from the Anastasia, and Lucid from the Kat Von D. I'm a fan of a slightly shimmery highlight, so Ice Queen is probably my favorite.

I have no real issue with any of these palettes and would recommend each for different reasons, so my advice is to check out the shades in each palette and see which offers the most options for your skin tone.

And if you don't see enough in any of these to work with your skin tone, consider putting together your own palette on the Anastasia Beverly Hills website. They have 29 shade options to choose from and it'll cost you $40, just like one of the pre-made palettes. If I had to do it all over again, that's probably the route I'd go.

Have you tried the NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette, Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit, and/or Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour Palette? Which one do you like best? Is there another contour palette or product that you swear by? Do you contour everyday?


  1. Well contouring is a bit weird for me too - whenever I tried it, I wiped it away in the end because it looked like I have dirt on my face. Finding the right shade is obviously tricky for white skin too. And for me those darker shades in these palettes are, like you said, way too harsh and way to warm/orange. It´s strange though that they are all so similar in this - I´d have thought they´d come up with a palette that caters to different types with a warm colour, one that´s more greyish/ ashy and one that´s lighter. But then again you do have the option to put your own kit together. ^^

    1. Yeah, they are all pretty similar -- and I really feel like all of the contour shades should be slightly ashy/cool because they're meant to mimic shadows, which generally aren't warm or bronze-y. :P I would definitely put my own palette together if I was shopping for one in the future because it's the only way to limit the amount of non-useable shades.

      But like I mentioned, they do work well as shadows, so I'm making them work that way. :)


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