How to contour in real life, not just on Instagram Advertisement

How to contour in real life, not just on Instagram

The very best products, tools and rules to stick to

By Jacqueline Kilikita  November 13th, 2017

There’s something about the word ‘contouring’ that instils fear in even the most make-up savvy among us. While the Kardashians and their glam teams, including the talented Mario Dedivanovic, Joyce Bonelli and Hrush Achemyan, make it look super-easy on Instagram, they rarely give us the lowdown on which products work best for certain skin tones or types, which tools (and there are hundreds) are best suited to our skills (or lack thereof), and whether there is such a thing as too much concealer.

NB. There isn’t.

So, whether you’re after a set of cheekbones razor sharp enough to give Kate Moss a run for her money, or simply want to define what you’ve already got without too much effort (or having to buy another IKEA cube to store your sculpting stash – Kylie Jenner, we’re looking at you) this is exactly how to do it.

A post shared by MARIO (@makeupbymario) on Feb 7, 2017 at 8:44am PST

1. The Everyday Contour: Lighter-Than-Light For A Super-Natural Finish

“Powder highlighters are your best bet if you want extra definition but don’t have the time or the patience to blend or layer creams,” says NYX make-up artist Dean Smith.

“They are perfect for every day wear because most are virtually weightless and they tend to soak up any oil produced by pores throughout the day.”

The Best Products For The Job:

Beginner: benefit Hoola Bronzing Powder, Rs, 1,289 – comes complete with an angled brush that hugs the contours of the cheeks.

Intermediate: NARS Contour Blush, Rs, 2,286 – a bronzer and highlighting duo which comes in array of shades to match all skin tones, from fair to dark.

gallery 1488735165 nars contour blush

Advanced: Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow, Rs, 3,735 – includes a bronzer and an iridescent highlighter to match skin tones from Fair/Medium to Medium/Dark.

gallery 1488735086 charlotte tilbury filmstar bronze and glow

The Best Tools For The Job:

– bareMinerals Blooming Brush, Rs, 1,524 – angled for larger areas like the cheeks and forehead.

– ecoTOOLS Enhancing Duo, Rs, 457 – for smaller features such as the nose.

How to do it:

1. Always apply your foundation first.

2. To cheat your way to chiselled cheekbones, simply suck in your cheeks, and using the angled brush, buff the darkest powder into the hollows using swift back and forth motions.

TOP TIP: Be sure to tap your brush to get rid of the excess powder to make blending easier.

3. If you want to make your forehead appear smaller, dust the darker powder up into your hairline until blended seamlessly. Using the same brush, bring the powder down towards your temples. This has a slimming effect on your face.

4. Define your jawline and slim down your neck by brushing the darker powder along the length of your jaw and around your chin. Just be sure to blend downwards using swift motions to create that flawless shadow.

5. If you’re using a palette that boasts a lighter powder or a highlighter, use a separate, smaller brush to dust a little along the tops of your cheekbones to bring them forward.

Remember: Bronzing powders can sometimes appear a little too dark, so those with fair skin should invest in Rodial’s Instaglam Compact Deluxe Contouring Powder. When buffed into the hollows of the cheeks, the celebrity make-up artist favourite which boasts nude and taupe undertones, provides a convincing shadow without the dreaded orange tinge.

TOP TIP: If you have dry skin, it may be best to steer clear of powder products altogether, as they’ll only accentuate blemishes.

A post shared by Olivia Culpo (@oliviaculpo) on Feb 10, 2017 at 4:42pm PST

2. The going-out contour: glamorous, but not too much

If you want your look to last way past Happy Hour, you need to incorporate heavier, creamier textures into your contouring routine as they tend to cling to the skin for longer. If you consider yourself a pro, reach for a palette. For those with less of a steady hand, opt for foundation and concealer sticks which are much easier to handle.


The best products for the job:

Beginner: Clinique Chubby Stick – Rs, 1,448, Urban Decay Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer, Rs, 1,448 – the shade spectrum, from Light Warm to Dark Neutral, works with your skin’s undertone.

Intermediate: Stila Shape and Shade Custom Contour Duo, Rs, 2,362 – in Light, Medium and Deep.

gallery 1488735224 stila shape and shade palette

Advanced: Kat Von D Shade and Light Contour Palette, Rs, 2,515– includes six blendable shades to suit an array of skin tones from porcelain to dark.

 gallery 1488735284 kat von d shade and light contour palette

The best tools for the job:

– Beauty Blender, Rs, 1,219

– Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, Rs, 457

– Morphe Brushes M164 Small Flat Angled Contour Brush, Rs, 762

How to do it:

1. After applying foundation, choose a contour colour two shades darker than your base and a concealer at least one shade lighter, to highlight.

