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To Contour or Not to Contour

As a Makeup Artist, I get to meet so many people with their own personal preferences about makeup. I often get asked to do really natural-looking makeup with clients being put off by the word ‘contour’. This I would say is largely due to the wave of videos on social media that show extreme contouring techniques. Today we are undoubtedly living through a time where we have to be camera-ready at any moment. Instagram data reports that over 280 million selfie uploads have been posted in the last year alone.

History of contour

Contouring is certainly not a new thing, its been around for centuries. Used in theatres to accentuate the performer’s faces on stage. Of course, the application wasn’t as sophisticated as it is today with chalk and soot being applied for dramatic effect. Fast forward a few hundred years to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood where contouring was sculpting the faces of actresses such as Marilyn Monroe & Audrey Hepburn, making them the envy of the movies. Over the last decade, contouring has had a complete transformation with cosmetic companies reporting bronzer sales doubling and products being marketed specifically for creating the contour of your social media dreams.

What is Contouring

Contouring is a makeup technique that uses light and dark powders or liquids to define, enhance, and sculpt the structure of the face. For contouring to work it uses the symmetry of the features of the face and aligns them by shading and lightening them. It not only enhances your definition but it can also create a definition where there isn’t any. A great example of this is to contour the jawline to make it more sculpted. Give the nose a more slender appearance or stronger presence. Contouring can truly enhance the whole look of the face and where the light and shade is carefully sketched.

How to Contour

It takes practice to perfect this but my technique for contouring is much more subtle. I basically use a contour powder that is 1 to 2 shades darker than the foundation. I would ensure that the foundation was set with a setting powder before applying the contour powder. To contour the cheeks I apply from the tip of the ear at the top of the cheekbone and in a diagonal halfway across the cheekbone. ‘Follow the hollow’ by sucking in your cheeks and yes you got it ‘follow the hollow’ Ha! Blend by buffing in circular motions. My key point with getting a flawless finish is to use less than you think and build up the definition gently. Blend a small amount at the temples and across the forehead just below the hairline. I then add a little to the jawline to slightly define. To finish I use a slim brush to define either side of the nose and blend for a soft finish. I then use either a lightening powder or a highlighting powder on the high points of the face, down the centre of the nose, on the high points of the cheeks, the chin and underneath and over the brow bone. Again, every product is applied subtly and blended as we want to create an almost airbrush like finish. These contouring techniques gently enhance the structure & definition to the face.

My top Contour products

TARTE is one of my favourite makeup brands that never fails me. The Park Avenue Princess palette is fabulous with 4 dark shades and 2 light shades. Two of the darker shades in this palette have a slight iridescence to them and are lovely for an evening look or on holiday.

ABH or Anastasia Beverley Hills is renowned for their contour palettes. All of the range is highly pigmented and gives a super professional finish with strong staying power.

IT COSMETICS is becoming one of my favourite brands right now! They are all about creating products that are good for the skin, give amazing results, and are kind to animals too. The ‘You sculpted universal contour palette’ gives a step by step guide on how and where to use each product with dramatic transformational results.

BOBBI BROWN - If I have a client that wants to really have a full-on contour look then I will switch to a liquid formula. The Bobbi Brown foundation sticks are amazing to use and then blend along with the lighter foundation. I have a few darker shades in my kit one of my most loved shades for this is Warm Almond.


My favourite brushes to contour are from TARTE and REAL TECHNIQUES they are super soft and allow me to blend gently with precision.

Give these techniques a try and have some fun creating your looks. I would love to see pictures if any of you would like to give it a try.

If you need any help with your foundation then check out last weeks blog on how to ‘Ace your Base’.

So there you have it, your contouring myths lifted. If you would like to book a personal online makeover course then click the link below to find out how to learn the professional tips & tricks to get The RubyLoves Effect.

Dont forget to subscribe below to the RubyLoves community

Lots of Love


RubyLoves xxx

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