This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Which eye contour makeup is best? 

Eye contouring can add depth and drama to your eyes, make them look bigger and more alert and create a focal point that brings out the best in them. While contouring can seem complicated and daunting, it can be done simply with just a few shades. When you’re looking for a flattering, all-purpose eyeshadow palette to help you contour your eyes effectively and easily, Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palette Stoned Rose is the top choice. 

What to know before you buy eye contour makeup

Choose colors that work well with your skin tone

Contouring your eyes is no different than contouring anywhere else on your face. As with all contouring, the key to making it look natural is to work with your tone and not against it. Contouring shades intended for warmer-toned skin look orangey and brash on cool-toned skin, whereas cool-toned contouring eyeshadows look washed-out or muddy on warm-toned skin. Cool-toned contour shades include taupes and grays. If you tend to burn easily in the sun, chances are cool tones will look better on you. If you tend to tan, warm hues will make your skin look radiant. 

Day vs. night wear

Contouring is fundamentally different depending on whether you’re looking to create an effect for daytime wear or an evening. Contouring emphasizes natural shadows, and these look different depending on the ambient light. Daytime contouring should be matte, subtle and easily blendable. Nighttime contouring can create more dramatic shadows that look smoldering in subdued light.

Cream vs. powder

Contouring is often associated with powder products. There’s a greater selection of colors in powder, so if you’re looking for variety, powder is your best bet. However, there are occasions when you may want to consider cream-based or liquid contour shades. They offer great blendability and buildability. Creams are also more forgiving on fine lines and wrinkles and don’t highlight them in the way that powders can.  

What to look for in quality eye contour makeup

Deep color in varying shades

Successful contouring requires emphasizing natural shadows. Particularly for evening applications, this requires rich, deep color. Apply the darkest shade just outside the deep part of the crease of your eye to make eyes appear larger and more alert, and blend progressively lighter shades up to the brow bone, adding a splash of highlighter just under the eyebrows.

Shade cohesiveness

Contouring can add drama but at its essence involves the optical illusion of enhancing natural attributes. Staying away from stark shades and blending progressive shades of similar colors gives the most subtle results. If you’re going with taupes and browns, consider using brown eyeliner and mascara instead of black. It cuts down on harsh lines and blends more naturally. You can also choose black eyeliner and mascara on top but soften the lower part of your eye with browns.

Smudge-proof transfer resistance

We touch our faces and the area around our eyes a lot. Applying contour that will stay put during a long day is key. To keep your eye contouring safe from accidental smudges, consider a setting spray.  

How much you can expect to spend on eye contour makeup

A drugstore-brand palette costs around $15-$20, while a premium department store palette averages $60.

Eye contour makeup FAQ

What kinds of tools are required for applying contouring eye makeup?

A. A good set of contour brushes is always a great investment. Be sure to have a short-bristled, flat brush on hand for applying crease colors, as well as a flat or angle-top, wider brush for blending. If you’re going to experiment using creams or liquids, a small sponge-tip applicator could be useful. Be sure to keep separate brushes for liquid and powder applications.

How can I make my eye contouring last longer?

A. The key to all makeup longevity is prep. Start with a clean, exfoliated surface. Be gentle with the area around your eyes, as this is the most delicate skin on the face. Once it’s gently cleaned, apply your daytime eye moisturizer and give it plenty of time to absorb into the skin. Next, apply primer. Contour your eyes and blend it all well to avoid any harsh transition lines. Lastly, apply setting spray for the longest-lasting wear.

What’s the best eye contour makeup to buy?

Top eye contour makeup

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In a Palette Stoned Rose

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In a Palette Stoned Rose

What you need to know: A well-balanced palette like this one is a great asset when you’re looking to create cohesive, natural contouring. 

What you’ll love: Not only does this have a great contour shade selection for the eyes, it also offers coordinated shades for the face as well. It’s a one-stop shop for full-face contouring that works well together.

What you should consider: While the palette is versatile, the colors tend to skew to the warmer side. If your skin has decidedly cool tones, you may want to supplement this with a few cool shades. 

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora

Top eye contour makeup for the money

Revlon PhotoReady Eye Contour Kit

Revlon PhotoReady Eye Contour Kit

What you need to know: This drugstore giant provides consistently reliable eye makeup, and this palette gives you everything you need for a flattering eye contour.

What you’ll love: The palette is shaped like an eye, with each hue in the spot where it needs to go, leaving no confusion about where to apply each shade. Of course, you can feel free to play with the shades as you like, especially the highlights, but it’s nice to have a tutorial right in the layout of the shadows.

What you should consider: This is a lightly pigmented palette, so you may need to build several layers of color for more dramatic evening looks. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Urban Decay Naked2 Basics Eyeshadow Palette

Urban Decay Naked2 Basics Eyeshadow Palette

What you need to know: With a full range of contour shades, this complete palette gives you color-saturated, rich shades to work with. 

What you’ll love: The selection of highlight shades is excellent. 

What you should consider: This is a cooler-toned palette in general, so if your skin is very warm-toned, some of the colors may look washed-out on you. 

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta and Sephora


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals. 

Maria E. Andreu writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.