Contouring products and tips for pale skin

Contouring is the phrase on everyone's lips at the moment, but if you're pale, finding the right products can be a bit of a nightmare. Contouring is a process designed to help create areas of light and shadow on your face giving a more sculpted look. Makeup artists can manage to make high cheekbones appear virtually out of nowhere with the right products and techniques - it's amazing to see before and after photos sometimes!

I'm fairly new to the contouring process - it's taken me a while to find the right shade of bronzer that I can use to give that sculpted look, without looking like I've blended an orange line across my face. It's important to use a good highlighter too - the whole process is about developing the right areas of light and shade, so the two products are both just as valuable.

contouring products for pale skin

contouring products for pale skin

good bronzers for pale skin - swatches
L-R Non-blended swatches of Liz Earle, NYX, Illamasqua, L'Oreal
Trish McEvoy and Illamasqua contouring brushes

contouring on pale skin
My silly 'sucked in' contour face
My top tips for contouring on pale skin:

- Mirror, mirror. Have a long, hard look in the mirror and see where the natural light bounces off your skin. Usually this is around the tops of cheekbones, chin and brow bone - these are the areas you want to use highlighter on.

- Suck those cheeks in. To find the best place to contour and add some shadow, I end up pulling a stupid face in the mirror sucking my cheeks in. This gives me a good idea of the place to start to apply my product where the shadowy areas appear underneath my cheekbones.

 - Use an angled contouring brush. You want to use a brush that has been specially tapered for contouring in order to get the best angle for application around your cheekbones. If you just use a normal flat-headed or blusher brush, the shape won't be right and you'll find it harder to be precise.

- Start off lightly! Although there are a lot more light bronzers out there now, the worst thing you want to do is go heavy handed. Apply a very small amount of bronzer using your angled contour brush to the area under your cheekbones, blending up very slightly. Take a look in natural light and decide if you need to add any more. You can always repeat the process, but taking away bronzer on a face full of makeup is going to be hard, so go gently!

- Highlight, highlight, highlight. I normally apply my contour shade, and then add my highlighter once I'm happy. At the moment I use an Hourglass Ambient Light powder across the tops of my cheekbones, with a small amount of the bridge on my nose and chin. This helps to balance out the shadowed areas, creating both light and shade. Don't forget to blend.


I've tested out several different bronzers over the past few months and have found these four to be really good for lighter skin tones. Used gently, they all work well for me, and cover a range of prices.

Liz Earle Radiant Glow Bronzer* - the only one of the four with a slight shimmer, I use this sometimes in the evenings. Because there are four shades in the palette, you get to control the depth of colour you want, using either one of the shades on its own, or swirling all 4 together. £19.50

NYX Matte Bronzer Light* - a very matte shade, this is my go to product in the mornings. It blends very well and is easy to build up for a deeper colour if you want one. £8

Illamasqua Sculpting Duo* - featuring both a highlighter and contour shade, this is great for space saving in your makeup bag. I was shown how to use this by Clare, one of Illamasqua's makeup artists (see this video) and find it really simple to use. The contour shade isn't too dark and works really well with the highlighter provided. £26

L'Oreal Glam Bronzing Powder 00 Blonde Sun* - a bit of a surprise entry, this is a new product from L'Oreal, but I've been really impressed with how it performs. It looks quite dark in the palette, but definitely doesn't come up that shade on my face. It has it's own brush handily concealed underneath the bronzer, but I wouldn't recommend using it for contouring because of its flat shape (good for an all over wash of colour though!). £7.99

I'd love to know your tips and tricks for contouring - what are your favourite products to use?

*PR samples


  1. I don't know if you're able to get this there but NYC sunny has been great for my pale skin! I agree that it's hard to find the right shades where you're fair.

  2. Great post, I have pale skin and find it hard not to find orangey coloured bronzers!

  3. Love this post and the silly sucked in face look :)


  4. It's so difficult finding shades for pale skin! I'd really like to try the Illamasqua sculpting duo, it sounds lovely :) xx

  5. great post :) its so annoying isn't it! I love the illamasqua cream pigment in hollow, and Daniel sandler sculpt and slim are both great for pale girls like us :)

    Catherine x


  6. I love your eyeliner btw Kat! I like the sound of the Illamasqua one :) Its so hard finding good contours for us paleys!


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