How to Choose the Right Contour Shade

Contouring is now a makeup staple, but even if you’ve perfected the technique, you might not be getting the best results. Let’s take a look at how you can find the perfect contour color for your skin tone.

Find Your Color

The biggest mistake that people make when contouring is trying to use a shade that’s too dark. You’re trying to reshape your face by creating new shadows, but using a contour color that’s too dark will quickly turn your “shadows” to “mud.”

How much darker than your skin tone should your contour be? Generally, you want to use a product that’s 2-3 shades deeper than your skin. This is just dark enough to create the illusion of a shadow, but not so dark that it looks as though your cheeks have streaks of dirt on them. If a product is significantly deeper than your skin tone, then it’s a safe bet that it’s too dark to contour with.


Just as important as the contour shade is the undertone of the product. When attempting to sculpt your face with makeup, you’ll want to go with a cooler undertone that will more closely resemble a shadow. Warmer undertones, on the other hand, tend to look dirty and read as discoloration rather than contouring.

How can you tell the difference? A cool contouring product will typically have hints of grey or even purple, which will help you create the contouring illusion. Warmer tones, however, will generally be more orange and may look like you gave yourself a very odd tan.

Always Test

Before you commit to a purchase, it’s always wise to test your product in store. Even a well-trained eye will struggle with determining if a product is the right shade without testing it, and contour shades need to be so specific that trying out a product is a must.

Simply swatch the product on the back of your hand and see how it blends out when you rub it. It obviously won’t look like a shadow on your hand, but you should be able to tell if it looks cool-toned and natural or like a streak of dirt.

Contour Well

Contouring may seem challenging at first, but most of the battle is simply finding the right products. Use these tips to ensure that you have a natural, believable-looking contour.

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