I know contouring was a big thing in 2014, and shows every sign of continuing to be a big thing in 2015. But... I've never really become excited about it. Possibly because I'm a bit lazy, possibly because I'm pale, possibly because I really, really don't want to look like Kim Kardashian, all sculpted face and unreal looking, and that seems to be the contouring ideal. So when I received this Smashbox Step-by-Step Contour Kit, I put it to one side. I then found the images on my camera and decided I really should try it out, even if I was pretty sure it wasn't a product for me. Turns out I was a bit wrong - it definitely is a product for me. Maybe for you too.
The kit focuses on more than just providing some product - the case also features step by step instructions, which I found very helpful to make sure I didn't just plonk colour on my cheeks and end up looking a bit muddy. If you mislay the cardboard casing, the same instructions are repeated in a more condensed manner on the mirror in the compact. Which makes the mirror about half as useful as it should be, but hey. Good for those of us who need instructions and don't keep cardboard packaging.
Inside the sleek black compact, you get three matte powders - a slightly grey-toned contour shade, which thankfully isn't too brown; a warmer brown bronzer; a creamy ivory highlight shade. It's unusual to find a contour kit which contains not a glimmer of shimmer, even in the highlighter, but it does make for an even more natural finish. And means shiny-robot-face is definitely off the cards. No-one likes a shiny robot face. Oh, and you get that brush too - it's small, tapered, and good for applying colour precisely, even if it's not the best brush ever for blending.
Here's a comparison: one side of my face is au naturel, and one side is contoured. I've concentrated my efforts on my cheekbones and my jawline, as quite frankly I can't be bothered trying to sculpt my nose. But look! Cheekbones! Pretty natural looking ones too! The jawline treatment makes for a bit more definition, but the cheekbones are definitely where it's at. Even though I don't look it in these photos, I'm very very happy with these newly sharp cheekbones.
So, this palette gives you everything you need - including a brush, instructions, and matte powders - to contour easily and with a natural finish. What's the catch? Firstly, the price - it's £35, which is fairly expensive for three powders and a small brush. Particularly when the compact itself is quite small - there's under 12g of powder in there, and the pans are more the size of small blushers than they are the size of bronzers. Also - I can't help but wonder if one-shade-fits-all is a good thing - the powders are well pigmented, so I just used the tiniest amount possible for my skin, but if your skin is deeper than medium you may find the shades too light.
A mixed review, then - Smashbox have really created an easy peasy contouring kit, but points off for stingily sized pans and a lack of shade range to suit all skintones. If you're keen to try it for yourself, you'll find it at Smashbox counters, or online at their website.
Disclosure: PR sample
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