The NYX Highlight & Contour Palette is a product I have been eyeing up for a while. Several brands have been releasing these sort of palettes lately – Kat Von D, Anastasia Beverly Hills – and the reviews have been mixed. Of course I have been lusting over both of those but with them being expensive (I am in lock-down save mode right now until the wedding) and difficult to obtain, I gave up hope. Then I saw this NYX version, looked up swatches online, agonised over it for about a week and then impulse ordered it for myself one lunch time.
The packaging is sleek and professional. These types of palettes were once only aimed at professional makeup artists but with everybody jumping on the contouring and highlighting train these days, they have inevitably been filtered down to budget buy levels. The palette is a little lightweight – just black plastic with a clear plastic lid – and I would worry about this smashing if I were to drop it. I’m a klutz and that is exactly the type of thing I would do. I also find it a little hard to open. I find you have to really tug at it which worries me as you can feel the plastic bending as you do so. If you’re extremely clumsy or just generally hard on your products, I’d think twice about picking this up but if, like me, you plan on this living in a drawer in your makeup desk and being extra careful with it, you should have no problems.
The palette features eight shades – four contour powders and four highlights in a range of finishes. I will go through them in detail for you below. I didn’t swatch all of them on my face as I would look absolutely insane wearing some of them so it wouldn’t be a true representation of the palette! I did swatch them all on my arm though so you can see them below.
As you might be able to tell from the photo, the pans are removable. This is because the pans are sold separately (along with four additional shades that don’t come as part of the palette) so that you can customise or refill the palette to suit you. An incredible idea EXCEPT so far I have been unable to find an Irish/UK website that stocks the refills…..
I should also point out that I found the names of the shades on the NYX website but they are nowhere to be seen on the box or palette. I only just found them out now when researching details for this post!
The first shade in the palette is Ice Queen which is described as a pearly pale white. This has an incredibly high shine finish and if you are into strong, wet-look highlights (read about my other highlighting recommendations here!) you will love this. I am obsessed with it as it really looks incredible on my pale skin. It can be hard to find a highlight that doesn’t look too warm, yellow or golden against my ghostly complexion but this is pure white and absolutely ideal.
However, if your skin is medium to dark, I fear this may turn out very ashy on you. If you do pick up the palette for some of the other shades, I’m sure you could get use out of this too by layering it over other warmer highlighters for a really intense shine.
If it were possible to purchase pans, I would stock up on this bad boy! I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled when I’m Stateside in June.
Soft Light is described as a matte nude but I would call it a very light cream shade with a satin finish. As a pale girl, it is next to impossible to find a powder lighter than my foundation colour in order to brighten my under eye area. This powder does just that and I instantly fell in love. That is, until I realised that it wasn’t matte but rather a satin finish. I was horrified at first but then noticed that it really brightened my under eye area and didn’t look too artificial or false – just glowy.
I have taken to wearing this daily under my eyes, down my nose, along my chin and basically anywhere that needs a bit of a ‘lift’. I do think it looks subtle enough on my skin tone to do that but this is another that I think could turn too ashy on darker skins.
The third shade, Cream, is described as a matte soft yellow and instantly reminded me of the infamous Ben Nye Banana Powder as loved by Kim K. The second that bit of info came out, everybody rushed out to grab Banana Powder for themselves, thinking they too could resemble a Kardashian – yet here’s the thing, we’re not all Armenian. We don’t all share her skin tone!
I love the idea of a yellow under eye powder to brighten but I know that yellow is much darker than my skin tone. I have used this with a very light hand to see if it would have any effect but I genuinely can’t tell a difference. It just blends in with my foundation colour. I am much too afraid to use a heavy hand because I know it won’t work on my skin colour. This is one of the powders in the palette that is wasted on me. If you have a darker skin tone, wear a lot of tan or can get away with Banana Powder, this may be great for you though.
The final highlight shade in the palette is Nectar which is described as a pearly soft peach. I knew straight away that this would be far too dark to use as a highlighter on my skin although I didn’t want to let it go to waste so I attempted to use it as a blush. It’s too light to show up enough on my skin as a blush. This is just another fail that doesn’t work on me.
However, the peach tones in this could do wonders to brighten up skin that is darker than mine. A light dusting of this instead of or over powder could really make your skin look amazing. It would also be a beautiful highlight on much darker skins. Of course with all of these type of palettes, there will be colours that suit you and those that don’t and sadly, this one isn’t for me.
