My clients are obsessed with contouring. I have fought the battle and I give up! The lovely Kardashian sisters (mainly Kim) have shown how they contour their face and it has turned the makeup world upside down. This isn't recent btw, its been going on for about 2 years. Yes, contouring has raised its ugly head before. It was very popular in the late '80's and 90's to stroke a brown eyeshadow (what we had at the time) on the underside of your cheek for that sunken in look. It didn't look good then and guess what? It still doesn't. Currently though thanks to KK's famous photo we have graduated from contouring the cheek to contouring the whole face. I want to make a point here, I am not calling out Ms. Kardashian-West. The method by which she contours (or her makeup artist does) is the right way. So pull out your wallet ladies, because you are going to need to pick up a few things to be able to do this correctly. Additionally, contouring properly takes more time so add in 20 minutes to your beauty routine.
First up the "rules"….Anything powder used for contour needs to stop. Bronzer is not contour. Brown eyeshadow, no matter what color, is not contour. Blush sets that contain a blush and a brownish "contour" will also lead you down the path of mud flat streaks on your face. I do like the blush trios that contain 3 different colors of blusher and a mildly sculpted, pretty cheekbone can easily be obtained. However, this blog post is directed at the full tilt boogie facial contour which cannot be accomplished with that product. If you already have a thinnish face with high cheekbones this type of contouring is also not for you. I saw beautiful Leslie Stahl last night on 60 minutes and observed the tell-tale mud streaks down her naturally thin high cheekboned face (why??????) NO. Sorry the image is blurry, but its the best I could do with a screen shot. In person this would look really scary.
Ok, here is what you need to buy. You'll need three colors of foundation one that is two shades darker than skin tone, one that is skin tone and one that one shade lighter than skin tone. Formula is very important you need a cream foundation. Not cream to powder. Pure, beautiful, flawless cream makeup. In a department store try Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin or Bobbi Brown stick foundation. I use Ben Nye HD Matte foundation. You can find it, but not where you would normally shop so my recommend for a drug store purchase is to buy pot or stick cream concealer in the contour and highlight shade, and then use your regular liquid foundation for skin color. Must be liquid or cream this cannot be done with powder foundations. This can also not be done with long wearing foundation (dries too fast and hard to blend), and also works best with a foundation that is NOT oil free but can be done with them. Contouring is an exception for me for using primer - a must. You need the extra "slip" for blending. I use skin smoothing primer for oily skins, and camera ready primer for combo and dry both in my line. You will also need a flat synthetic foundation or concealer brush, and a stippling foundation brush for blending. Lastly a finely milled setting powder I am using my own brand Luxury Finish Loose powder in Buff.
Eyes first - go ahead and do them as well as filling in brows and conceal under eye (photo 1, top left). Begin with using your regular moisturizer on clean face. If you skip this step (gasp) DON"T when you are trying to contour. Next apply your primer. Don't over apply this product a pea size works for the entire face. Starting with the darkest color using a flat foundation or concealer brush add a contour line under the cheek bone, on the sides of the nose, on the side of the forehead, and at the jaw line. These lines should be thin not thick. Next using the same type brush apply the highlight color in triangles between the brows and under the eyes (photo 2 and 3, top right, bottom left). Streak the light color directly down the center of the nose and make a dot on the chin. Once this is all in place take a dry stippling brush and lightly buff the contour and highlight until they start blending together but stop at that point. You'll notice a change of lighting in these pics. Very important, you need to look at this under natural light as well as your in home lighting to be sure you are blended correctly and don't have a mud streak. Next using a different stippling brush pick up a small amount of your normal foundation and using a stippling motion (press and flick or feathering) begin application of the foundation all over the face blending the highlight and contour as you go (photo 4, bottom right). To finish I lightly smooth the entire face with a sponge.
Next application of your blush and finishing powders. Placement of the blush is on the apple of the cheek then should be blended back to the crest of the ear (Please don't use bronzer for blush you need color, but not MORE brown). You want to try and hit the area between where the darker contour and regular face foundation meet. I then hit the whole face with a matte bronzer, and an illuminating powder (seychelles silk illuminating powder in my line) on the areas where I used the lightest contour shade. Remember to check out your finished work in natural lighting as the above picture shows.
Contouring has its purposes. One of the nice things about makeup is that we can construct things, or the illusion of things that are not there. This is the kind of makeup application I would do for an evening event, wedding or photo shoot (with the appropriate eye). For me, its not something I would do everyday - its not wrong to. It would cut into my coffee time in the morning, and nothing comes between me and my coffee at 6 a.m. If you are interested in learning how to contour (or any other makeup technique) I am giving complimentary one on one makeup lessons until the end of the year as time permits. Grab a slot while you can.