Confused About Contouring?
“Treat your makeup like jewellery for the face. Play with colours, shapes, structure - it can transform you” - Francois Nars
If you read glossy magazines and keep up to date with YouTube beauty vloggers you’ll know doubt have seen plenty of contouring going on. Contouring is a magical tool that can literally transform your face from one shape to another, but the whole thing seems like a puzzle that needs to be cracked.
The good news is that contouring isn’t as hard as you think, once you know the basics, but you have to know what your face shape is first and foremost. Once you’ve done that, contouring can be super simple, as long as you follow the rules!
Why should you contour?
- Gives definition to your face
- Can change a face shape that you're not happy with
- Adds drama to your makeup looks
- Can have a slimming effect on the face
- Creates cheekbones where you never knew you had them!
Contouring basically takes your facial structure and enhances it. It is a combination of both highlighting and shadowing, and the most common areas to add that highlight are the bridge of your nose (down the middle of the nose), along the hairline and down the face, and the cheekbones. Shadowing is used to draw attention away from parts of your face that you’re perhaps not to happy with, perhaps a jaw line that isn’t the desired shape or cheeks that you want to slim down.
You can create a shape that is totally pleasing to you but you can go over the top. When you over-contour, you look completely not yourself but you can also make it look extremely obvious that makeup is the culprit for the look. Contouring should always look natural and involves a lot of blending.
So, what do you need to start contouring?
- A beauty blender or a contouring blending brush (angled) - either will do and they work just as well. It’s personal choice; some people prefer the use of a sponge whilst other people like to hold the handle of a brush. Play around with both and see which suits you best
- A concealer that is one or two shades lighter than your skin tone (for highlighting)
- A powder that is one to two shades darker than your skin tone (for creating shadows)
- Or, you can purchase a specific contouring palette which will include both of these things
- Setting spray - this isn’t a ‘must have’ but it helps if you want your look to last the full day. It’s also very useful if the weather is hot.
Take your time when contouring and don’t rush to get the job done. Blending has to be done properly in order to make your face look as sculpted as you want. A small amount of product that isn’t blended properly can run your entire look!
Before you contour you need to do your full face of makeup, including your foundation.
- Take an angled contour brush and dip it into the darker shade of contour powder in your palette, or the darker shade of powder you’re using. Tap the brush to remove the excess powder
- Suck in your cheeks to show the hollows where your cheekbones would be and use the brush to sweep back and forth, creating that contoured shadow. Make sure you blend the powder completely
- If you’re using a beauty blender, do the same thing but apply the powder to the hollows and use the stippling/tapping technique to blend the powder into the face
- To slim down your forehead, use small lines of the dark powder across your hairline and blend in completely. Do the same thing along the sides of your temples, making sure that you’re blending inwards and not outwards
- Create extra definition to your jaw by taking your dark powder once more and using it around your chin and along both sides of the jaw. Use a downwards motion when blending in the shadow
- To slim down a nose, use the dark powder down the sides of the bridge of the nose and blend completely - less is more here!
- Highlight the centre of the nose with a small amount of the lighter concealer or powder down the bridge of the nose, the tip of the lip (Cupid’s bow) and on the apples of the cheeks
- Again, make sure everything is completely blended!
It’s best to start with a minimal amount of powder when contouring and build it up. You can always add power but you can't take it away once it’s on the face. The fact that you’ve already done your make up also means that if you make a mistake, you have to start comely from scratch or do some serious damage limitation work.
Points to Remember:
- Contouring is designed to create shadows and therefore define the face
- It’s important to know your face shape before you begin
- Work with a shade or two darker powder, and a shade or two lighter concealer
- Use an angled contour brush or a beauty blender, whichever suits you best
- Make sure that you blend everything in perfectly, to avoid making your contouring efforts very obvious