Morgan: overcoming the fear of contouring

It has taken a good couple of years with an increasing interest in makeup (culminating in my alarmingly large collection and a complete lack of perspective over how reasonable it is to be obsessed with cosmetics) for me to even attempt contouring. My first plan of attack: know your enemy. I’ve collected five of the internet makeup world’s favourite matte bronzing & contouring products, from NARS, Benefit, Too Faced, NYX and Bourjois. I think I’m really only lacking Illamasqua Hollow and Chanel’s Tan de Soleil de Mousse de Expensive (which I once had a dream about). When you look at them side by side it’s much easier to tell which will be best for your needs.

This is my face with some makeup on it, without contouring. I have quite a small face, so when starting out I found it hard to figure out where to place my contour without it taking over my whole face and looking muddy. The lesson here is that less is more. Essentially, when you can look at your face and SEE your contour, it’s too much. (This lesson does not apply if you’re Shannon Harris or Lauren Curtis and are drawing lines on your face with the NARS Ita brush, but if you’re a regular person then I do not recommend doing that.)

You can see from my face with contouring that I kind of just look like I’m hanging out in some really good lighting.

All I did was buff NARS Laguna in circular motions around my temples, cheekbones and under my jaw, using the Real Techniques contour brush. You can only get this brush in the Core Collection set but it is worth it for this and the buffing brush alone.

The circular motions are really important! This is the difference between a realistic looking contour and the aforementioned Youtube stripe (again, no hate, it just doesn’t translate for average people in real life). I picked this up when Grace, our ever perfect MAC artist friend contoured my face one night, and I paid very close attention with my skin to feel where she was putting it and how.

I made a little diagram with some dots of where I put my contour and highlight, but it was hard because a) my face is small and b) I don’t take very many front on photos because I don’t think it’s my best angle. Anyway, here it is. The jawline contour is particularly important for me because I don’t have heaps of jaw definition (thanks Mum!)

OK now enough looking at my face! It’s swatch time. These are swatched in natural light but I built the swatch up with several layers so you can see the differences in tone. The first three are very similar, but Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil has less pigmentation so would be suitable for paler skintones. NYX powder blush in taupe is visibly much cooler toned than the others, so it is suitable for people with very pale and cooler-toned skin. Bourjois bronzing primer is very orange compared to the others, and honestly, is the only product out of this selection that I would not recommend.


L-R NARS Laguna, Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil, Benefit Hoola, NYX powder blush in taupe, Bourjois bronzing primer.

I am going to end this post with a gif I made of myself while trying to decide which photos to use. Harriet, stop looking now, this might give you a migraine.

Do you contour? What products do you use?

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  • it’s like you’re winking without winking

  • Kezia Lynch

    Your contour is perfect for your face! Love it. It’s nice and subtle but not completely non-existent!

  • Bourjois is definitely not a contour colour! It works well if you dab it on before applying other bases to give the face a bit more warmth though. x

    • A lot of beauty bloggers have recommended it as a dupe for the Chanel tan product, which is why I included it! I actually hate it as a bronzing primer as well as a contour. Far too orange!

  • I usually use my Bourjois délice de poudre, better known as the chocolate bronzer to contour with. I am quite pale so I use it very light handed, but I also have a lot of feckles that help balance out the orange undetones in the bronzer 🙂 Nice blog btw 😉