It was ages I’ve been obsessed with contouring. Indeed. Than, I met Mac senior mua Michele Magnani whom told me I don’t need it. Tons of products bought in past years to waste, lol. Well, I still do just a little tiny bit of contouring at the top of my forehead. And a real complete contouring – but still with a really light hand – if I have to do a shooting.
But, what is contouring. Contouring consists of accentuate shadows which naturally appear on your face due to various lightning. And highlightning consists of accentuate lighter parts of your face, of course.
I’m lucky enough to have a oval face with some cheekbones, so I don’t have to do a massive contour on a daily basis. With contouring you can enhance your natural features or alterate them. You can shorten your chin, modify your nose, create cheekbones, slender your face etc.
So, how to get contouring? Basically with a shade darker than your skintone you accentuate shadows you have naturally on your face: on the temples, along the top of your forehead, along your jawline, at the sides of your nose and under your cheekbones. You can contour all of these parts or just those you want to minimize or enhance: contour yor jawline if you want to minimize your jaws, contour under the cheekbones if you want to enhance them. It’s basically playing with light.
Mind that the most difficult in contouring is making it look natural. You want to look flawless, not a mask. So, what do you need to avoid an unnatural look? First, remember – I beg you – that a make up for a shooting is not a make up for everyday nor for a night out. A lot of pictures of stunning makeups are strongly photoshopped (all of them, badly or not) and irl they’d look like masks, in a bad way. So, there are makeups for shootings and makeups for real life. It’s not a matter of drama or colour, but it’s a matter of techniques and heaviness. If you do contouring as for a shooting you’ll look ridiculous.
How to achieve a natural looking contouring in real life? With right brush and right colour.
Contouring is not bronzing, so you have to use a product matte and with a cool undertone, because shadows are naturally matte and cool. You can obviously use a bronzing powder for that but it has to be matte and without orange undertone. The lighter your skintone, the lighter the contour product of course. There are specific contour products, among professional brands usually and they come in powder or cream formulas. Cream products are suited to be used before or after foundation, before blush and powder; they blend easily into skin and it’s easier achieving a more natural look. Powder products need a very light hand and a lot of blending to avoid unnatural strikes.
Here I show you which products I think are best for contouring.
- TheBalm Bahama Mama: it is a bronzing powder, but it’s matte and there’s no orange in it. Highly pigmented, you need only to barely touch it with your brush.
- OCC John Doe: it’s a cream product specific for enhance or create shadows on your face. Very cool undertones and richly pigmented, a little goes a long way. (I absolutely love its naming)
- Mac Strada (pan): it’s techniqually a blush but I think it’s the perfect shade of contouring for lighter skintone. Matte finish, easy to blend, simply perfect.
- Mac Taupe Shape: another blush, limited edition I’m sorry. It’s slightgly warmer than Strada when applied and has a satin finish but you don’t see shimmers. It’s very delicate and gives a natural looking.
- Illamasqua Zygomatic: another cream product. This one is warmer than others but not in a bad way: there is no orange in it but it’s warm (and remains in the cool family however) just like the real flesh is.
Now it’s time to talk about brushes. Brush is essential, indeed, because you need a light touch and an easy blending. I think that a stippling, dual fibre brush is perfect. Or, if you want something difficult lol, you can go for some Japanese tradition inspired brush, like Yachiyo and Itahake. You can find them at Nars or cheaper at Everyday Minerals. It’s also nice for this purpose Real Techniques Contour brush that you find in the Core collection set (even if I prefer it for highlightning).
That’s all, I hope it helps!