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If you believe that the likes of Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez actually have cheekbones that well defined, you need to know about contouring. Once a secret weapon of top Hollywood make-up stars such as Marlene Dietrich, it was brought to the masses by legendary 1990s makeup artist, Kevyn Aucoin. It’s like having plastic surgery with nothing more than a few pots of colour, a sponge, and a makeup brush.
Knowing how to contour and highlight will change your life, or at least your life in selfies. If you want to elongate your nose, slim your cheeks, and generally look as if you have just been photographed for the cover of Vogue, it’s a fantastic skill to have.
If you still have no idea what we’re on about, watch this excellent contouring tutorial from Wayne Goss. (Warning: watching contouring tutorial videos on YouTube and Instagram is slightly addictive. Side effects can lead to the sense of large chunks of time disappearing, and an excessive collection of makeup brushes).
Contouring kits are widely available to suit most skin tones and budgets. The Australis On Tour Cream Contouring and Highlighting includes six shades and retails for $24.95. Moving up the price spectrum is the Kat Von D Shade and Light Palette, which, at $65, is around the same price as the Napoleon Perdis palette. Clinique’s contouring Chubby Sticks are $42 each and, at the more expensive end of the price range, expect to pay nearly $100 for Estee Lauder’s New Dimension Shape + Sculpt Face Kit.
Tools of the Trade
The real key to contouring is not just knowing where to apply the shade and highlight, but how to blend it so you’re not left looking like a cheap paint-by-numbers clown. As you watch tutorial videos you’ll notice that make-up artists use a mix of fingers, sponges, and brushes to get the best finish. What you use will depend partly on whether you use cream or powder makeup (or a combination of the two), but it’s likely that you’ll need at least three brushes: an angled brush, a flat brush, and a rounded blush brush.
Practice your technique several times, and take some selfies in different lights, before you reveal your contoured face in public, as it can be a tricky process for beginners to get right. Trust us though, it’s worth it! Once you’ve learned how to do it, you’ll never go back to just foundation and bronzer again.