Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past seven or eight years, you have likely already seen the widespread trend of contour makeup taking the beauty world by storm.
However, much like the baking makeup technique, this makeup method dates back much longer than that, far back as the 1500s.
Contouring has also long been used in the makeup routine of drag queens and the drag community for decades to shape the face to desired proportions and appearance using makeup.
In other words, you don’t need to be a professional or A-list celeb to look this good, honey.
One of the most fun things about makeup is accessibility and the level of confidence that comes from snatching the perfect technique and making yourself look and feel like a certified baddie. Learning how to contour makeup is undoubtedly one of those things.
After all, who doesn’t want to sculpt and define their cheekbones to make them look like they could cut glass?
Contour can also bring an increased level of confidence for those who have insecurities on their faces, such as blemishes or scars, by providing long-lasting coverage so that all there is to see is your uplifted and enhanced natural inner and outer beauty.
Still, if you aren’t a beauty or makeup guru, creating the perfect contour may seem like a daunting and intimidating task, but it doesn’t have to be! Today, we’re here to show you just how easy learning to contour can be with just a few easy steps.
This article will go over what is necessary for a contour palette, which makeup products you should use, and how factors such as skin tone factor into the overall contour technique. By the end of this, you’ll be contouring with the best of them.
So, let’s get started!
What is the Purpose of Contour Makeup?
The ultimate goal of contouring is to alter or define your face structure and shape using makeup. Think of it this way. It’s heaps cheaper than plastic surgery with literally none of the risk for adverse side effects.
If you don’t like the result, you can just wash it off or use a makeup eraser and try again!
Contouring is a makeup technique that uses slightly darker makeup (usually two shades darker) than your actual skin tone to add dimension and sculpt your face.
Unlike ordinary day to day makeup like foundation and concealer, which you would want to match your skin tone as closely as possible, the fundamentals of contouring use shadowing and light to create its effects.
While many examples seen on traditional and social media display substantial, heavy contour makeup looks for galas and red carpet events. The effects don’t need to be this drastic if you don’t want them to be. You can certainly tone it down and simplify your contouring technique for everyday use.
With the shift in emphasis from dramatic looks to embracing natural beauty with makeup products such as CC cream increasing in popularity, the general mentality surrounding day to day makeup looks is that less is more.
So, while the goal of older contour looks may have been to make your face look as seemingly unlike your natural appearance as possible, turning makeup users into legitimate magical shapeshifters, this is not necessarily the case today.
Now, it’s about embracing your natural face and eye shape and giving yourself a realistic look while highlighting your key favourite features.
Ultimately, using a contour palette or contour kit or whatever makeup products you choose is meant to add more definition to your face structure while downplaying any insecurities you might have.
What is the Difference Between Contour Makeup and Bronzer?
This question is common and understandable. If you already have a bronzer, why would you need a contour kit? Well, while they may seem like the same thing, they’re not.
Typically, bronzer is used to imitate a sun-kissed look or create the appearance of a warmer complexion and, while not all of them do, many bronzer products contain some level of shimmer in them.
Bronzer is also mostly applied to areas where the sun would naturally hit your face, including your nose, cheeks, and temples.
On the other hand, a contour kit always contains shades with a matte finish. This is because, when contouring, the goal is to create depth and enhance the angles of your face, so the makeup products need to create the illusion of a shadow.
We don’t know about you, but our shadows don’t typically sparkle.
How to Contour in 5 Easy Steps
So, now that we’ve covered the purpose of contour makeup and why it’s different than using ordinary bronzer, we can get down to what you likely came here for – learning how to contour!
While contouring may seem complicated, don’t be discouraged. We’re here to walk you through it and illustrate just how easy and straightforward it is.
First, let’s cover what you’re going to need:
- Select a product that is two to three shades darker than your natural skin tone
- Decide if you want to opt for a cream contour or powder contour kit – this is mostly about personal preference, but you should take your skin type into account when selecting. Oily or combination skin types may wish to opt for a powder. If you have dry skin, go with a cream contour.
- A beauty blender or makeup brush depending on if you choose to go with cream or powder. If you use powder, you should also have a smaller shading brush for areas such as the sides of your nose.
- Your regular foundation
Step 1) Prep Your Face
The best way to start any look, first and foremost, is prepping your skin.
Be sure to cleanse your skin thoroughly with your favourite cleanser or face wash so that your starting surface is squeaky clean.
Step 2) Apply Foundation & Concealer
If you would like to avoid an overly done, cakey look, we would suggest using a minimal amount of full-coverage foundation or CC cream.
After all, you want to look like a snack, not a full-on dessert.
So, in this way, apply just enough foundation and concealer to even out your skin tone while matching it as closely as possible and cover any blemishes or discolouration.
Step 3) Shadow
Now we get to the actual contouring part. When it comes to contour makeup, the most critical rule of thumb is to follow the shadow of your unique face shape. This step is where you get to choose which of your features you would like to bring more or less attention to.
For example, if you want to make your cheekbones pop, take your darker product and shadow underneath your cheekbones. To find your cheekbone shadow line, suck in your cheeks and trace the product along the hollows of your cheeks.
Similarly, if you want to define your jawline, blend some powder or cream along the edges of your jawbone. You can also reshape your nose by drawing two lines along the sides and blending them in.
To create a full-encompassed look, you can also draw a “3” shape that follows your hairline.
Ultimately, it may take some experimentation drawing different lines and playing with different techniques until you figure out what looks best on and works best for you.
Step 4) Highlight
To create added dimension, highlight the key areas of your facing using the cream or powder highlighter of your choosing.
Examples of areas that a highlighter can emphasize include the inner corners of your eyes, the bridge of your nose, above your cheekbones, in between your eyebrows, and along with your cupid’s bow.
If you choose to use powder highlighter, we would recommend using a fan brush for application. If you opt for a liquid highlighter, instead, use a beauty blender or your fingers.
Step 5) Blend
This final step of contour makeup is absolutely crucial if you don’t want to talk around looking like a living Picasso painting.
Contouring involves using products that don’t match your natural skin tone, so blending is vital. If you used powder, blend each shade in with a big, fluffy brush or blending brush.
If you went for cream products, use a makeup sponge or beauty blender to blend your shadows and highlighted areas into your foundation until the lines you created resemble a more natural look.
Presto chango, you’re done! Congratulations, you have successfully contoured your face. Now, all that’s left to do is continue on with applying the rest of your makeup for an overall beautiful, smooth and defined finished look.
To ensure the look lasts, we would highly recommend using a makeup setting spray to hold everything in place.
Contour Makeup – An Option for Any Occasion
While many don’t choose to take the time and dedication to contour every day, you can choose to do so if that’s what suits your fancy.
Whether you use it for an event or to spice up your daily makeup routine, we hope this guide for how to contour with confidence has inspired you to try it for yourself. Once you get going, you’ll see that it isn’t as hard as what you might have previously thought.
Makeup is all about experimentation and playing with what works best for you, and contouring is no different. With a little bit of trial and error, you’re sure to get the hang of it in no time.