2. Start off with the lighter shade which should be applied to areas of the face you’d like to slim down. To create dimension, draw an upside down triangle underneath your lower lash line (this should extend down to the centre of your cheek) and fill in — repeat on the other side. Dot a little concealer down the centre of your nose and take it upwards towards the centre of your forehead — then draw three lines, almost like tree branches, that stop an inch short of your hairline. Resist the urge to blend!

3. To create the illusion of prominent cheekbones, move on to the darker shade. Start at the top of your ear and visualise a line coming down towards your cheekbone – draw or paint this line and stop where your pupil is to avoid the overly sculpted look. The thickest part of the line should be closest to the ear and the thinnest part towards the mouth — it should look almost tapered.

4. Creams are best if you want to contour your nose. Using a small angled brush, start at the inner corners of your eyebrows and paint a thin line down towards the tip. Repeat on the other side of your nose.

5. The last step is to blend everything together with your dampened sponge. Starting with the lighter hues, use gentle tapping motions as not to move the product around too much. Your main aim is to lift your contours, not drag them down.

Remember: If you opt for a palette, rather than sticks, paint each shade on to the skin using a flat brush— the bristles are densely packed together and therefore, hold more product than anything fluffier. Blend the creams into the skin using a dampened sponge, but be sure to squeeze all of the water out before taking it to your face so you don’t dilute or move the product around too much.

3. Special occasion contour: the contour that shows up in pictures

“If you’re at a special event and want your make-up to show up in pictures, you need to invest in both cream and powder products to intensify the look,” says MAC make-up artist Lisa Henderson.

While it may not be a new trend, ‘baking’ aka dusting the face with loose powder after contouring and highlighting with cream products, sets that make-up in place for longer. 

bella hadid taylor hill vogue paris social tout

The best products for the job:

Beginner: Topshop Contour Wand, Rs, 914 and Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, Rs, 2,210

Intermediate: Contour Cosmetics Contour Compact, Rs, 2,210 and Kat Von D ‘lock-it’ Setting Powder, Rs, 1,523

 gallery 1488736701 kat von d lock it setting powder

Advanced: Iconic London Multi Use Cream and Powder Contour Palette, Rs, 2,515 each

gallery 1488736483 iconic london

The best tools for the job:

– B. Latex Free Blending Sponge, Rs, 381

– Artis Oval 7 Brush, Rs, 4,725

– Morphe M579 Pro Flat Contour Brush, Rs, 990

– Sigma Beauty F25 Tapered Face Brush, Rs, 2,058

– Spectrum Large Fan Brush, Rs, 762

gallery 1488736862 artis ergonomic brush set

How to do it:

1. Again, apply a full face of foundation before you begin.

2. If you want your cheekbones to really pop, reverse the steps. Taking the darker cream, define your cheekbones using the tapered line method and draw or paint a series of dashes or dots just below your hairline. Continue to draw a line along the length of your jaw and repeat step four (above) to slim down your nose.

3. Using the Artis brush, blend this into the skin using swift but gentle buffing motions and layer over these areas with a powder bronzer in a similar hue. Using a fluffy brush, swirl the bronzer up to the apples of your cheeks for a natural glow.

4. With your concealer, start to highlight underneath your eyes (using the aforementioned upside down triangle method) and continue to apply a little down the centre of your nose and in the centre of your forehead. Using a dampened sponge, blend this into the skin and repeat this step again.

5. Plunge your damp sponge into the loose powder, tap off the excess and apply underneath your eyes, down the centre of your nose and forehead and upon your chin – where you applied the lighter cream. Wait for a total of ten minutes – the heat from your face will help mesh the concealer and powder together, then, using a powder brush, simply dust the powder away.

6. If you’re after razor sharp face structure, adorn the tops of your cheekbones and the tip of your nose with an iridescent highlighter. Dust this on with a large fan brush to prevent falling shimmer debris.

Remember: If you have dark skin, be sure not to choose any shades with yellow undertones to highlight with, as they can drain the skin of colour. Kat Von D have a plethora of palettes to suit darker skin tones and Sleek’s award winning contour kit comes in four shades, with six creams to mix and match.

The same goes for highlighter – pearly, opalescent shades tend look ashy and chalky upon darker skin – here are the ones you should be investing in.