5 Drugstore Contour Powders for Light & Pale Skin (Plus Tips + Tricks)

Contouring the face is starting to get a bad rap. I think the way overdone "Instagram face" combined with the wrong products have contributed to that. Time an issue? It doesn't have to take a ton of time either to contour--just something to define the cheekbones works wonders for the face and brings depth and dimension. 

But most of the contour products are geared towards those with darker and warmer skin tones, which makes sense because of American population demographics. Regular contour products don't work for me--I have light skin, and when I apply bronzer or contour, most of the ones sold leave me looking muddy and dirty.

Since I do makeup on myself and others, I've figured out some tricks for those with lighter skin tones. Go for a color that is cooler, more of a grayish cast than a warm brown. Try using an eyeshadow or blush if you can't specifically find a contour shade that looks right on you.

Think contour products have to cost a lot of money? Nope! Luckily, I've got 5 options from the drugstore that work well for lighter skin tones.

Bronze Booster Highlight + Contour Palette


Make sure you get the MATTE SCULPTING one

Use the middle shade for contouring

BONUS: you can use all three as eye shadows

Prime & Fine Professional Contouring Palette


Try the shade Ashy Radiance (uh, forgive the name)

HD Blush in Taupe


Don't let the word "blush" fool you--this works well on lighter skin


plenty of options in this palette--try Rite Aid or online to buy

Infallible Pro Contour Palette in light


great compact option

not from the drugstore, but a drugstore price

Sephora Colorful Collection in Tranquil
$7 (on sale)

I can do a high end version of light contours if you're interested!

What's your favorite contour product/palette?

Extra Elle:

Hey y'all! I'm back from a mini vacation. I stayed home but took some time off from here and social media--always good to recharge the batteries, right? I also ended up getting out of jury duty, so I have an extra day off, yay! 


  1. These are all such great options for contouring, especially if you're just starting to try it out! I never would have thought to use blush or eyeshadow for lighter skin!

  2. Nice selections for contouring!

  3. Nice selections for contouring!

  4. Good for you getting some rest & a break... everyone needs those recharging times.

  5. Lovely selection, I'm quite pale as well and I've always wanted to try the NYX HD Blush in Taupe, so I'm very glad to find it in this post :)


  6. I'm all about physician's formula - they can do no wrong in my book LOL! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  7. So fun to see that there are some good drugstore options for contouring. I want to get a highlighter. I thought about getting the Anastasia palette. Which is your absolute favorite?

  8. I am super pale and it can be difficult to find contour products! This is a great post. I quite often use contour shades as eyeshadows!

    Jaynie Shannon | Beauty & Lifestyle


  9. These are some great tips and products. I don't do the whole instagram contouring thing but I do use a bronzer on my cheeks and around the top of my forehead and under my chin. Just a quick dusting. I agree that a light browish blush would be good for contouring!

  10. This is something I haven't perfected!! I would love to learn it, though. There is def. a lot of products out there for it!


  11. I think it's super hard for pale and dark tones to find good contour palettes. Seems the in between shades are most popular!

  12. Great options! I have to send this to my friend I visited this weekend who is scared of contouring. I love my makeup forever duo but I need to try one of these less expensive options.

  13. I've really liked Infallible products and NYX products! I will have to try these!

  14. The Physician's Formula palette looks fantastic and nice bonus that it can also double as eyeshadow.

  15. Thanks for the heads up about these palettes, Elle:) The NYX palette looks fab. And I'm a creature of habit. Have been using the Kevyn Aucoin palette for ages.

  16. I haven't tried contouring personally, but one of my best friends here in Memphis loves make up and I have seen her do such cool things with contouring (that look totally natural)! I bet this post will be so helpful to people who are looking for affordable contouring products! :)

  17. I might have to check these out! I've been using a contour stick from Hard Candy, and it's pretty good :)

  18. I'm super pale so a lot of contours won't work for me either. Cool tone ones look really muddy of ashy one me for some reason! I've been wanting to try those physician formula palettes!

  19. Both my mom & I are very pale, so what a great idea to use something with a greyer cast!! This is why I love reading your blog...thanks, Elle!

  20. i use the two faced countour set and it can be pricey. Im wondering how it compares in quality with these drug store ones. I really am curious to try- esp the jesse's girl one!


  21. NYX Taupe is an old classic as a cool tone contour! I recommend it to my customers too!

  22. I've never seen the physicians formula one before, I'll have to check it out! I'm pale too so I have to be careful with not getting products that are too dark.

  23. Nyx taupe is such a classic! I should really own it by now haha


  24. The Tranquil blush is wonderful as a contour on us pale gals, and really one of the closest shadow like colors that contour should be! Nothing more annoying than buying a new contour powder only to have it look like an orange or brown stripe down the side of your face. lol

    I have been debating to buy the Physicians formula one, but I'm worried about the color selection for me.

  25. Great tips Elle! So many I have never thought to try. You are always full of so many wonderful beauty hacks and ideas girl.

  26. Contouring is definitely easier than it looks and it has gotten such a bad rep. When I first wanted to learn, I had the hardest time finding a product that worked for my porcelain skin. I started with NYX Taupe blush. I have the Catrixe kit and I like it, but the Makeup Geek contour powder in Break Up is my absolute favorite.

  27. OMG I’ve never done that before but it’s totally something I would do. Look at all these goodies :) I’ll take one of everything :)

  28. Maybe I'll have you give me a tutorial on how to contour on my face. HAHA I suck.


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