Contouring can be a hard beauty technique to master—it has a lot to do with your face shape, and includes drawing on the right areas, blending perfectly and making sure the colours of your products are not too dark or too light. If you’re someone who hasn’t really mastered contouring, it’s understandable to be daunted by it while still wanting to achieve that sharp look. But the truth is, the contouring tutorials on Instagram or Youtube can be far more intense than the simple makeup you’ll use for regular days. Here, Bollywood celebrity makeup artist Vardan Nayak shares everything you need to know about contouring and tells you how to go from a subtle look to a heavy one, while listing out the best products that deserve a spot in your beauty kit. “Contouring is giving shape to certain areas of the face and enhancing the facial structure through makeup—it’s not always meant to be noticeable, just a subtle definition,” he says. Follow the expert’s steps for a seamless look every time.
How to contour your face: A step-by-step guide
Step 1: Master your base makeup
“First, apply your foundation that matches you skin tone and makeup, making sure you blend it well for a flawless look. Use your corrector and concealer to mask any blemishes, dark circles and unexpected acne,” says Nayak.
Step 2: Highlight your T-zone
For a fresh, day look, apply highlighter on the centre of your forehead, between your brows extending down on your nose, on your Cupid’s bow and at the centre of your chin. This instantly brightens up your face.
Step 3: Chisel the cheekbones and jawline
During the day, it’s better to use a powder contouring product because it’s easy to fix and blend. “The contouring powder must be brushed on from the ear along the hairline, going under your jaw and on the sides of your nose. The colour near the ear must be deep as the shadow falls in that area. To make your cheekbones really pop, swipe a line of contour powder directly on the bottom edge of your cheekbone, so much so that your brush should be straddling your cheekbone as you apply it. A natural-looking contour requires heavy blending, which means you need to swirl the bronzer powder beneath your chin and extend it down your neck. I like the Anastasia Beverly Hills Powder and Cream Contour Kits, the MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural Powder in Dark and Deep Dark and the Sephora Collection Pro Angled Brush. When contouring for the night, use a cream contour product for a sharper, more defined look. Next, set your face with translucent powder and follow up with a swish of your contour powder over the cream to make sure it lasts all night,” he says. For a more chiseled look, especially for photos, applying the contour product in the shape of the numerical three is most popular—across the temples, in towards the cheeks, and down the jawline (along the length of the jaw and at the base of the chin), blending it upwards and outwards.
The most common contouring mistakes you should avoid
- You don’t always need to contour your face, and not all faces require contouring. Make sure you try it and decide if you like the look or not—you need to understand your face structure and the exact areas that need contouring for you.
- Not blending a contour well is the biggest mistake you can make when using the technique.
- Make sure you use the right contouring colour for your skin tone. Applying a shade that is very light will make the contour irrelevant, while one that is too dark will give a very harsh effect.