Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How to: The Principles of Contouring: Part 1

Contouring the face seems to be a mystery that a lot of my friends have indicated they'd like to solve. We've all seen fashion models with high cheekbones and deep hollows under those cheekbones. Many of us grew up during the 1980s when the style was brightly "striped" cheeks with equally dark stripes under the brighter ones. Somehow those ladies looked exciting, trendy and sculpted.

Just how does one use contouring to sculpt the face? Click below to read a high level overview of how it's done!

Contouring (and it's opposite, highlighting), work on the principle that dark colors make things recede and light colors make things appear more prominent. Makeup artists use this idea to carve cheekbones out of round faces, help hide a double chin or jowls and even more extremely, to magically insert "washboard abs" on actors with stomachs lacking in muscle tone. 

No contouring yet. Wearing foundation and lip gloss.

On the face, contouring is used anywhere you want an area to recede. In my case, I use it under my cheekbones and to sharpen my jawline. From time to time, I also use it on the forehead, right at the hairline, to further shape the face (I have a rather broad, and high forehead). In the example, I'm using a contouring color that is quite a bit darker than I normally use so that I can easily show how contouring works. I am NOT recommending that you should make yourself up like this for everyday wear, or really any day wear. This tutorial is simply to show the possibilities of light and shadow.

You can see in the picture above that I'm starting with a completely "clean" canvas. My face and collarbone area lack definition. I have a slightly oval face with a "jowley" look on the lower part of my cheeks and there are no hollows under the cheekbones.

I've applied a heavy line of a dark crayon concealer (here I used L'Oreal's Super Blendable in a shade for darker skin) wherever I wanted the area to recede (pretty, isn't it?---again, this level of contouring is for demonstration purposes only). The dark areas represent areas that I want to "sculpt"--cheekbones, jawline, collarbones, cleavage, forehead. Looking at this picture, I see that I could have also added some under the chin.

The next step is blending...and blending and blending. Since this color is a lot darker than I would normally use, it took quite awhile. Here's what it looked like after the initial blending:

You can see the beginnings of collar bones popping out and my face has been slimmed slightly. The jawline is also a bit crisper and it looks like I may be hinting at a little cleavage (trust me---this is not an area where I need help!). My nose and forehead have also been slimmed. From here, I changed brushes and blended it out so that the contouring began to look more natural.

Once you get the contouring blended, the next step is to highlight the areas that you would like to stand out. In my case, I highlighted the tops of the "collarbones" (I really do have them but you can't see them under the padding! :) ) as well as the tops of the cheekbones, bridge of the nose and in the middle of the chin and forehead. You can also lightly enhance the top of the lip (aka cupid's bow) with a touch of highlighter to make it stand out (I didn't do that here). The final look:

Again, please don't start sculpting collar bones or cleavage! That's not a good look for most people but hopefully it shows you what can be done with contouring and highlighting.

Pretty cool, huh? Later this week, I'll be posting some guidelines for products and colors to use for contouring.

Do you contour your face? Where do you apply your products?