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 2

Amy Schumer, face shapes, contouring
Amy’s got this on lock.

Now that you have read Part 1 (and loved it) and have identified your face shape, I’m going to help you learn how to sculpt it, if you so desire. I want to emphasize that this is not a necessary technique. There’s nothing wrong with your face shape. Really! But if there is an area you’d like to minimize, bone structure you would like to bring out or you’re a makeup artist, you may find this information helpful. I’ll be addressing face shape sculpting in this post and Part 3 will be about emphasizing or minimizing specific features using contour and/or highlight. In Part 4, I’ll walk you through product choices and tools of the trade. And Part 5 will be a request for your resume, since you’ll know enough to be a makeup artist who I can hire. (Kidding. There is no Part 5 but if you’re a makeup artist in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, go ahead and send me that resume.)

Ready?

Oblong: If you have an oblong face, you might want to make your face look fuller and less long. To minimize the length, you can contour at the bottom of the chin and the top of the forehead, close to the hairline (that part is not on the diagram, but that’s what I sometimes do if a forehead seems “tall.”) To add fullness to the face, applying blush to the apples of the cheeks–blend it well!–will be flattering. Unless you have oily skin, large pores or wrinkles on your cheeks, a blush with a little shimmer in it can help bring light to the apples of the cheeks, making them look more round.

oblong face shape contour
Oblong Face Sculpting

Rectangle: A rectangle face can look a bit sharp around the outer edges, so the idea is to soften those edges by contouring them (which will make them recede). Contouring at the top of the forehead will minimize the height of the forehead if that’s a concern. Blush on the apples of the cheeks can also bring some roundness to the face.

rectangle face shape contour
Rectangle Face Sculpting

Round: If your face is round, it is wider than it is long. You can minimize that difference by contouring the temples, under the cheekbones and around the sides of the face.  Light contour right under the jawline is also flattering. Highlighting the chin and forehead will add some height to the face. Blush looks best when applied a little further out on the apples of the cheeks and slightly–now not 80s style, but slightly–blended upwards.

round face shape contour
Round Face Sculpting

Square: The idea of sculpting a square face shape is to make the chin and forehead more prominent. Applying highlight to those areas will give that effect, and contouring around the temples and on the jawline will make those areas recede. Contouring under the jawline is not advised unless you want to accentuate the angled jaw shape. This diagram shows highlight under the eyes, which is really more about eye shape and concerns (dark circles vs. puffiness) so ignore that part.

square face shape contour
Square Face Sculpting

Inverted Triangle and Heart: With inverted triangle and heart face shapes, highlighting the entire chin adds width to the most narrow part of the face. If the chin is pointed though–which is often the case with heart shaped faces–I would not highlight the center of it but rather right around it and onto the bottom of the jawline. Contouring around the edges of the forehead and under the cheekbones on both face shapes is also typically flattering. Often the heart shaped face forehead is short so highlighting the forehead will give the illusion of height there. I don’t suggest doing that if your forehead is prominent/protruding, which is common with inverted triangles. And see the Square Face Sculpting section for my thoughts on highlighting under the eyes.

inverted triangle contour
Inverted Triangle & Heart Face Sculpting

Diamond: This face shape is widest at the cheekbones, so highlighting the chin and forehead will give balance to the bone structure. Contouring the sides of the face will help minimize the width. I do not recommend any type of highlight on the cheekbones for diamond peeps. Blush looks most flattering when applied on the outer apples of the cheeks.

diamond face shape contour
Diamond Face Sculpting

Triangle: On a triangle face, the forehead is more narrow than the jawline, so highlighting the forehead brings balance. A small dot of highlighter on the center of the chin can be flattering if the chin is weak (meaning in profile, it looks like it is pushed back in comparison to the nose and forehead). Contouring the sides of the face from the cheekbones down will minimize the width there. This is not shown on the diagram, but I would also lightly contour right on top of the jawline (to the right and left of the “Highlight” circle on the chin. Highlighting under the jawline is not advised, as that will only accentuate the width there. Blush looks best when applied on the outer apples of the cheeks.

triangle face contour, pear shaped faced
Triangle Face Sculpting

Oval: Oval faces are generally symmetrical but the chin can be slightly more narrow than the forehead, so a dot of highlighter there is flattering. (This diagram shows highlight on the center of the forehead too, but I don’t think that’s necessary.) Contouring under the cheekbones and highlighting on top of them brings out the bone structure.

oval face contour
Oval Face Sculpting

I hope this has helped you get a better feel for sculpting your face shape, if that’s something you’re into. There are other factors that can help flatter your bone structure–your haircut, the way you style your hair, your glasses or sunglass frames, even the jewelry you wear–so you can dive in pretty deep if you want. If this is fun for you or there is an area of concern you want to address, I say play around with this stuff until your little heart (and maybe heart shaped face) is content. But remember that there is nothing wrong with your face shape or bone structure so you don’t have to do any of this. It’s optional, like a hair glaze at the salon or leather seats in a new car (heated seats, however, are essential in my book.) Just because an option exists doesn’t mean you have to take it. That’s a good thing to keep in mind if you’re dating too…

Have a beautiful day 🙂