Happy Beauty Top Tens Tuesday! Today I bring you the pale girl’s guide to highlighting and contouring. Real Talk Time – unless you’re a makeup artist, I’m not sold on everyone needing a contour palette. I’m just not. But, I bought a ton of palettes to share with you for this post, as well as my top ten highlighting and contouring picks for what to reach for if you’re pale like me. When you’re pale, you usually want neutral to cool-toned contouring options, nothing too warm or orange. I cover 22 different products in my video!
NARS Olympia and Ofra press samples. It Cosmetics gift from a friend. All other products purchased by me.
Don’t miss out on the 4th of July Independence Day Sales!
The Pale Girl’s Guide to Highlighting and Contouring
If you like this video please give it a thumbs up, comment and share!
Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit in Light to Medium – $40 .66 oz product (.11 each)
The colors in this kit are Vanilla, Banana, Sand, Java, Fawn, & Havana
If you have pale skin, I would recommend skipping this. It’s better for light to medium skintones. If you still want Anastasia products, I recommend checking out her single refill pans on her website. Fawn might possibly work on pale skin.
Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour Kit – $46 – .72 oz product (.08 highlighters, .16 contours)
The colors in this kit are Lucid (pinkish nude), Lyric (yellow beige), Levitation (soft peach), Sombre (true taupe), Shadowplay (soft brown), & Subconscious (deep brown). If you have pale skin like me, you might like this better than the Anastasia palette. Sombre and Shadowplay can work on pale skin.
Nyx 3C Conceal Correct Contour Cream Palette Light– $11.99 – .30 oz
This is an affordable cream palette with a nice mix of shades. It’s too dark / warm for pale skin to contour but you might like mixing the colors for corrective concealing.
Ofra Cream Contour Palette – $79.00 60 grams (roughly 2.11 oz)(vegan)
This is a huge cream palette that would be great for light to medium skintones. (save 30% off at Ofra with code PHYRRA30)
Kevyn Aucoin The Contour Book The Art of Sculpting + Defining – $59 – .36 oz
While this is on the pricey side, it’s a book that works for pale skin. They also have the Sculpt Powder in Light available individually.
Nyx Taupe is an affordable drugstore contour product to check out. See it here in my 9 Contouring Products for Pale Skin.
Life’s Entropy Particle Contour Sticks – $8 / $5 (vegan)
Shown above are the shades Proton and Alpha. These are a cream product and they work very well on pale skin. They need to be set with powder.
em Cosmetics Chiaroscuro Stick in Fair – $24
While I’m not fond of the highlighter shade, I love the contour shade. It does need to be set with powder.
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Crème Colour Concentrate in John Doe – $23 (.3 oz) (vegan)
This is another great cream product and I love that it’s huge. Seriously, OCC is such a great value for the price. It does require that you set it with powder.
Pumpkin & Poppy Oak Bark Contour Powder – $8.75 20 gram jar (vegan)
This was my first indie contour powder. This is a semi-sheer taupe that is cool and easy to blend.
Notoriously Morbid Necromancy Powder – $8.50 for 20 gram jar (vegan)
I just recently bought this and I love it. It’s a cool-toned taupe that’s perfect for pale skin. It’s SUPER pigmented, so just a little goes a long way.
NARS Olympia Contour Palette – $42 .29 oz.
NARS calls this a rose shade, but it’s really more of a peachy brown. See my review. (NARS is no longer cruelty free. I will be using up what I own but not repurchasing.)
NARS Albatross – $30 .16 oz
This is a classic, coveted highlighter shade that a lot of my friends adore. It’s a white golden highlighter. (NARS is no longer cruelty free)
This is no longer sold individually, but it’s in almost every single palette that tarte puts out. It’s a golden highlighter with peachy tones.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Ethereal Light – $45 .35 oz
This is pretty, but it’s way too subtle for my taste. It’s a cool opalescent white highlighter.
It Cosmetics Hello Light Creme Illuminator – $24 .23 oz
Very pretty, but it is too close to my pale skin to work as a highlighter.
BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Pearl – $41 1.7 oz
A gorgeous white highlighter, but too subtle for my taste. Again, it’s too close to my skintone.
Notoriously Morbid Osteomancy – $8.50 20 gram jar (vegan)
An ethereal white highlighter with hints of silver and blue. This is PERFECTION on my skin! I love it! Osteomancy is the perfect highlighter for pale skin.
Too Faced Candlelight Glow Duo – $30 .35 oz
This is an ethereal white gold pink that somehow brightens, illuminates and warms the complexion. I love it and it’s been my all time favorite highlighter for years.
And now that I’ve inundated you with products, let me share my top 10 picks.
