Contouring is actually an almighty pain in the hoop.
‘Blessed’ with the type of facial proportions that are more Humpty Dumpty than Kate Moss, I am drawn to the magic of contouring like a particularly chubby moth to a face-defining flame. We all know the drill: it’s about sculpting the skin to add definition, enhance bone structure and create natural looking shadows and highlights.
But for something that sounds so theoretically simple, contouring is actually an almighty pain in the hoop.
Even with armies of makeup artists at their beck and call, celebrities are prone to a contouring mishap or two – think Lindsay Lohan, and be very, very afraid. But think Nigella’s court face – or, yes, even Kim K – and admit it: it’s a skill you’re keen to master.
I’m not here today to tell you how to do that – because, frankly, I don’t know how (though maybe Frillseeker’s latest columnist, makeup artist Sarah Lanagan, could give it a bash sometime?). What I can do is share the mistakes I’ve made, and how you can avoid them – the rest, young grasshopper, is entirely up to you.
Behold, the many faces of contouring I have worn:
1. The Streaker
To avoid streaking or patchiness I have two tips. Firstly, and very importantly, make sure your brush is clean and dry. This will ensure it both picks up and deposits colour in a more even and uniform way – and that you’re not piling older product onto your face.
Applying powder contour over a liquid base? Set your foundation first with powder. And skip that step if you’re working with a cream – powder over powder, and cream over cream, is the general rule.
2. The Tiger
While beautiful, a tiger’s face is stripey and orange and, unless it’s October, you probably don’t fancy being either.
Avoid the striped effect by choosing a nicely tapered brush I am in love with the Wayne Goss #2, and deeply desirous of Charlotte Tilbury’s Powder & Sculpt Brush too) and work with small, circular motions instead of swipes.
Choose your colour with care: you need something cooler and darker than your skintone, but only by a couple of shades. The Body Shop range is great for paler skin, while medium skintones could try Mac’s Harmony blush or The Sculpting Powder, from Kevyn Aucoin. With darker skin, highlight is often more important: choose something lighter and warmer than your face.
3. The Urchin
Ah, those glorious moments when your mum is asking how you got that bruise…or Him Indoors is wondering why your face appears so grubby. Both have happened to me, the result of being heavy handed (tap off the excess before you start), choosing the wrong colour (see above) and bringing the product too far across my face – stop in line with the middle of your eye.
4. The Glitter Bomb
Do yourself a favour, and stick to mattes already.
Any more tips or tales of woe to share?