The only thing more annoying than getting lost while watching crazy-long contouring tutorials on YouTube is realizing you bought the wrong damn shade after spending half an hour in the cosmetics aisle. Eyeballing each shade in-store might’ve worked once or twice, but any beauty junkie knows that the world isn’t at peace until you’ve realized you screwed up your purchase after you take it out of the packaging, leaving you with a contour that’s way too muddy—or worse, an unflattering shade of brownish-gray.
Before you swear off contouring for the rest of your life, consider a couple of important points from makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes: If you’re fair-skinned, a taupe shade is usually a safe bet to avoid a look that’s too dirty or too orange. If you have medium skin, you can opt for warmer shades, but make sure you don’t accidentally pick up bronzer: “Bronzer just gives your face an overall natural glow, and contour creates shadows on the face,” Hughes said. “If something looks like it has a red hue, it’s definitely a bronzer.” And, if you have darker skin, you want to look for a deep brown shade that, again, will create a shadowy look, rather than blend into the skin.
Now that that’s settled, it’s time to actually find a palette that fits the bill. Ahead, we gathered the best contour palettes out there for fair, medium, dark, and deep skin that can accommodate a range of tones, so if you have medium skin that’s on the more olive side, or dark skin that’s a little lighter, you won’t be left searching. Click through to see the palettes that will make your next trip to the contour aisle a little less anxiety-inducing.