Every Single Thing You Need To Know About Contouring

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5 Apr 2017
by: Madeleine Spencer

From choosing your face shape and working out which finish is best to all your kit needs, we’ve decoded contouring for you…

Contouring – it’s still the biggest beauty buzzword and our latest face-based obsession. We’ll be honest, we would love to have Sienna’s cheekbones but realistically, it’s not going to happen any time soon. That’s where contouring comes in.

Yes, Kim K may have brought the face-sculpting technique to the masses but contouring isn’t just about looking like the latest addition to the Kardashian clan. With the ability to bring light, structure and definition to your face, contouring is the easiest way to update your beauty routine and instantly transform your face.

Here is absolutely everything you need to know in a handy step-by-step format – including how to contour for your face shape, your must-have kit, and pro tips to make the process easy peasy.

Step 1: Choose Your Look

You don’t have to go in hard with contouring; you can opt for anything from a little light sculpting to full on instagram-worthy angles. In gradients, here are the three looks that are easy to recreate:

If You Want To Look Natural… This is all about just hollowing out cheekbones a little and enhancing bone structure. You can easily achieve this by using two different shades of foundation, or just use your usual one and add a contour with a slightly darker concealer.

If You Want To Look Insta Ready… To take things up a notch, get your hands on a cream contouring palette or a powder duo and nestle the darkest colour where you want the contour and use a slightly lighter one/highlighter to enhance the top of the contour.

If You Want To Look Party Ready… Want to go contouring with a capital C? Opt for a deep bronzer, a medium one and a highlighter, for the most high octane of the contouring looks.

Step 2. Get Your Hands On The Ultimate Contouring Kit

What you opt for in terms of formula, finish and shade is entirely up to you, but to create a contour you generally need a deep shade, a lighter or highlighting shade, and a tool. Here are some kits and tools that are perfectly suited to the job:

Creamy Products. Creamy contouring products fuse with the skin for the most realistic of finishes. You want to apply these after foundation and really make sure you blend the edges into your skin for a seamless finish.

Top Picks:
– Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate
– Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour
– Anastasia Beverly Hills Pro Series Contour Kit
– Laura Mercier Flawless Contouring Palette

The Powders. Powders are ideal on oilier complexions – just make sure you powder your skin first to remove grease so that your contour shades slip on smoothly.

Top Picks:
– Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Kit
– Rodial Instaglam Compact Deluxe Bronzing Powder
– Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow
– Kat Von D Shade and Light

Top Tools. Whether you stipple, stroke or buff your contour on, having the right tool is key.

Top Picks:
– MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush
– Beautyblender
– Real techniques Bold Metals Collection Flat Contour Brush

Step 3. Choose Your Face Shape

Step 4. How To Apply Your Contour

We’ve canvassed the experts and experimented (with mixed results and much streakiness) to bring you these tips to never getting contouring wrong:

1. Base First, Contour Second. When you’re applying contour or highlight products, put your base on first. That way, you won’t end up doing all the leg work only to spoil it when you cover your spots.

2. Blend, Blend, Blend. We cannot over-emphasise this point: blending makes contouring look seamless, and seamless contouring is believable. Check the trouble areas of your jawline and around ears.

3. If In Doubt, Head Into Daylight. When it comes to contouring, your best friend is light. If you still struggle to know where to put the colours, head outside with a mirror and take a good look at your face. You want to highlight the high points, and recess the hollows.

4. Avoid Your Mouth. When enhancing cheek bones, don’t come in too far – “this is a common mistake,” says pro make-up artist Sharon Dowsett. “You shouldn’t take it further in that the iris of your eyes.”

5. Put Down The Blush. Don’t confuse contour and blush – a contour is all about appearing like a shadow, while blush mimics a flush. Stick to cool contour shades and you won’t go wrong.

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