Cream contour is having a moment right now. Ever since Hailey Bieber shared a GRWM video using the 'underpainting' makeup technique, which involves applying cream contour under foundation — a trick she learned from her makeup artist, Mary Phillips — the hashtag for the term has amassed 114.1 million TikTok views. The impact? Many people (myself included) now consider cream contour less of a special-occasion makeup step, and more of a morning staple.
Now, there are thousands of videos stitched against Bieber's original TikTok, with everyone using their preferred cream contour product — there are sticks, palettes, even wands with spongy tips (you know the one). But the exact stick that Phillips uses on Bieber to create the "bones" of her contour is the same one that makeup artists widely consider the crème de la crème of cream contour, especially for underpainting: Westman Atelier Face Trace Contour Stick.
Find someone chic with good taste and a preference for subtly sculpted skin, and they're likely familiar with Westman Atelier. Created by A-list makeup artist Gucci Westman, the label was founded with a luxury fashion lens that Westman likens to a "makeup wardrobe." Since 2018, the brand has grown in range (and popularity), with blush sticks, lip palettes, potted eyeshadow, and dewy complexion drops, all engineered to create Westman's signature 'second-skin' look and feel.
Of everything in the line, the Face Trace Contour Stick has quietly become the if-you-know-you-know staple — though its results are so effectively natural-looking that it tends to go unsung.
Let's start with the hype. On TikTok, videos mentioning Westman Atelier Face Trace Cream Contour Stick have millions of views and counting. Bethenny Frankel recently posted a video ranking the best cream bronzers ever, and the Westman Atelier Face Trace Cream Contour Stick was the only stick version mentioned among classic palettes like Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate. Beauty content creator Naomi Mizrahi speaks to the "creaminess" of the formula, posting a tutorial claiming that Face Trace is "worth every penny" (and for what it's worth, it's not cheap, at £35 for the full-sized stick).
@naomimiz You need to try this cream bronzer from @westmanatelier #westmanatelier #creambronzer #bronzerstick #creammakeup #makeup #bronzer #contour #highendmakeup #expensivemakeup ♬ Happy Up Beat (Medium) - TimTaj
So, what makes this specific cream contour better than others? According to Westman, the magic is in the exact shade, which translates like a shadow on the skin, without heavy orange or warm undertones. Westman actually developed the first iteration of Face Trace over a decade ago as a makeup artist, long before she even had her own brand, by blending various different hues of makeup together to create a custom shade. “Everything is about shadow and definition,” she explains of her approach to makeup. Westman held onto the mixture — "the perfect shade" of contour to create shadow and definition to the face — and it later became Face Trace.
Originally, Face Trace was available in just one shade called Biscuit, which Phillips uses on Bieber and herself. NYC-based makeup artist Taylor Fitzgerald uses it to underpaint contour on her influencer clientele, like Paige DeSorbo and Remi Bader. Westman used it on her client and friend Gwyneth Paltrow on her wedding day. I spotted it in a recent GRWM video posted by fashion stylist Allison Bornstein.
Since its inception, the Face Trace range has expanded to cater to darker skin tones with the addition of Truffle, a mocha for medium to tan complexions (worn by Jennifer Aniston in her viral Allure photoshoot), and the deepest, Ganache, which Refinery29 senior beauty writer Amanda Mitchell calls "a gorgeous cool-toned brown."
The shadowy, realistic shades aren't the only thing to set Face Trace apart: The formula is another point of differentiation here. One editor described it as a contour stick that "basically contours for you," because it's creamy and easy to blend. "I've done my makeup in half-lighting with nothing but a hope and a prayer it came out looking good — this little stick is a mini miracle," Mitchell tells me. "Is it expensive? Yes. But a little goes a long way. The formula is basically foolproof."
When I asked Westman what gives the stick its specific slip and blendability, she points to a few ingredients that are incorporated into the pigment: berryflux vita extract, a raspberry-derived, oil-soluble extract used for its moisturising properties; vitamin E, which helps protect the formula from oxidation; and organic jojoba oil.
If you're looking for a similar cream contour formula on a budget, consider the mini version of Face Trace, which is just £15. Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer is soft, blendable, and will set you back £19. NYX Professional Makeup's Wonder Stick is a highlighter and contour in one for £11. If you prefer higher end, Makeup By Mario SoftSculpt Shaping Stick, £32 has rave reviews (not to mention it's also formulated by a celebrity makeup artist).
As for how to apply your cream contour, Westman's method is to trace the stick anywhere you want to sculpt and then blend upwards using your fingers or a brush. Personally, I take the Phillips approach and apply Face Trace as my first step of makeup. I swipe the chubby stick directly over my sunscreen, tracing around my hairline, under my cheekbones, and on either side of my nose. (I only felt confident enough to add this step because of how creamy this stick is.) Westman's special trick is to dab the contour stick on her eyelids for definition. When I do this, I skip eyeshadow altogether.
While the actual contour is obviously the highlight here, the magnetised cap is a tiny detail that doesn't go unnoticed. Of course, it's a practical feature so you don't lose the cap, but I love the satisfying snap as it closes. It's subtle, but you'll pick up on it the next time you see the matte black Face Trace bullet in a GRWM. "It's allegedly viral on TikTok," Westman laughs. "My daughter and her friends are asking me for it, so I guess we did something right."
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.