Does the thought of contouring your face make you think of stripes and patches? If so, you could be doing it wrong. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you contour correctly.
Contouring is all about creating depth with the illusion of a shadow. Your contour product of choice (powder or cream) should be cool-toned, even if you have a naturally warm-toned skin. The more cool-toned and fair your natural skin is, the more cool or grey your contour colour should be.
Shimmery products are best used as highlighters (this will be covered in a separate post), as they attract attention to and ‘lift’ an area using light reflection. When you’re contouring, you’re trying to create a shadow and want the contoured area to ‘recede’, so the contouring products you use should preferably have a matte finish.
You can use various products to contour as long as they’re a few shades darker than your foundation. You can buy specific contouring products or you can use what you may already have in your make-up kit. Any of the following items will work as contouring products: bronzer, brown eyeshadow, eyebrow powder, a darker cream or liquid foundation, dark concealer, a brown chubby stick eye crayon, brown-toned blush or even a matte brown lipstick.
Your contour lines need to be anchored, meaning that they need a fixed end point and can’t just float in the middle of your face. If you’re contouring your cheeks, make sure you anchor (blend) the one end of the contour line into your hairline or at the top of your ear. If you’re contouring your forehead, blend the edges into your hairline. If it’s your chin you’re working on, make sure you blend the edges into your jawline and neck.
When contouring, you want to focus on the following areas: cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. Contour your cheeks by drawing a line under your cheekbones (suck in your cheeks if you’re not sure where the line should go, then follow the natural hollow). Start the line about two finger widths away from your nose and anchor the line to the tragus (the little bump in the centre of your ear), or to the start of your hairline just above your ear. Tap any excess product off your brush and then blend the contour line out to make it look blurry and more like a shadow. There should be no harsh lines where the contour ends.
Sculpt your nose by applying two lines down either side (anchoring the lines at the edges of your eyebrows), then blend the lines out before applying a little highlighter in the middle of the two lines (along the centre of your nose). If you have a long nose, contour the very tip as well.
Your forehead and chin will only need to be contoured if you have a high or square forehead (contour the outer edges and blend into your hairline), or if you have a broad or square chin (contour along the jawline). If you suffer from a double chin, you can contour under your chin, blending the contour up to the jawbone and down onto the neck to minimise the appearance of your double chin.
Ultimately, contouring should enhance your features. Once you’ve blended the lines out, there should be no harsh stripes or lines, just subtle shadows. If you’re still new to contouring, it’s best to start off with a tiny bit of product on the brush and a very thin contour line, blending it out well and then adding more if you need to. It’s easier to add more and slowly build up the depth than it is to try and remove excess product.
Contouring does take practice. If you have been a little heavy handed with the contour product try going over the dark line with a cosmetic wedge (to absorb some of the excess and soften the stripe), or apply a little powder or foundation over the top to try and tone it down. Don’t expect to get it perfect the first time, but don’t give up either. Practice makes perfect. You will eventually get it right.