My Top Ten Picks
1. Kevyn Aucoin The Contour Book The Art of Sculpting + Defining
2. Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour Kit
3. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Crème Colour Concentrate in John Doe
4. Life’s Entropy Particle Contour Sticks
5. Graftobian Ultra Lights Palette – for a skintone shade cream highlighter. See my review.
6. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Skin Conceal – for a skintone shade. See my review.
7. BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Pearl (subtle)
8. Pumpkin & Poppy Oak Bark Contour Powder
9. Notoriously Morbid Osteomancy
10. Too Faced Candlelight Glow Duo
Pale Girl’s Guide to Beauty Series
- The Best Foundations for Fair & Pale Skin
- The Best Nude Lipsticks for Pale Skin
- The Best Red Lipsticks for Pale Skin
- The Pale Girl’s Guide to Concealers
- The Best Cream Highlighters & Contours
- Top 10 Cream Contouring Products for Pale Skin
- The Pale Girl’s Guide to Highlighting
- The Pale Girl’s Guide to Contouring
- Contour Kits for Pale Skin
- Best Highlighters, Contours & Bronzers for Pale Skin
- Luminous Pale Skin Foundation Routine
Are there cheaper equivalents to these like the Elf line? For those of us pale girls on a budget.
Hi! So I recommend checking out one of the newer posts in the pale girl’s guide series. I list more drugstore options in them. https://phyrra.net/best-cream-highlighters-and-contours.html and https://phyrra.net/top-10-cream-contouring-products-pale-skin.html are probably the two you want to start with.
Oh, how I miss Kevin Aucoin. He was Tori Amos’s favorite makeup artist. We lost a good man, a kind soul, and a brilliant artist.
Tell me, would you mind reviewing the pale version of Tyra Banks’ new 5-step, 5-minute contouring kit? There are several styles. I like the Flirty one best.
I am completely new to the contouring thing and want a palette to match my skin and a video demo.
I’ve also found any matte grey eyeshadow works well as a contour! I’m not a big fan of brown tones, since taupe/grey is a more shadow-y color like a natural contour would be.
Angela P says
I had to pin this.. I am pretty new to highlighting and contouring and am quite pale. Thank you for this and the swatches.. very helpful comparisons to decide what to purchase.
I think you might like Fyrinnae’s matte bronzer in Light! I super pale with cool/neutral undertones, and I find it works nicely (when blended carefully).
I bet it’s lovely because Fyrinnae makes amazing products 😉
Oooh the Kevin Aucoin palette looks amazing! I’m adding this to my wish list. Thank you for the beautiful swatches. 🙂
Yes, I’m very pale!! This guide was great! I haven’t tried OCC or Kevyn Aucoin, but I’ve always been curious. So glad to see the swatches! Thank you!! xo
Alex Shaffer says
Omg this is the most helpful contouring post I’ve ever seen! I love all the products you tested and the swatches on your skin with help me out alot 🙂
Thank you so much for letting me know! I am happy it’s helpful 🙂
I have been eyeing that Kevyn Aucoin palette! After seeing your post…I know I would use every single color in the palette. I love the variety of finishes and the colors are beautiful. It’s wonderful that all of the shades can be used as eyeshadows as well! It is expensive but…I know I would reach for it a lot. To have a palette that worked for brows, highlight, contour, blush, and eyeshadow would be epic! <3
I need to try Life's Entropy Proton! That color looks PERFECT. The cream formula would work well with my skin type too (sensitive / dry-ish). 😀 Pumpkin & Poppy Oak Bark looks and sounds great too! The color is lovely and "easy to blend" = YES! I love that both are vegan as I've been on a vegan diet (with the exception of honey from a local farm) for almost 20 years. Yay, I love finding out about new products like these! They are perfect for me! <333
WOW. I am seriously in love with Notoriously Morbid Osteomancy!!!!! It looks AMAZING on you in the video omgosh!!!! I've always wanted a white highlighter with blue shimmer in! *swoon* That is a must have. I'm also loving the super cool tone of Necromancy.
Ever since I got my hands on Illamasqua White Light I have been using it regularly to do the undereye / cheekbone triangle. It really brightens up my face! A product has to be white or almost-white to show up on my skin when it comes to matte highlighters. I love NYX Taupe for contouring – I'll usually sweep a little under my cheekbones & jawline. I adore both of these products and found out about them from you. 😀 Thank you so much!
