First thing’s first – let’s clarify what contouring is in terms of make-up technique. My understanding is that contouring is where a feature (e.g the nose or chin) is made up to look a certain shape. Therefore make-up is applied with the goal of using colour to create an illusion. More often than not it’s to make a body part look bigger or smaller, by drawing attention to or away from the area. Usually the aim is to enhance your facial structure, but remember, depending on the goal, ‘enhancing’ can mean many different things. You may want to contour as part of your every day make-up routine, therefore the aim is probably to make your face look as good as possible. On the flip side, you might want to make your features look worse, e.g. if you’re going to a Halloween party. Contouring is simply about using make-up to create the illusion that something looks a different shape. This technique can be used on any body part, not just the face, and when you know why – you can use the same technique on anything in life! Think making rooms look bigger/smaller/a different shape. Now I’m just getting silly – but it’s true!!! Anyway…. moving on….. in order to contour it’s a good idea to work out what face shape you have.
How do you identify your face shape?
There are many ways of doing this, including asking a friend (if you trust their opinion!), looking at a photograph of yourself, or the one I love the most and have done myself – drawing your shape in the mirror using an eye liner, lipstick or something similar. A little messy I know, but in reality you’ll probably only ever need to do this once. Here’s what to do:
1) Stand in front of your mirror making sure that you’re facing directly forward, and that you can see your whole face (make sure your hair isn’t covering it!).
2) Keep your back straight and your head held high.
3) Use your lipstick or chosen beauty product to draw the outline of your face, as shown in the picture above. Try and keep as still as possible when doing this.
4) Next you need to look at the shape that you’ve drawn and decide which shape it best fits out of diamond, heart, oblong, oval, rectangular, round, square or triangular.
Once you know what face shape you have you can use contouring techniques to enhance your facial structure. The perfect face shape is considered to be oval because of it’s proportions and balance, where no areas are more dominant than the other. So when contouring, the aim is often to create the illusion of an oval face shape (if you don’t already have this).
So now you know what face shape you have – how can you make it look oval?
First you need to understand what effect colour creates, because this is going to help you when deciding where to apply it. The concept is very simple:
- Darker colours make things look smaller, therefore minimising them. We’re talking bronzers, a darker shade of blusher, a darker shade of foundation – the list goes on!
- Lighter colours make things look bigger, therefore maximising them and drawing attention to that area. This could be a highlighter, a light blusher or a light shade of foundation etc.
I hope you’ve found this post useful. You’ll notice that I often start my sentences with ‘my understanding is’ or ‘I believe that’, and the reason for this is that I don’t want to come across as though I’m preaching just because I’ve been a make-up artist. I don’t think that there’s any right or wrong way to apply make-up, just lots of great techniques that could be used. If what you do works for you then great! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I love to share my knowledge, but at the same time, just like anyone else – I’m always learning and changing. The tips and tricks in this post are just guidelines, and you must remember that ‘one size does not fit all’. Hopefully you can use what I’ve written to create your own personal contouring technique to suit your individual features. In another post I’ll cover contouring in more detail, including eyes and lips etc, and if you like I can write a more in-depth post about each face shape.
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