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Oh, contouring—while we love the way our face looks with definition (chiseled cheekbones, FTW!), this can be one makeup technique that is difficult to truly master. Seriously, it can feel like unless you’re a pro makeup artist, there’s no way you’ll be able to get the hang of this whole contouring thing. But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are a few tips you can follow that can help make learning how to contour much easier. Find out how to avoid the most common contouring mistakes and you’ll be applying your contour powder or cream (and highlighter) for a gorgeous, sculpted look with a lot less trepidation. Keep reading to learn about nine common contouring mistakes you should try to avoid.
When it comes to contouring, you can sculpt your face with a product meant specifically for contouring, or you can use concealer. Regardless of what type of makeup product you choose to contour with, you should really only go one or two shades darker than your skin tone—otherwise, the end result won’t look natural. The L'Oréal Paris Infallible Total Cover Concealing & Contour Kit comes with four shades of concealer so you can use them individually or blend them together for a custom contour hue.
Editor’s note: You read that correctly. You don’t need to buy specialized contour products in order to create the perfect look—concealer will work, too. Here’s How to Contour and Highlight with Concealer.
Highlighter is one of our favorite products to use when contouring—but it’s really easy to go overboard and veer into disco ball territory. Highlighter can help enhance your facial features, and all you need is a teeny-tiny amount to do that. Try the L'Oréal Paris True Macth™ Lumi Liquid Glow Illuminator, which comes in three shades (ice, golden, and rose)—and remember to use a light touch! If you prefer to contour and highlight using stick-shaped products—they are super convenient—we’ve got those, too! Try the L'Oréal Paris Infallible Longwear Highlighter Shaping Sticks if that’s your preference.
What do you get when you pair a powder highlighter with a cream contour product? That would be a super-cakey, unnatural look. Always pair like with like. Meaning, you should match cream formulas with other creams, liquids with liquids, and powders with powders.
Be strategic with where you place your contour and highlight. Apply your darker shade (i.e. your contour color) around your hairline, down the sides of your nose, under your cheekbones, and along your jawline. As far as highlighter goes, apply that under your eyes, down the bridge of your nose, in between your brows, and on the center of your chin.
Depending on your face shape, where you focus your contour could change. If you have an angular face, you may want to soften the look of your jawline by applying your darker shade from your mid-ears toward your chin; if you have an oval face, you have the option of shortening the look of your jawline by applying your darker shade on your chin and jawline, etc. etc. Want the full scoop on how to contour for your face shape? Head over to our article, The Right Way to Contour for Every Face Shape.
Applying your contour with the right tool can make all the difference. So, instead of using your fingers to haphazardly apply your makeup, use a makeup blender, like the L'Oréal Paris Infallible Blend Artist Foundation Blender. Apply a small amount of your contour and highlighter products onto the blender, then draw lines around your cheekbones, jawline, and nose with the tip of the makeup blender before blending the lines out using the side of the blender.
This could very well be the biggest mistake people make when they’re contouring. Blending is super important. When you’re drawing lines on your face with your contour color and highlighter, you want to diffuse them so that no one can tell you’ve used a bunch of makeup products to help sculpt your face. Luckily, using a makeup blender can certainly make blending easier. Just make sure you’re being thorough and don’t forget to blend out your jawline contour!
After you’ve put in all this time and effort into creating the perfect contoured look, you’ll certainly want to set it with a makeup setting spray, such as the L'Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Spray & Set Makeup Extender Setting Spray. Not doing so could result in your entire contoured makeup look smearing, smudging, and rubbing off before your day (or night) is over, and nobody wants that. So, go ahead and prevent all of the above with a few spritzes of setting spray.
If you’re pressed for time, you might consider only contouring one key spot—but doing so could result in an uneven and unnatural face makeup look. For example, if you only contour your jawline, but nowhere else, your overall look won’t be balanced. When you decide to contour, make sure to contour in a balanced way so as not to end up with one sculpted spot while the rest of your face looks a bit flat.
Now that you’re a pro at contouring, it’s time to brush up your knowledge on another face makeup staple: blush. Here’s How to Find the Right Blush for Your Skin Tone.