What is Contouring?
Contouring is one of the most popular and talked-about makeup techniques of modern times, and with good reason! When carried out properly, contour makeup can have beautiful effects, totally transforming your look. But what exactly is it?
Well, contour makeup itself can consist of powders, creams, and liquids too. They usually have neutral, skin-tone colors, but can have more unique shades in some cases. These different products are used to bring definition to the face, adding 'light' and 'shadow' to various areas and bringing out your facial structure by highlighting your cheekbones, jawline, and so on.
To make the most of contouring, lighter shades are applied to certain areas of the face, like alongside the nose or around the cheeks' hollows. Meanwhile, the darker tones are applied in other areas of the face, and this contrast between light and dark shades helps create structure and definition.
It's a super technique to enhance your appearance and draw attention to your favorite features, as well as sculpting key areas, like the jaw and cheekbones. You don’t need a specialized contouring makeup kit to give it a try, you can use products that are already in your makeup bag, like bronzers, highlighters, concealers and blushes. Read on for some top contouring tips!
The Natural Look
- To get a natural contouring look, without too much drama or shadow, you'll need a bronzer and illuminator or highlighter.
- The bronzer and illuminator can be used just like a typical contouring kit, applied to various face areas to add shadow and definition.
- You could also make use of a couple of foundations or concealers – one a little lighter than you usually use and one a bit darker. Foundation sticks are great for contouring. If it's summer and sunny outside, you can even make use of your own tan to get a natural contouring effect using a lighter foundation.
The Dramatic Look
- If you're looking for a more dramatic, eye-catching contouring effect, get two blushes – one of a lighter shade and one of a darker shade.
- Use the darker shade of blush in your cheeks' hollows and then apply the lighter shade along the cheekbones and apples. Blend the blushes in the areas where they meet to provide a more natural look.
Make Your Own Contour Kit
Here's all you need to put together a contour makeup kit for any occasion!
A Highlighting Color
- The highlighting color is the lighter color of your contouring kit, which adds light to certain parts of the face and draws attention to those areas.
- Highlighting colors can be completely white or just a little lighter than your natural skin tone, depending on the effect you desire.
- If you're looking for a natural highlighter that blends well with your skin, try to find one that's just a shade or two lighter than your regular foundation.
- Shimmering light powders and blushes can also prove useful for highlighting purposes.
A Sculpting Color
- The sculpting color is the darker color for your highlighting kit, adding shade and definition to certain areas, like cheek hollows.
- Sculpting colors can range from just slightly darker than your natural skin tone to intense, dark shades.
- For a natural look, opt for a sculpting color that's just one or two shades darker than your regular foundation.
- A bronzer can be used as an alternative to a contour kit for super simply contouring.
- Matte colors help to keep your contouring nice and natural.
- Make sure to blend your sculpting color with the highlighting color at points of contact to prevent any harsh, stand-out lines or patches.
- You'll also need some applicators to apply your contour makeup.
- Blending sponges can be essential, along with an angled brush, a small chiseled brush, and a medium pointed brush.
How To Use Contour Makeup
Like winged eyeliner, contouring is one of those techniques that can look fabulous when pulled off to perfection, and it’s actually not too difficult to get started. All you need to do to begin is apply your base foundation like normal. Next, start by applying the sculpting color, blending the edges with your natural foundation. Then add in the highlighting color and blend it in around the edges. Use a finishing powder or setting spray to finish it off.
The best way to contour will depend on your own facial structure and features, but here are some general tips and basic steps for adding shadows to the face's common contouring areas.
- Cheeks – Contour the area underneath the cheekbone to bring definition and sculpture to your cheeks. Add a little highlighting color beneath the contour to lift the cheeks even higher.
- Nose – Apply contour makeup around the sides of the nose to add definition and make the nose appear slimmer. You can also apply just a little V-shape of contour makeup right on the tip of your nose to make it look shorter.
- Temples – Place a little contour makeup around the temples or just above the temples if you have quite a narrow thin face. If your face is fuller, contour out from the temples along to the hairline.
- Jaw – Make your face look slimmer and more structured by contouring along the jawline, but be careful to avoid going right to the chin.
- Hairline – A little bit of contour makeup applied along the hairline helps to shorten the forehead and bring brightness to the face.
- Chin – Just a little spot of contour makeup at the chin's base will help shorten long and narrow faces. Applying makeup under the chin can help to hide double chins.
- Collar – Contour makeup can be applied around the body too, like along the collar bones.
Next, let's look at how to make the best use of highlighting makeup in key areas around the face and neck to bring out your best features.
- Nose – Add your highlighting color along the bridge of the nose and right up between your brows in one smooth line. Try to avoid going right down to the tip, unless you want to make your nose look longer.
- Forehead – Use highlighting colors in a triangle, spreading out from the space between your eyebrows, in order to bring brightness to your forehead.
- Brow – Highlight just underneath your brow, along the arches above each eye, to help lift the brow higher and widen the eyes.
- Lip – Bring out the full beauty of your lips by highlighting the Cupid's bow (the area just above the top lip). You can even use a lip liner or eyeliner pencil for this purpose.
- Chin – Use highlighting colors in a circular motion around the round part of the chin.
- Eyes - Apply highlighting makeup under the eyes to make them look wider and less tired, and you can even continue right down over the cheekbones for a fuller effect.
- Cheeks – Use highlighting colors along the top of the cheekbones to bring them out. Use the color right at the peak of each bone for a really dramatic, stand-out effect.
- Cheek Apples – Apply lighter shades at the roundest parts of your cheeks to highlight the apples.
- Inner Eye – To help prevent tired looks and bags around the eyes, highlight each eye's interior corner, just beside the nose. You can also add a very light color to the inside lid for a more dramatic effect.
- Other Areas – Consider applying highlighting colors around nasal folds or marionette lines to create a unique look.
- Collar – Add highlighting colors along the tops of your collar bones to draw attention to them, making sure to always blend well with the darker shades and foundation for best results.