Contouring 101 Part 1: How to Pick a Contour Shade

Hey all! This is a short series about how to contour your face. I will be dividing it into two parts so we may look at shade selection and placement separately. Instagram and YouTube has absolutely killed the true concept of contouring.

Let’s learn from scratch!

Goals of contouring

  • Retracing natural shadows on the face
  • Making certain areas recede
  • Creating a more 3D effect

Remember this!

  • Contouring does not make your face look slimmer. When you apply foundation (especially high coverage) it makes your face look more 2D. Facial hair gets covered too. Contouring brings back the natural shadows of your face.
  • However, it helps double chin recede by turning it into a shadow-y region. You cannot apply too much and must blend it downwards NOT sideways. It sharpers your jawline this way. Applied incorrectly, it gives the impression of a beard.
  • Contouring your nose makes your nose bridge look thinner so be careful not to create a hair thin nose bridge. It make look like a nose job gone wrong!
  • Do not contour during the daytime unless you’re having a photo shoot indoors or an indoors event. Even then your contour will be visible and unnatural in the light of the sun when you go out. In the absence of daylight, your face benefits from extra definition. A light natural contour photographs beautifully and perks up your features on a night out.

Contour shade features

Matte finish

Shimmer is great for adding dimension and life in eye shadows, blushes, bronzers and highlighters. Shimmer does not fit the purpose of contouring. We are trying to make that area recede not pop.

Cooler than your skin

This means that your contour shade must resemble a shadow on your face. Buy a contour shade for your foundation not your natural skin. This is important because your face has to match your body.

Darker than your skin

Shadows are not just cool toned but also have more depth than your natural complexion. Pick a contour shade that is 2-3 shades darker than your complexion.

Blends well

This is crucial! If your product does not blend well, it will look like you have a streak of soot on your face. Use cream over cream and powder over powder. Powder will never blend perfectly into a liquid/ cream foundation. The end goal is to make it look natural.

You might be surprised I didn’t mention pigmentation. Contour shades don’t have to be super pigmented. They are needed sparingly and less pigment is easier to handle.

Right vs. wrong contour shade

Now, let’s apply our knowledge to actual product comparisons 🙂

Right shade example: Inglot HD Sculpting Powder #505

Wrong shade example: Sleek Contouring Kit-Medium

Check out how they looked on my face. I applied them the same way on either side of my face. I did not contour my nose. The flat expression helps you see the placement and effect better LOL


The right side (Sleek) looks burnt, bruised and dirty. It’s way too prominent because it is too dark and too warm for my complexion. Imagine it applied all my face *shudders*

The left side had just as much product and yes it did look overly ashed as I warned you before. There’s too much product to show the comparison. Still, the color is bang on and mimics the natural shadows of my face.

Wait for you to learn more about placement and blending. Until next time, bye!

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