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The Best Contour Products for Deeper Skin Tones

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Photo by Junior Asiama / 500px / Getty Images

Want sky high cheekbones that make you look like a straight up goddess? You’ve got to contour, babe. When it comes to creating a flawless, sculpted look, contouring is key. It’s the easiest way to add depth and dimension to your face, play up your favorite features, (and even play down ones you don’t love).

But when it comes to contouring like a pro, nailing down the right technique can be tricky. And, to debunk the biggest misconception, contouring is completely different than how you use bronzer (more on that later). If you’re blessed with darker skin, finding the right contouring products is just as important as finding the perfect foundation for dark skin and highlighter for dark skin.

“Contouring is defining the structure of your face with shadows. Bronzing is warming up your face where the sun would naturally hit it. Both add dimension to the face in different ways,” says Ruby Vo, a makeup artist in Los Angeles.

If you have a deeper skin tone, you’re no stranger to the fact that makeup isn’t one size fits all. So to find the right shade of contouring makeup for you, look at your skin’s undertones. “Figuring out the undertone of your skin will help with finding the perfect contour shade. You also want your contour shade to be one to two shades darker than your foundation and to look like a natural shadow on your face,” says Vo.

“You want to think of the concept of contouring as a shadow on your face to create the illusion of sculpting and adding dimension,” says Naseeha Khan, co-founder and makeup artist behind CTZN COSMETICS. If you need help figuring out if your undertones are cool, warm, or neutral, take a look at your wrist veins under natural light.

“For warm undertones, look for contour colors that are a few shades darker than your complexion, in neutral taupes or gray-brown. For cool undertones, don't be afraid to shift even cooler with gray-browns with a hint of mauve or purple in the undertone. No matter your undertone, stay away from any hint of orange or red,” adds Katherine and Caroline Ramos, co-founders and makeup artists behind RITUEL DE FILLE.

“As far as application goes, start by deciding which parts of your face you want to define such as your hairline, jawline, cheekbones, lips, and nose. Examine your face and look where your shadows would naturally appear,” says Vo.

Now that you’re armed with some helpful how-to’s, here is a list of amazing contouring products that’ll help enhance your already gorgeous assets.


About the Experts:

Ruby Vo is a Los Angeles based professional makeup artist.
Katherine and Caroline Ramos are the co-founders and makeup artists behind RITUEL DE FILLE.
Naseeha Khan is the co-founder and makeup artist behind CTZN COSMETICS.

1. Best Travel-Friendly Contour Stick for Deep Skin:

FENTY BEAUTY Match Stix Contour Skinstick

FENTY BEAUTY Match Stix Contour Skinstick
Courtesy of FENTY BEAUTY

If RiRi made it—you know it’s formulated with all skin tones in mind. This handy twist up contouring stick makes adding definition where you want it quick and easy. The creamy texture glides on smooth and blends seamlessly (no rough patches or harsh lines here!). And, it comes in a magnetic case that clicks together with it’s applicator brush, making it easy to toss in your makeup bag and go. “Fenty Beauty Match Stix are a favorite because they’re so easy to use and have good undertones,” says Vo.

2. Best Glow-Boosting Contour for Deep Skin:

CITY COLOR COSMETICS Contour Palette

CITY COLOR COSMETICS Contour Palette

This trio does it all— contours, bronzes, and highlights, all in one straightforward and easy to use place. We love the lightweight, powdery formula that glides on smooth without that dry look that some powder formulas can leave behind. Even better, this baby can be used wet too to help add depth and dimension to your contour.

“I stopped using my other bronzer because I like this one so much. And the ivory color has some highlighter in it and is amazing,” one Ipster says.

3. Best Buildable Contour for Deep Skin:

HUDA BEAUTY Tantour Contour and Bronzer Cream

HUDA BEAUTY Tantour Contour and Bronzer Cream
Courtesy of HUDA BEAUTY

This baby is a makeup artist fave and comes in a variety of shades suitable for deep skin tones. If you’re going for a look that’s more subtle or want to make a statement, this easily buildable cream-to-powder bronzer and contour formula is designed to do just that by balancing shadows and adding a warm glow. “It’s super pigmented and very long lasting. I like to apply it onto my face with a small brush and then blend it out with a damp makeup sponge,” says Vo.

4. Best Multitasking Contour Stick for Deep Skin:

UOMA BEAUTY Double Take Contour Stick

UOMA BEAUTY Double Take Contour Stick
Courtesy of UOMA BEAUTY

Contouring, sculpting, highlighting, strobing—this double-sided stick does it all and makes skilling your contour pretty much effortless. The sculpting side melts onto skin on contact, blending like butter for a seamless finish. The strobing side delivers a buildable glow for that lit-from-within look right where you want it. We think it’s a perfect application every time.

5. Best Drugstore Contour for Deep Skin:

NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette

NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette
Courtesy of NYX

One word: Options. Loaded up with eight (yup, eight!!!), contouring and highlighting shades, this palette makes finding your perfect match easy peasy. Just apply the deeper shades to areas you want to define, and the lighter highlights to areas you want to add glow. The best part? You can mix and match the deeper shades to create your own customized contour color. You’ll become a contouring pro in no time as everything you need in this palette.

