Beacon Beauty: Countless ways to contour

by Courtney Kaner / Beacon Correspondent • September 23, 2015

With new types of contouring opening our eyes to countless possibilities, it seems the plain old bronzer-and-brush technique is going out of style.

We all aspire to those perfectly poised cheekbones that Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner possess. Luckily, the makeup world has powders and creams with which we can carve out our facial features. This is known universally as contouring.

For those who are unfamiliar, contouring is a technique used by professional makeup artists, celebrities, and makeup-lovers to define an individual’s facial features. One would usually take a cream or powder bronzer, forming lines where the cheekbones, jawline, and temples are. This accentuates the natural shadows on the face. To contrast the defined shadows on the face, one highlights. This is the use of a lighter or yellow shade of powder or cream product to brighten certain areas on the face that should appear lighter. Typically, this includes under the eyes; the bridge of the nose; the chin; the Cupid’s bow, which is the small curvature above the upper lip; and the forehead. It may sound like a lot of work, but once you get the hang of it and make sure to blend, it actually is quite simple and leaves for a beautiful, natural finish.

Big name cosmetic companies like Kat Von D and Anastasia of Beverly Hills have developed all-in-one makeup palettes to help achieve that perfectly highlighted and contoured face.

With contouring being popular among makeup lovers, new styles have developed. This summer we saw the rise of “strobing,” which is the use of a highlighter or luminizer to “contour” your face without using any bronzers. The highlighter is placed on the parts of the face the sun would naturally hit: the tops of the cheekbones, bridge of the nose, and Cupid’s bow. It leaves a beautiful sunlit glow and adds definition to the face, which you would not typically get with basic contouring using bronzer.

“Clown contouring” is a new trend on YouTube. Started by makeup artist BellaDeLune to stand up to makeup-shamers who criticized both her and others for wearing too much makeup, the technique works exactly like it sounds. The cream contouring style utilizes different colors, like greens and peaches, which help to color-correct the skin, in designs placed specifically on the face. These can resemble swirls, words, even the look of a clown’s face paint, but once blended, the results are amazing. It appears as if the pattern were never there. Nowadays, women and men contour their cleavage, pectorals, and abdomen, to create a sculpted image or plumper shape. Who needs plastic surgery or the gym anyway?

The evolution has gone so far that people are even contouring their face with spray tan, a method called “tontouring.” Although this is not yet recommended because of the risks it poses due to the chemicals in the formula, it creates a longer-lasting contour than using makeup.

Beauty YouTuber Carli Bybel, in her recent strobing tutorial, said, “In my opinion, I’ll always contour. I feel like every day I perfect how to contour, and when you do know how to do it right for your face shape—I just feel like that’s a trend that will never go out of style in my opinion, but we will see.”

Just recently at New York Fashion Week, some of the top designers showed models sporting traditional contoured faces alongside their unique choices of messy chignons and cobalt nails. For Wes Gordon Spring/Summer 2016, Dominique Samuel from Maybelline New York created a dewy, fresh-faced look accented by full brows and gentle contouring. As New York Fashion Week proves, the traditional way of contouring will never go out of style.

Personally, contouring is one of my favorite aspects of makeup artistry. It allows you to subtly define your beautiful features. I am still so attached to the simple bronzer-on-. It’s quick, easy, and every day I learn a new way to perfect it even more. Don’t get me wrong: I love watching and learning about these new methods so I can pass them along to others, but when you get down to it, I strongly believe the traditional way is the one that will be used for generations.

The makeup world is an industry made up of fresh trends. It’s what makes it so interesting and new. We can contour with colors and make our abs look like we spent years at the gym, but the original way to contour is one you will always use getting ready for the day.