In professional makeup circles, and those who know the real tricks of the trade, it’s no secret. However, it took the Kardashian Phenomena to make it more widely known, once the family began to share their makeup and cosmetic tips with all their eager fans on social media channels.
Despite its popularity, some beauty junkies have been put off trying it, having seen some of the contouring disaster photos that crop up on memes from time to time. Others avoid it because they simply think it’s too difficult. We’re going to show you that it’s neither scary, nor difficult, and that it’s easy to achieve an effortless contour and highlight look with some simple tools and minimum effort. Here’s how.
To highlight and contour properly, you will need the right tools. The good news is that you’re probably going to have most of these in your makeup arsenal as it is, and if you haven’t, the products can be bought inexpensively from any good quality drugstore.
Concealer (the rule of thumb here is that you have two concealers. The first must be one to two shades lighter than your skin one and your second must be one to two shades darker)
A good quality blending brush or sponge, or a beauty blender
Highlighters/Illuminators (these can come in varying shades, and when trying this just pick the shade you feel most attracted to, or you like the look of!)
The last point is optional, as you can choose to set your highlight and contour with translucent powder and setting spray if you wish, but it isn’t essential.
One you have the right tools, you then need to determine…
To contour you can use either powder or cream foundation – whichever you normally use or feel suits your skin type the best. For maximum coverage, you could use a combination of both, and this might be best suited for a night out.
Whatever your choice, make sure your first concealer is one to two shades lighter than your skin tone and your second is one to two shades darker than your skin tone.
Take your lighter concealer and place it on the areas of your face that you want to ‘make pop’ or bring forward, so for many, regardless of face shape this will be the bridge of your nose, chin, under eye area and the middle of your forehead.
Once this is done and blended, take a darker concealer and add this to the areas of the face which need more depth. These areas would be the sides of the nose, the jawline, the hollows of the cheeks, the temples and the perimeter of the forehead.
Blending is the easiest step, but it’s also the most important (and any of you who have seen some of the contouring fail memes on social media will know this is true!).
Concealing, and using two different shades can mean that you end up with some harsh lines that need to be softened. This makeup technique is supposed to look as natural as possible, so these lines need to be blended out properly. A top tip is to invest in a beauty blender sponge and use this to create a very soft focus look that is natural. Use gentle, soft, sweeping movements to blend the concealer and make it look like it’s part of your face.
Once all the blending is done, an optional extra is to use a setting powder (one that goes on clear) so that your makeup stays put. However, this is only a recommended step if you use cream foundation. If you use powder and your foundation and concealer, you do not need to do this.
It doesn’t just end with contouring. The next technique is highlighting. This is also known as ‘strobing’ within the makeup community.
A highlighting product can be any color or shade and might come in powder, cream, liquid or baked form. What you choose depends on the look you want to create and your skin type.
Highlighter goes on the cheek bones, bridge and tip of the nose, chin, cupids bow, and above the temples by the eyebrows. Once you’re used to doing this you can take it a step further and highlight the inner corners of the eyes and the brow bone, to really open up that area of your face.
Applying highlighter can create a soft, daytime look that is very natural, dewy and glowing, or it can offer something much more noticeable and dramatic, for a night-time look. You can use a very subtle,“shimmery” highlighter for daytime, and really go all out with a bright, bold look for the evening.
Take a look at your face in the mirror and make sure you’re happy with your application. If not, go back and re-touch, re–blend or re-apply to any areas that look like they need it. Remember, less is more, with any makeup. You can always apply more as you go, but it’s more difficult to remove!
Once you’re completely happy, use a setting spray to set everything in place. It’ll help your makeup last all day and night and prevent any cakey looks that are an absolute style no-no.