6. Best Creamy Contour for Deep Skin:

E.L.F. Cream Contour Palette

E.L.F. Cream Contour Palette
Courtesy of E.L.F.

The smooth options in this creamy quartet blend like a dream to help sculpt and define your features flawlessly. You’ll get three deep contour options that mix together seamlessly so you can create your own custom match in a cinch. Plus, a radiant boosting highlighter to add glow to your brow bone, nose, and Cupid’s bow.

7. Best Contour for Contouring Newbies:

SMASHBOX Step-By-Step Contour Kit in Medium Dark

SMASHBOX Step-By-Step Contour Kit in Medium Dark
Courtesy of SMASHBOX

Contouring like a pro couldn’t get any easier than this! This powder kit has everything you need to contour, highlight, sculpt, and bronze on-the-go, plus a built-in mirror and brush. The best part? This palette comes with a numbered how-to-guide so you can get glam without the guesswork.

8. Best Contour Application Tool:

CHARLOTTE TILBURY Hollywood Contour Wand in Medium to Dark

CHARLOTTE TILBURY Hollywood Contour Wand in Medium to Dark
Courtesy of CHARLOTTE TILBURY

This blendable beauty was specifically made to suit a wide array melanin-rich skin tones. It’s oh so smooth formula glides on with ease, leaving no streakiness or harsh lines behind. And its nifty cushion-wand applicator makes adding contour exactly where you want it insanely easy.

9. Best Contour for Ultra Deep Skin Tones:

MORPHE Dimension Effect Highlight & Contour Sticks

MORPHE Dimension Effect Highlight & Contour Sticks
Courtesy of MORPHE

If you’re blessed with very dark skin, these babies come in some of the deepest, glowiest shades we’ve ever seen. Each stick comes in an ultra creamy, matte finish to help you sculpt and define for a gorgeous multi-dimensional look and blends on easily with a contour brush or beauty sponge. We recommend reaching for shades in #EFFECT18, #EFFECT19, or #EFFECT20 to contour the deepest skin tones.

10. Best Contour Compact for Deep Skin:

PATRICK TA Creme Contour & Powder Bronzer Duo in She’s Chiseled

PATRICK TA Creme Contour & Powder Bronzer Duo in She’s Chiseled
Courtesy of PATRICK TA

Besides being a cult-favorite (this contour-bronzer duo has 5 star reviews all around), this pigment-packed fave provides long-lasting wear, a luminous finish, and easy application. Just apply the contour with a gentle stamping motion from the end of your ear lobe to the edge of your mouth and blend for a sky-high, lifted look that lasts all day.

11. Best Contour for Deep, Dry Skin:

BLACK RADIANCE True Complexion Creme Contour Palette

BLACK RADIANCE True Complexion Creme Contour Palette
Courtesy of BLACK RADIANCE

If your skin is on the drier side, powder formulas can often leave your skin looking rough rather than radiant. Instead reach for something hydrating like this creamy trio. You’ll get everything you need to sculpt, chisel, slim and define your features, plus an easy-to-follow illustration guide for flawless, foolproof application.

12. Best Refillable Contour for Deep Skin:

KVD VEGAN BEAUTY Shade + Light Refillable Face Contour Palette

KVD VEGAN BEAUTY Shade + Light Refillable Face Contour Palette
Courtesy of KVD VEGAN BEAUTY

Looking to score points with Mother Nature? This easy to use sculpting palette lets you swap out old, empty pans for new ones once you hit the bottom (love it!). Each palette comes with 3 matte-finish contouring powders that sculpt natural looking shadows and 3 highlighter shades to add lift and dimension to your look. Even better, each shade is formulated with good-for-skin ingredients like vitamin E and safflower seed oil to help nourish and soften skin.

13. Best Contour With a Flexible Shade Range:

MILK MAKEUP Sculpt Stick

MILK MAKEUP Sculpt Stick
Courtesy of MILK MAKEUP

Milk Makeup knows best when it comes to creating quality makeup sticks. This matte, cool-toned cream contour stick adds instant depth and dimension to your face by mimicking the look of your natural shadows. It comes in four, flexible shades, covering a variety of skin tones. A plus is that it’s hydrating, which makes it easy to blend and melt right into the skin.

14. Most Natural-Looking Contour for Deep Skin:

DANESSA MYRICKS Balm Contour

DANESSA MYRICKS Balm Contour
Courtesy of DANESSA MYRICKS

Looking for a weightless and buildable contour product? Look no further! This Danessa Myricks Contour Balm blends so seamlessly, it’s like you’re not even wearing anything. It's also packed with skincare grade ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and meadow-foam seed oil to hydrate and nourish the skin.

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About the author
Runa Rhattacharya
Runa Bhattacharya
Runa is an NYC-based writer and Registered Nurse with over 8 years of experience covering beauty and wellness. She’s worked for publications like SELF, Cosmopolitan, and more. She’s passionate about beauty, science, and two careers that she loves!
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Article Last Updated June 5, 2023 12:00 AM