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Using a Contour Palette for Beginners

Cynthia is a beauty enthusiast. She loves testing cosmetics, hair and skin care products and sharing her opinions.

That moment when you pick up your first contour palette can be both exciting and scary at the same time!

That moment when you pick up your first contour palette can be both exciting and scary at the same time!

How to Use a Contour Palette

Using a contour palette may be intimidating if you are just starting out with cosmetics. A good contour palette will have multiple shades, and all have a different purpose when applied to your face, including concealing and correcting any skin issues you may be concerned about. If you are just starting to experiment with contouring as part of a cosmetics routine, you may want to buy a cheaper palette to start with. This way you are not wasting big bucks while learning how to use one.

All the shades in any contour palette serve a purpose, and to the novice seeing shades like green and yellow can be confusing. All the shades can be used to create a flawless look and address and cover any concerns you have with your skin. The first step to a flawlessly finished face is learning what to do with all those different shades.

As you can see there are many seemingly 'odd' colors in a contour palette.

As you can see there are many seemingly 'odd' colors in a contour palette.

Common Shades Included

All contour palettes are slightly different. Though they all have similarities as well. Even for a beginner, I would suggest looking for an all-inclusive palette, but you might want to search for a cheaper option until you become a pro. This way when you're practicing- no doubt washing and starting over- you won't be wasting a lot of money. A basic contour palette should contain at least 8 shade options. This will ensure that it has all the shade options you should be looking for. The shades you should find in a contour palette are:

  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Pink
  • White
  • Nude
  • Skin tones
  • Lavender

I am currently using a 15 shade contour palette. The 15 shades are natural concealer tones. Even though looking at the shades some of you may wonder how they will match their skin perfectly. That should not keep you from pursuing contouring as part of a cosmetics routine. Contour palettes are designed so that the shades can easily be blended, so there is no worry of not finding a perfect shade/tone for your skin. That is also why I choose a larger basic palette so that I have more options available for blending.

There are many types of contouring products available. In both cream and powder forms.

There are many types of contouring products available. In both cream and powder forms.

What will you do with all those weird colors in the contour palette?

What will you do with all those weird colors in the contour palette?

Using the Shades

Now you know what shades you should be looking for when you purchase a contour palette. So what will you do with them? Green? Surely that can't be for your face? It actually is! Here are the applications for the 'odd' shades in your palette that you may not know what to do with:

  • Green: Green serves a very valuable purpose in cosmetics and contouring. The green shade in a palette is used specifically to neutralize redness. Making it extremely easy to cover redness from acne or even rosacea.
  • Yellow: If you are a tired mom like me, you are going to love the yellow shade. Yellow will make under-eye dark circles disappear like you just got back from a kid-free vacation! WOW! It is also effective at covering dark acne scars as well.
  • Pink: Not all people have the same skin tone. So not all concealers work well for all skin tones. Pink is generally used by those with Olive or darker skin tones to neutralize under-eye circles. Since their skin tone is different, the dark circles under are generally more green in color, whereas fair-skinned people have a more blueish tone. Making the need for pink to neutralize them a must. The pink can also be used to brighten around the eyes or used as a highlighter.
  • Lavender: The pale lavender shade can be used to cover hyperpigmentation, and cover scarring with ease. It is also useful for covering yellow and mellowing out a yellowish tone to skin prior to using the rest of the palette. It can also be used to tone down any makeup that is too much of a warm tone for your skin.
  • White: The white is for highlighting. Around the eyes, to highlight the brow or just above the cheekbones to really make an overall look 'pop'. Perhaps the single shade that makes me suggest a lower-cost palette to practice with for beginners. If you're not careful with white, you can end up looking like a member of the Twilight cast. But hey, that's not always a bad look is it? Though if you're not looking to attract the next Edward and Jacob that come along, this one can make or break your look. Proceed with caution, contouring is an art. As with art, artists seem to get better over time.
  • Skin Tones: The skin tones in a contour palette generally run from fair to rather dark. These are for concealer (after you neutralize redness and dark circles), as well as contouring areas of your face and creating definition in your look. You can use them as stand-alone colors or blend two or more together to get the desired shade you would like. These are especially handy if you want to make your nose appear slimmer, hide a double chin and slim down the entire appearance of your face and many other uses as well.

Beware of Contour Tutorials

I love makeup and cosmetics. But these days every woman seems to be a contour queen on social media! Ugh, some of these tutorials offer horrid advice for contouring. Some are more interested in getting likes and shares than actually sharing useful content. So avoid searching hashtags for makeup tutorials on Instagram.

