Two-In-One Cream Contour Stick and Highlighter Stick
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03 - Light Medium
A great face contour is about as close to magic as you can get in your daily life. Instead of a magic wand, pick up a contour brush. Just a few swipes of a sculpting contour cream and a bit of blending later and you can suddenly—almost instantly—look as if you have super sharp cheekbones, an amazingly defined jawline, and more. That’s why contouring is considered a makeup “trick.”
In addition to the basics, you also have the option of exploring contour makeup trends, like the viral social media rainbow contour and soft sculpting. Some of these contouring trends and techniques are extremely eye-catching (in the best way), while others offer a totally natural-looking result. Either way, the end game is the same: playing up your unique facial features for your favorite makeup look yet.
At NYX Professional Makeup, we have all the contour makeup you need to define your face. You can reach for a liquid contour, like Can't Stop Won't Stop Contour Concealer, to sculpt your cheekbones and jaw. The long-wear concealer has a blendable, matte formula to help you contour to perfection. It’s also available in shades to suit a wide range of skin tones. For an instantly sculpted contour, try our fan-fave Wonder Stick. This dual-ended cream product has a contour stick on one end and a face-brightening highlighter on the other—it’s perfect for touching up on the go. To approach contouring like a true pro, opt for our all-in-one contour palette: Conceal, Correct, Contour Palette. Packed with eight (refillable!) shades, it has everything you need to chisel every last spot.
With so many contour makeup options, it’s easy to embrace your inner makeup artist and master contouring. It also helps that our best contour makeup is simple to use (even for face-sculpting beginners); it applies easily and blends beautifully into the skin.
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LEARN MORE ―＋
What Is Contour Makeup?
Contour makeup refers to the products used to sculpt and define your face (although body contouring is a thing, too). There are powder, cream, and liquid varieties available in a range of shades to suit different skin tones. Contour products are cool-toned, and when applied, they mimic the look of shadows. This helps accentuate the natural contours of the face and can be done effectively to make your jawline appear more pronounced, create the illusion of super-sharp cheekbones, and even fake fuller lips. That isn’t all either; with different contour techniques, you can achieve quite an array of results.
How To Contour Your Face
Before contouring, prime your skin and apply any base face makeup, like foundation and concealer. Then apply small stripes or dots of contour product onto your face in the areas you want to be more defined. Make sure to blend, blend, blend for a smooth finish. For powder contour, do this with a brush. A liquid or cream contour can be blended with a brush, makeup sponge, or your fingers—it’s your choice.
Follow contouring with highlighting to make your look extra dynamic. Blend highlighter onto the highpoints of your face (the tops of your cheekbones, bridge of your nose, and cupid’s bow) for a balanced glow.
To determine exactly where to apply contour makeup, look to your face shape. Round face shapes can apply contour lower on the cheeks for more prominent cheekbones, while square face shapes can achieve a softer effect by applying contour to the temples in curved lines. Read our complete contouring guide for a full tutorial.
Is Contour Applied Before or After Foundation?
With the most common method of makeup contouring, foundation comes first. However, there’s room to experiment. You can contour before foundation for a more natural look or stick with the classic technique for extra definition. Just keep in mind, contouring first will only work with cream and liquid contour formulas. Applying liquid foundation over a powder contour is likely to leave you with a patchy, uneven finish—no thanks.
Pro Tip: You can forgo foundation entirely, if you like, and use concealer to cover any imperfections instead. This is a great option for lighter makeup days and may even save you a few minutes when getting ready.
Do You Put Contour On Before Highlighter?
While it’s certainly not a strict rule, at NYX Professional Makeup, we typically recommend applying highlighter after contour makeup. The reverse is an option too, but your highlighter may end up being eclipsed once you apply a darker contour shade nearby. Using highlighter as a finishing touch (followed only by setting spray to lock it in) gives you more control over the end result.
How Do I Choose a Contour Product?
A good contour product should be two to four shades darker than your skin tone. Go much darker and you’ll have difficulty blending it out for a natural effect, much lighter and the difference may be imperceivable. If you want to contour with concealer, start by finding a shade that’s a good match for your skin tone (one you’d want to use to cover blemishes or disguise dark circles). Once you have your match, it’s easier to look at the rest of the range and identify a concealer that’s two to four shades darker.
You can also take formula type into consideration when making your pick. Powders are great for beginners as they’re easy to control, while creams offer a natural, dewy-looking finish (particularly beneficial for those with dry skin). Liquids are great for their realism as well. Plus, they blend well with liquid foundation, ensuring the final effect will be that much more seamless.
Are Bronzer and Contour the Same Thing?
While they may, at first glance, look the same, bronzer and contour products aren’t the same. Contour is meant to add shadow and depth, while bronzer adds warmth to your complexion. It’s true that both come in the form of brown powders and creams, but bronzer will have a warm tone while contour products should be on the cooler side. Bronzers sometimes can have flecks of beautiful shimmer swirled throughout, which lends itself to creating a warm, glowy effect. However, when you contour, you don’t want shimmer—it reflects light in spots you’re trying to create shadows. The bottom line is both bronzer and contour can have a place in your makeup routine, but they are two distinct products.