The art of facial contouring has become trendy over the past several years, and for good reason as it enhances the beautiful sought after facial features. A slim nose. Chiseled cheeks. Chances are you have seen videos of makeup artist blending crazy amounts of dark striping into the face, seemingly changing the structure of the face at their will. I have had a few requests for a post about how I contour, so I am sharing all the deets today. I prefer a soft and natural contoured look on myself, adding a little shading where needed to my face (and even creating the illusion of visible cheekbones!), but you can modify the intensity with more or less product to suit your style.
I have three contour products that I alternate between using. Two powders, and one cream.
Han Skin Care Cosmetics 100% Natural Bronzer in ‘Malibu’, $16
Since this is a bronzer, it is the easiest (and laziest) way that I contour. It is slightly warmer than I would normally choose for a contour, but I apply it sparingly to add some natural bronzy dimension to the face. As it is a powder you can apply it on top of whatever makeup you are already wearing, making it quite versatile. This product is a light to medium matte brown shade, comparable to something like Too Faced Milk Chocolate.
Root Pretty Pressed Shadow in ‘Tiramisu’, $12
I like to use this eyeshadow as a contour because it mimics the color of a shadow on my skin. It is a slightly cool-toned medium brown color that Root’s website lists as a ‘satin finish’ shadow, although on my skin appears matte. It is slightly darker than my Han bronzer, has nice pigmentation, and blends easily. It is also quite affordable for a contouring product, at just $12. Plus it can of course be used as an eyeshadow too!
Rms Beauty ‘Contour Bronze’, $28
This is the only cream contouring product of the bunch, and is actually my everyday favorite. It is just slightly warmer than the Root eyeshadow, and what surprised me most when I bought this was that it is slightly shimmery. I imagined a clownish disaster unfolding on my face after using this, but the sparkle factor is almost non-existent when applied. In fact this creates a very fresh and healthy looking contour on my face. I love that it is a cream formula as it almost melts into my skin in the best way, and blends very easily. This product is also the most long lasting of the three I use.
When applying contour with a brush, I like to use one that is slightly flat or tapered and small to medium-sized. It helps me create shading on my face without distributing product too generously. There are numerous brush options available, but these are the two that I use most often.
Real Techniques Contour Brush (comes in the Flawless Base Set)
This is a fluffy tapered brush with super soft bristles. I like to use this to apply and blend powdered contour product. Since it is slightly smaller than my other contour brush, it also works well for more detailed areas like the sides of the nose.
Sephora Modeling Foundation Brush (no longer available- here’s a similar one)
I like to use this for cream contour because the hairs are denser, giving me more control and allowing me to blend quicker. Often though I just use my fingers to apply the contour, lightly tapping product in place and then blending in with whatever medium-sized face brush is within reach.
How I Contour
I mainly focus on contouring my cheeks, since I like to add the most definition there. You can also blend a little contour product down the sides of the nose, at the top of the forehead, along the jawline, or anywhere you would like shading on your face. It really depends on your own facial structure and what you prefer. I am going to demonstrate how I contour my cheeks, as I found that part the most difficult to master when I began contouring. I am using the Rms Contour Bronze.
Step one. Suck your lips in like a fish. Yes you’ll look crazy. But since everyone’s face is shaped differently, that is the best way to see exactly where the contour should be applied on your face. Where you see a natural shadow forming is where you will apply contour product.
Step two. Apply a light stripe of product to your cheek, following the line of the shadowy area. Start out with a small amount, as you can always add another layer to build up intensity.
Step three. Using a dense medium sized face brush (I am using the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush) to blend, blend, blend product in small circles, and in an upward direction. Blending downward can diffuse the product too much and muddle the defined cheekbone effect that we are striving for. I also try not to bring the contour lines too far toward the center of the face, since that can appear harsh. If the color is looking too dark or patchy, keep on blending.
Step four. Step back and move your face around in all directions to see if any areas need to be further blended, or if you need to add more product for definition.