The 9 Rules of Contouring
Makeup Artist: @savannahandrea
Models: @bmoneyoakland & Abene Barefield
Written by: Melissa Borrego
Graphics by: @xzrtx
Contouring. It seems like this is the trend that never ends. Everyday we see the viral videos of a YouTuber using an iPhone, a pair of Christian Louboutins or even a stack of cash to get them their most fierce contour look, but what if their contouring routine doesn’t work for you?
The way your favorite beauty Youtuber contours may not necessarily work for you, even if you both have the same skin tone. There are many elements that need to be considered when we contour. Your face shape, bone structure and even your skin type all dictate how you should be adding shadows and definition to your face.
Everyone has different skin tones, undertones, facial structures and features that distinct one contour from another. So we interviewed our Mocha Girl Beauty team’s makeup artist, Jaime, to find out how multicultural women should contour their face and all our other BIG contour questions!
How should we contour differently for different skin tones?
The main thing is that people don’t understand their undertones, which are the colors underneath the surface of your skin. Undertones are the colors under the surface of your skin and affect how your skin looks like on the surface. There are three major categories, cool, warm and neutral. Cool undertones have pink or orange hues. Warm undertones have gold, yellow, or peach hues. Neutral undertones are more balanced and have a mix of color hues.
For example, if you are pale and lighter skinned, you can’t use a contour color that is too warm or else you are going to look orange. If you have darker skin, you can’t use something too ashy or else you are going to look gray. Everyone needs to find a shade that will both contour and define their face, while also adding some warmth. The best way to do this is finding a shade that is two to three darker than you for your contour and using one shade lighter over the contour to warm your face up.
How should we contour differently for different face shapes?
You should contour the areas you want to define and chisel down. If there are any areas on your face you think are too big, such as your forehead, you can also contour those areas. In general, elongated faces should contour their forehead, chin, and jawline. If you have a rounder face, just focus on defining your cheeks. Not everyone needs to contour their entire face and you only need to contour the areas you feel need more definition.
What are your favorite brushes to contour with?
If you are new to contouring, I suggest using a fan brush. It applies product lightly and you can’t really overdo it with this kind of brush. My favorite tools to contour with are dome-shaped brushes because they really get into the hollows of the cheeks and forehead. I like using angled brushes too, because they apply product exactly where you need it. However, I use a dome shaped brush after using an angled brush to blend out the product.
What tips & tricks should multicultural keep in mind when contouring?
The main thing women of color need to do is practice, practice practice! Make sure if you are trying a new product or if you have never tried contouring before, practice before you leave the house. You need to practice so you understand and learn what works for you and what doesn’t.
What is the easiest way to contour, without spending too much or making it so time consuming?
The easiest way to contour is using a matte bronzer! You don’t have to go out and buy a super expensive contour kit in order to achieve a great contour. Just be sure you spend time looking for a bonzer that complements your skin tone and undertones. Once you find the color that works for you, make sure you practice over and over until you get it right!
How should darker tone women apply their highlight? And what shade should they use?
Darker tone women need to use one shade lighter than their skin tone for their highlight. Anything lighter will not complement your skin tone and it can easily go downhill from there. For example, shimmery white or pink highlights do not complement darker tone skin, instead go for bronze highlights, dark golds, or dark orange colors. My favorite highlighter is actually a concealer by L.A. Girl Cosmetics in the shade almond ($5). It’s perfect for girls who are cool tone and it’s an affordable 2-in-1 product for concealing and highlighting!
What are the best products and brands for women of color?
My favorite brands for women of color are Anastasia Beverly Hills, Sleek, Black Opal, L.A. Girl Cosmetics, and Black Radiance. Sleek is a great band for women of color because it’s directed towards more dark skin and Black Opal has foundation sticks women of color can use to achieve a great contour. I’ve already mentioned L.A. Girl has great concealers for everyone in almost every shade!
Any recommendations on the best foundations, highlighters and contour kits for WOC?
For foundation, I love Black Opal ($10.95), Makeup Forever ($43), CoverFX ($40), AJ Crimson ($35), and Anastasia Beverly Hills ($25). MAC ($35) is excellent as well, but the only downside is that they do stop at a certain skin tone. If you are looking for contour kits, CityColors ($10.99) and Sleek ($15.99) sell the best for women of color without a high price tag. However, most of the time contour kits can be a hit or miss for women of color. You spend $50 on a contour kit that has only one shade that works for you and the other colors in the kit are a waste. For that reason, I prefer using single compacts to get the contour you want. I love to use MAC mineralize skinfinishes ($34) to contour because they come in almost every shade and the product isn’t overly expensive. You can also use eyeshadows to contour with, but that’s only if you really know what you are doing.
Do you think the contour trend will ever will phase out?
No! The illusion of contour will never phase out because everyone wants the chiseled look. The crazy contour looks will eventually phase out and the over-the-top highlight will definitely die out though!
What is your number one tip to achieve the best contour?
Practices makes perfect, always practice and don't go out if you aren't sure! Understand it takes time to learn your undertone and skin tone and what fits you and doesn't fit you. Don’t assume that someone with the same skintone as you has the same undertones as you and you can use the same color as them. Everyone is unique and you need to experiment in order to achieve your best individual contour!