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  1. Don’t use Bronzer.

    I can’t tell you how many times a client has sat in my chair and asked me if I was going to use bronzer “you know, to like contour a little?”. When contouring, the idea is to create the illusion of a shadow that is created by your bone structure. When you look at shadows in real life (look down at the shadow from your desk chair right now—DO IT!), the color is nuanced slightly grey; using a color that is too WARM will look obvious or worse–dirty. And ultimately, it’s not believable. We want to replicate a shadow so we need something with a slightly COOL tone.

    Products to try:
    Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder finely milled powder designed EXACTLY for this purpose. It currently only exists in the shade “medium” with shades “light” and “deep” slated to launch this spring!
    kevyn aucoin sculpting powder
    Becca Lowlight Sculpting Perfector silky creme that is easy to manipulate and blend for natural to more dramatic and anywhere between.
    becca lowlight sculpting
    RMS Myth Eye Polish – The Creator of the brand, Rose Marie Swift says this is her secret weapon for a un-fussy, natural sculpted look.
    myth eye polish
    – Girlactik Cabo Bronzer We know, we know– we said not to use bronzer. This is the ONLY bronzer we have EVER found that works–because it isn’t warm, and it does not shimmer. Shadows absorb light–they don’t reflect, so it MUST be a matte to work. This one fits the bill, and is affordable.

  2. Don’t overdo it.

    Whether or not we realize it, we associate plumpness with youth. It’s the same reason FILLERS are so common–they are used to restore the volume that is lost as we age. It’s also why you’re supposed to apply blush on the apples of the cheeks floating up–it’s accentuating the fattest part of the cheek, tricking everyone into thinking we’re a few years younger! So if you make your cheeks look TOO contoured you look GAUNT, TIRED, AGED… With contouring, subtlety is truly key. Also, although contouring may look GREAT when photographed–realize that unless you’re doing your makeup just for a photo shoot, it will look much more obvious in real life. You want to look effortless–too-thickly applied contour just looks fake and like you’re trying too hard.

  3. Use the right tools.

    If you’re using a powder, choose a brush that has a lot of air between the bristles–this will allow you to gradually add color instead of instantly applying too much and buffing buffing buffing until your arm feels like it’ll fall off. While it may put you on the fast track to have arms like Madonna, who has the time for that? I really like our Facade Angle Blush Brush. Much littler or much denser, and I think you run the risk of looking stripey. If you want a slightly more dramatic look, start with something like this, then layer over it with a slightly smaller denser brush in the part you want to look like the deepest part of the hollow, being careful to blend thoroughly.
    angle blush brush
    If you’re using a cream, honestly, I recommend using your fingers. Clean hands/fingers are a perfectly acceptable tool. I find that the warmth from your hands really helps the product bond effortlessly with the skin resulting in a more natural finished result. You can also use a damp makeup sponge if you prefer, or a dual-fiber brush will work, too!
    dual fiber brush

4. Don’t forget to highlight.

Richard Nixon is famously quoted for saying, “Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain”. The same actually translates to your face–if you want those cheekbones to look sky high, not only do you have to accentuate the hollow (in this case, the valley) but you also have to make the mountain (your cheekbones!) look taller. To create this optical illusion, we need something a smidge paler than your skin tone, and preferably something that reflects light (AKA shimmer).

Products to try:

Becca has the best highlighters on LOCK. Available in a variety of shades and textures, you’re sure to find one that you like! Her Shimmering Skin Perfectors are available in a liquid, pressed (powder), or poured (cream) texture.

RMS living luminizer is made with coconut oil and other moisturizing ingredients that help you to glow from within and offer a subtle reflection, without looking too shimmery.

Kevyn Aucoin Celestial in Starlight or Candlelight or Celestial Liquid Lighting in Starlight or Candlelight are similar to the BECCA SSPs but offer slight color variations

Jouer highlighter  in Champagne is a lovely color for virtually any skin tone. Her clickable compacts are great because you can slide and lock together several favorite shades to create your own custom look.

5. Let YOUR bone structure be your guide.

I want you to touch your face. Right now. Bear with me–this really helps. Feel your own cheek bones— They start up high, right below your temples and angle down connecting just below the base of your nose and above your lips. now feel the nob of your chin, the hollows of your temples–feel your jawline and notice how it’s hollow and doughy just above that edge? When you do your contour, I want you to take your brush and press the product into the hollows BETWEEN your bones. So this means you won’t be contouring on your actual jawbone…it’ll look like a hard line between your foundation and neck anyway… the contour should always be on the UNDERSIDE of your bones to replicate shadow and the highlight is always going to be on the TOP of the bones to reflect light. But EVERYONE’S BONE STRUCTURE IS DIFFERENT. So just because you followed your favorite MUA on Youtube’s makeup tutorial doesn’t mean you’ll get the same result. As long as you feel for your own bone structure, it will always be right.

I personally DO NOT like to highlight the forehead or nose, because I feel like I look oily. If I do want a little extra dimension in those places, I choose a slightly lighter concealer to ever so slightly lighten those areas–but I avoid shimmer.

A great trick for sky-high cheekbones is to contour in your TEMPLES as well as below your cheekbones. By emphasizing the hollows above and below those cheekbones they look even more prominent in juxtaposition.

I also LOVE using highlighter at the tearducts to make the eye look open and bright, just above the cupid’s bow of the lip, occasionally on the nob of the chin for ladies that don’t have a very prominent chin, and on the brow bones to emphasize the arch of the brow.

6. Still intimidated?

Learn from the pros.

Kevyn Aucoin Contour Kit has printed instructions and a variety of creams and powders to play with.

Kevyn Aucoin contour bookcontour guide

Kevyn Aucoin also has a great creamy duo that has his color candlelight with sculpting “medium” in one great compact

sculpting with candlelight

BECCA has a lowlight/ highlight cream compact as well with a touch of each color conveniently paired together.

lowlight highlight perfecting palette

Ultimately, your look is customized to your face shape, skin tone, and the occasion–you can go to town contouring if you’re going to be photographed, and should practice restraint doing your makeup for special occasions where you will be viewed in person. If you need help figuring it out and happen to be near our boutique in Houston, TX call us and schedule a lesson or an update and we can help customize it to YOU!


Call us at 713.552.1545 to schedule an appointment.
Please note that we moved from our location in Uptown Park and are now in BLVD Place at the corner of Post Oak and San Felipe.