To contour and highlight the face, with its varying levels of foundation and bronzing hues, still manages to stupefy even the most regular wearers of makeup that have perfected other desirable skills and the bragging rights to hold liquid eyeliner without shaking their hands. (Unless of course you’re in a moving vehicle that just refuses to take it easy on you. A cat-eye on the road? #Terrible).
If makeup, since its popularity and usage from the 1940s onward, ever had an equivalent to rocket science, highlighting and contouring would be it. That c-word has been the most sought after and intimidating red devil of makeup tricks and options. And we all know whose to blame for the duo’s sudden prominence and that’s Kim Kardashian, before she was West. Even her biggest haters admitted wanting to pull the tricks of the trade out of her Louie bag to getting sunken cheekbones to look so good. Since her cemented place in popular culture history, contour kits have been created by Sephora’s in-house and well-received brands like Kat Von D, luxury labels like Tom Ford to drugstore mains like Wet ‘n Wild and Maybelline. They’re ain’t going nowhere. (I will give praise to Clinique’s and Tarte contouring sticks).
With the arrival of Instagram, that is celebrating their 5th birthday this month, also came the photos and “link in bio” tags from MUAs, makeup bloggers and vloggers looking to gain the trust and loyalty of other makeup lovers looking for more accessible avenues to a chiseled appearance. But like all makeup trends that abruptly spike (“strobing”, you can enter the room now), contouring and highlighting have given us some unintentionally less than fabulous looks and questionable instructions. Poor interested glamazons, already overwhelmed by the number of steps and the secret math of just how much of an angle you should have your brush at, completely had their doubts inflated. Improperly done contouring became the new lazily applied eyelash strip.
In video tutorials have been especially huge for the rise of the contour. One video by GlamBooth has gained 26 million views since February 2014 and the model’s face in it looks like a powder and cream science project diorama. Destiny Godley‘s latest contour how-to is laughably named as a “tribal color correction.” Is this really how Kardashian West got her nose whittled to a Wayne Goss or Scott Barnes sheen?
The biggest mistakes when attempting to contour is using a color too dark or light for your skin tone and overly shading and shadowing the designated spots.
After months of these C+H faux pas appearing on her newsfeed, beauty vlogger Irischel Puello (also known as Iris Beilin) expressed that she’s had enough! Recently, she’s uploaded a video commentating on the wave of overdone contouring, and this “the other level” of”, as she ‘s described it, is one of the biggest bright pink elephants of the beauty community.
Puello is concerned that as makeup enthusiasts we’ve maybe lost the point of contouring, which is to give the face shape, not an odd halo of unflattering, overpowering coloring or mismatched tones. She’s talked about makeup flubs before as her “Makeup Don’ts” video got a million views and seven months ago she uploaded a how-to on subtle and effective contouring. Jackie Aina, former MakeupGameOnPoint, really hit the viewership jackpot with her 3 million strong “Makeup Trends We’re Ditching In 2015” where the featured image was literally her face in different shades of foundation, concealer, and highlight, highly mocking the over-the-top desire to get that contoured look.
Has contouring and highlighting reached its peak as a necessary addition to our regular makeup routines? Like eyeshadow palettes, it seems the excitement has wavered yet both have been normalized as go-to products and a guaranteed “yassss” approved look.
Puello demonstrates in her clip where aspiring contour-ers went wrong and throughout she stresses to her viewers that another bullet point of contouring is to build on it, not pile it on at once. A dramatic change is fine, but you don’t want a clown-ish change!