If you want to add extra definition to your cheekbones, nose, or forehead, look no further than contouring. What seems like a tricky Instagram #MOTD beloved by all our fave celebs is actually quite doable so long as you have the right product in hand. For those just starting off, you can use cream or powder to make your bone structure pop. With powders, you will need an angled brush (like the Moda Pro Chisel ($8)) or a makeup sponge (like the Original beautyblender ($20)) to blend the color. Cream products can be easily applied with clean fingers since your natural heat helps to melt it onto your skin.
Regardless of the formula you select, you’ll need several shades to create a believable contour. Most palettes contain a mix of matte colors that range from dark cocoa to soft cream, but others may throw in a few colors that are infused with shimmer too. The darker shades should be used to sculpt the face and create depth, while the lighter colors (often the ones that contain shimmer) are best for highlighting. By applying the colors in their appropriate zones, accentuating shadowed areas and boosting high points, you’ll be able to look well-lit from every angle.
If you’re trying to test drive this Kardashian-approved makeup trend but you’re not sure where to start, keep scrolling for makeup artist-approved, beginner-friendly contour sticks and palettes.
PUR Cameo Dual-Ended Contour Stick ($31): If investing in clean cosmetics is important to you, this contour stick is a quality option. “PUR’s cream-to-powder Cameo Dual-Ended Contour Stick has good-for-your-skin ingredients, like ceramides and vitamin A,” says Kelsey Deenihan, an Avon celebrity makeup artist. “The dual shades emphasize your face’s natural highlights and lowlights and can be blended easily for natural definition.”
Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate ($85): Chiseled without ever being cakey, you’re sure to fall head over heels for this lightweight, two-toned palette. “The highlight is a wonderful sheer cream that adds the most beautiful glow, while the deeper shade creates amazing depth,” says Tedrick Lamar, makeup and brow specialist at Butterfly Studio Salon in New York City.
Dior Backstage Contour Palette ($45): If you prefer working with powders, this quad is the way to go. It has a range of finishes packed into a compact silver case that’s easy to throw in your bag. “I love the Dior Backstage Contour Palette because it’s suitable for all skin tones, so you don’t need to be an expert when deciding which shade is right for you,” Deenihan says. And, since the palette is made with buildable, ultra-fine matte and shimmer shades, you’ll never have to worry about harsh lines.
Beauty Bakerie Coffee & Cocoa Palette ($38): Add a touch of color to your cheeks not only with bronzer but also with blush. “To use the Coffee & Cocoa Palette, start off by contouring your cheeks with Anti-Depresso. Then warm up the rest of your face with Deja Brew as a bronzer, and highlight with Your Ground. Finish off the contour look with La Vida Mocha as a blush, and you’re set to go,” says Kayla Farley, a San Diego-based professional makeup artist.
Bodyography Silk Cream Foundation Palette ($59): This palette is vegan, cruelty free, and equipped with eight contouring shades that double as concealers — what’s not to love? “The cream consistency leaves skin looking fresh and radiant [thanks to] hyaluronic acid, African rooibos tea, and anti-aging vitamins A and E,” says MODA Brush executive artist Dominique Lerma. For best results, apply Dark into the hollows under your cheekbones using an angled brush in an upward motion, followed by Medium just above for a born-with-it gradient. “To create the most natural-looking contour, be sure to apply a shade that is two shades deeper than your skin complexion,” Lerma advises. Once you’ve applied your contour, continue blending to pull the entire look together.
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