It seems that just about every makeup-loving gal has been granted VIP access to the contouring club, where elusive women have mastered the art of chiseling, putting those Renaissance painters to shame. (We still heart you, Caravaggio.) The rest of us, however, end up feeling like pariahs who have yet to pick up a contouring palette. Heck, even locating your cheekbones can be a challenge, let alone refining your chiaroscuro.
We would never want anyone to miss out on a good soiree, so we called in the big guns. We asked celebrity makeup artists Sir John and Ashley Rebecca to dish on the do’s and don’ts of contouring. Their tips below make this seemingly difficult makeup technique within reach.
Tip #1: Mix Textures
L’Oréal Paris makeup artist Sir John says two textures are always better than one. This way you avoid that oily, clogging feeling from all-cream formulas as well as the cakey, cracked effect of all-powder products. “I like to sculpt the face with deeper foundation.This helps keep the look natural and works on everyone,” he explains. “Then, set with a powder. Powder will lock everything into place. L’Oréal Paris makes an amazing Infallible Pro-Contour Palette that has both a contour color and highlight color.
Tip #2: Try this SPF Hack
Don’t feel like playing Picasso with your makeup? No problem, says Sir John. “When you go to the beach, apply SPF 20 all over your face and apply a thin line of SPF 70 down the nose and in the dip of the cupid's bow. Then, after being in the sun, I recommend washing your face with a Clarisonic Mia 2 Sonic Cleansing Device brush to remove the sunscreen. After you cleanse, you will notice a natural contour effect.”
And while, we’re on the topic of SPF, try this other contouring trick on for size. “Most people don’t know SPF is actually one of the best highlighters. Pat a little SPF onto the cheekbones just as you would a normal highlighter,” says Sir John.
Tip #3: Don’t Overdo It
We’ve all seen the overdone contouring tutorials—ahem, clown makeup—that leave us feeling dazed and confused. Well, according to Sir John, this extreme version of shaping your face is not the future … or his style. With contouring, it’s always best to go for a wearable, day-to-day look. “Use your darker foundation color to start to contour near your earlobe and bring it down,” he explains. “Taper away as you bring the shading forward to the front of your face. As a general rule of thumb, you never want to see the contour lines from head on. You should only see the definition from the side and this helps create a subtle look.”
Tip #4: One Contour Does Not Fit All
While we’re on the topic of keeping the contouring natural, let’s discuss what natural means for you. Not all faces are the same shape and size, so why would each face follow the same contouring technique? You could end up with shadows in places that need to be highlighted and highlights in placed that need shadowing.
New York-based makeup artist Ashley Rebecca stresses the importance of contouring for your unique face shape. Want some quick and dirty tricks on how and where to contour your face shape? Rebecca spills her pro tips here:
- Heart shape: “Contour along the sides of your forehead near the hairline, underneath your cheekbones and in the hollows of your cheek area.”
- Oblong shape: “Contour right at the top of the forehead area and on each side of the jaw, blending toward the chin.”
- Oval shape: “Only contour underneath your cheekbones to make them appear more prominent.”
- Round shape: “Contour on the sides of your forehead, underneath your cheekbones and along the jawline.”
- Square shape: “Contour on the sides of your forehead and below the cheekbones pointing down toward the chin.”
- Diamond shape: “Contour the lower cheekbones, toward the chin area only.”
Oh, and if we've said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: The #1 rule of contouring is blend, blend, blend. Now that’s an order!
Tell us what you thought of Sir John's SPF hack in the comments below, and create the look at home with these sunscreens.