Less Is More: How To Contour WITHOUT Looking Like An Extra From The Lion King
We love the creativity and artistry that makeup offers us. How fun is it to check out new products and totally transform your look?! Even just adding a few subtle highlights can help you feel much more put together and ready to face the day.
However, one makeup trend that can be hella confusing is contouring. We’ve all seen behind-the-scenes videos of celebs like Kim K with weird streaks all over their face, looking more like a Broadway extra than anything else. It’s weird, but once you actually understand contouring, it can be an amazing way to glam up for a special occasion.
Wondering how to contour and also keep it natural? If so, this guide is here to help.
What's the purpose of contouring?
What do I need to contour my face for, anyway?! Well, the main reason for taking the time to contour is that it enhances the look and shape of your face, giving you gorgeous angles and highlighting your best features. Contouring makeup uses both shadows and highlights, and when blended together, they can create the image of a slimmer face, higher cheekbones, fuller lips, and a more angular jawline.
Seriously, if done well, it’s mind-blowing what you can do with contouring, so we think it’s worth the time and effort to learn. However, if it’s not done well, it can be disastrous! The key is proper color choice and blending – if contouring isn’t blended well, you’ll just look like you have streaks of foundation all over your face. Yikes.
Even if you’re not into makeup (we totally get that!), you might want to one day work with a makeup artist for a special occasion, so it helps to know more about this contouring thing.
What are the basic steps to contouring?
Believe it or not, contouring actually isn’t as intimidating as it first seems. Below are a few steps to get you started (but we also think a few YouTube vids can go a long way in helping you understand the process)!
Wondering what type of contour is best for beginners? Many makeup artists say powder can be easier to work with than creams, so you might want to try those products out first. You can also find contouring makeup kits, containing everything you need (plus directions!) to get started – these can be really helpful. However, overall the choice is yours. We say work with whatever makeup products make you feel most comfortable.
Prep your skin first
The first step is simple: wash your face and moisturize. Contouring will layer on easier if your skin is clean and hydrated. No need for special products, just wash your gorgeous face as you normally would!
If you’re going to wear face primer and foundation as well, this should be applied before you start contouring.
Highlight your features
Okay, time to get stuck in! First, you want to do your sculpting, usually in a slightly darker and more bronzed hue than your complexion.
Think about the areas you want to define, such as your hairline, cheekbones, and the sides of your nose. Then, lightly apply the product to these areas.
Pop on highlighter
Next, it’s time to do your highlights, using a slightly lighter product. Usually, you’ll want to highlight the center of your forehead, the bridge of your nose, and above the cupid’s bow, but play around and see what works best for your face shape.
Blend, blend, blend
The most important step, if you want to look natural, is blending! Using a beauty brush or sponge, gently blend your contouring product in with your foundation, erasing any hard lines.
Your look should be starting to come together, with the contouring makeup creating depth and shadow, highlighting your gorgeous features. Once you’re done with the contour, you can add the rest of your look (here are a few of the makeup brands we’re loving at the moment for inspo).
Apply a setting spray
To finish off, apply a setting spray or powder, as this helps your makeup last all day, even while you eat, drink, or sweat a bit.
How do you keep contouring natural?
One of the biggest questions about contouring is how to keep it natural. We get it – you still want to look like the awesome babe that you are, not some sort of department store mannequin.
Here’s how to achieve the subtle look you’re after…
Choose the right shades
The key to killer contouring is choosing the right shades of makeup – anything too light or too dark is going to look unnatural. Try selecting your darker color two shades darker than your foundation and your highlighter at least one shade lighter.
It can be confusing, we know. For this reason, you might want to visit a makeup store to get a professional opinion before purchasing, as you don’t want to invest in the wrong shades.
Practice makes perfect
For many of us, makeup skills just don’t come naturally! It definitely takes trial and error to learn, especially when it comes to contouring.
Like any new skill, this one takes practice to master. Spend some time in front of the mirror, figuring out what works for you. It helps to have some makeup remover on hand, so it’s easy to wipe your face clean and start over.
If you’re struggling, be kind to yourself! Makeup professionals literally go to school to learn contouring, so don’t expect to be perfect in a day.
Get to know your face shape
Another tip to nailing contouring is understanding your face shape, so that you know where you should be contouring. Round, heart, square, and oval-shaped faces will all be contoured slightly differently, so it helps to read up on what contouring style will work best for your beautiful look!
We hope this intro to contouring helps you understand a bit more about how you can use contour to enhance your daily makeup routine. It’s a fun, stylish, and effective way to highlight your best features, so why not try it out and see what you think?!