One of my favorite shimmery highlighters that was not mentioned is theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer. I love that I can apply it lightly (natural glow) or full blast (metallic shine). It applies and blends so easily! I also love that it can be used anywhere (including the eyes). <333
Thank you so much for this post! I would never have known about the Life's Entropy or Pumpkin & Poppy products if it wasn't for you. I really love that Kevyn Aucoin palette but it can wait. I would rather put my money toward getting Proton, Oak Bark, Osteomancy, & Necromancy first. I don't have many contour products and these 3 would make great additions! Osteomancy is simply BEAUTIFUL MUST HAVE. XD Endless thank you's for this post! <33333
Question answer: I highlight every time. I don't always contour but if I do I like to keep it natural looking…unless I'm going out at night and doing a dramatic look. *new dramatic night look fantasy: Necromancy contour + new UD Bittersweet blush + Osteomancy highlight* XD
OMG, Bittersweet + Necromancy + Osteomancy sounds like the most perfect combination ever!
I really want to try the Kat Von D one and the one from NYX. I don’t need them, but feel like I’m missing out since I didn’t. I know that the Kat Von D would be one that would be a soft contour for my skin. 🙂
I think the Kat Von D would work nicely for you 🙂
Souhaila El-Souki says
Oh one more thing….there is a shade of Kevyn Aucoin’s The Creamy Glow Duo that would be perfect for a highlight/contour on pale skin tones!
I’ll have to check it out!
Souhaila El-Souki says
Ah-maze-ing post @phyrra:disqus it’s like you read my mind! I’m still a novice at contouring and I’m pale neutral like you and I’m looking for the next one! I have the Cover Fx but I’d like a powder one since I always wear their Pressed Mineral and these suggestions are great! Not only that I am starting to have a love/hate relationship with it like you said after I’ve used it for a while! And I love your idea of using singles for a custom look..Love the OCC shades that you mentioned!..I am going to get the Kevyn Aucoin if any I believe because each can be used individually for multiple purposes. I am also looking for a matte highlight/contour because of my skin. I think that NARS Laguna that I have in the Virtual Domination is really nice and you might love it for contouring actually but it’s got a tad much shimmer and I am oily around the jaw and have bigger pores on the cheekbone. You might also love Miss Liberty that’s also in Virtual Domination since you like a bolder look-it’s got more sheen/shimmer than Albatross. Thank you thank you thank you for this post!!!!! Question…..Does MUG have a good contour brush that you recommend? It’s a lot for me right now to pay 40 for a brush right now! Sorry for the long reply 🙂
Rachel Runyan says
E.l.f.’s Studio brushes have few good options. My favorite is the Studio Contouring Brush, $6 USD. They have some contouring Kabukis, angled brushes, etc., too in the $3-$10 range.
Souhaila El-Souki says
Thanks Rachel! I appreciate that! Phyrra also told me about Real Techinques so I’m going to check that one out too.
Rachel Runyan says
Real Techniques are great. Eco Tools are pretty very good, too.
Souhaila El-Souki says
Great! Yes, I’ve tried Eco Tools and I like everything I’ve tried. I think that a foundation brush is something that I would feel better spending more on. I just don’t want to for other stuff! Oh, by the way, if you are looking for a good foundation brush that you can use for liquid, cream, or powder, I would try Urban Decay’s Good Karma Optical Blurring Brush, it’s $26.00 and I love it for applying my Cover FX Pressed Mineral Foundation or my NARS Liquid Foundation. Makeup Geek also makes great brushes that are very reasonably priced too, I like their Buffing Brush.
Rachel Runyan says
Thanks for the tip on the UD brush. That’s good to know. I don’t use foundation brushes a lot (I usually just use my fingers), so I’d hate to shell out a ton of money for one. Twenty-six dollars isn’t bad, though, for when I do want one. It kind of depends on the foundation, and whether I feel like getting my fingers messy. 🙂
So happy you like the post! I don’t think MUG has a contour brush but they have a small blush brush and cheek highlighter. I actually like to use the cheek highlighter for blush and I might revisit the small blush brush again.
Great recommendations. I like that Kevin Aucoin palette
It was definitely well thought out.
Amazing overview. I think you’re right. I don’t need a contour palette!
Happy you liked it Justina!
How have I missed that NYX palette???
I don’t know, but it’s super cute!
Rachel Runyan says
Thanks so much for this. I highlight almost every day, especially my browbone and cheekbones. Most days I lightly contour under my cheekbones, my nose, and chin. I never do full face, heavy duty contouring. It’s not my style and I’m too lazy. If I were to start, I think I’d go with the Kevyn AuCoin book, and just use those two darker shades in the middle as eye shadows.
Are you planning to try the Too Faced Cocoa Contour palette?
I love Candlelight and Osteomancy. The e.l.f. Studio Baked Highlighters are great, too.
