Contour. As a makeup artist, I’m a bit sick of that word. Contouring has been around since Elizabethan England, when stage actors would use soot to define their faces so that the audience could read their expressions better. But a lot of people seem to think the Kardashians and their makeup artists were the first to contour. Contour has been quietly on the scene for almost 500 years, particularly in the entertainment industries (theatre, film and the courts of European and Asian royalty.) In modern times, makeup tricks of the trade were kept quiet in Old Hollywood, which is why those of you who know it’s not a new technique still might have thought it was something Kevyn Aucoin created in the 1990s. Contouring and its sister, highlighting, has become trendy in the past three years, and it’s a trend that some say is on its way out.
There is Kardashian contour, and there is the more subtle sculpting/face shaping type of contour that I (and most makeup artists I know) do. This technique is more about flattering each face shape than covering the skin in layers of highlight and contour creams and powders to achieve the “perfect” shape. To do this kind of face shaping, you need to know what your face shape is. A big problem with today’s contour craze is that it assumes everyone has the same oval face shape. So for Part 1 of this Shape Up series, I want to help you identify your face shape so you know where to subtly highlight and contour, if you’re into it. Part 2 will go into the specifics of sculpting your features to flatter your face shape.
There are nine commonly recognized face shapes: Oblong, Rectangle, Round, Square, Inverted Triangle, Heart, Diamond, Triangle and Oval.
Now for a closer look at each face shape. To figure your’s out, pull your hair away from your face and pin back those bangs that you either newly love or are desperately trying to grow out.
Oblong: If you have an oblong face, your face is longer than it is wide. Your forehead, cheeks and jawline are all the same length. Your face shape celebrity twin is the beautiful Liv Tyler.
Rectangle: A rectangle face is about one and a half times longer than it is wide. The cheeklines running from temple to jawline are straight. The jawline is defined, unlike the oblong jawline, which is more rounded. If you have a triangle face shape, you are in good company with Hilary Swank.
Round: A round face shape is as wide as it is long, with the widest point at the ears. If you have a round face shape, your jawline is softly curved. Ginnifer Goodwin is your super cute round face shape sister.
Square: A square face shape is characterized by a defined jawline that is only slightly curved as well as straight sides of the face. It’s almost as wide as it is long. Bombshell Olivia Wilde has this face shape.
Inverted Triangle: If you’ve got an inverted triangle face, your forehead is wider than your jaw and your chin maybe be pronounced. You know, like the fabulous Tyra Banks.
Heart Shape: A heart shaped face is similar to the inverted triangle, but the forehead tends to be shorter in height. The chin is usually the most pronounced part of the face. Many people with heart shaped faces have widow’s peaks. If you are not French and feel a kinship with Audrey Tautou, it could be because you have the same face shape.
Diamond: Diamond faces are characterized by high cheekbones and a pointed chin. If your face shines bright like a diamond (shape), you’ll see the widest part is at the center. If you’re a diamond, you share a face shape with one of my favorite celebrities, Anna Kendrick.
Triangle: If you’re a triangle, the widest part of your face is the jawline. The forehead is narrow in comparison. Think you might be a triangle? Then you’ve got a connection with the talented Minnie Driver.
Oval: Oval is sometimes referred to as the ideal face shape, because it is the most proportional. If you are an oval like smokeshow Megan Fox, your forehead is only the tiniest bit wider than your jawline. Oval faces are similar to oblongs, but with a softer chin and more of a curve to the sides of the face.
There is no ideal face shape, contrary to what oval enthusiasts may believe. As you can see from my perfectly inserted celebrity photo examples, every face shape is beautiful. If you want to look proportional, some light sculpting (as well as the right haircut and style) can help you out. But if you are happy with your face–and I hope you are, because I can tell it’s a good one–don’t feel any pressure to contour, highlight, strobe, sculpt, shape or otherwise give the illusion of different bone structure.
If you are interested in sculpting your face with makeup in a subtle way, stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, where I will go over the typical techniques for highlighting and contouring each face shape. It will also be a good read for aspiring or beginner makeup artists. I promise.
Have a beautiful day 🙂