Contouring can be difficult to navigate. Despite it being around for decades – I remember my mum teaching me how to put blusher in the hollows of my cheeks when I first found out what makeup even was – the Kim Kardashian effect has meant that it has become part of our daily vocabulary. But for most of us who don’t have an entire ‘glam squad’ at our disposal, it can be a little confusing to determine what exactly we could / should be doing on a day to day basis. Let’s call a spade a spade; I don’t have the time or patience to be covering my face in stripes in the morning. Particularly for fair skin, such as my own, it becomes a little more complicated than just picking up a matte brown powder and shoving it on your face. I have found a few products that give me the results I like for an every day face – a light definition on my cheek bones that makes my face look more defined and three dimensional.
For the most part, I find that a small amount of matte powder in the hollows of my cheekbones, paired with some highlighter and perhaps some bronzer, and I’m good to go. For a more special occasion I make make my face more defined, and bring some in along the top of my forehead, and along my jawline. I have started to dabble into cream contouring for the odd night out, but I don’t want to complicate things by talking about that here – another post for another day. These are the powders that I currently feel give great definition for my skin tone. Of course, everyone is different.
Overall, the aim of contouring is to mimic negative space on your face by darkening spots to create a realistic shadow. This helps the face to appear more three dimensional and defined. The natural shape of your face can make this easier, or more complicated. I have quite a long, pointy face, with high cheekbones, so I try to look defined, but not so angular that I begin to resemble a goblin. Depending on your skin tone and undertone, different types of products can create more realistic results. Ultimately though, it’s all about personal preference and what works for you, and what you enjoy. Do your thing.
I was first introduced to the world of contouring by a very kind lady that worked at MAC in Auckland, New Zealand. She sat me down and showed me how I could achieve beautiful chiseled cheekbones, without going overboard. She used MAC Blush in Prism (above, top right) to sculpt my cheekbones, pairing it with Blush in Baby Don’t Go as a blush. I love that Prism has a pinky undertone to it, similar to my skin, so it really creates that illusion of a shadow. I have since spoken to several MAC employees, who have all been extremely helpful in the world of contouring. From time to time I also use MAC Blush in Harmony (above, bottom right) either as a blush or as a contour powder. It’s slightly more brown than Prism, but still has that pink tone that I love. Sometimes MAC get criticised for their customer service, but honestly I can say that in all the 10 years I have been visiting MAC stores, I have perhaps had one bad experience. For the most part, the people that work there are extremely kind, patient and helpful. I would highly recommend visiting a store or counter, and being honest about what you want help with. And don’t be afraid to ask them how to use the product – that’s what makes it worth the money.
Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer (above, centre) is great for warming up the face. And it’s matte, so can be used for contouring as well. It’s quite warm toned, so it doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, but it could be a good option for you if you have warm toned skin. Too Faced also makes the same formula in both a regular Chocolate Soleil and a Dark Chocolate Soleil, so it is a good option for those of darker skin tones as well.
My new favourite has to be Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting powder (above, left). It’s a cool toned contouring powder, designed to help create that shadow effect, giving the appearance of hollow, sculpted cheekbones. I got the Light shade, and was a little concerned it would be too light. But, I’m glad I did. It’s super pigmented and really quite dark so it really gets the job done. I love the look it gives to my face. Kim K eat your heart out. It’s quite an expensive product, in a small package, but, so are diamonds, right?
My biggest tip I can give would be to use a very light hand, and build up the colour rather than going straight in with one big dark stripe and then furiously try to blend it out. My favourite brushes to use are either angled blush brushes, or flat, specially designed contour brushes, such as the Zoeva 104, which I am currently awaiting to arrived in the post, so I shall update you on how I get on with it.
So there you have it! I hope I have enlightened you somewhat in the never-ending world of contour products. Let me know in the comments if you have any personal favourites.