Contouring is an increasingly popular makeup technique, used to bring definition and structure to the face by highlighting certain areas and enhancing certain shadows. It can have amazing results when performed correctly, totally transforming and enhancing your look for special occasions or day-to-day life.

But, like with any makeup technique, preparation is key when it comes to contouring, and it's essential to have the right tools for the job. A typical contour makeup kit can consist of various powders and liquids, along with brushes, sponges, and other applicators too, but which items do you truly need to contour? Read on to find out.



Many people ask themselves, "What do I need to contour?" and aren't quite sure where to start. It's really quite simple, and you might even have all you need to get started with contouring in your makeup kit alreadyHere are all the essential items:

  • Foundation – Every contouring session has to begin with a layer of foundation. This is the base layer of your makeup and needs to be applied in advance of highlighters. It's important to choose a foundation that works well for your skin tone, and you can opt for either powder or liquid, as desired. Liquids tend to be a little easier with which to work.
  • Highlighter – Highlighters are used to add light to certain areas of the face and form a key part of any highlighting kit. They can range in color from totally white to just slightly lighter than your skin tone. In general, it's recommended to look for a highlighter that is 2/3 shades lighter than your natural skin. You can also use blush for this purpose.
  • Sculpting Color - Sculpting colors are the darker creams or powders of your contouring kit, usually a couple of shades darker than your natural skin tone. They are used to add shadow and definition to certain parts of the face. You can use a bronzer for this purpose, as well as official contouring sculpting colors.
  • Applicator - You also need something to apply your contouring lotions and powders and blend them into your skin. A single brush can be enough for this purpose, or a blending sponge, depending on what you prefer to use.


As well as the essential items listed above, you may like to enhance your contouring kit with a few extra things. These optional additions might not be entirely necessary as you only really need the bare basics like your two shades of powder or liquid, plus the contour brush to carry out effective contouring.

However, these extra items can give you more options and versatility when contouring, letting you play around with different looks and get more exciting effects. Here are some of the optional extra tools and makeup products you might like to purchase for in-depth, detailed, dramatic contouring of your face and neck:

  • Extra Shades - While only two shades (one light and one dark) of cream or powder are really needed for contouring, you can opt for three, four, or even more shades if you like. Many people select three shades, including a neutral color, a highlight, and a lowlight.
  • Finishing or Setting Powder - finishing powder can help put the final touches on your contour style. Some translucent powder can be dusted gently over the face after the highlighter and contour shades have been applied, setting the shades and the foundation in place and blending them together thoroughly. It can also help to provide a clean, matte finish that many people enjoy.
  • Primer - You may choose to use a primer or moisturizer before contouring, but this isn't always necessary.
  • Additional Tools - Even though you only technically need a single brush or sponge to carry out basic contouring, it can help to invest in extra brushes, sponges, and applicators of various shapes and sizes to be used on different areas of the face and body. You can find small chiseled brushes, angled brushes, pointed brushes, and blending sponges, for example. There are even double-sided brushes that let you contour two shades with a single tool.


There you have it! Putting together a contouring kit really isn't all that difficult, once you know how. All you need is a couple of creams or powders and something with which to apply them. In fact, some contouring tutorials only require the use of a highlighter, and it's even possible to use blush lipstick for contouring too. Try different products and techniques to get the look you crave.