Hello Beauties- so I’d say it’s been a little less than 2 years since I learned how to properly contour. Before that I used to think why would I do that? I don’t need to put on stage makeup to go out? I just want to look tan so I’ll just put bronzer all over my face! I have since learned the error of my ways and while I’m not the World’s Best Contour Artist I can show you my tips.
Why do we contour?
1. When you only wear foundation your face looks flat and loses dimension. Your face is not all one color and making it so is unnatural. Your face has shadows and some parts get more sun than others so you need to put that back onto your face after you’ve neutralized it all with one shade of foundation.
2. It changes the shape of your face enhancing good features and minimizing any problem areas. The place where most people think to put contour is under their cheek bones to “carve out” their face or make the cheek bones look more prominent which is enhancing a good feature. It can also be used to make your forehead look smaller and more round (less pointy), make your jaw line look more defined (look thinner), and make your nose look more narrow or more round or shorter.
Countouring vs. Bronzing
- When I contour I make more defined lines. When I bronze it’s more for an all-over glow. I will put bronzer in the areas that I contour (without any true contouring) for a day-time look that is less harsh for work or play.
- Contour shades should be matte so they should not have glitter or shimmer in them. They should preferably have an ashy or gray undertone because shadows are not typically red or orange. I don’t always follow this rule because there are no rules in makeup, do what makes you feel good!
- Bronzers can have some shimmer and be more orange or red based depending on your coloring and preference.
While I use both liquid and powder highlights, I only use powder contour products. This is just personal preference because my skin is oily and it just seems easier to use powder. Here’s a few I typically use:
Keep in mind that I have VERY fair skin, so if you have medium to dark skin you are going to need a product that is darker than most of these. These are clearly not in order of most to least favorite. Although these are bronzers and a blush, you can also use a foundation that is a few shades darker than your skin tone or a matte brown eyeshadow. You can even use an eyebrow powder if it’s the right shade!
1. NARS Laguna Bronzer (Mine is the Limited Edition Guy Bourdin Palette, the full-sized one is $39)- While this has a slight shimmer to it, it doesn’t really show up on my skin or in pictures so it works. You can buy this in its own separate container for the low low price of $38, but I don’t think it’s worth that. It has really good reviews online, but most of them use the word “natural” to describe it, which is not what I really look for in a contour color because it means I have to layer it over and over. If you’re a beginner and just want a light contour or a day time contour and are dying to try this product I recommend getting it in something like this Summerstash kit by Sephora which is $45 and has a bunch of other cool products to try. Or The Narsissist Cheek Palette for $48 which has a blush and a highlight shade.
2. Benefit Hula Bronzer ($34) – Again, pale makeup gurus love this bronzer. I’m not that sold on this one either. It’s just ok. It is matte and again it gives more of a “natural glow” which to me means it’s going to take longer and more product in order for me to get it to show up. The bonus of getting the full-sized one is that the brush that comes with it is a good contour brush. Again, if you’re not sure I’d recommend getting a sampler pack like Benefit Cosmetics Beauty Score! which has 10 minis for $36. I really have yet to be convinced that Benefit as a whole is more than very cute packaging and great marketing.
3. MAC Powder Blush in Harmony ($22) – Ah now we’re back in my comfort zone- expensive products that actually work. I spend the big bucks on MAC because most of their products are high quality and this blush has TONS of pigment. I’d say it’s even slightly too dark for me to contour with, so I usually use it when I’m trying to do a more dramatic night look.
4. NYX Matte Bronzer in MBB01 Light ($8.99 Here) – This is the new bronzer I got recently that was in my Sunday Beauty Haul post. So far it has been fabulous! I use this more as a bronzer than a contour color because it’s a little warmer. It has very good pigmentation. I’m going to make a separate bronzer post where I will talk about this one a little bit more.
5. Angled Contour Brushes one is from a new kit I got as a gift and the other is from a MAC Holiday brush set- (Full sized MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush is $35 ) – These brushes both work well to get the contour color where I need it.
