how to contour

WATCH: How To Contour

(... It Won't Make You Look Silly, We Promise)

Contouring divides opinion, doesn’t it? On the one hand you have the fans for whom the discovery of enhancing cheekbones by means of make-up was a game-changer. On the other, you have people like me who find doing the whole shebang on a regular basis a little mystifying – adding shadow and lifting areas seems fine to me if going on stage/embarking on a huge night out but not so much in ‘real’ day-to-day life when I feel it’d probably look a bit silly and, besides, I often run out the door after a hurried five minute make-up job, so have no time to thin out my nose, thank you very much.

But then along came Smashbox and Janine Bird, who went to town with the contouring on my face and made me look good for it. Not weird, like I was auditioning to be a Michael Jackson tribute act (I love MJ as much as the next person but that nose is not something I aspire to). No – I just looked like me, but slimmer of nose and higher of cheekbone.

On leaving the studio, I inspected my face in the harsh light of day in a mirror and realised that Janine was absolutely right to emphasise the importance of the transitional shadow – not the deep contour, and not the highlighter, but the shade that pulls it together, that makes it all seamless. I couldn’t see any lines but my face looked a whole lot more chiselled. Which is the whole point of the contouring thing, no?

The next day I followed her instructions in all of two minutes using the Smashbox palette, then gathered compliments from friends all day (‘have you been on a diet?’ ‘you look healthy – what have you done?’). I’ve now joined the other camp: contouring is a fantastic make-up technique to crack out when you’re feeling paunchy or puffy, provided you get it right. Good thing, then, that I – and you – have the above video to follow.

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