First of all, let it be known that we (the TG community including the artists to TG clients/allies/friends and drag queens) were contouring years and years before the likes of the Kardashians and the countless reality stars! We HAD to! Male to female makeup on a non-surgically altered face RELIES on contouring! We are nothing without it! But, it can seem like a huge, daunting mine field if you don’t know what to do, how to do it or WHY to do it.
In this article, I have tried to break it all down into the most simplistic way that I can. I have included a contour face map photo of one of my actual clients (Miss Nicola Smith), showing you where to place your hilighter and contour and at the end of the article, a list of products you will need, complete with links direct to my store where you can buy everything.
First of all, a check list of what you need:
A contour product 3 shades darker than your foundation (So you if you use 4w as your base colour you could use a 7w as your contour colour).
A concealer or highlighter product one/two shade lighter than your foundation. (So if you use a 4w TV Paintstick as a base colour you could use a 2w as a highlighter).
A contour brush or a blending sponge.
Bronzing Powder. You CAN contour with a matte bronzing powder AFTER you have applied foundation, highlighted and powdered. Follow all the same instructions of contouring with this product after your foundation, highlight and powder is done.
Fix Spray (optional)
IMPORTANT TO KNOW:
- I ALWAYS highlight and contour my clients after I have applied the foundation. I like to have a flawless base before I start carving out feminine facial features with my technique.
- A contour product is always, always matte. With contouring, you’re creating depth to make the angles of your face pop more, so you need a product that can create the illusion of a shadow (and shadows aren’t shimmer).
- You will need a contour product at least 3 shades darker than your foundation that keeps within your same undertone family. Translation: If you’re super pale, don’t grab a dark-brown contour—look for a shade that’s just three steps below your current skin colour (as if you were picking a too-dark foundation). As for undertones, use a cooler, grayish-brown shade if your skin is cool-toned, and stick with a warmer, red-brown shade if your skin is warm-toned.
AREAS TO HIGHLIGHT: (See Contour/Highlight Face Map Photo)
Ok, I always highlight first. Apply a few dabs of your highlight product in the following places:
Top of the cheekbones
Middle of the nose (the length of it)
Middle of the forehead just above the height of the eyebrows
Just above the cupid’s bow in the middle of the top lip
Middle of the chin.
WHY DO WE DO IT?
You are effectively making the whole of the middle of the face lighter. By making the middle of the face lighter and the sides darker, you are creating the effect of narrowing the face. You are also narrowing the nose and making the cheekbones appear higher by lightening them. All of this makes more sense once the contour is in place and the light and the dark work together. It really is magic!
Blend this product in, using either a contour brush or a blending sponge. Blending means dabbing and brushing the product on the skin until it becomes seamless with the shade of your foundation. We want this lightness to be very apparent but not overly obvious. We do not want any hard lines or stripes of colour.
AREAS TO CONTOUR: (See Contour/Highlight Face Map Photo)
Just below the cheekbone, where the bone structure dips in (directly below where you did the highlight on the top of the cheekbones.)
The temples (directly above the outer edge of the eyebrows)
The sides of the nose. Starting at the widest point of the nose by the nostrils up to about ¾ of the way up the length of the nose.
The tip of the nose
The length of the jawline
Under the chin.
WHY DO WE DO IT?
Contouring the temples makes the forehead appear less wide and therefore less masculine
Contouring into the dip in the cheekbone and working directly against the lighter colour of the highlight, will give the appearance of a much sharper cheekbone, another very feminine feature.
Men traditionally have much squarer jawline then women. The jawline needs to be shaded to soften it and reduce the appearance of the squareness. Shading just under the chin will give the effect of reducing the length of the face.
Contouring the sides of the nose will give the appearance of narrowing it. Traditionally, women tend to have more slender noses than men, so this is all adding to the feminisation of the face. Adding a tiny amount of your contour colour at the end of the nose (the tip) will give your nose the appearance of being shorter and more petit!
The same rule applies as with the highlighting. We want the darker contour colour to appear fully blended, meaning no hard edges or stripes of colour. The three (foundation, highlight & contour) colours need to blend seamlessly. If you are using a powder to contour after you have done your foundation, highlighted and powdered, just make sure that your powdered contour product is blended in well with no hard edges.
After all of your contour is in place, give a light spritz of fixing spray (optional) and then when it is almost dry but still slightly damp, pat on some translucent loose powder with a powder puff. Start at the bottom of the face and work your way up, making sure that every single part of the face is covered. This will lock in all of the work you have done and ensure longevity of your beautiful looking base and contour makeup.
PRODUCTS I RECOMMEND: (All of these products are 10% off at The Boudoir Shop for the whole of February).
Click on any of the items above to go straight to the product pages.