6 & 7. MAC 187 Duo Fibre Face Brush ($42) and another duo fibre brush from a kit that was a birthday present. This brush I use at the very end of the contouring process to blend everything out just a little bit more, especially if there are any areas that are too dark or if there are stark lines between products. I will mostly use this to blend together my highlight, blush, bronzer, and contour that are all on my cheeks.
So I mentioned that I did some heavy bronzing and contouring for the Beyonce concert last weekend so let me show you how I did that:
As I mentioned before, for this look I started with my eye makeup. I then put foundation all over my face and neck. I then highlighted with concealer (check out my highlighting post here). Next I contour and here’s where I put it:
1. I (try to) pull my hair back to not get it on my roots, and put the product around my hair line on my forehead. I put the most product on the top corners of my forehead and fade it into the middle and down towards my temples. This makes my forehead looks slightly more rounded and a bit smaller. If you already have a small forehead or a low hair line, you can skip this or just put a little tiny bit on the top corners of your forehead.
2. I’m comfortable with my rounder nose so I don’t go too crazy on the nose contouring typically, but for my most dramatic nose contouring nights, I draw a line from my eyebrows down the sides of my nose and around the tip. This make my nose appear slightly thinner. My nose is wider at the bottom so I extend the line down my nostrils. I also draw a line across the bridge to make it look slightly shorter.
3. I just recently saw this for the first time on a YouTube video and it can define your Cupid’s bow a little bit more. Here’s the video which also shows how she does a lot of things FLAWLESSLY I highly recommend watching this video and subscribing. This will also help you to understand how I do my contouring because what I do is very similar. The contouring starts at 6:30:
4. I contour under my bottom lip to make it look more full and pouty.
5. Ok here comes the big one- cheekbones. I start at the hairline on the top of my ear and draw a line from there in a diagonal to the corner of my mouth.
For night time I stop at about where my pupil is, for daytime I stop near where my iris (the colored part of your eye) starts so it’s not as long and dramatic. I want the most product near my hairline which is why I start there, but then I want a fairly consistent amount all the way down the line as well. I use my angled contour brush the thin way first to draw the line, then I turn it so the widest part is vertical to blend it slightly up towards my forehead (as opposed to down towards my jaw). The reason I blend up is because I sometimes struggle with keeping the space between #5 and #7 lighter and if the #5 line starts going down it looks muddy.
I don’t only blend by going back and forth, I also try to make small circles with the brush to make it less harsh. One tip is to make sure your foundation is DRY before doing this step especially if you’re always rushing like me and then try to contour and feel like you just wiped your foundation off with your contour brush! Although you want to blend you also don’t want to use too much force, again, we want to keep that foundation in place. Some people even hold the edge of a piece of cardboard just below where the want their contour line to make the line extra sharp and dramatic. I’m not one of those people, but that is an option if you’re going for drag queen glam.
6. Ok this step is a little out of order because I do it when I do my eyeshadow. I use a bronzer or contour color or MAC’s “Soft Brown” eyeshadow in my crease in order to give my eyes some definition. When I do more dramatic looks I put darker colors on top of the Soft Brown, but the layering makes for nice dimension.
7. The jaw line- mucho importante! I draw a line from the bottom of my ear to almost the corner of my mouth. I do not draw this line under my jaw bone (although color will go there when I blend it) I draw it slightly above the bone at the bottom of my face to make my face look slimmer. By doing this I’m basically drawing in where I want my jaw line to be vs. accentuating where it already is. I then blend this really well down my neck.
8. I put a little bit of contour on the bottom of my chin to make it appear shorter.
And viola! You’re chiseled! After contour I bronze (which I will talk about in another post), put on blush, and then add my powder highlight. I will make another post about how I contour for day time.
Thank you for the suggestion Jessica! If anyone else has an idea or suggestion for a post, please comment below!!
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