Contouring has been a popular trend used by make up artists on stage, photo shoots and runway for years, but thanks to this photo that Kim Kardashian posted to her Instagram account, the world went crazy over it – and ‘how to’ guides started popping up all over the Internet.
Contouring by definition is ‘giving shape to an area of the face and enhancing the facial structure through makeup’ (Teen Vogue). The technique is not supposed to be noticeable—just provide a subtle definition. Although contouring looks great when done properly, often the results can end up with an opposite effect, by adding heavy bronzer and not blending properly…it’s all about the artistry and illusion!
It’s also important to take into account face shapes, which is something that is often neglected when applying the technique at home. For contouring there isn’t a ‘one size fits all approach’ and that’s where people can go wrong. This guide by Cosmopolitan shows you some basics of Face Mapping and how to apply contouring in the correct areas (Contouring for your Face Shape).
You might be asking why I’ve just decided to post about something that’s been in the public eye for so long now? Well as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve recently started an ‘Applying Makeup’ course at college and as part of our ‘homework’ this week, we were required to study our face shapes and practice the associated contouring.
After looking up numerous videos and guides to get some tips, I practised my contouring skills on my sister earlier this week (I won’t post her before and after photos as I think she might kill me). From putting in to practice what I had picked up, we ended up with a really artificial look. Something that looked great in photos, but for general wear, it was too extreme. After this, I practised a more subtle look on my own face with the skills that I’ve been practising over the past few weeks.
I can see where some makeup artists such as Bobbi Brown, feel that contouring should be a technique left purely for those who have ‘perfected’ the trade – although her views are firmly on the other side, citing YouTube videos as ‘car crash’, by people who “have changed their face but they don’t really look so good. [She] think it’s ridiculous and people look like they have dirt on their face” (http://fashionista.com/2015/10/bobbi-brown-fashionistacon)
Personally I find the contouring look very makeup heavy, and as a result, it’s easy to see where so many people can go wrong. Over applying product in areas not required can leave you with the ‘dirty’ look that Bobbi mentions. By layering and blending the foundation, you apply a lot of product – and it ends up a lot thicker than what I like on my skin (you have to make sure that your skincare routine is on point to get it all off at the end of the night too)!
Overall, I love the effect that contouring can give – and rely on it when working with cameras (esp at photoshoots or for bridal makeup). Giving the appearance of enhanced cheekbones and highlighted brow bones, it really can compliment your face….but the key word here is compliment! Contouring really shouldn’t be used to change your features, as it will end up in a very unnatural and harsh look – especially in well lit areas!!
If you want to follow this trend at home, I would suggest stepping away from the heavy bronzer lines and dark foundations and instead invest in a good contouring brush (NARS do an excellent one – ITA Kabuki Brush) and focus on applying a small amount of make up to the basic areas. Jaclyn Hill has one of the best tutorials that I’ve seen, keeping it simple and easy to follow.
What are your thoughts on the Contouring technique? Is it something that you use on a daily basis/special occasions or do you prefer a more natural look?
This was quite a long post, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading!!
Let me know your thoughts 😀