Contouring has always been a part of makeup artistry, and it basically consists of highlighting certain areas of the face to draw attention to them and make them appear fuller, and shading contrasting areas to make them appear slimmer or more chiseled. It is a great way to get instant cheekbones or sharper definition to a soft jawline, and can instantly slim down the face. You can do this with highlighting or contouring products, or you can use different colours of full coverage foundation (a shade lighter and a shade darker than your skin tone) and blend them together, a method which found fame again recently thanks to Kim Kardashian. I'm sure everyone ever has seen this photo...
Which basically explains how her makeup artist applies her makeup before blending it in. In this article I will be focusing more on the other method, as this is the one that I always use when shooting or doing clients. It looks great on camera and is super easy to do at home as well. If you are a grab-and-go girl then contouring may not be for you as it takes a little time, but I definitely recommend trying it for the evening or when you have a bit more time for your makeup.
So, firstly you want to choose your products carefully. I have tried to choose products here that are fairly universal and will suit any skin tone. Also, I would advise using makeup brushes as they have better precision and will blend the products far better.
The first way you can do this is with cream products, great for a dewy, more natural look and easy to blend. This is also good for a drier or more mature skin as it avoids ageing the skin with lots of powder. I am using Benefit's High Beam to highlight and By Terry's Hyaluronic Summer (a matte, mousse bronzer) in Shade 1 Fair Tan to contour (darker shades are available).
|Duo fibre brushes are the best for blending|
I always start with highlighter. You want this dotted all over the areas you want to emphasise, so cheekbones, browbones, forehead, the tip of the nose, cupid's bow and chin. Blend this in in circular motions.
After blending, dab the contour under your cheekbones, along your jawline and into your temples. You can also put a little product down the sides of your nose if you want it to appear slimmer. Again, blend in circular motions, but this time make sure you blend into the highlighter, creating a seamless finish that flows. No harsh lines!
Here is an image of how it should look. I have left both products unblended to make it clearer.
The other way that you can do this is by using powders, which are better for a longer lasting finish and great for a more matte effect on the skin. I am using the Kevyn Aucoin contour duo in Candelight to highlight, and Sculpting Powder to contour which are just about the best contouring products I have ever used because the colour pigments are so fine, they look just like skin, and not at all makeup-y.
|The new Kevyn packaging has no brushes so I recommend one like this bad boy|
Candelight is extremely easy to work with and can be swept onto all the areas I just mentioned should be highlighted. Do try and use a small fluffy brush however, you don't necessarily want shimmer everywhere. I always use this brush which I think is from YSL years ago.
When contouring, I find that it's better to stipple the product into the skin, dabbing the brush where you want the product and building it up naturally. Then, softly feather the powder into the highlighter and blend away any harsh lines. Choosing a contouring powder is extremely difficult as many of them tend to come up a bit orange on the skin, but this one looks completely natural due to its matte taupe shade.
Stand back and admire your handiwork!
Here's some I made earlier...
|Using creams. Also good for boys = looks less makeup-y|
Here are some golden rules to remember:
1) Always use a brush
2) Start with a tiny amount of product and build it up. Its much easier to add than to take away
3) Highlighters should always be shimmery/light-reflecting, contours should always be matte
4) Stop and check your progress as you're going
5) If you're going somewhere dark, like a club, you can go for it as your makeup looks more toned down in the dark. If you're out in broad daylight, you probably want to keep this softer!