So you want to learn how to contour, but you’re not sure where to get started. I PROMISE it’s so much easier than it looks, and you’ll be mastering contouring in no time. I’m definitely a fan of this hot beauty trend (so much so it’s part of my daily beauty routine), and by now nearly everyone knows what it is or at least knows the term.
What is contouring?
Contouring is a makeup technique originally used by drag queens to help feminise a face and made popular recently by Kim Kardashian, especially blowing up when she shared a photo of yellow lines all over her face on social media (at least that’s when I remember it becoming huge!) Thanks to the Kardashian effect as well as the rise of instagram makeup artists and amazing beauty accounts, this trend has now hit the mainstream with the majority of brands now launching their own contour kits and contour skills in the repertoire of everyday people such as myself. While contouring is definitely great to use for special occasions, there’s definitely no reason why you can’t implement these techniques into your everyday routine. A lot of people I know are scared to try for fear of “looking like a clown”, but it’s really not that hard to master. Let’s start with the basics…
So, how do I contour my face?
As mentioned above, this technique is used by drag queens (who have a lot of other fabulous techniques too by the way…) to help make the face look more feminine, by enhancing and creating the desired facial structure through makeup. Basically, you want to deepen parts of your face that should be sunken/set back and bring out the higher parts of your face using a lighter shade. Take the nose for example, if you have a wide nose you wish to make appear slimmer, then you can use a darker shade along the sides of the nose to bring in the sides, and then create a false slimmer shape by adding a thin strip of lighter colour down the centre. For those with a round face shape (me!) you can also use darker shades along the side to create the illusion of a thinner face. There’s no need to feel like this needs to be a full on look either, if you want to try add in to your everyday routine then you can easily just swipe a darker shade along the bottom of your cheekbones, use a light creamy colour to smooth under your eyes and along the tip of your nose.
Which products should I use for contouring?
So, you want to try but don’t want to rush out and splurge on an Anastasia Contour Kit (my holy grail Contour Kit FYI)? No problems. You can actually use any products you like. Have a cheap light colour concealer? Great – you can use this for the lighter colour? Have a bronzer? Then you can use this for the darker colour. While majority of contour kits contain 6 colours, there’s definitely no need to use this many. Two shades are great to start with, and this is all I use when travelling; I just pack a couple of stick foundations in a couple shades lighter and darker than my usual foundation.
Powder or Cream?
I use both! This can totally depend on the type of foundation you prefer to use now. If you love to keep it simple with mineral makeup powder, then you can stick with powders. If you just wear foundation and no powder, then a cream kit is perfect. Powder contour kits are traditionally more popular, however cream kits are great for beginners as they’re super easy to blend. I actually use both powder and cream. I start with my normal foundation, use a light cream kit for a subtle everyday contour, and then fix this all in place with a powder contour kit before applying the rest of my products.
How do I apply contour products?
Start by looking at your own face shape, and working out where you need to contour and where you need to lighten up. Graphs, such as the ones below, definitely help to give you an idea, and watching lots of instagram makeup videos also helped me out too! Don’t also feel like you need to draw lines all over your face and then frantically blend – I used to do this but now just prefer to blend in as I go, before doing a quick finally blend with a beauty blender. Start by applying your usual primer and foundation, and then either using a brush or your fingers then start to blend in the products you wish to use.
I currently use the Anastasia Cream Contour Kit in Light starting with the lighter colours – a creamy light yellow under my eyes, the lightest colour along the tip of my nose and up onto the centre of my forehead, the “darkest” light colour as a basic concealer on my chin and around the side of my nose, and then along my jawline.
Then, I use a darker colour along and under my cheekbone blending upwards, a lighter dark colour along the sides of my nose, and then finally starting at my temples blend it down along the side of my face. I mostly just apply with my fingers as I find it easy to blend in this way. I know some people aren’t a fan of this as they’re worried about bacteria etc from your hands, however if you have clean hands this shouldn’t be a problem! Finally, I then use a beauty blender to make sure it’s all 100% blended in
– the key to avoiding the clown look so many are worried about! I recently bought the original beauty blender, and I have to admit so far it’s really been worth the extra spend compared to other blenders I’ve tried. The key to an airbrush finished look is to wet the blender first under water (you’ll see some beauty bloggers using a cult gold oil or other serums), rinse out the water and pat try, and then “sponging” around the face (not drag). I then lightly sweep on powder in similar shades to the same areas, this is where you can add in a powder for “baking” too if you wish (a technique for another post…) and then finish the rest of your look. I know it sounds like a lot of steps, but once you get the hang of it it’s really no harder or different to applying a little concealer and blush/bronzer.