Both contouring and bronzing your face are great skills to hone, and everyone should know when and how to use them. There can be confusion, because quite often people use a bronzer to contour with, and this is totally acceptable as long as you are using the correct shade. If you aren’t sure, then it’s a good idea to stick with a product marketed specifically for contouring because this will have the appropriate undertones. Contouring is used to sculpt and define the face. It enhances the natural dimension in your face structure. Darker parts of your face recede, or appear shadowed. With the right shade and application technique you can achieve a more chiseled look (and who doesn’t want that!) It is very important, especially if you are new to contouring, to stay with a more natural look, especially if you are going to be in daylight. For nighttime or photographs you can take the look a little further, but for the sake of this blog, let’s stick with an Intro to basic contouring.
When you look in the mirror, try to pay attention to areas of the face that naturally recede. Look at your temples and just underneath your cheek bone. This is where you will want to concentrate. For the most natural contouring, when using a gel product apply it before foundation. Start with a Foundation Blending Brush and dip the tip in the darker shade of the Duo (Deception). Keep in mind that the first place the brush touches your face will be where the most product is deposited. Look in the mirror and make a fish face. Sure it feels a little silly, but this is important to ensure the proper placement of the color! Sweep the brush diagonally back and forth across your cheeks where they are indented. Start at the outside edge near your hairline (not near your mouth). You only want to go about halfway toward the corners of your mouth for a natural application. Do this to the other side of your face and then blend out the edges by making small circular motions with your brush. This part is very important. You really can’t over blend so don’t be afraid. Once you are happy with the appearance, load your brush with more product and do the same to your temples. Without adding more color blend the two areas toward each other. You want your face to look and feel connected, so if you have any product left on your brush go ahead and drag the brush across the top of the forehead from temple to temple. Use the same method applying the color just under the jaw line, blending down the neck. This creates a shadow and helps define the jaw. To create the look of pouty lips, place a little product where your face indents naturally under your mouth.
When contouring you will want to complement the look with highlighting. Anything you add light to brings it out more, so it gives you a greater impact when combined with the contouring or shading. I chatted with freelance makeup artist extraordinaire Sadi Brooke Burress to see if she had any tips to share about highlighting and she suggested to concentrate on highlighting the top of your cheekbones if your highlighter has a shimmer/glow appearance like Mineralogie’s shade in Tease. For other areas of your face like your forehead, bridge of nose and tip of the chin, even around the edge of your mouth you can opt for a cream concealer in a shade or two lighter than your foundation.
Once you become more comfortable with contouring you can play with it in ways to detract attention from the shape of your nose by slimming down the sides with a contour shade or applying highlight on the outer edges to make it look less pointy.
Reach for a bronzer when you want to look like you just came home from a fabulous tropical vacation (but without the sun damage). Its fine to use something with shimmer, but think light-reflecting glow and not chunky sparkle). When you do pick your shade think of a color you would naturally tan. You want the look to be realistic. Barcelona Bronze is one of my favorite shades to use for this! You are typically bronzing areas of the face that would naturally be hit by Sun; such as your nose, forehead, top of cheekbones, maybe a little on your chin. Think of the areas that sunburn first if you are outside watching a ball game and forgot your sunscreen at home.
The application method is much the same as the Contouring in that you will dip the brush in powder (I always use the Deluxe Brush for this) and then tap off the excess. Start with your forehead first and then add powder to your cheekbones, chin and nose, blending as you go. Try to be very light handed because sometimes if you have made any mistakes or haven’t properly blended it might not be noticeable in your bathroom mirror, it will be more obvious in daylight.
Whether you are contouring and highlighting or bronzing…or even doing a little of it all; don’t be afraid to experiment. You don’t have to get it right the first time. Just do your best and ask an honest friend for input.
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