Another day, another contouring palette. That’s what it seems like, doesn’t it? Never underestimate the power of the Kardashian bump to something previously reserved for makeup pros and serious makeup addicts (ahem, Renee). One of the recent entrants to the market is the NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette ($25 for 8 powders; provided for consideration by NYX).
To help me with this review, I asked my friend Indya of Bella Noir Beauty to contribute. (Check out her blog! She’s a fan of Asian beauty products, too, and also does about a million lipstick reviews a month.) When it comes to skin tone, we’re on almost opposite ends of the spectrum, so I thought this dual perspective might be helpful. Read on for swatches on both of us.
- Shimmery white (Ice Queen)
- Matte ivory (Soft Light)
- Matte pale lemon (Cream)
- Shimmery beige champagne (Nectar)
Bottom row (bronzing and contouring):
- Satin warm medium brown (Tan)
- Shimmery warm medium brown (a touch yellower than the first brown) (Toffee)
- Satin brown taupe (Sculpt)
- Satin dark brown (Hollow)
Fun fact: the pans can be popped out and refilled for a customized palette. (They’re not magnetic, but rather snap in and out of the palette.) The single pans are available here ($5 each).
Given the range of shades, it does seem as if this is a “pro” palette aimed more for a makeup artist who must accommodate a range of skintones. A bit of a learning curve is involved because the powders are all quite pigmented, requiring the lightest touch. (Duo-fiber or fluffy brushes are your friends.) They’re way more pigmented than the MAC Sculpting Powder I’ve been using. They’re also powdery and kick up a little dust when applied.
The matte highlight shades in particular can look and feel drying if overapplied, and the contour shades can look blotchy and settle in pores if the excess is not dusted off first. The smoothest powders were the shimmery highlighters, which confer a soft shine but no fake frost or chunky glitter.
Angela (MAC NC15; shade #21 in Korean cushions)
This has become my daily go-to for highlighting and contouring, but I tend to reach for a bronzer that’s easier to use (currently Chanel Sable Beige or Vita Liberata Sunkissed). In particular, I really like the highlighters: a combo of the shimmery ones (Ice Queen + Nectar) under my eyes and on my cheeks = Instant youth and volume!
The least used is the yellow, which sort of fades into my skin and looks chalky if I apply a second layer. The contour powders are so pigmented, which can be a bad thing because one wrong move means lots of furious buffing. In the bottom row, I prefer the third shade (Sculpt) to contour because the others are too warm or too dark. The warm shades work as bronzers but are trickier than regular bronzers because of how much color they add, and the darkest color is just too dark for anything but eyeshadow. Overall, with a light hand, most of the shades work on my skintone and I can see some combo of the shades working on skintones a few shades deeper.
Indya (MUFE HD 178 & Mat Velvet + 85; estimated MAC NC50)
The highlighters look ashy on me. The shimmery ones are a little better, but the matte shades are unworkable. The yellow shade is nothing like my favorite Ben Nye Banana Powder. The contour powders hardly show up. Maaaybe I could use powders 5 and 6 (Tan and Toffee) as bronzers. Overall, this palette doesn’t work for me.
And now for comparisons to some of my other bronzer/contour and highlighting powders. And yes, some of these can no longer be purchased, but I’m showing them off anyway muahahahaha.
First up are comparisons of the shimmery NYX highlighters to Dior Diorskin Shimmer Star in Amber Diamond (which I didn’t know was discontinued until I wrote this post!) and Incandescent Light from the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette.
Finally, here are comparisons of the bottom row of the NYX palette with Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel in 907 Sable Beige, Chanel Joues Contraste blush in 42 Nude, and MAC Sculpt from the Sculpt and Shade Duo in Accentuate/Sculpt (available but the duo configuration was limited edition).
Pros: Pigmented. Would work as highlighter, contour, and bronzer on skintones ranging from fair to medium. Removable and refillable pans.
Cons: Powdery. Most of the contour colors run too warm. Colors aren’t suited for deep skin tones.
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