Contouring is a makeup technique that uses shadows and highlights to define and enhance specific facial features. It’s a form of artistry, an illusion that can completely transform your face, making it appear slimmer, your cheekbones more pronounced, your nose narrower, or your jawline more defined.
The significance of contouring is not just about changing your looks, it’s about enhancing your natural features and making them pop. Celebrities and their makeup artists have used this technique for years to look glamorous on the red carpet. However, with the rise of beauty influencers and easy-to-follow tutorials, contouring has become a widely adopted practice, not just within the realms of the professional beauty industry.
Despite seeming like a complex makeup technique, contouring is actually based on a simple principle: “light brings forward, shadow sets back”. Understanding this basic concept can help even the most novice makeup enthusiasts to start experimenting with contouring.
Contouring Basics: Understanding the Principles
Contouring is essentially about understanding how light and shadow work on your individual face shape. Light shades are used to highlight and bring forward features, whereas dark shades are used to create shadows and recede certain areas. For instance, applying a highlighter to the top of your cheekbones accentuates them, making them appear higher and more pronounced.
The first step to contouring is to identify your face shape. The most common face shapes are oval, round, square, heart, and long. Each shape has its own unique contouring technique. For example, round faces benefit from contouring along the side of the face and temples to create a slimmer appearance.
It is also important to understand the difference between contouring, bronzing, and highlighting. While contouring is about adding depth and dimensions, bronzing is used to add a warm, sun-kissed glow to your skin. Highlighting, on the other hand, is used to draw attention to high points of the face such as the cheekbones, brow bone, and cupid’s bow.
Essential Tools for Contouring: From Brushes to Products
The tools you use for contouring are as crucial as the technique itself. A good contouring brush is indispensable – it should be angled, dense, and have a narrow tip for precise application. Other useful tools include a fluffy brush for blending and a small brush for detailed highlighting.
When it comes to contouring products, there are three types: powder, cream, and stick. Powders are great for beginners because they’re easy to apply and blend. Cream products are more intense and provide a dewy finish, while stick products are perfect for fast and precise application.
Choose your contour shade carefully. It should be one or two shades darker than your skin tone and have a cool undertone to imitate a natural shadow. For highlighting, go for a product that is one or two shades lighter than your skin tone.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Contour for Beginners
Step 1: Start with a clean, moisturized face. Apply your foundation and concealer as usual.
Step 2: Identify the areas you want to contour. Typically, these areas include the hollows of your cheeks, temples, jawline, and sides of your nose.
Step 3: Apply your contour product. If you’re using a powder, use an angled brush. For cream or stick products, you can use a brush or your fingers. Blend well to avoid harsh lines.
Step 4: Apply your highlighter to the high points of your face, such as the tops of your cheeks, brow bone, and the bridge of your nose.
Step 5: Blend, blend, blend. This is the key to achieving a natural, seamless look.
Common Contouring Mistakes to Avoid
Despite its transformative power, contouring can go wrong if not done right. One common mistake is using the wrong shade for contouring. Choosing a shade that is too dark can make your face look muddy rather than sculpted.
Another common mistake is not blending enough. Contouring is all about creating soft shadows, not harsh lines. Therefore, take your time to blend the product into your skin until it looks natural.
Finally, don’t overdo it. While it’s tempting to contour every part of your face, remember that less is more. Only contour the areas that you want to enhance or define.
Contouring Tips and Tricks from Professional Makeup Artists
Professionals recommend practicing in natural light to get the most accurate view of your contouring. They also suggest starting with a light hand and gradually building up the product to avoid overdoing it.
Use your face as a guide. Your cheekbones, jawline, and the sides of your nose are natural guides for where to place your contour and highlight.
Finally, don’t forget to blend into your hairline and neck. This will ensure a seamless transition and a more natural look.
Practice Makes Perfect: Keep Experimenting with Contouring
Contouring can seem intimidating at first, but remember that practice makes perfect. Don’t be disheartened if your first few attempts don’t turn out as you expected. Keep practicing and experimenting, and soon you’ll be contouring like a pro.
Remember, makeup is a form of self-expression and there are no hard and fast rules. If you prefer a heavier contour, go for it. If you like a subtle look, that’s great too. The most important thing is that you feel confident and beautiful in your own skin.
So grab your brushes and your contouring products, and start your journey to a more defined and sculpted face. Happy contouring!