Holly Stevens Pro Contouring Palette – Review & Swatches

  Holly Stevens Pro Contouring Palette Review by facemadeup.com
Holly Stevens Pro Contouring Palette Review by facemadeup.com

I came across an email in my inbox (where else?) that caught my attention. It was a press release from a brand I’d not come across before and the more I continued to read on, the more intrigued I was. Holly Stevens Cosmetics was founded by an aerospace manufacturing project manager. Not your usual cosmetic start up story and after checking out their website, I was surprised to find that there was a full range of cosmetics, from eyeshadow palettes and lip glosses to mascaras and contouring palettes. If you want to find out more about the Holly Stevens story then there’s plenty on the website.

In the meantime, I was super keen on trying out the contouring palette. Whilst contouring may have been around forever in the makeup artistry world, it’s only really become mainstream in the last couple of years thanks to the likes of Kim K. Now every brand from high end to drugstore are introducing their own line of contouring products, from compact duos to customisable 6 pan palettes, with highlight and bronzer in tow (Kat Von D, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Smashbox, NYX Cosmetics, Maybelline to name but a few).
The Holly Stevens Cosmetics Pro Contouring palette is one of the latter, a 6-pan palette housed in slick, black packaging (although annoyingly stiff to open) and contains a large mirror (which should be mandatory in every and any sort palette). In terms of the product itself (very similar to the Anastasia Beverly Hills contour palette set up), the 6 powders are broken down as follows:
  • 2 x matte highlights
  • 1 x shimmer highlight
  • 2 x matte contour powders
  • 1 x matte bronzer
Let’s start with the highlighters. The two matte highlights comes in contrasting tones; one cool and therefore slightly more pink; the other warm and more of a soft, pale yellow. As I quite clearly have yellow undertones in my skin, I like to highlight and set my concealer/base with a yellow toned powder. However, I found the yellow powder in the HS palette made my skin look really dry under the eyes which is typically where I would set my concealer and my liquid/cream highlighter. Going in with a small amount of product does alleviate the problem a little but there is a fine line. It does do a good job at brightening as the shade is quite light but for me, the powder is too dry. I would actually go as far as to say avoid using under the eyes but for highlighting/setting the rest of the face, it’s fine.
The shimmer highlight is a very subtle, finely milled powder which definitely has a cool, pink undertone to it. Again, having a warmer undertone to my complexion, I generally prefer warmer highlighters which are champagne or gold based. Pink undertones tend to suit those with a more fair complexion. Having said that, I still put it to the test and this is a great one for those that want a little bit of a ‘something, something’ on the high points of the face but not to be able to blind someone from outer space with it. It actually reminds me of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders in it’s finish. Soft, subtle, not quite as fine but glides on smooth none the less. I use the shade Luminous Light in the HG Ambient Lighting Powder and that’s definitely a tad warmer and a bit more subdued whereas the one in the HS palette is definitely a lot more of a cool, icy, pale pink.
Holly Stevens Pro Contouring Palette Review by facemadeup.com

The biggest disappointment for me were the two contour shades. They are far too warm to create a natural looking shadow which is essentially what contouring is. My favourite contour powders are definitely very cool, grey based browns which mimic the hollows and depths of the face perfectly. The Sculpting Powder from Kevin Aucoin, the shade Sombre from the Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour palette and the contour powder in the Smashbox Step by Step Contour Kit are examples of brands that have nailed it when it comes to achieving that perfect shadow like grey. The two contour shades aren’t totally useless though as they can be used as bronzers to warm up the complexion. The powders are rather soft so does kick up a little so I would advise tapping off the excess before going in with the product onto the skin.

Last, but certainly not least, is the bronzer shade which is actually my favourite powder from the palette. It’s a beautiful warm tone that bronzes up the skin without looking orange and leaves behind a natural looking healthy glow.  It’s buildable so you can layer it as much as you like for more of a deeper bronze but a little goes a long way, as like with the contour powders, it’s very pigmented.
Holly Stevens Pro Contouring Palette Review by facemadeup.com

So my overall thoughts on the palette? As mentioned, it’s quite similar to the Anastasia Beverly Hills contour palette where is has 2 matte highlight shades, 1 shimmer highlight, 2 contour powders and 1 bronzer. Unfortunately I’ve not yet tried the ABH offering so I cannot compare the two. I will compare it to other palettes that I’ve tried and that’s the Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour palette and the Smashbox Step by Step Contour Kit. The Holly Stevens Pro Contouring palette, although soft in texture, is nowhere near as soft as the KVD palette. The KVD powders are so soft and lightweight that it glides on the skin super smooth and most importantly, it doesn’t look dry. The HS powders are a little drier in texture, particularly the highlighters, so it sits visibly on the skin causing the skin to look dry even when it isn’t, and dry skin has never been a good look. Another thing with the HS Pro Contouring palette is that it lacks the longevity of the higher end palettes. Both the KVD and the Smashbox palettes will pretty much last most the day on the skin whereas I noticed that every time I used the HS palette, it will start to fade (and rather patchily too) after only a few hours. So although the powders are high in pigment, the lasting power is not quite there (even when set with a setting spray). My main issue with the palette, however, are the contouring powders. Personally, for me, they are far too warm to sculpt the face naturally and therefore they would serve well as bronzers, but not for contouring.

The brand claims to offer
high quality designer makeup without the designer price tag.
The HS Pro Contouring palette retails for £25.99 so it’s not cheap but it’s not as expensive as the premium high-end designer brands, which typically retail for between £30 and £40, so essentially it’s positioned itself as a mid-end brand. For the reasons above, I don’t think it’s quite hit the nail on the head with this product. Some of it works such as the bronzer and the shimmer highlight, although not for my skin tone, would work great on fairer, cooler complexions. For the most part, however, it doesn’t quite meet my contouring needs. It’s not a bad palette but there’s definitely a few things that could be worked on.
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