Contouring is easily one of the trickier beauty techniques to master, the vast majority of us will want to define and shape the face without overdoing it - enhancing what we already have, rather than creating noticeable patches of dark and light on our faces. Like I said easier said than done, I'm sure on more than one occasion I have sported a little too much powder bronzer or highlighter and perhaps not blended nearly as much as I should have. Well the new Smashbox Step by Step Contour Stick Trio aims to make highlighting, bronzing and highlighting a breeze.
For convenience and ease of use the Smashbox Step by Step Contour Stick Trio have been presented in pencil form, the idea being that you "draw" on and blend out. The bonus is that such shape allows for precision; you don't have to worry about finding a small enough brush to slot into the facial contours and of course you can sharpen the pencils for added control. I must add that each stick is fairly weighted again so that you are in complete charge of application - not always the case with powder products.
I guess the biggest fault of the Smashbox Step by Step Contour Stick Trio is the shade range, I'm afraid for the moment it is a one shade suits all variety. I would say that the highlighting stick should suit all complexions but the bronzer and contour option are better suited to those with a light to medium skin tone. Those with extremely pale complexions may want to adapt a less is more approach particularly with the deeper tone of the contour stick. As a quick shade run down the highlight stick is a soft, yellow matte based cream highlighter, bronze is a warm yet natural bronze and not too dissimilar to NARS Laguna. Lastly the contour option is a deep, cool toned grey tinged bronze that has been created to mimic the natural appearance of facial shadows.
The Smashbox Step by Step Contour Stick Trio come complete with a facial step by step guide to ensure you get the most from your product, it shows where each shade should be applied and blended out for each face type. The Smashbox Step by Step Contour Sticks glide on to the skin with ease, they almost have a gel like texture that is both cooling and a dream to blend out seamlessly. I tend to apply directly from the stick (after foundation and concealer but before the powdering down stage) and blend out with a beauty blender - I find that gives the best natural finish. That's not to say you can't apply to the skin using your fingers or a brush, both methods work well I guess it is just a case of finding what you feel most comfortable with. I kid you not when I say that if you have ever struggled with blending and/or placing when it comes to highlighting and contouring, this is the kit for you.
As you can see each shade is gloriously pigmented, they remind me a lot of Bobbi Brown Foundation Sticks both in texture and finish. Despite being a matte formula each shade is not completely flat, they look natural on the skin and never chalky. They however do not offer any traditional illuminating qualities (shimmer or glitter particles) - which make them great for those like myself with enlarged pores, or perhaps a more mature skin type? Rather than adding luminosity to the skin the Smashbox Step by Step Highlighting Stick has been created to help slim and shape the face/nose, you may still want to add a little shimmer on the cheekbones etc when using this product. The general idea is that the Contour Stick has been created to create shadows, the Highlight is to pull features forwar and the Bronze Stick is both a transition shade to eliminates harsh lines and warm the skin. For those wondering yes the shades of the Smashbox Step by Step Contour Stick Trio do correlate with those in the Smashbox Step by Step Contour Kit - you could lightly use the powders to set, or intensify the cream sticks should you wish to. I do find that they wear well, with up to 8 hours of fade free application on my typically oily complexion.
I have been fully converted to cream sculpting products; quicker and easier to use, with far more natural results than I have been able to achieve with powder products. If you have yet to succeed with properly highlighting and contouring, give the Smashbox Step by Step Contour Stick Trio a chance. It truly has revolutionised how I slim down and sculpt my face. I don't say this often but this kit is worth every penny!
Smashbox Step by Step Contour Stick Trio £35 via Boots (for all three pencils) - link.
This post contains a press sample.