Here are the four highlight shades swatched side by side. As you can see Ice Queen is the only one with a real pearlescence to it. Apologies that I had to play with the brightness and contrast in this photo so that the shades would show up but they all swatched quite subtly.
The first contour shade in the palette is Tan which is described as a matte soft brown with slight red undertones. Because of my pale skin, I steer away from warm contour and bronzing colours as they just look crazy on me but I have used this as an eyeshadow on several occasions as it is a pretty shade.
If warm contours are your thing or you like to warm up your complexion with a warm bronzer, this could be a favourite for you.
Toffee is described as a matte neutral brown although it does appear to have glitter running through it. Toffee is obviously much too dark for me but again I have worn it as an eyeshadow and didn’t notice the glitter translating on to the skin at all so I wouldn’t worry about that.
This is definitely one for medium to dark skin tones but the neutral undertone means that it should be universally flattering across those.
The next shade, Sculpt, is described as a matte taupe and in case you can’t tell from the markings, this is my perfect contour shade. It is quite cool toned and just works wonderfully on my pale skin. Before this I was using the NYX HD Blush in Taupe which I adore but which is a really full-on, extreme cheekbones-that-can-cut-your-enemies type of shade whereas this is a little more subtle and suitable for every day. I am obsessed with this colour and have been bringing it up on to my temples and under my chin too which is something I couldn’t do with Taupe as it was far too apparent.
Pale girls – you need this!
Finally we have Hollow which is described as a matte deep brown. The idea of me putting this anywhere near my cheekbones is laughable but it is a great neutral shade for those with dark skin tones. I honestly don’t think even medium skin tones could get away with this. It is very dark.
I have been using it as an eyeshadow and it is handy to have for my kit if I ever get back into freelancing which I keep threatening to do. This is definitely not one for everyone.
And here they all are swatched side by side. Bear in mind that cheek products don’t swatch as well as eyeshadows because they are usually more blendable and subtle.
The texture of all eight of these powders is quite strange. They feel quite hard in the pan and kick up very little dust when you swirl your brush in them. The first number of times I used them, I kept expecting there to be very little pigment as I felt like the brush wasn’t picking up any product but the pigmentation was great once I put them on my skin.
I have heard several people claim that because the diverse range of shades won’t suit everybody, they make great eyeshadows and while I have worn them several times that way, I wouldn’t really be bothered and I most certainly wouldn’t buy the palette for that reason alone. (Buy some Makeup Geek!) I think that the colours are too samey and because they are designed for the cheeks, I find they can kind of disappear into nothingness if you try to blend them too much. If you were in a pinch, you could certainly wear them on the eyes but I have far better eyeshadows and these really are great cheek products.
I feel a bit weird about this palette because it wasn’t what I was expecting. As I already mentioned, the hard formula is a little offputting. However, I think it is all in my head as the payoff and blendability is actually very good. I was also expecting to like different colours than the ones I ended up loving in the end so I think that threw me a bit as well.
Here are some face photos so you can hopefully get an idea of the products but obviously the difference isn’t crazy. It’s not supposed to be.
First up here is my big moon face with nothing on the cheeks. I only have foundation, concealer and powder on the skin. I’m also wearing the palette on my eyes just for the sake of this post.
In this photo, I have used Soft Light, the second pan, under my eyes and down my nose. I definitely think you can see a lifted effect that isn’t overly shiny.
Then in this photo I applied Sculpt underneath my cheekbones, around my hairline and down the sides of my nose. It looks very subtle here but is more visible in person – yet still completely wearable.
And then to completely throw you, here is a photo from a different day with Ice Queen swatched heavily on my cheeks and a dab on my nose. I really have no idea why I look so tanned here, it must be the camera playing tricks but honestly, look at that glow!!
Overall, I’m not going to tell you to drop everything, rush out and buy this palette. I don’t think it will change your life. However, if you’ve been playing with the idea of picking up a contour palette, I would recommend this one, particularly for the price point.
I definitely think if you could choose your pans to start with or indeed, buy the damn refills, I would recommend this palette even more. There are some shades on the NYX website that I love the look of – Bone is a matte white and Sienna, a light matte brown! So if you have seen them available anywhere, do let me know!
Is this one for you?
What are your top highlight and contour products?
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