It’s very likely that in the past year you haven’t found a reason to try your hand at a flawless contour. But there’s no denying that the face looks amazing with the definition of chiseled cheekbones, a slimmed jawline and other features that contouring can accentuate. There’s also no denying that this can be one makeup technique that is truly difficult to master. Seriously, it can feel like unless you’re a makeup artist, there’s no way you’ll be able to get the hang of this whole contouring thing. 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.
Before you pick up those brushes, read on to find out the most common contouring mistakes you should try to avoid. Soon you’ll be applying your contour powder, cream and highlighter like a pro.
CONTOURING MISTAKE #1: YOU CHOOSE SHADES THAT ARE WAY TOO DARK
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 Full Wear Concealer Waterproof, Full Coverage comes in 25 multi-use shades that can be used to conceal, highlight and contour.
Editor’s note: For more tips on how to master the technique with this product, check out our article How to Contour and Highlight with Concealer.
CONTOURING MISTAKE #2: YOU USE TOO MUCH HIGHLIGHTER
Highlighter is one of our favorite products to use when contouring—but it’s really easy to go overboard and end up in 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 Match Lumi Liquid Glow Illuminator or the L'Oréal Paris Infallible Longwear Highlighter Shaping Sticks, whichever suits your application preference.
CONTOURING MISTAKE #3: YOU MISMATCH FORMULAS
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.
CONTOURING MISTAKE #4: YOU DON’T TAKE YOUR FACE SHAPE INTO CONSIDERATION
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, and so on. 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.
CONTOURING MISTAKE #5: YOU DON’T FOCUS ON THE RIGHT AREAS
Be strategic with where you place your contour and highlight. Apply your darker shade (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.
CONTOURING MISTAKE #6: YOU ONLY FOCUS ON ONE AREA
If you’re pressed for time, you might consider only contouring one key spot—but doing so could result in an uneven and unnatural look. When you decide to contour, make sure to do it in a balanced way so as not to end up with one sculpted spot while the rest of your face looks a bit flat.
CONTOURING MISTAKE #7: YOU USE THE WRONG TOOLS FOR APPLICATION
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.
CONTOURING MISTAKE #8: YOU SKIP OUT ON BLENDING
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. Using a makeup blender can make blending easier. Just make sure you’re being thorough and don’t forget to blend out your jawline contour!
CONTOURING MISTAKE #9: NOT USING A SETTING SPRAY
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 and Set Make-Up Oil Free Setting Spray. Not doing so could result in your entire look smearing, smudging, and rubbing off before your day (or night) is over, and nobody wants that. So prevent all of the above with a few spritzes of setting spray.
Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn
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