Despite all the rage in the beauty community, I'm not really into face contouring myself. The reason is simple, I don't think I ever look natural with my face contoured, in person or in photos, no matter how subtle. Why am I interested in this kit then? Well, I have heard so much rave about the Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder being the greatest (most natural-looking) contouring powder there is — not much of a surprise there since Kevyn Aucoin is considered to be the pioneer in the art of contouring — so upon seeing The Contour Book The Art of Sculpting + Defining, I thought it's time to give it a proper test and see if I would finally find my best contouring powder match. I chose to buy the kit instead of a single because as I said, I don't contour often so I'd rather buy a smaller size. The kit also includes other highly-raved products from the band — The Celestial Powders and The Essential Eyeshadows — so that pretty much sealed the deal for me. :)
The palette comes in a book style with a shiny pale gold sleeve. The book is made of sturdy cardboard and has a classy faux black leather exterior that closes with a strong magnetic closure. It measures 11 cm (4.3 in) x 13.5 (5.3 in) cm so it isn't exactly a big palette but it's pretty bulky at 1.9 cm (0.7 in) thick.
Upon opening the book, you will see detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to contour the face and eyes. Once you turn the page, you will see a nice-size mirror located on the left and all the products on the right. There is another leaflet that talks about how the late makeup artist became the legendary master of makeup techniques as well as a section detailing his contouring tips and techniques in general.
There are 6 products on the product page. Each one performs a different task as labeled on the clear plastic sheet as well as on the book itself.
The product arrangement is a little confusing starting from shade (or step) 3 to 4, 6, 5, 2, and 1, respectively, instead of a formal 1-6. I swatched each shade on my arm accordingly to mimic the arrangement of the shades in the book and to avoid confusing you even further.
- Shade #3: Brighten – The Essential Eyeshadow
A frosted white shade designed to highlight the Cupid's bow for fuller looking lips as well as to brighten the inner corners and brow bone. The shade applies slightly sheer but is buildable to a full-on frosted white. It has a soft, creamy texture that blends wonderfully on the skin.
- Shade #4: Accentuate & Highlight – The Celestial Powder in Starlight
A frosted peachy pink shade that is less shimmery than Shade #3 but is still pretty glowy. It's a beautiful and sweet highlighting shade designed to use on the center of eyelids to add emphasis and sheen. The texture, color payoff, and performance are very similar to Shade #3 — soft, creamy, sheer but buildable, and highly blendable.
- Shade #6: Shade & Dark Brow – The Essential Eyeshadow
A matte medium-dark brown shade designed to fill in brows as well as to use as a lid color. It looks pretty natural on my skin coloring when used as a brow color. As for lid color, I like to use it to darken the outer corner to add depth to my eyes. It is a nice matte formula with a nice color payoff. Also blends and layers really well without generating powder fallout.
- Shade #5: Define & Warm Brow – The Essential Eyeshadow
A matte warm brown with orange undertones shade designed to be applied on the top and bottom lash lines to emphasize eye shape. This is my least favorite color to use as the orange tone isn't flattering on my skin at all. It doesn't really do much to my eyes besides making them look a bit… unhealthy? You can supposedly use it to fill in brows also but I think Shade #6 looks much more natural. It has similar texture as Shade #6 — soft, blendable, and layerable but the pigmentation is slightly sheerer.
- Shade #2: Highlight – The Celestial Powder in Candlelight
A shimmery pale champagne highlighting shade designed to highlight the center of the forehead and corners of the mouth to diffuse lines and to lift the cheekbone and bridge of the nose to make them look more prominent. On the eyes, you can use it to highlight the eyelid by applying it from lash line to brow bone. I love using this shade to add “light” to my face. It's so beautiful in person, glowy in all the right places without being overly shimmery. It doesn't seem to emphasize pores, either! No wonder it's such a popular highlighter! It has a creamy soft texture that glides and blends wonderfully on the skin without creating any fallout. The pigmentation is decent and buildable to almost opaque.
- Shade #1: Sculpt & Blonde Brow – The Sculpting Powder in Medium
A matte taupe-y brown with grey undertones shade designed to sculpt the temples and hairline to narrow the forehead, the hollows of the cheek facial structure for chiseled look, the sides and tip of nose to narrow width and length of the nose, and the jawline to create an oval-shaped face. It can also be applied on the eye crease to lift and open up the eye. Now that I've used this shade extensively, I understand why it is so well-loved! It has to be the most natural-looking contouring powder I've ever used. It creates the right shade of “shadow” on the face without that obvious fake orange undertones most contouring powders seem to have. The texture is supremely luxury — ultra soft, buttery, and extremely finely-milled. It's truly such a pleasure to use. It can be applied subtly or built up for a more dramatic result with ease. Such a foolproof shade that I think anyone can use even if you're new to contouring!
Longevity is somewhere between 7-8 hours and can be extended applied over primer and/or foundation.
Following the instructions exactly (as I'm no pro when it comes to contouring!), I applied each shade a bit heavily on my bare face without any makeup so that you can see the true color of each shade easily. In real life I apply much less! :)
Notice how The Celestial Powder in Candlelight instantly lifts my face and makes me look glowy without being too over the top? My complexion seems to appear much smoother, too. The Sculpting Powder in Medium also helps narrow my face, nose, and forehead for a nicely sculpted look. These two shades when used together are simply unstoppable. As for The Essential Eyeshadows, I can't say they are anything special. They are just a nice-to-have for me and honestly, I don't think they add much of anything to my eyes. Obviously, my eyes would look much better and more completed if I had finished with a bit of eyeliner and mascara!
Last thing to mention is the pan size of the shades. I was actually surprised to see that they're so, so tiny! No, I didn't expect them to be anything huge but I didn't think they'd be this small, either. Good thing that they are well-pigmented so you probably don't need a lot per application.
Overall, this is a really nice, multitasking palette to have for sculpting and contouring your face and eyes. It has all the colors you need as well as brow colors, too. The instructions are easy to understand and helpful to get you started. In my opinion, Kevyn Aucoin The Contour Book The Art of Sculpting + Defining is truly a handy face & eye contouring kit to have in anyone's makeup collection!