3 things you should be doing for the perfect contour

Forget what you know, these expert tricks will change everything

Beauty Crew Editor / May 26 2017

Ever since Kim Kardashian showed off her white and brown pre-blended contouring efforts, the beauty world has become a different place - despite the fact that Kim now claims she’s over contouring. What was once a makeup artist’s secret tool for enhancing angles by using light and shade, contouring is now part of the everyday makeup vernacular. You just need to look at the sheer volume of contour palettes and products out there to know that contouring is a trend that is here to stay.

And while you can find more online tutorials than you ever dreamed possible (we’ve got quite a few on Beauty Crew - we think you’d really like this contouring tutorial with options based on how many minutes you’ve got to spare), that’s not to say that they’ll always work for you and your unique features.

So we asked two of the beauty industry’s top international makeup artists for their secret tricks on how to nail a natural-looking contour every single time.


Pick the right contour shade

While you may be led to believe that any dark brown shade will do to create your contour, to get the best shadow you should be looking for certain things. First, you should be using a product with a more of a matte finish, as this will help replicate a natural shadow, and according to Rose-Marie Swift, professional makeup artist and founder of RMS, your contour shade needs to be cool and “the exact same colour as a shadow would be.” So ditch any orange-based bronzers, and instead look for something a bit more ashy. Swift recommends using the RMS Eye Polish in the shade Seduce. “It’s a brown with a hint of gold, so it looks nice on skin, but the colour is the same as the shade under [your chin].”

RMS eye polish seduce


Apply your contour product in the right place

We would forgive you for thinking that your contour colour should be applied from your temple by your ear down to the corner of your mouth, but according to Swift, that’s not going to actually suit everyone and give a naturally lifted look. In fact, blindly using that technique can actually pull down your face and make you look a little older and more haggard.

So what’s a girl to do instead? Swift suggests using your fingertips on each hand to find your cheekbones, then applying your contour “right where the bone is… if you look at it, the line should be going towards the nose, or in the middle between the nose and the lip. Everybody wants to take it down to the mouth, but take it between the nostrils and mouth depending on the face shape, rather than going to the corners of the lips. That’ll lift up your face.”


Blend your contour in the right direction

Just like applying your contour shade at the wrong angle can make you look older, so too can your blend.

Global Makeup Artist for Estée Lauder, Bobby Wang swears that blending your contour cream or powder upwards can help you look about 10 years younger. “Do not blend it down. Normally you’d blend it down to the jawline, which will make you look older. Blend it up into the blush,” he says.

Want to lift your bronzing game, too? Here are three bronzer tricks we guarantee you’ve never heard before.

Image credit: Getty

Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.