Shape Up: Part 4

So you’ve identified your face shape, know where to sculpt if desired and have learned how to minimize features you don’t love. Now it is essential that you choose the correct products and tools so no one knows what you’ve been up to. Obvious contour and highlight is about as flattering as harem pants.

The Products: Contour

Contouring products come in powder, cream and liquid formulations. You can use whatever best suits your skin type or layer them (but use restraint, please). As previously discussed, contouring makes areas recede, sometimes giving the illusion of a shadow. Because actual shadows are gray and cool-toned, you want to make sure your contour product(s) are also on the cool side. Anything too warm–think orange-y bronzers–will look off. Bronzers are for bronzing, which is different than contouring. And definitely stay away from any contour products with shimmer, as that defeats the purpose. Shimmer brings light to an area, which will make it look larger–the opposite of what contouring is supposed to do. Using a shimmery bronzer to contour can also make your skin look muddy, aka streaky, aka dirty, aka not a good look.

So, what should you use? For powder contour, I swear by Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit. It includes a matte contour and a matte highlight and comes in different shades for different skin colors. This bad boy has been my go-to for years.

Make Up For Ever highlight and contour
Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit in shade 4 Dark.

If you like cream products (typically good for normal to dry skin) and have light skin, check out Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow. It is taupe with gray undertones, so it doesn’t look obvious on fair skin. Jen, one of the AB Beauty makeup artists, uses this and swears by it.

Illamasqua Cream Contour in Hollow, contour for light skin, cream contour
Illamasqua Cream Contour in Hollow

For medium to dark skin, I use MAC Matchmaster Concealer. I know it’s not technically a cream contour, but it’s a stick concealer and works just as well. The shades I use tend to be a little more warm than I would normally go for, but there is a reason the rule can be bent. The kind of face sculpting I do is not as aggressive as current day contouring, so using something slightly warm-toned on medium to dark skin (it would be too obvious on light skin) works as long as it is blended well.

MAC Matchmaster Concealer, MAC contour, concealer contour
MAC Matchmaster Concealer. I use shades 7.5, 8, 8.5 and 9. They are as dark or darker than the one furthest to the right in this photo.

For very dark skin–like the gorgeous blue black skin that some people have–you can skip the contour. To shape your face, you would apply highlight on the areas you want to bring out and the contrast of the natural skin color against the highlight will create a sculpting effect.

The Products: Highlight

Highlight–particularly of the shimmer variety–is crazy hyped up right now. If I can see your cheekbones, Cupid’s Bow and tip of nose (remember–don’t do that!) glowing from across the room then sweetheart, you’ve done too much. Subtle highlight, whether shimmer or matte, is infinitely more flattering. You can believe me, or you can regret it when your Facebook memory selfies come up in five years.

For cream and liquid highlighters with some shimmer, I like Benefit Watts Up (stick highlighter) and Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Skincare Primer (liquid). Yes, Wonderglow is meant to be a primer, but I think it works beautifully as a highlighter. (I’m having a hell of a time trying to insert photos of those products into this post but Google images will hook you up.)

For powder highlight, I typically reach for the highlight powder from the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow Duo. I apply it with a very light hand, as a little goes a long way.

Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar, Charlotte Tilbury Bronzer, powder highlight
Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow

You for sure want to avoid placing shimmery highlight on skin with fine lines or visible pores. If you want to highlight those areas, use a matte highlight. The highlight powders from the Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kits are great if you prefer a powder formulation. For a matte cream highlight, you can really use any concealer that is lighter than your skin. I prefer ones with a thinner consistency, like MAC Select Moisturecover Concealer.

You can also highlight and contour using foundation. For this technique, you would use your regular foundation around the edges of your face and on any areas you would want to contour. Then a lighter foundation with the same undertone in the same formulation would be used on the areas you want to highlight (but use concealer–not foundation–under the eyes). If you’re someone whose skin color changes throughout the year, this is a great way to use your “winter” foundation during the summer.

The Tools

The type of product you are using should dictate the tools you choose. I always use a brush for powder products. For creams and liquids, I apply with my hands so my body heat–of which I have none of lately in New England, even though it is MARCH–breaks down the product. When it is broken down (melted a bit) that allows it to apply more evenly. I then blend it with a buffing brush if needed. My go to buffing brush is the one from the Real Techniques Core Collection.

Buffing brush, Real Techniques
Real Techniques Core Collection

Any contouring and highlighting you do should be blended well. That’s such a huge thing with highlight and especially contour. A foundation buffing brush is great for blending larger areas, and a fluffy-but-not-too-soft eyeshadow brush like the MAC 217 is perfect for blending highlight or contour on the eyes and nose. A sponge of your choice can also be helpful for blending out larger areas of contour.

MAC 217, eyshadow blending brush, fluffy brush
MAC 217

If you want to see some pro highliingghting and contour in action, check out these tutorials. (By the way, I miss the days when WordPress would let me hyperlink.)

Highlighting with liquid and cream highlighters: https://youtu.be/ESzE9aoq7vQ?list=PL070600888CB9BB32

Countouring: https://youtu.be/cSVDcJAmsWw     https://youtu.be/yK–P-FwZqM

https://youtu.be/iZMuqpDjZzM

Contouring with powder: https://youtu.be/xM9bq5YpC-A

That’s it! I think you’re now in good shape (pun intended) if you are interested in sculpting your face or any features. Feel free to comment with any questions.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Shape Up: Part 3

Ancient Rome beauty
Girlfriend would have been considered a smokeshow in Ancient Rome.

