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Why Face Sculpting Is the New Way to Contour

Out with the bold, in with the new.
September 01, 2021

Five years ago,
contouring was arguably the biggest trend in the makeup industry. From defining jawlines to drastically thinning out noses, this makeup technique is all about creating illusions. Or perhaps, it was. We recently spoke with the experts at L’Oréal Paris, who shared their take on the evolution of contouring and how makeup lovers will approach the technique today. Keep reading to learn about this new way to contouring as well as our makeup tips for contouring the modern way. 

Face Sculpting Is the New Contouring 

Makeup trends and techniques are always shifting, and post 2020, sculpting is the new contouring, here's why:

1. Contouring Can Be Harsh 

If you’re a longtime fan of makeup content on social media, then you’ve likely seen wild contouring transformations involving sharp lines and countless steps. But it may be better to sculpt instead of contour. For starters, contouring is a bit aggressive and involve seven to eight steps. People were taking knives to contour their noses 一 it just became the olympics of contouring. In this "less is more" era of makeup, even the makeup obsessed is less interested in that process and technique.

2. Contouring Is Often Associated With Slimming Features 

There’s nothing wrong with using makeup to enhance your features and boost your confidence, but we never want makeup trends to send the message that our appearance needs to align with specific beauty standards. 

Sculpting is not about slimming down the face in or making cheekbones more Eurocentric. It's about enhancing and highlighting all features, it's centered around inclusivity. It doesn't change your features to look like that of another person's, it just complements your own.


3. Sculpting Improves Selfies 

Sculpting is great in photos since it really enhances the structure of your face. A soft definition of the features makes them pop in photos without looking overdone.


How to Sculpt Like a Pro 

When it comes to trading in harsh contouring for a more natural, sculpted look, all you need to do is follow these simple tips to start sculpting like the pros.

1. Find The Best Placement 

The best place to start is the inner ear, according to the pros at L'Oréal Paris. The little area at the inner ear where we often pierce (the tragus), is the perfect place to start with a little bit of shading and definition. And you can bring it down into the cheekbones.

A key rule of thumb for sculpting any face shape is to stop at your pupil. Sometimes people pull the contour further down and their look starts to move into doll-like territory, and not in a good way. No one has a natural curve under their cheekbone when you’re looking at them from the front.


2. Application Method Is Key 

If you have an oval-shaped or round face and you don’t have prominent cheekbones, the best method to apply your contour is by brushing in your shadow. In a circular motion, just start to softly kiss the face with a little warmth underneath the cheekbones, explains the experts at L'Oréal Paris.

You can do this using a bronzer like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear Soft Matte Bronzer, or you can even achieve a soft sculpt with a powder foundation like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Fresh Wear 24HR Powder Foundation in a color that’s a few shades deeper than your skin tone. That will create some drama, but it won’t look as cookie-cutter as if you just took a foundation [or contour product] and striped it all over your face.  

Next: What Is Foundation Meant to Do?

Photography: Chaunte Vaughn, Senior Art Director: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy, Associate Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Wardrobe Stylist: Adriana Perez-Bell, Digital Tech: Paul Yem, Model: Chelsea Vaughn 

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