I’m glad to hear Nyx has Taupe back, as I really like MAC Taupe, but I’d rather go cruelty free (and less expensive) when I need to repurchase a similar shade. I recently bought Necromancy, but I need to play with it more. I went a little too heavy the first time I used it. I do like that it’s non-shimmery, and has no trace of orange. I really like Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil for a summer bronzer/contour shade.
I was really impressed with the So Susan Concealer Quad, as well. It actually worked wonderfully as a cream contour/highlight kit on me. The product not greasy, so my oily face doesn’t melt it off, and they’re cruelty-free (website says they don’t test products or ingredients on animals).
Sorry to yak so much. Have a lovely evening!
I always talk a lot too I always have so much to tell Phyrra. LOL I love that she suggests singles! I think that the Too Faced Milk Chocolate is a great option for pale skin. It’s matte which I love, i prefer matte for highlighting and contouring I think it’s softer. I also like Cover FX’s Cream Contour Kit, although it does take some practice. It comes with three curated shades for skin tone/undertone of their Total Cover Cream Foundation and one Highlighter. It’s nice because you can get a custom shade for your skintone, which is what the brand specializes in actually. Their foundations are amazing and they have concealers, primers etc. Their Moonlight Illuminator you might like on it’s own, and they have bronzer as well. You might also want to try the Kevyn Aucoin Creamy Glow Duo in #4 if you don’t want to buy the palette, it’s about half the price and it’s a duo of just the Celestial Highlighting and the Sculpting Shade. NARS Albatross like she mentioned is nice as well as their Laguna Bronzer. It has a very subtle golden shimmer. If you want to check out the Cover FX review here is the fb page that will link you to my site http://www.facebook.com/CFluxebeauty. My site is linked there, but i will soon have an easy concise domain name.
So happy to hear it Rachel! I don’t think I’ll be trying the Too Faced palette because I know it’s going to be too warm on me. Necromancy has more of a learning curve to it than Nyx Taupe or Pumpkin & Poppy Oak Bark, but Necromancy is beautiful.
Rachel Runyan says
Yeah, I was worried about a similar issue with the TF palette, that’s why I asked. Our skin tone is similar enough, if something works on you, it’s been working on me. Thanks for being my unwitting guinea pig. 😀
No problem <3
Rachel Runyan says
I had time to try Necromancy out again today. I tapped out just the teeniest amount into the lid and used that. It was perfect and the color makes for a very natural shadow on me. That amount blended a lot more easily, too. A jar of this stuff is going to last me forever. Thanks for all your help.
Nidia Doherty says
Ooh, the Notoriously Morbid highlighter is so pretty. I was able to use some of the OFRA contour palette, and really liked playing with it.
I bet it works wonderfully on your skintone 🙂
I love the highlighters in the Kevyn Aucoin; I’ve almost ordered it a couple of times. There’s just always something else to buy!
They’re so pricey!
I love all your palettes. Your pictures and swatches help me know which are too dark for me. Great choices.
Yay thanks Marcia 🙂
You read my mind, I was just looking for contouring products that don’t make me look ridiculous. Great post!
So happy to help Anastasia 🙂
What an array of palettes! Thanks for all the info.
You’re welcome Kimberly!
I am a fan of individual highlighters and bronzers as well, rather than palettes. But I like the look of the Anastasia Contour Kit. Thanks for the in-depth post and for the effort you put in!
You’re very welcome 🙂 Glad you find it helpful!
Lots of great info! I agree, probably better to avoid the palettes and go with individual products. I do love Illamasqua White light but keep forgetting I own it 😉
I think for pale skin, until they make palette marketed towards pale skin, individual products are better.
Cindy Ingalls says
Thanks for sharing such great insight. It is hard to find the right contouring palette for us pale girls.
You’re welcome Cindy!
What a great resource for the pale skinned ladies! I’ve been thinking about the Kat Von D palette.
It’s definitely gorgeous Tina!
Now I want that Kevyn Aucoin palette!
I definitely think it’s a worthy splurge during a sale.
Kim Porter says
I can see why the Notoriously Morbid Osteomancy would make a great contour product, it’s the perfect ashy brown and not warm like some other contour products. It would give a true shadow.
Yep, I love that it’s not warm!
Beautiful Makeup Search says
I really though everyone would have Anastasia on their list – glad to see I wasn’t the only other one!
It’s a very popular palette!
Brooke @ Blushing Noir says
I love NARS Olympia too! I want to check out that Kat Von D!
I think the Kat Von D would work perfectly on your skintone 🙂
Perilously Pale says
Ohh the OCC shade looks perfect!
I think you and I are very close in coloring so I think it would work great on you 🙂