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How Do I Choose the Best Contour Cream?

By Cheryl Myers
Updated: May 17, 2024

"Contour cream" is a term that is used to describe a variety of skin care products that are available for highlighting and defining the face or body. Products are available for contouring specific body parts, such as the thighs, neck, upper torso, face and eyes. To choose the best contour cream, compare products that address the specific needs for troubled areas, find a product that contains ingredients known to address those needs, and review reports provided by professional beauty critics or independent testers.

Creams that have been developed for the body can address common symptoms of cellulite, water retention, scars, stretch marks and dry skin. Facial or eye contour creams typically address wrinkles, dry skin, skin discoloration and puffiness. Contour creams either address the symptoms directly or provide a temporary illusion of improvement. Some products do both.

Hydration typically is the primary benefit provided by contour creams. Dehydrated skin can distort the contours of the body. The skin responds to dehydration by retaining water or becoming dry, shallow or sunken skin. These symptoms contribute to puffiness or fine lines and wrinkles. The best contour cream will at least provide hydration, often in the form of oils and other emollients.

Creams that are available for contouring the eye area often address symptoms of puffiness, dark circles, fine lines and small chicken bumps under the eye area. Some products contain other active ingredients for illuminating, eye-brightening effects, such as light diffusers or concealer. Consumers and beauty critics alike often agree that the best products address the common symptoms of the eye area and provide instant gratifying effects.

Skin care products that contour the face, neck and upper torso typically provide exfoliation, hydration and skin firming benefits. Some also provide protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Products that contain emollients, fruit acids and vitamins and have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 are the best contour creams available for these problem areas.

When choosing the best contour cream for the body, look for known hydrating ingredients on the product’s packaging label, such as vitamin E, shea butter, palm-derived emollients, aloe vera and essential oils. For antioxidant ingredients, look for cinnamon, ginger, caffeine and ascorbyl palmitate, or vitamin C. These ingredients fight toxin buildup, free radical damage and water retention.

The best contour creams for the face, upper torso and eye area contain hydrating emollients. Vitamin E and aloe vera are relatively safe moisturizing ingredients, but some essential oils often listed as moisturizing ingredients can irritate the skin. SPF components such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are active ingredients, which are listed first among the ingredients. Avoid buying products that list water or aqua as one of the first few ingredients. Water should not be a prominent ingredient, but oils and other emollients should be.

There isn’t an infallible, universal solution for finding the best contour cream. Individual experiences vary. Often, consumers find that higher priced products do not perform any better than the less-expensive drugstore brands. Some products might cause an allergic reaction or contain ingredients that are known to be unsafe for use during pregnancy, such as retinol or Vitamin A. Keep in mind that organic or natural products are not necessarily safe. Your doctor or dermatologist can provide recommendations for the best contouring products.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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