My father likes to call my skin color “clear.”
It’s not inaccurate; my veins are permanent blue-and-purple vines along my entire body, and the last time someone asked me what SPF I used I was like, “What, you mean, for like going outside?!?!”
So when I wrote this article called 3 Ways to Use This Contour Palette (Besides Contouring) for xoVain (“this” being the Anastasia Pro Contour Palette), several fair-skinned commenters expressed concern about the warmth of the contouring shades (the article actually wasn’t about contouring per se, but never mind). It’s true that a lot of mainstream contour products tend toward a certain “Hollywood tan” aesthetic, which can look muddy and weird when applied to those of us who draw Casper comparisons on the reg.
I’m a FRIENDLY ghost!
So it got me thinking. Surely there are contouring products for pale people!
My search was a difficult one; as we ghosties know all too well, the sun-shunning aesthetic isn’t exactly “in.” But I polled my artist friends, scoured shelves, thumbed through magazines, and came up with four beautiful, unconventional alternatives to your average beachy bronze.
The Neutral Cream Contour
Becca Lowlight Sculpting Perfector
I can’t get enough of the packaging for Becca’s Lowlight Sculpting Perfector. The cool metal face of this compact alone makes me want to make room in my makeup bag, but luckily what’s inside is just as great. The lightweight cream formula inside is a true neutral brown. The color goes on sheer and blends out into a very natural-looking contour that lasts. I found that the cream formula works best with a short-bristled contour brush like the one pictured below.
The Rose Effect Blush/Bronzer
A makeup artist friend with even paler skin than mine confided that she uses Benefit’s Dallas blush for contouring. Described on the package as a “dusty sunset plum,” this is almost a bronzer/blush in one, but with a cool undertone. Worn as a contour product, the effect isn’t exactly natural—at least not how I applied it—but it’s truly stunning; subtle definition with a rosy flush. I think the ambiguity of the shade lends itself well to double-tasking, and I’ve found myself reaching for Dallas for easy one-and-done cheeks. Plus, the included brush is actually worth using (imagine that!).
The Luxe Bronzer
Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder
Guerlain’s Terracotta Bronzing Powders are legendary: the colors are gorgeous, the formula has moisturizing ingredients, and the texture is almost nonexistent, it’s that silky. These are on the pricier side, but so highly pigmented that just a light dusting is enough—this little compact will last a long time. For my contour, I chose shade 08 Ebony for its rich plum undertones. Though this shade is meant to be a bronzer for someone with much darker skin, the cool undertone really lent itself well to a shadow effect, and the finely-milled texture blended like buttah, so I didn’t look like I wandered offstage during a high school Our Town production (application with a fan brush also helped).
The Unicorn Cool-Toned Contour Palette
It Cosmetics My Sculpted Face
It Cosmetics’ My Sculpted Face is a goshdarn unicorn. Every shade is wearable, and the highlighting shades are actually light enough to show up on my skin (I mean, WHAT)! The upper left shade is a matte white, and the upper right is a silvery-white shimmer (to be used sparingly, I found out the hard way). The two shades under that are perfect for a more natural, undetectable contour, and the last two are more my (dramatic) speed. I always go for the darkest shade, but as you can see, it blends quite easily.
Make sure you’ve got a fan brush & a sturdy, short-ish bristled brush (I like Urban Decay’s Optical Blurring Brush) to blend tell-tale streaks out in tiny circles upward toward your ear.
Oh, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen, ya pale-ass jerk. Or just straight-up vampire it (hey, sleeping in works for me!).