How To Tuesday: Contouring Technique

Certain makeup trends seem quite intimidating at first, and contouring is no exception. Though this technique has recently become mainstream, it has been common for a long time in the cosmetics world, theater, and drag. Once the basics are understood, anyone can carry out this beauty trick.

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A post shared by @clowncontour on

Crazy techniques galore, like the ones above, have been circulating social media. We have all seen faces parceled into different colored creams like a map, impossibly blended within the next ten seconds. The cream contour palettes used for this kind of method can be scary.  Often you pick your two favorite colors and do not understand how to handle the other four. When applied too heavily, the face can be too cake-y for everyday. Makeup gurus have also experimented with strange items, such as a knife, scissors, or tape. This can be dangerous or ineffective. Start learning to contour with powder, and use just your hand and a brush instead of crazier items.  Once you master this, you can move into other mediums.

Contouring simply consists of finding areas where light and darkness naturally shape the face, then emphasizing them.  Beginners should use a matte powder.  Pick one that is not too orange. For lighter skin, try the MAC blush “Harmony”.  Even if a product is technically blush, since it is a powder it can be used for many things, including contouring. For medium to tan skin, try MAC “Blunt” or MAC “Matte Bronze”. Finally, for darker skin tones, try MAC “Swiss Chocolate” or MAC “Film Noir”.

Begin with an imaginary line underneath your cheekbone.  There are easy reference points you can use to contour.  Start by the middle of your ear and trace towards the corner of your lip.  However, this line does not extend all the way towards your lip; stop beneath your eye’s outer corner. Using a fluffy blending brush (such as MAC “168” angled contour brush), begin by the middle of your ear, making light circles as you draw the brush down the imaginary line.  Move the brush in circles up and down the contour area you’ve created to blend.  Swipe under your jaw line, and into the edge of your hairline.  The pattern you create with your contour shade resembles a three on each side of your face. For extra definition, use a small eyeshadow brush to lightly shade the sides and bottom of your nose to shape it.

Next, take a highlight powder.  This can either be a matte light shade or something shimmery. A good option is MAC “Soft and Gentle” Mineralize Skinfinish.  Apply this to your cheekbone, above where you have contoured.  You can also touch the highlight to the bridge of your nose.  To top the look off, add blush to the apples of your cheeks.

Jordana Rosenzweig is a contributing writer. Email her at violetvision@nyunews.com.

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