Contouring for Pale Skin



When it comes to contouring, I've always been a little hesitant because there's one major problem when looking for contouring products: I'm pale. Being pale is becoming less of an issue in the makeup world now as most brands are realising their "ivory" foundation shades are in fact a 6 month tan for us pale gals and brands are rectifying this but contour and bronzing are always going to be the more terrifying side of makeup for me. However, brands are coming on leaps and bounds for the pale skinned among us and contour products are getting better and better and I thought I'd include some of my favourites in a post and how I use them. I've included strictly cheek products but some good contour shades for pale skin can also be found in the Naked 1 and 2 palettes in the form of the palest matte brown shades as they're quite cool toned and yep, matte, so they are great for carving out the hollows of your cheeks.

But if we're talking about strictly cheek products, I've found a range of products that work for me - ranging from higher end palettes, to bronzers that can double up as contours, to single, "handy for travelling" products. I'm not someone who goes hard on the contour and typically I will only really add the step into my routine if I'm going out for the evening or if it's a special occasion like a wedding etc. but when I do do it, I like to take my time to make sure it's blended well and seamless with the rest of my makeup. I tend to use the product only in the hollows of my cheeks, my temples, and slightly on the forehead so I will usually do the classic "3" shape around my cheek/brow area and then blend whatever excess product is on my brush over my forehead to give my face some more unity in it's colour. So without further ado, here are the products I love for doing a minimal but certainly enhancing contour look!

Contour Powders for Pale Girls

Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette | $46 - This is my favourite product/palette to use when it comes to contouring. Although it's the priciest product I'm going to mention, I think the powders in this kit are really buttery soft, they don't apply patchy or muddy, and they palette is really versatile to use on the whole face. Typically I will use the shade 'Subconscious' the most as it's the palest contour shade of the bunch and therefore it's the best fit from me. If you look at the swatches, it has a bit of a grey/taupe cool tone to it so it's great for accentuating those cheekbone shadows and like I said, it's a great pale skin match. I also use the more medium shade 'Shadowplay' as this is another great shade which can suit paler skin but I tend to reach for this one if I'm going for a more bronzed and chiselled look. As you can see on my Casper-white skin, 'Shadowplay' is much warmer and darker than 'Subconscious' but if worked with a light hand, it can compliment your makeup look and blends into your blush/foundation seamlessly.

I know a lot of people tend to look at palettes like this and think they're a waste of money because you're only going to use the colours designed for your skin tone but trust me, these powders are *so good* as eyeshadows too. As they're so blendable, they're great as matte shadows and I love using the darkest contour shade, 'Sombre', as a rich brown shadow. The highlighter powders are also fantastic for all over the face application and for your eyes too. I typically will use the lightest highlight shade, 'Levitation' (which is a slightly salmon pink colour) as an all-over lid shade that is fantastic for subtly brightening the eyes before you add other shadows and is great as a base/blending shade to pack other products on to of. I also prefer to use the middle highlight shade, 'Lyric', as my highlight if I am doing a matte highlight/baking my makeup as it's more yellow toned and therefore suits my skin tone and my preferred makeup look more however again, it doubles up as a great eyeshadow so if you like products that have multipurpose, this would be a great pick for you and it's my most favourite contour product I own thus far.

Contour Products for Pale Girls

Topshop Bronzers | £8.oo - Okay so whilst these guys are bronzing products and certainly work great as that, they double up pretty well for contouring too. The Topshop bronzers are something I've talked about before on NB, but I think they're really lightweight and blendable but have great pigment too. They are a great choice of bronzer for us pale-skinned sassies and the two shades available are both lovely on said pale skin. My current choice though is 'Salute' which as you can see is quite a warm almost terracotta bronzer shade but if used with a light hand and worked with slowly, it can give a lovely definition to your cheeks. As it is a bronzer, it's really easy to carry on using the product more heavily as an actual bronzer so your makeup will look really put together as your contour shade and bronzer shade will look like a really good match because psst, they're the same product just applied slightly differently! The other available shade, 'Mohawke' is more cool toned and a softer brown so if you are extremely pale, this shade might work better but to be honest, both of them are great and work just as well as each other!

Collection Highlight & Sculpt Contour Kit | £4.19 - As you can see from the photos, I *love* this little mini palette's highlight shade as I've hit pan, but I've found the contour powder is also super good for those of us on a budget. It is definitely the darkest of all my contour shades, but it can work for pale skin if - just like the Topshop bronzers - it is used with a light hand. As you can hopefully see in the photos above and below, the powder is darker than the others however it also is slightly cooler in tone if compared to the middle Kat Von D shade or the Topshop bronzer shade so it does make it easier to use as a contour powder as it has a more grey/shadow look to it when it's on the face. As I said, this palette is great if you need a cheap contour kit and I adore the highlight for my pale skin as it's an opal/more natural highlight than say the golden/champagne tone of The Balm's Mary Lou-Manizer so it looks more subtle on the cheek. As it's so subtle is perfect for day to day wear or for school/work so that's why I've hit pan! The only down side to this contour powder is that it can get a little muddy if you haven't prepped the skin well underneath or if your having a rubbish day with your base products and it can have a lot of fall out in the pan as it's so powdery when you put your brush in it, so I'd definitely recommend dusting off the excess before applying to the hollows of your cheeks!

Contour for Pale Girls Swatches
From left to right: Topshop Bronzer in 'Salute', Collection Contour Kit Sculpter, Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour shades 'Subconscious' then 'Shadowplay', and Max Factor Creme Puff Blush in 'Nude Mauve'

Max Factor Creme Puff Blush | £8.99 - Some of you will be wondering why on earth I've included a blush product in this but let me tell you, it's amazing as a contour product for pale skin. I've mentioned my love for these Creme Puff Blushes so many times before but this shade in particular - 10 Nude Mauve - works so well as a contour shade as it's quite ashy/grey toned and if you look at the swatches, it's not too dissimilar to the lightest contour shade from the Kat Von D palette. These blushers do have a little bit of shimmer in them so I typically will use this as my contour only if I am wearing a blush with some shimmer in it too as it helps tie it all together and doesn't make you look like you've got some glow in the wrong areas, but it blends really well, it's really pigmented but its also incredibly hard to over do it with this product so it's a great choice for those of you who might be nervous to try contouring because you're new to it or really pale or those of you who just want a subtle contour. If I am travelling and not taking the Collection Contour Kit, I will always take this as my option and the shade Alluring Rose is great for bronzing up pale skin too!

Contour Powder Swatches
From left to right: Topshop Bronzer in 'Salute', Collection Contour Kit Sculpter, Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour shades 'Subconscious' then 'Shadowplay', and Max Factor Creme Puff Blush in 'Nude Mauve'

And that's it! I really enjoy using all of these products and often switch up which I'm using on a day to day basis depending on how long I have to get ready/what look I'm going for. Although I'd really recommend something like the Kat Von D palette, take a look at what matte brown shadows you might already have lying around before rushing out to blow money on products you might not like or get the use out of. Eyeshadows are great budget options to use as contour shades as there's usually a vast range of shades and they tend to be cheaper to pick up. As they're eyeshadows, they also will blend really well and should have enough pigment to cover a larger area of your face i.e. the cheeks, just be sure to get a one that has enough colour pay off and doesn't go on patchy as matte shadows tend to have more trouble when it comes to application and blending!

What is some of your favourite contour products? Have you found any goodies for pale skin? Let me know!


- A.
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