Contouring: a makeup technique that’s transcended the catwalk and the red carpet to become one of the defining cosmetic trends of this decade (so far). The premise of contouring is simple: use different shades of makeup to accentuate facial features and define bone structure. Kim Kardashian is the celeb who’s done most to bring contouring to the spotlight – she’s shared some fab contouring pics on Instagram and inspired many of us to give it a go! Kim K may make contouring and highlighting look effortless, but the truth is it’s a tricky technique to master – but don’t be intimidated by contouring. We’re here to help you get started.
#1 Start with the perfect base
As with every look, foundation is key to contouring. Before you start contouring, moisturise and apply primer, foundation and concealer as usual. This is important as foundation evens out your skin tone – skip this step and you’ll be left with a rather blotchy, uneven finish that doesn’t give you the flattering effect you’re after.
#2 Choose a path
There are many different products (and product combinations) you can use for contouring. One option is to pick out foundations that are two or three shades lighter and darker than your skin tone. You could also choose to use a matte bronzer for contours and use a specialist highlighter product to accompany it. Try to use an array of products with similar finishes and textures, else blending could prove difficult.
#3 Powders vs. liquids
As a general rule, using liquid products for contouring will give you a bolder look, and powders a lighter, more natural finish that’s a little more forgiving for beginners. However, it’s really up to you which products you use for contouring. We recommend you test contouring out with products you already own, if possible, before shelling out on new items.
#4 The right tools for the job
Good blending is essential for contouring to work! Blending sponges are good for liquid products, but you may prefer using flat or angled brushes for powders. On a tight budget? Your fingers will usually do a pretty good job at blending too, if you have the patience! We all have different preferences when it comes to brushes and blending, so use your trusted favourites if you have them.
#5 The basics
In general, you’ll want to contour the following areas: just under your cheekbones, on your temples, your hairline, and perhaps the sides of your nose. If you’re highlighting too, apply product under your eyes, above your cupid’s bow, on each corner of your mouth, and along your nose. Once you’re done with application, blend, blend and blend some more.
#6 Know your face shape (and find a contouring chart for it!)
We all have different face shapes, and the nature of contouring means that we each need to use it differently to achieve the best results, based on our bone structure. Search the internet for a contouring chart or map for your face shape so you can adjust the basic contouring technique to match your face shape.
Above all, remember that contouring is about you and your features – not anyone else’s! Online contouring tutorials and tips can certainly help with your technique, but you’ll achieve the best results if you learn to contour and highlight in a way that complements your features.
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