Contouring: So Much Easier Than You Think (Honest)

Contouring make-up techniques can go oh-so wrong. But fear not, with the help of Terry Barber, MAC’s Director of Make-up Artistry and the Michelangelo of face-sculpting, anyone can create the chiselled cheekbones of a supermodel. Here’s how to join the sculpture club...

1. Start with your cheekbones

‘Everyone has a bone structure so contouring works no matter what face shape you have – it’s just about tailoring it to suit you. Most women want to define their cheekbones so the most foolproof technique for this is to follow the line from the top of the ear to the outer corner of the lip. The trick is to make the colour more intense at the top of the face, fading out to the merest hint of colour towards the mouth. Follow this structural rule and it won’t fail to give you chiselled cheekbones.’

2. Stay away from blusher

‘The biggest mistake people make when sculpting is to confuse contouring with blush. Blusher is designed to give you a healthy flush whilst contouring is designed to create shape, it’s as simple as that.’

3. Choose the right colour for you

‘Avoid anything too flat and steer clear of colours that are either too brown or have a grey undertone to them. A warm taupe colour is generally the most flattering as well as convincing hue. I love MAC’s Mineralize Skinfinish powders as they lend a soft honey tone to the complexion but you can always go for a pressed powder that’s a couple of shades darker than your natural skintone. If your skin is very pale, however, opt for a warm rose taupe such as MAC’s Blusher in Tenderling.

4. It’s all about powder

‘Powders tend to be easier to handle than creams so they’re generally better for contouring beginners. Go for a satin or matte texture as opposed to anything frosted and invest in a contouring blush with a domed head to apply with rather than using a big powder brush – one about the same width as your cheekbones is perfect as the aim is to emphasise the area just under the bone. Use small circular motions to buff the colour into the skin for an airbrushed effect but keep the blending confined to this area to avoid it spreading over too large an area – afterall it’s supposed to mimic a real shadow.’

5. Build up your confidence

‘If you feel confident with contouring your cheekbones, take it up a notch by sweeping the colour up to the temple and around the hairline to create a beautiful halo effect which is particularly flattering for a night out. You can even sweep the colour under the jawline to chisel the chin but tap off any excess product first – it’s about adding a hint of shadow rather than a beard!’

6. The nose can change the structure of your face

‘The nose is an interesting area to contour – if done correctly it can really change the whole structure of the face, but make sure you get the colour right. The golden rule is to keep the shadow on either side of the nose exactly parallel. Taking a small, tapered brush (I love MAC’s 224 brush), apply a minimal amount of product starting at the inner point of the brow and sweeping it down the sides of the nose and just under the tip. Remember, you only need the merest hint of product for this.’

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