In my experience, makeup civilians–the non-makeup artists of the world–are more interested in minimizing or emphasizing certain features as opposed to sculpting their face shape. If that sounds like your jam, read on.

But first–you look fantastic! Like body shapes, “desirable” female features change with the years (and the culture). In ancient Rome, an aquiline nose was the ideal. A rounded eye shape was considered attractive in the 1920s. Full lips became a trend when Angelina Jolie came onto the scene. I think the idea of any physical ideal is bullshit. If you are reading this post because you feel like you are supposed to look a certain way, STOP. Don’t let anyone else dictate what you should or shouldn’t look like.

However, I realize than many people have a feature or two they would like to minimize or alter with with makeup. If there is something that bothers you–not because a magazine says it should but because you don’t like how it looks–some of the tips below might help. (This is also good for makeup artists who will undoubtedly have clients with some of these areas of concern.)

Prominent Cheekbones: Well, lucky you! Skip the cheekbone highlight and don’t contour under your cheekbones, because it can make your face look un-proportioned. You basically have a natural cheekbone highlight built in, so rock it.

Flat Nose: Contouring down the sides of the nose will give dimension to a flat nose. No highlight is needed.

Wide Nose: If your nose is wider at the bottom than at the top, contour the sides of the nose from the bottom third down and bring that contour around the tip of the nose. Highlight at the top, right up to the start of the browbone, to widen the most narrow part of your nose and bring in balance.

Narrow Nose: Apply two thick lines of highlight down the sides of your nose. No contour is needed.

Crooked Nose: This is when the nasal bone is crooked, sometimes because it has been broken. Starting where the base of your nose meets the beginning of your brows, draw two straight lines of contour down the sides of the nose and bring it around the tip. Apply highlight down the center of the nose, stopping before the tip.

Indented Nose: An indented nose may look similar to the crooked nose, but in this case, it’s the skin–not the bone–that changes the shape of the nose. You’ll want to highlight just the indented part and contour the other sections of the nose.

Prominent Nose Bridge: If the base of your nose (right below the space between your eyes) protrudes, you have a prominent nose bridge. If you apply highlight from right above that into the section between your brows, it will make the prominent area recede.

Bulbous Nose: Starting at where the base of your nose meets the beginning of your brows, draw two straight lines of contour about 1/3 of the way down. Then contour around the bottom third and tip of the nose. Apply highlight to the center section.

Close Set Eyes: A little bit of highlight (shadow with shimmer or a matte shade lighter than your skin if you have fine lines there) on the inner corners will make the eyes look further apart. I also recommend keeping eyeliner thickest at the outer corner and using some shadow on the outer V to draw attention outwards. Concentrate your mascara on your outer lashes.

Deep Set Eyes: Instead of applying a darker shadow in the crease of the eye like many eye contouring tutorials will tell you, apply it slightly above the crease. This one can be tricky because you don’t want to go too high and hit the browbone–unless it’s 1989 and you’re going to do some Glamour Shots–so read this blog post for further tips. https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/big-up-to-the-deep-set-crew/

Thin Upper Lip: A little highlight above the Cupid’s Bow (or center of the top lip if your’s goes straight across) will add the illusion of fullness. If you’re confident with makeup, you can also slightly overdraw the top lip with lipliner, but make sure to blend it onto the lip. You can also use a lighter shade of lipstick in the same color family as the lipstick you are wearing on the center of the top lip, which will make it look fuller.

Thin Bottom Lip: Highlighting under the bottom lip will make it look fuller, as will using a lighter shade or some gloss on the center of the lip. You can also slightly overdraw the bottom lipliner if you’ve got the skills.

Full Lips: As a thinned lipped girl, I’m jealous of full lips, but I know some people feel that their’s are too full. In that case, you can draw lipliner slightly inside of the natural liplines then fill in and top with lipstick. That can be hard to pull off though, so practice a bit before wearing it out. If you don’t want to emphasize the fullness of your lips, stay away from light, shimmery or glossy lip colors. A darker matte color–of which there are a million on the market right now–will minimize fullness.

Double Chin: Contouring just under the chin/at the jawline will help minimize the fullness there by bringing definition to the area. Bring that contour down onto the neck and blend, blend, blend. I find that wearing a shade of lipstick also helps bring the attention up away from the chin area.

Here are my thoughts on browbone highlight: no. I know there are some pro makeup artists who disagree, but I also know there are many on my side. If you highlight that area, you are giving the illusion that the browbone protrudes further than it does (particularly unflattering for those with deepset eyes). Especially in photos, this can look masculine at best, Cro-Magnon at worst. If you for some reason feel obligated to highlight the browbone, I beg you not use anything with shimmer. Use a matte shadow that is a shade lighter than your skin. Or don’t do it at all! That would be better.

A highlight trend that I don’t get–highlighting the tip of the nose with a shimmery highlighter. Apparently this is supposed to make a nose look upturned or button-y (I’m making it a word) but instead, it just looks like a white dot on the nose. If anything, most noses are thickest at the tip, so why would you want to draw attention to that area? Not to mention many people have oily noses and/or visible pores on their nose, so shimmer is only going to accentuate that. I say skip this one for real.

If I’ve missed any that you want me to address, please leave a comment and I’ll help you out. And remember–you already look great.

Have a beautiful day 🙂