Contouring is known to be one of the quickest and easiest ways to sculpt your face. And while makeup artists on Instagram can make the process look intimidating with dozens of steps that look like face paint gone wrong, if you have the right products, it doesn't have to be scary.
By nature, contouring works to create a sort of optical illusion, using darker and lighter makeup tones to bring certain elements of your face to the forefront. In its earliest iterations, it was used to help stage actors enhance their features so that people in the audience could see them more clearly, but now, it's become standard practice in people's day-to-day beauty routines.
In order to achieve a seamless, natural-looking contour, it's important to start with the right tools. First up? Finding the perfect contour shade for your skin tone. "Your contour color should be quite a few shades darker than your foundation, but finding the right balance of warmth and ash for your skin color is key," says Cara Lovello, a celebrity makeup artist based in New York. "Typically, you want to lean toward a cooler tone, but be careful not to let it look muddy." According to Nydia Figueroa, a celebrity makeup artist, you'll also want to avoid anything sparkly or shimmery. "A product that contains too much shimmer will reflect light which is the opposite of what a contour is meant to do," she says. Anything with red tones is also out because it will add too much warmth to your skin.
With that in mind, here are the five best contour products these artists recommend adding to your arsenal to make the process a cinch. You'll be competing with those Instagram MUAs in no time.
5 best contour products, according to makeup artists
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1. A medium, fluffy brush
Properly applying contour requires the right brush, which is where this medium, fluffy pick comes in. Use the brush to sweep the product across your jawline, in the concave areas of your cheeks, and around your hairline, then blend until it looks seamless.
2. A small, fluffy brush
The narrower the tool you're using with your contour, the more precise you can be with product application. So a smaller brush, like this one, is great for adding definition to your nose.
3. A contour stick
"If you’re new to contouring, I recommend using a stick foundation—it’s quick and easy to apply, and foundations usually blend out smoother than most contour products," says Lovello. She's a fan of this Bobbi Brown stick, which comes in 43 shades, is easily blendable, and works on all skin types.
4. A contour cream
If you use cream-based foundation or have generally dry skin, a cream contour product, like this one, is likely your best bet. It will go on smoothly without adding any unwanted sparkle or shimmer and can be applied with your fingers or a sponge, then blended with a brush.
5. A contour powder
According to Figueroa, powder contour is the best bet for anyone with oily skin, because it will help to soak up excess oils and mattify your complexion. Lovello is a fan of the Anastasia Beverly Hills Powder Contour Kit, which comes in light, medium, or dark shades and has both warm and cool tones so that you'll have everything you need for the perfect contour in a single compact.
5. A contour cream/powder duo
Can't decide between powder and cream? Get you a contour kit that can do both. "Cream contour can leave a dewy finish where a powder contour can leave a matte or satin finish," says Figueroa. "I love to first go in with a cream contour to create my desired shape and set with a powder contour for a seamless blend." This duo has a deep cream contour that you can use to sculpt your face and a pressed powder you can dust on to set it in place.
Need a quick tutorial on how to contour for Zoom? Check out the video below.
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