I do have one or two tutorial gurus that are my go-to for all things contour and cosmetics-related. My absolute favorite is 'nikkietutorials' on youtube. She not only is an exceptional makeup artist, but she also calls out all the stupid tutorial bull that she comes across on social media. Her tutorials are very informative and she explains the products she is using as well as the techniques. She often creates some very funny videos when calling out the horrible advice she has seen on social media, too. I find the less informative videos to be a waste of time. If you want to know how to achieve a contour and highlight check out her videos. She has been doing them since she was a young teen, and her skills were awesome even in 2009 (do a search- she will blow you away even in her younger years).

So if you find that you need a visual tutorial in order to get you going beware of all the Instagram 'makeup artists,' anyone can create a social media account and claim to be an MUA. Just because it has 10k likes, does not mean it is useful information!

Types of Contour Palettes

Beyond the uses of the colors in a contour palette. There are multiple types of them available. There are both creme and powder-based contour palettes, depending on the palette you choose. The creams I find to be a bit cheaper than the powder ones honestly. As well as being easier to blend, though that could just be my personal skills at play.

When you're learning to contour and highlight, you need to keep in mind that the application and technique vary between cream and powder. Just another reason to avoid those Instagram tutorials- they are usually sped up with little verbal information or instructions. They often only list the products used, not the technique in applying them. They never mention the difference between the two types of contour cosmetics.

Choosing a contour palette is generally a personal preference. Most people stick with one that they have tried and had the best luck using. I am using a Boolavard 15 color contour and concealer palette and I love it. It is actually very cheap in price (under $8) but the cream contour cosmetics are high quality. I am sure you will fall into a favorite contour palette in no time.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: I am forty-seven-years-old and concerned with maturing area around my eyes due to texture and lines. Can you tell me how to apply a color corrector around the eye area?

Answer: The first thing I will tell you is that I have a fair amount of fine lines and plenty of crows feet, so I understand the goal.

First, you want a good moisturizer. I use a moisturizing retinal day cream under and around my eyes before any cosmetics. This will help to plump or fill a lot of the fine lines there. Always allow it to dry or soak in completely. Wait 20 minutes to ensure the moisturizer is absorbed before adding any cosmetics.

Never swiped or wipe a color corrector under your eyes it is best to lightly dab. Using a beauty blender, or even the cheap wedge-shaped dollar store sponges work just as well! Don't press and twist either, just dab in light bouncing motion. This should provide a crisp corrected area around your eyes.

© 2016 Cynthia Hoover


Cynthia Hoover (author) from Newton, West Virginia on September 13, 2018:

Palak, Tarte cosmetics offer several palettes that are all inclusive like what you are looking for. Shopping savvy you can usually find them online for around $30.

Palak on May 17, 2018:

Can you suggest a good contour palette that also includes blush and highlighter? Preferably in a powder finish. Thanks. on September 18, 2017:


Michelle Mollohan from Looneyville, WV on February 10, 2017:

Makeup has certainly gotten complicated!

Cynthia Hoover (author) from Newton, West Virginia on January 21, 2017:

Kerri, when in doubt; blend it out! Just keep blending and you will get the hang of it! I hope you enjoy the videos as much as I do!

KERRI Anderson on January 20, 2017:

Thank you. Getting ready to watch the video to see how this works. Wish me good luck

Cynthia Hoover (author) from Newton, West Virginia on September 23, 2016:

MizBejabbers I notice the older I get the less I worry about contouring a perfect face as well. I do cover some acne scars that have always bothered me though. Oh the brow game lol. I do not love the new super thick brow! Is it just me? Of course my eyes are on the small side so a large brow just overpowers my entire face. Thank you for stopping by!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on September 23, 2016:

Helpful as to kinds of pallets and prices. I used to contour, but as I've gotten older, it seems that the more makeup I use the older I look. Since I wear eyeglasses anyway, I try to choose attractive frames and let my tinted lenses cover up the prominent natural circles under my eyes. You are right about the contoured faces on TV. Many of them look fake, and don't get me started on the artistically perfect WonderBrows all the women and even some of the men are sporting.

Park Ji Kristen on September 22, 2016:

No Problem and keep posting more i need to learn more

Cynthia Hoover (author) from Newton, West Virginia on September 22, 2016:

Park you are very welcome and thank you for stopping by! I hope it was informative! I remember the early days of my cosmetics obession and wishing that I had a better understanding of what everything was for!

Park Ji Kristen on September 22, 2016:

Very Helpful Thank You :)