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Smashbox Contour Sticks, Technic Strobe Kit, L'Oreal True Match Highlighter

Contouring, Highlighting and Strobing Essentials

By Miss Makeup Magpie
Contouring and Highlighting is still as popular as ever. Read on to see our favourite products to help you master this trend!

Most beauty trends tend to come and go and can be relatively short lived. However, the contouring and highlight trend looks like it's here to stay if social media is anything to go by. Contouring is the technique of using shade and light to define and enhance the facial bone structure and amazingly enough, it dates back to 1500. Although heavily contoured makeup might look amazing in photos, I just don't find it to be very practical for everyday wear as I would rather spend an extra twenty minutes in bed in the mornings than spend ages on my makeup. I initially tried to resist the whole contouring trend as I assumed it would be too time consuming but it really doesn't have to be, so today I'm sharing my top product recommendations to help you master the contour and highlighting trend.

Cream Contouring and Highlighting

For contouring there are generally two main types of formula; cream or powder and everyone has their preference on what they prefer to use but I personally prefer using cream contour products as I find the finished effect to look more natural and dewy as well as being more flattering for my dry skin. I like that with cream formulas you can choose to use your fingertips, beauty sponges or brushes thus making them ideal for your makeup bag for on the go and the Smashbox Step by Step Contour Stick Trio are my current favourite method for cream contouring. The Smashbox Contour Stick Trio contains three super creamy and blendable pencils; with one shade for highlighting, one shade for bronzing and one shade for contouring. In addition to the three pencils you also get a good quality sharpener in the box as well as a comprehensive guide on how best to use the three shades which is really handy especially for beginners.

Due to past experience I've found that it's very easy to go overboard when using contour powders but I never have any issues when using the Smashbox Contour Sticks as the formula really is very creamy so they can be blended out very easily even if you apply a little too much. My favourite way to use these contour sticks is over the top of my foundation and I like to apply each shade with a beauty sponge as they help to soften any harsh edges. The W7 Power Puff Trio contains three different beauty sponges; one larger sponge and two mini sponges so they work well for the sticks as I can use a different sponge for each shade. The largest sponge has a rounded base and a pointed tip which lends itself well for blending the highlight shade under my eyes, whereas the two mini sponges are great for the contour and bronze shades.

The three sticks are exceptionally easy to use as you literally 'draw' on the skin and then blend them out and due to their pencil format you can be precise on where you apply them. I never like to be dramatic with my contour so I like to be light handed using the contour shade on the sides of my nose, in the hollows of my cheeks, my temples and along my jawline and then bounce and blend them all out with a beauty sponge. I really like how cool toned the contour shade as a lot of brands tend to favour warmer tones which aren't always as effective as cooler toned shades which help to mimic natural shadow. If you're new to contouring I think this trio is fantastic as they're extremely easy to use and the how-to guide shows you how to use them depending on your face shape. With that said, I'd highly recommend them for contouring novices as you can't go wrong. If you have oily skin, this trio perhaps wouldn't be the best for you due to how creamy and soft the pencils are, but the Smashbox Powder Contour Trio could be a better alternative.

Powder Contouring and Highlighting

Even though I personally prefer using cream contour and highlight products, I still like using powders occasionally too especially if I want a more intense contour. When I spotted the Technic Colour Fix 2 Pressed Powder Contour Palette it instantly reminded me of the NYX Highlight and Contour Pro Palette which I believe is no coincidence as Technic have some great dupes for pricier beauty products. The shades within the two palettes are practically identical except the Technic pans can't be removed, but that doesn't bother me as the Technic Contour Palette is under £5 and the NYX Palette is £18. This really is a versatile palette as depending on your skin tone, you could even use the first, second or fourth shade to set your concealer as well as using the other shades to highlight, contour and bronze the complexion.

The Technic Colour Fix 2 Palette contains eight circular pans of powder with highlight shades on the top row and the contour shades along the bottom. The highlight shades include both matte and shimmer finishes and the contour shades are all matte with warm, neutral and cool toned shades. I would prefer the contour shades to be more on the cooler side but for the price you really can't complain. Considering how affordable the Technic Palette is, I expected the powders to be very powdery and a little difficult to blend but they're the complete opposite. Every single shade is soft, blendable and impressively pigmented and I would even go as far to say that the Technic Contour Palette is better than the NYX Palette! Overall, I'd recommend snapping up the Technic Palette if you want an all in one powder contour and highlight palette.


Strobing is a relatively new trend in comparison to contouring where you exclusively use highlighters on the areas of your face that the light would naturally hit such as the cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, brow bones and forehead. The strobing technique is generally done with cream highlighters and the Technic Strobe Kit is a great budget friendly option if you're wanting to try the strobing trend. The Strobe Kit may look familiar and that's because it's very similar to the cult favourite Sleek Solstice Highlighter Palette, but at less than half the price.

The Technic Strobe Kit contains two powder highlighters and two cream highlighters, with a pinky toned powder and cream highlighter duo as well as a yellow toned powder and cream highlighter duo. This allows you to use the duos individually or together for a more intense strobing effect. I really appreciate that the kit contains both cool and warm toned highlighters so you can choose whether you want to use just powder, just cream or a combination of them both and you could even use them as eyeshadows. Strobing is a lot easier than contouring and highlighting as you're technically only using one product and it looks great on the days you want more minimal makeup as the end result looks very healthy and luminous. If these shades won't work for your skin tone, Technic also have a Bronze version of this palette with slightly darker hues which looks equally beautiful and looks to be a dupe for the Sleek Precious Metals Highlighting Palette.

Illuminator Vs. Highlighter

Highlighters such as the top row of shades within the Technic Colour Fix 2 Contour Palette (described in the paragraph above) tend to be quite shimmery and reflective, and are best used on the high points of the face. On the other hand, an illuminator tends to be less shimmery and subtler in comparison. Another benefit of an illuminator is that they can be used all over the face or mixed in with your foundation if it's a cream illuminator such as the L'Oreal Lumi Magique Illuminator. A great example of a powder illuminator is the L'Oreal True Match Highlight in the shade Icy Glow, which contains three different shades within the one powder giving you the option of using them individually with a smaller brush or you can swirl your brush through all three of the shades.

The powder is divided into three sections with a white, blue and peach shade and the powder section lifts up to reveal a hidden mirror and a brush underneath too. The powder doesn't contain any chunky shimmer or glitter particles so I find it to be more flattering on the skin as it doesn't emphasise my  pores or any uneven skin texture. The white section of the powder is a little more intense than the other two sections so I prefer to focus my brush on the blue and peach sections within the powder with a large fluffy brush and then lightly dust all over my face for a pretty illuminated effect.

Now that you know our product recommendations and thoughts, we would love to know what your favourite medium is for contouring or highlighting, or if you prefer the strobing technique? Let's us know in the comments below!

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