I got this a few months ago as a free gift with purchase from Paula's Choice. All of the reviews I've read of this palette have been glowing, but I don't love it, so I thought it might be worth putting a dissenting voice out there. We all know how much I like to be a dissenting voice.
Although it has the word "contour" in the name, it's not really a contouring palette in the same sense as others out there like the ones from Anastasia or NYX. It's really a blush palette with a highlighter and bronzer included. I think that the color of the bronzer would make it unsuitable for contouring on most people (more on that below), so really the only contouring product in here is the highlighter.
Heres an angle so you can get a better idea of the very smooth shimmer it contains. Though it looks slightly pink in the pan, the sheen is mostly just pearly with maybe a hint of yellow gold.
Now the worst part: the bronzer (Bronze). It's possible that this shade of bronzer would work for someone out there, but it is really awful on me. My skin tone is pretty neutral, leaning just slightly warm/yellow. This bronzer looks like dirt on my face. It's quite pigmented and not easy to blend, so it gets patchy, which only worsens the effect. The color is very brown, with a little red in it, which isn't good for me at all. I don't know if some people tan that color, but I certainly don't. Here it is compared to some other products I have for reference (left to right): Wet N Wild ColorIcon Bronzer in Princess, Tarte Park Avenue Princess, Paula's Choice Bronze, and NYX Blush in Taupe (which is not a bronzer, but works well for contouring pale skin since it's cool).
The Wet N Wild is warmer, maybe, but it's more of an orange-gold warmness than red, which makes it look less dirty on my face. Closer to an actual tan, I suppose. In the swatches, the Paula's Choice doesn't look so far off from the Tarte bronzer, but the Tarte works just fine for me - so that slightly cooler and slightly yellower color apparently makes a big difference. The nice thing about the Paula's Choice bronzer is that it has no shimmer in it, so on someone for whom the color worked, it would look more natural than a glittery bronzer. Presumably.
The blushes are somewhere in between the highlighter and the bronzer: they're okay, but they don't really work for me either. They have the same type of formula as the bronzer, i.e. matte, quite pigmented and difficult to blend smoothly. They are also all very warm and a little ruddy. They're just not colors I can use easily, and because they are all so warm, there isn't one in the bunch that I can really wear. Which isn't to say I can't ever wear coral or warm pink blushes - but not these ones. All of these, even Peony and Soft Mauve from the far right side of the palette - which look relatively cool next to the other two - are still too ruddy and just not flattering on me.
Top row: on the left, Delicate Coral; on the right, Peony:
Bottom row: on the left, Dusty Rose; on the right, Soft Mauve.
Delicate? Dusty? Soft? Not so much. See how, even though they look fairly different in the pans, they somehow look very similar on my skin? Not identical, but there's not exactly a great variety here. Disappointing.
The blushes cause the same problems with blending as the bronzer. Because they are quite pigmented and the colors are iffy to begin with, they create a blotchy, unnatural effect on my face. Blush is supposed to give you a healthy flush, but instead I end up looking sicker. The patchiness is worse if I wear moisturizer (or on days that my skin is particularly oily). In the photo below, I applied moisturizer to my arm and let it soak in for 10-15 minutes, and then swatched one of the blushes (unfortunately I didn't note which one, and they all look so similar that I can't tell what it is from the photo).
This is as smooth as I could blend it out with a nice, soft brush, and then it wouldn't budge. It's even worse on my face, because the skin on the inner side of my forearm here is smoother and less oily than the skin on my face. Primer doesn't seem to help. I would highly recommend using a stippling brush with these blushes, like the one e.l.f. sells for $3. That makes the application a million times easier, because it doesn't deposit all the blush in a couple of spots that you then have to blend out. In fact, I never really understood the point of a stippling brush until I used it with these blushes. I've never had a blush that applied like this. I get it now. On the plus side, the Paula's Choice blushes are quite long lasting, so if you can master the blending and want something that will stick, this is an option.
In the end, this palette was an interesting concept that really didn't work for me. I was excited about the vibrant colors, but I think they'd be better for someone with a different skin tone from mine (who also owns a stippling brush!). Warmer and maybe less pale? I considered keeping the whole palette just for the lovely highlighter, but I have enough other highlighters that are perfectly functional. At $38, I don't think it is worth buying for the little pan of highlighter alone (and I'm glad I didn't spend that money on it). My general experience is that while Paula's Choice makes great skin care products, their makeup is hit and miss and rarely worth the high prices.
I'm really curious how this might work for someone with different coloring from mine, so here's what I'm going to do. If you would like to try it and report back, I'd be happy to send it to you for the cost of shipping (in a small, flat rate USPS Priority box: $5.95, US only, Paypal). Send me an email at cheapasf AT gmail DOT com and it's yours. First come, first served! (Though I will send it to the second (or third or fourth) person who contacts me if I don't receive the shipping money within 48 hours of my responding to the first one.)